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Thread: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

  1. #1
    Mitch Alland
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    Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    From discussions here and on other forums it seems to me that most people are not doing any "printer targeting", which is described in some detail in Real World Photoshop. The idea is that when you finish the editing of a file so that on your (calibrated) monitor it looks the way you want it you archive it, but before printing it you need to make some printer targeting adjustments to make it print the way you want to on the particular paper and printer that you will be using. These adjustments are necessary because on another paper and another printer the file will come out somewhat different: the most obvious difference would be between matte and glossy papers, on which the blacks as well as the gradation will look somewhat different.

    There are two types of adjustment that I have in mind. The first is output sharpening, which is necessary because any printer will introduce some softness in the final, archived file that you have produced — and different printers will have different characteristics in this respect. I use the output sharpening facility of PK Sharpener, a Photoshop plugin, that, for most files, apply at 50% opacity for my Epson 9800.

    The second targeting adjustment is for the paper that you are printing on. The way to do this — I'm referring to color prints here — is to make a duplicate of the final, archived image in Photoshop and apply the Proof Colors facility using the profile of the paper that you will be printing on to the original image. Once you have done so and have the original and the copy side-by-side on the monitor, you will see that the Proof Colors simulation is substantially duller than your archived image, as you would expect in photograph on paper which, unlike a monitor image, is viewed with reflected light. You can now apply adjustments to the original file viewed with the paper profile until it looks as close as you can get it to the copy, which is the final, archived image. For the Epson 9800 I usually apply a mild contrast curve to increase the contrast of the paper simulated image; rarely, I need to apply a hue/saturation adjustments. Finally, you then save the adjusted image as a file for printing.

    The Photoshop Proof Colors facility is very good. Lightzone has a Proof tool which will show how the print will look like with the paper profile to be used, but does not have the ability to place two copies of the image side by side. I've been looking at Aperture 2, but have not seen such a proofing facility there. In practical terms, to do printer targeting I am forced to use Photoshop to apply PK Sharpener's output sharpening and to do the paper adjustments conveniently. This means that I have to use Photoshop after I finish editing a file in Lightzone.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Hi Mitch:

    I think for the most part, printer targeting is NOT necessary any more, assuming you have 1) a properly PROFILED monitor with a good video card, and 2) a relatively current model printer with a GOOD paper profile for your printer/paper combo...

    Note that a profiled monitor is different than a calibrated monitor. Profiled uses a colorimeter and software to insure your monitor is displaying colors accurately, as opposed to a calibration which uses visual feedback to get tones and gamma close in APPEARANCE; but they are not necessarily exact in color-space parlance. A good paper and paper profile profile coupled with a good printer should then deliver essentially WYSIWYG output; if it doesn't, one or the other is not performing properly...

    Note that some un-coated art papers now have gamuts narrower than the printer, so they may look washed out or "duller" compared to other paper choices. However a proper profile will still allow that paper to deliver the best it is capable of. You can then use CS's soft proof capability, but it takes some experience to learn how to read it on your system. Though once you do, it is a good (not excellent) tool to get a read on how the final print might appear --- IMO it's usually better to print a proof image on a paper with similar characteristics to your final.

    Output sharpening is now pretty dependent on your particular PRINTER and DRIVER combo. With the latest versions of Epson printers (3800 and x880) for example, very little additional output sharpening adjustment is needed even with the stock driver until you get over about a 16x print. Moreover, most RIPS and printing programs have outstanding built-in sharpening routines for the various output sizes you choose...

    In the end, the biggest difference you will see once all the above are handled is that large prints tend to look a bit "lighter" than smaller prints (even though they're not) and some slight output brightness adjustments based on print size may be necessary.

    FWIW, we cover all of this in detail on our printing workshops

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  3. #3
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Mitch,
    In Aperture, once you have done the selection for printing, hit the Preview button. That brings up the Preview app with the image. On the bottom of that window is a check box that lets you look at the applied profile for printing....essentlially the softproof version. From there, you can see if things are the way you want with respect to color. Aperture also now has an output sharpening tool in the print dialog. It looks to be a simple USM tool, and not like the PK Sharpen tools where you can control the opacity, but it is nice to see it there. I have been playing around with it to revive my use of my Epson 4000 printer, and have been getting nice results. (I still do not like the lack of positioning control for the print in Aperture, as exists in PS and with the IP RIP, but that has been an ongoing request from folks for some time. I am hoping for a plug-in that will go directly to the RIP and you can then better control final positioning, as well as do a softproofing there.)

    LJ

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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    LightZone has some pretty decent profiling and proofing tools, right up there with Photoshop. I haven't seen the need to do much outside of those, at least not with my Canon Pro9000.

  5. #5
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    ...I think for the most part, printer targeting is NOT necessary any more, assuming you have 1) a properly PROFILED monitor with a good video card, and 2) a relatively current model printer with a GOOD paper profile for your printer/paper combo...

    ... A good paper and paper profile profile coupled with a good printer should then deliver essentially WYSIWYG output; if it doesn't, one or the other is not performing properly...Note that some un-coated art papers now have gamuts narrower than the printer, so they may look washed out or "duller" compared to other paper choices. However a proper profile will still allow that paper to deliver the best it is capable of. You can then use CS's soft proof capability, but it takes some experience to learn how to read it on your system. Though once you do, it is a good (not excellent) tool to get a read on how the final print might appear --- IMO it's usually better to print a proof image on a paper with similar characteristics to your final.
    I agree that the paper profile will produce the best that is possible with that paper, but, still, the difference between the monitor image and the result on matte vs glossy paper is so great that I would want to increase the contrast for printing on matte paper — and the difference between the monitor image seen with transmitted light and the glossy paper image seen with reflected light is large enough that a small contrast increase is usually desirable. I also agree that the PS Proof Colors simulation takes some getting used to, but, once you do get used to it, it gives you a good idea of how the print will look like. The question than comes down to a personal preference, whether one wants to run a test print or use the Proof Color facility to make the adjustment — but a printer targeting adjustment is usually desirable. For me, using Proof Colors is preferable because it's faster and doesn't waste ink and paper.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  6. #6
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    ...In Aperture, once you have done the selection for printing, hit the Preview button. That brings up the Preview app with the image. On the bottom of that window is a check box that lets you look at the applied profile for printing....essentlially the softproof version. From there, you can see if things are the way you want with respect to color. Aperture also now has an output sharpening tool in the print dialog. It looks to be a simple USM tool, and not like the PK Sharpen tools where you can control the opacity, but it is nice to see it there. I have been playing around with it to revive my use of my Epson 4000 printer, and have been getting nice results...
    Thanks, LJ. I'm still only trying out A2 and I'll have to have a look at this.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  7. #7
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie O View Post
    LightZone has some pretty decent profiling and proofing tools, right up there with Photoshop. I haven't seen the need to do much outside of those, at least not with my Canon Pro9000.
    Maggie, my problem with the Proof tool is that you cannot put the "before and after images" next to each other...

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  8. #8
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Maggie, my problem with the Proof tool is that you cannot put the "before and after images" next to each other...

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    I just toggle back and forth. YMMV.

    It's hard to deny the ultimate utility of Photoshop.

  9. #9
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    The question than comes down to a personal preference, whether one wants to run a test print or use the Proof Color facility to make the adjustment — but a printer targeting adjustment is usually desirable. For me, using Proof Colors is preferable because it's faster and doesn't waste ink and paper.
    I think we agree on most points. For me personally, I do not see the significant differences you claim to be seeing between screen and output -- at least with caveat of my regular papers as viewed on my specific system... And while I definitely see differences between papers in the soft-proof view, I still get pretty much WYSIWYG output on the first run with any of my regular papers.

    As for wasting ink and paper on proofs, that's not how i use proofs... () When I feel the need for a proof, it is usually to compare 4 different versions of the same slice of an image arranged side-by-side on a single sheet. Admittedly this isn't very often nowadays as I'm better at deciding what I want based on how the image looks onscreen, but every so often there is the occasional "difficult" image... For these, the slices are usually close in appearance, but have subtly different combinations of contrast, brightness, saturation and occasionally color tone, and seeing them side-by-side makes it easier for me to choose my preference for the final. So yes, I used up some ink and cheap paper, but IMO that is better than printing them up on a more expensive sheet of final paper...

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Workshop Member ChrisDauer's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Jack,

    RE: Slicing up the image on a single piece of paper

    Is this something you can show us in Carmel? Speaking of, what's the current Carmel attendees count up to?

    -Chris

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisDauer View Post
    Jack,

    RE: Slicing up the image on a single piece of paper

    Is this something you can show us in Carmel? Speaking of, what's the current Carmel attendees count up to?

    -Chris
    Indeed I will! Current count is at 7 (not including you), so we're close!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    BTW, as for Photoshop being necessary to PRINT, I think the answer is a simple "No."

    However, I almost always want to make at least some local adjustments to an image before printing it, and Photoshop excels at this. (Yes I know a lot of people prefer other programs, but for me, no other editor offers all the same functionality as CS3 for the processes I regularly perform...)
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  13. #13
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Actually, Jack, use ImagePrint to print; but I use Photoshop for its Proof Colors facility and because I can use the PK Sharpener plugin. Otherwise I use LighZone for editing. However, in trying out Aperture 2 I've found it's Recovery tool to be better than that of LightZone and Lightroom.

    —Mitch/Huahin
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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    I hear you Mitch.

    A RIP or dedicated printing program is always a good choice for output, though I'm surprised you find IP's output sharpening inadequate... Or maybe it is inadequate capture sharpening in LR/Aperture? FWIW, I don't use PK at all, and prefer my own recipe for detail extraction in CS3.

    So my workflow is as follows: Capture sharpen optimally and make as many global adjustments as necessary in LR/ACR, then output that image to CS3 where I run my detail extraction routine and make all my local adjustments. I then size to target output dimensions using another of my routines which has a sharpening routine built in as part of the step. Then I output for print. But if I'm using a RIP or other printing program, the sharpening adjustment is set to he very minimum setting since my image is already close to optimal for output.

    Lightzone... Personally, I dislike LightZone for a variety of reasons, some of which are technical and others political, but I won't go into detail here. Suffice it to say that as a matter of principal I will NEVER support them in any fashion. And now with CS3's "refine edge" command, their brand of zonal-selection-masking is not needed at all for my uses. And there is a far more elegant solution looming on the not too distant horizon

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Hi Jack,

    Are we talking about "Joey" ??

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by bbodine9 View Post
    Hi Jack,

    Are we talking about "Joey" ??
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Wink Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Nuff said!

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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Man, who knew there was all this good gossip floating around!

  19. #19
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    ...Output sharpening is now pretty dependent on your particular PRINTER and DRIVER combo. With the latest versions of Epson printers (3800 and x880) for example, very little additional output sharpening adjustment is needed even with the stock driver until you get over about a 16x print. Moreover, most RIPS and printing programs have outstanding built-in sharpening routines for the various output sizes you choose...
    Jack, I checked with the head of ColorByte who says that ImagePrint does not do any sharpening, but that its screening holds the sharpness of the image better than others and you may still need additional sharpening depending on the paper you are printing on or your own personal taste. Of course, this is in line with the conclusion that we reached in this thread, but I thought that this clarification was interesting enough to post.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Thanks for that clarification Mitch --- I have not used IP myself for some time and was going off what other users have told me. Regardless, it sounds like yo may not need much in the way of added output sharpening with IP...
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  21. #21
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    Re: Printer targeting...and the ultimate need for Photoshop

    Agreed. I use IP and have no final output sharpening. I do all of my image prep before sending a file to IP. For me, that means even getting approximate sizing to where I want it and doing all final output sharpening with something like PK Sharpen, based on the paper type. I have been looking into some Nik Software plug-ins for PS, as they have the option for final sharpening to match paper type as well as viewing distances. For me, IPs greatest points are providing excellent and consistent output across a huge variety of paper type on my Epson 7800. Many folks may not need that variety, but I print to various matte finish, canvas, luster, gloss, fabric, film, etc., and the profiles they have for the papers I have used are really spot on. Buy, I do have to get the sharpening done before it prints ;-)

    LJ

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