Photography and Art

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Printer and Colour Management Part II

True confessions: I was a colour management hold-out. In theory, I drank the cool-aid, but in practice, I could never bring myself to shell out a couple of hundred bucks and go through the perceived hassle of calibrating my monitor.

All this changed when I got my new Epson 4880 printer. I unpacked the printer, went through the set-up routine and loaded the paper for my first test print. Maybe it was a bad omen that the guy who delivered the printer to my retailer cut his finger badly on the crate it came in, but in a fit of optimism I loaded some nice Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta paper into the printer and let it rip. Not being one to read the manual beforehand (or even to look at the paper tray), I assumed that the paper loaded face-up like my trusty R1800 printer did. After producing a very soft print on the back side of the paper, I realized that the 4880 loads face-down. Doh! I ran the paper through again and the print was very dark.

I went back and checked everything: the driver settings (letting photoshop control the settings), the ICC profile for the paper (Hahnemuhle's profile in this case) and I tried it again with the same result. The only way I could work with this printer was to turn down the brightness on my monitor to 20/100. I could barely see the navigation on Lightroom and Photoshop, but at least my prints were turning out the way I could see them on the screen.

I knew that it was time I profiled my monitor and set up my colour management flow from stem to stern. Surprisingly, I found that the price for a decent monitor calibration product had dropped to less than $100, so it wasn't as painful as it seemed. After reading the reviews on this extremely helpful site, I decided to buy the Colorvision Spyder Express 2, even though there is another good product out there called the Pantone Huey. Both are supposed to be extremely easy to use.

The Spyder2 was an absolute breeze to set up. You just install the software, plug in the device and hang it over your monitor, wait a few minutes while it measures the intensity of various standard colours on your screen and, hey presto, your custom ICC monitor profile is done. It even shows you the before/after shots of a standard image to show you how much your colour rendering has changed.

My "after" image was much warmer than my "before". AND, the new profile matched the intensity of my monitor when it was set to the default factory settings. As a result, I can edit my pix at full intensity and rely on Photoshop to convert the image successfully from my monitor profile to my printer profile.

Why did I wait so long for this? It was such a snap!

If you are dithering about colour management and haven't bought a calibration product yet, what's holding you back? You'll spend 'way more money on waste paper than you will on the calibration device. Trust me!

No comments:

Post a Comment