Printer profiling -- again

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MikeWhy, Nov 28, 2003.

  1. MikeWhy

    MikeWhy Guest

    So, having obsessed and mulled over profiling options for my cheapie desktop
    Epson, I think I've decided to screw it all and just buy a new scanner. A
    rather big, honking 6400x3200 dpi, 48-bit flatbed that also does
    transparencies. Not that I care about transparencies. I've sworn off flimsy
    strips of celluloid years ago, not to mention the associated poisonous
    chemicals. Nope; we don't need no steekin' transparencies scanned here. That
    it comes with Monaco's EZColor, a profiling software package, is more or
    less only an incidental matter of trivia. Or is it?

    So what's the deal, you might care enough to ask? I have a scanner. Several
    of them, in fact. But then, one more or less isn't going to hurt me at all.
    What does hurt is that the scanner/profiler costs more than the printer I'm
    trying to tune. I somehow can't get my head around the part that says I just
    got a bargain of a printer. Yep; I'm crying because my 1280 cost $350, and I
    can't find a profiler for much less than $500.

    Of the low- to mid-priced profilers, only two show any glimmer of a promise
    that they might work well enough to matter. ColorVision's PrintFix for $300;
    or PrintFix with SpyderPro for $450. It's marginal, but it's in my price
    range. PrintFix comes with a goofy scanner-like device; I'm sure the lack of
    published specifications is intentional.

    Monaco's EZColor is software, packaged with a pair of IT8 targets: $350
    after rebates. All you need is a good scanner. When I said I had scanners, I
    meant I have old decrepit SCSI things, including one of the early HP
    photosmart film scanners. I also have a new'ish, very cheap thing, that I
    wouldn't trust to scan much more than a coin collection or my son's homework
    papers. It's only claim to usefulness is it draws its power from the USB
    bus. All I need is a good scanner...

    Epson makes scanners; one of them comes packaged with Monaco EZColor. The
    Epson 3200 Pro; $450 after rebates. And so, I asked myself, Self, what are
    we going to do with yet another scanner?

    I'm still working on that part... I think I'll buy it anyway. The worst that
    can happen is I'll have a decent, color managed scanner that I don't need.
     
    MikeWhy, Nov 28, 2003
    #1
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  2. MikeWhy

    Ray Murphy Guest

    ----------
    RM: I must be missing the point here somewhere, but scanners are not a
    part of the equation. You simply need to get decent pictures in
    Photoshop from the various sources you have, and THEN worry about
    getting your good looking Photoshop images into good looking prints.

    If your prints do not match your Photoshop monitor images, you just
    need to make a profile for your printer and then select it when you
    want to print a picture on that particular printer. This obviously
    means altering your Tiff to suit your defective printer - but it
    works.
    I'm not sure what PC's are using for calibrating for printers but I've
    got various old freeware software dating back to 1990 from Knoll which
    does this job.

    [.....]

    If there's a problem with this can someone tell me in a non-insulting
    way please?

    Ray
     
    Ray Murphy, Nov 28, 2003
    #2
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  3. MikeWhy

    MikeWhy Guest

    If your prints do not match your Photoshop monitor images, you just
    Sure. The profiler looks at some color patches printed by the printer. It
    compares what was intended, and what was actually printed. The differences
    tell it how to correct the image the next time it prints, and also about
    colors that the printer cannot print accurately or at all. To do an accurate
    job, the profiler needs to read the printed sample accurately. The more
    accurately it reads back the sample, the better the profile. "Real" systems
    use spectrophotometers to read the patches. Think of them as a very
    specialized, very accurate, and quite expensive handheld scanner heads. For
    the rest of us, where the cost of special measuring equipment is
    prohibitively high, a desktop scanner will have to suffice. Again, the more
    accurately the image can be read, the better the profile.

    Photoshop and other color managed software use the generated profile to
    adjust the image when printing and during display. Within the range of
    colors that the printer can print accurately, and within the monitor's
    ability to display those colors, the image is displayed as it will be
    printed. Colors that cannot print accurately are adjusted to something that
    can. Also, the monitor is itself profiled and calibrated. The end result is
    that we see on screen a very close approximation to what will eventually be
    printed.

    This replaces the manual ajdustments to the monitor you mentioned, and
    corrective edits made to the image. Aside from simply being easier to use,
    we presume the measuring devices are better at and more consistent about
    distinguishing small differences than the human eye. Thus, you get a more
    accurate reproduction faster, with less work, and without having to know a
    thing about any of this. Even the colorblind should be able to make good
    color prints.

    Psst. Buddy. Wanna buy a scanner?
     
    MikeWhy, Nov 28, 2003
    #3
  4. MikeWhy

    Ray Murphy Guest

    ----------
    Sure. The profiler looks at some color patches printed by the printer. It
    compares what was intended, and what was actually printed. The differences
    tell it how to correct the image the next time it prints, and also about
    colors that the printer cannot print accurately or at all. To do an accurate
    job, the profiler needs to read the printed sample accurately. The more
    accurately it reads back the sample, the better the profile. "Real" systems
    use spectrophotometers to read the patches. Think of them as a very
    specialized, very accurate, and quite expensive handheld scanner heads. For
    the rest of us, where the cost of special measuring equipment is
    prohibitively high, a desktop scanner will have to suffice. Again, the more
    accurately the image can be read, the better the profile.[/QUOTE]

    RM: I didn't realise that spectrophotometers had escaped from
    specialised laboratories. Geez, even a decent colour densitometer used
    to cost nearly as much as a car about about 6 years ago.
    RM: Some people seem to think that the monitor itself is being
    manually altered, but it is only a software driven adjustment which
    can be called into play when required for a particular printer.
    RM: Would you agree that the average user of desktop colour printers
    seems quite happy with their colour prints, or thinks they are near
    enough to perfect?
    RM: Brilliant description above.
    You have just demonstrated that one does not need to be referred to a
    bunch of web pages to briefly explain calibration of equipment.

    Ray
     
    Ray Murphy, Nov 28, 2003
    #4
  5. MikeWhy

    MikeWhy Guest

    I don't have any experience with them. I'm assured, though, that the ones in
    the $1000 - $2000 range are quite usable. At least good enough to calibrate
    low volume desktop printers, that is. :)
    I misunderstood your description, then. Soft-proofs are a good way of doing
    things.
    Oh, very definitely. They're no worse than the one-hour photo places, and
    useful for the same reasons and purpose. It's not quite good enough to hang
    on the wall, but there are specialized labs that will help with that, too.

    The good news is that the imaging and printing technologies are beginning to
    mature. It's no longer ruinously difficult to set your sights a little bit
    higher.
    Well, thanks. It's still new enough to me that I haven't grown tired of
    telling it.
     
    MikeWhy, Nov 29, 2003
    #5
  6. MikeWhy

    Ray Murphy Guest

    ----------
    RM: Yes, anything electronic which costs that much these days would
    work magic.
    I assume most people are talking $US on this newsgroup - (I'm always
    converting Pounds and dollars to Australian $)[....]

    Ray
     
    Ray Murphy, Nov 29, 2003
    #6
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