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Thread: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

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    Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Hello, I would appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, or explanations you might be able to give regarding something I recently encountered when printing from Photoshop.

    I thought I knew what I was doing but now I’m not so sure. All along I’ve been able to make high quality prints but with some considerable trial and error. I was following what I thought was appropriate protocol using Photoshop. [I use high quality cameras/lenses, do my image editing on a 5K iMac and print using an Epson 7900 printer and I’m generally satisfied with my icc profiles.]

    My Method

    I use the Adobe RGB setting in my cameras and shoot raw of course. Then, in the raw conversion process I open a file using the ProPhoto RGB color space in Photoshop, where I do my editing. I employ Photoshop’s soft proofing feature, using the appropriate paper color profile (and specifying perceptual rendering intent). When it comes time to make a print I let Photoshop do the color management, specifying the paper profile, and perceptual rendering.

    Usually the first print comes out flat/low contrast and desaturated relative to what I see in the soft proof, but through trial and error I add fudge-factor layers to get the look I want from the final print. While tedious at times I was resigned; I thought this was the way to do it.

    Their Method

    Recently my college teacher daughter explained that in her photography class (that uses a more consumer grade Epson 800 printer), she and a tech guy co-teacher weren’t happy with this “traditional” (Photoshop) protocol and have resorted to a work-around:

    After opening a file in Photoshop they convert the image profile to the desired paper profile, using relative rendering intent, and then they use the printer’s (Epson’s) color controls through the Photoshop dialog box, again specifying relative rendering intent. In their eyes the results looked more accurate and neutral.

    This didn’t make sense to me so I began experimenting, and darned if a few of my test prints didn’t look MUCH better using their method, and they were a better match to the soft proof screen!

    So I tried this approach using a GretagMacbeth Color Checker as a test image, as well as another common color reference image. The results are consistent with my first impressions, the work-around gives better looking results!

    Any Thoughts?

    Has anyone else experienced this? Do you have any ideas why this is happening?

    I’m most troubled by the idea of it, I’m happy to use this approach in my work, but what should a college level photography professor advise her students?

    Thank you.

    Peter

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Quote Originally Posted by plinden View Post

    My Method

    I use the Adobe RGB setting in my cameras and shoot raw of course. Then, in the raw conversion process I open a file using the ProPhoto RGB color space in Photoshop, where I do my editing.
    Firstly, the camera Adobe RGB setting only affects the in-cam jpeg. Since you say you shoot in Adobe RGB, are we to assume you also convert your raws to Adobe RGB? If so, and you then edit in ProPhoto RGB, your first step has to be converting the image to ProPhoto RGB! If you don't do that, you will get flat results. In PS Open image; then goto Edit>Convert to profile>choose ProPhoto. Of course it's much easier just to output the raw to the same color space as you work in*... Regardless, once the image and working space are the same, edit and print per your described method (which is sound) and all should work fine.

    *You could (should IMHO) output a ProPhoto RGB or camera space RGB image during raw conversion, and edit in that same space so that now your image matches your working space for editing and output. Alternatively, you could keep your converted file in Adobe RGB, and set your PS working space to Adobe RGB and you'll be fine too. But on par, editing in ProPhoto or the camera space is probably slightly better for maintaining color fidelity throughout the workflow...
    Last edited by Jack; 3 Weeks Ago at 06:25.
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    You may have to search to find the blog post ....but..there was a post on Luminous Landscape where the author found that color managed by the printer produced better prints . This as you mentioned is inconsistent with almost everything else that has been suggested regarding print work flow settings . The testing was extensive and the authors argument was compelling .

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    In your daughter's method, three things are changing – (3) the variable you mentioned – whether PS or printer is in control; (2) the unusual practice of converting the file itself to a paper profile, (3) the more common practice of using Relative instead of Perceptual intent.

    It would be a good idea to isolate the variables in your experiments, to see if one or another alone, or some combination, is what gives you more acceptable results.

    And be sure to let us know!

    Kirk

    (My own guess is that RC instead of Per is giving you a little more contrast. And my experience is that ProPhoto isn't the boon it's supposed to be. It can push some colors out of gamut when you print in a more restricted range.)
    Last edited by thompsonkirk; 3 Weeks Ago at 18:53.

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Since you shoot in Adobe RGB, and then edit in ProPhoto RGB, your first step has to be converting the image to ProPhoto RGB! If you don't do that, you will get flat results. In PS Open image; then goto Edit>Convert to profile>choose ProPhoto. NOW edit and print per your method. Should work fine.

    Alternatively, you could output a ProPhoto RGB image during raw conversion, and now your image matches your working space for editing and output. Or, you could keep your converted file in Adobe RGB, and set your PS working space to Adobe RGB and you'll be fine. But on par, editing in ProPhoto is probably slightly better for maintaining color fidelity throughout the workflow...
    This is just wrong. The “in camera” AdobeRGB setting affects only the jpeg image. RAW data doesn’t have a colorspace. If the OP’s working colorspace in Photoshop is ProPhotoRGB and he is importing raw files into Photoshop that should be “it” and will not be the cause of any of the issues he’s describing. The only other possibility for AdobeRGB is if he’s going in via Camera Raw, in which case it should also be set to ProPhotoRGB (but could be something else).

    His daughter’s work around sounds like a real Kluge to me.

    I’d suggest softproofing in Lightroom, so much easier than Photoshop and the LR print utility with its ability to make presets for print/paper settings is worth learning the Print Module, even if that were the only thing you use Lightroom for.

    I shoot raw, import to Lightroom (default color space is a flavor of ProPhotoRGB) do basic adjustments in LR and round-trip to Photoshop if I need additional work that cannot be done in LR. Then soft proof and print in Lightroom to my selected paper and whichever rendering intent looks best for that image (very image / paper dependent and defaulting to Preceptual is a suboptimal way to work, IMO).

    My screen to print match is usually spot on, the first time. I sometimes make further iterations based on evaluating the print under proper lighting, but almost never because what came out of the printer isn’t what I saw on the screen.

    I would be willing to bet that there’s something else amiss in the OP’s work flow that is causing his problems with screen to print match.

    Questions for the OP:

    Do you calibrate your monitor with a hardware/software solution such as X-rite i1Display Pro ?

    Have you printed a standard print evaluation image w/o changing anything in that file? (Printing Insights #48) And then adjusted your monitor luminance to match the luminance of the print while viewing it under proper print evaluation conditions? Gti Light booth, Solux color proof lighting, or something similar?

    Are you editing in consistent ambient lighting conditions?

    Another possible problem might arise if you are using the gamut warning and trying to adjust for “out of gamut” colors in your soft proof. The gamut warning is, as a practical matter, useless. It only indicates that something is out of gamut, but is incapable of telling you anything useful about “how much” out of gamut the colors are. Some of my students try to elimainte any out of gamut indications by manipulating the soft proof and in doing this almost always end up with a flat and desaturated print.

    Rand
    Last edited by Rand47; 3 Weeks Ago at 07:59.

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    My prints from an iMac and an Epson SC P800 match the screen pactically perfectly, color as well as brightness on many different papers.
    I print from Lightroom, but it make no difference whether I print from Capture One Pro or Photoshop.
    Using X-Rite i1PRO and i1Profiler Software I have made printer profiles for all my papers and have my iMac screen profiled to a luminance of 70. The standard luminance is much too high.
    Working space in Photoshop as well as Capture One is Prophoto, Lightroom uses something close to Prophoto but it makes no difference whether I print using the original adjusted RAW file or a SRGB jpg file. As long as I turn off color adjustment in the printer software and use the correct paper profile
    maurice da silva solis
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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    "As long as I turn off color adjustment in the printer software and use the correct paper profile . . . "

    Yup... if you don't you'll have dueling profiles and that gets really ugly! :-)

    Rand

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    In my post I neglected to add that it is important to specify the paper type, both when profiling and printing (i.e. premium glossy, luster, matte etc.)
    maurice da silva solis

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Hi Peter,

    I run a Hahnemühle Certified Studio, so I spend a lot of time printing, and I have run the full gamut (pun intended?) of tests regarding color management. I use a wide gamut Eizo monitor and have made custom profiles for my papers as well as used expert made profiles from companies in the US and used Hahnemühle's own profiles. Currently I use the P9000 printer, but I used the 9900 in the past. Believe it or not, I have tried the Adobe RGB method your daughter employs, and in many cases it gives excellent results. In particular, I have found that it gives a better black level and shadow gradation in matte black prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag as compared to my custom profile and Hahnemühle's profile. My guess is that there is that the profiling process introduces some degree of error or somehow slightly elevates the black level compared to the depth that the printer itself is capable of producing. In general, if you convert your file in Photoshop to Adobe RGB or leave it that way, and then print with Photoshop color management off and set the printer to Epson color and then Adobe RGB, you can take advantage of this extra black level and color depth. That said, I do not believe that the saturated colors are always as accurate as they are with a profile. For important jobs I generally run test prints in both methods and see which gives the better results. If absolute color accuracy is more important than black depth and vibrance (which I find rarely to be the case in working for the artists I work for), then I would stick with profiles, though it does sound like something is going wrong for you. I am able to achieve very good matches to the screen with both methods, so it sounds like something might be slightly off for you. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get the results you want with as little ink and paper waste as possible. If that means using Epson color controls, then by all means, go for it. The printer color management has come a long way from what it used to be in the early days. I actually came to the Adobe RGB method in printing a job for a client who had an art piece with a digitally rendered whirlpool...it was a smooth gradation of gray into a void, but every time I printed it there was a hard clipping in the gradation. So instead of a smooth transition from light grey to black, as the color got darker there was a noticeable step from gray to black. No matter what profile I used I could not get rid of the harsh transition. Finally, I tried printing it without a profile and just treating it as Adobe RGB and sure enough the smooth transition on screen was rendered on the print. After that I no longer blindly questioned that profiles were always the best solution for every print. They are a translation of the data, and sometimes things get lost in translation.
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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    You may have to search to find the blog post ....but..there was a post on Luminous Landscape where the author found that color managed by the printer produced better prints . This as you mentioned is inconsistent with almost everything else that has been suggested regarding print work flow settings . The testing was extensive and the authors argument was compelling .
    Roger,
    Thanks for quoting this article. It was written by Edmund Ronald in July of 2013.
    I corresponded with Edmund and thanked him for the article as it made a difference with a difficult image I had been trying to print.
    Unfortunately, what was once free to read when Michael Reichman was alive and ran the website will now cost you under Kevin Raber's ownership. Everything published prior to Kevin's ownership is now offered at cost, which is a bummer, since Kevin is now monetizing contributor's posts and articles that were done out of a desire to contribute to the community.

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Hi Peter,

    ... In particular, I have found that it gives a better black level and shadow gradation in matte black prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag as compared to my custom profile and Hahnemühle's profile. . . .
    Some of Epson's newer matte papers have excellent Dmax. Epson Legacy Fibre as an example. Especially when used with the HDX inkset.

    As a practical matter any dark areas with detail w/ an L value of less than about 7 seem to block up on most matte papers.

    Rand

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    Re: Printer vs Photoshop color controls?

    Thank you all for your helpful comments. This information enabled me to decide what I might say to a class such as my daughters'. I've passed on your inputs. I'm curious how she and the co-teacher decide to handle this. (I see it as a "teachable moment")

    Peter Linden

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