by Tom Lee Published 01/02/2001
Printer Setup with ICC Profile
As mentioned earlier, without arranging a mortgage, there is only one series of printers on the market that are capable of delivering photographic or near photographic quality at the inkjet level. Epson produce new printers almost as frequently as the wind changes, but all are excellent value and produce bitingly sharp detail when set up correctly.
My personal preference is for the Epson Stylus Photo 1270. This is an A3+ printer that can produce a full 16"x12" print at 1440dpi on professional Premium Gloss or Semi-Gloss papers, similar in weight and feel to Gloss and Lustre photographic papers. The droplet size has been reduced to a staggering 4 picalitre (you need a strong lupe to see them!). At normal viewing distance its impossible to tell wet process prints and inkjets apart. The inks are also specially formulated to last a minimum of 10 years. (Guaranteed by Epson when used with their professional paper media). Under certain conditions, Silver Halide prints will not last this long.
All the Epson printer setup boxes are arranged in a similar fashion, regardless of which model you own. With the sample print open, choose File>Print from the drop down menu. The printer dialogue box now appears, but before we proceed to setup, we must define the printer colour space.
In the bottom part of the main box there is a space to define the printer profile. All Epson printers are shipped with their own ICC profile and is automatically associated with the printer when the driver software is installed.
Select the Epson printer space that matches your printer from the drop down menu. Note that the Printer Colour Management box is left unchecked.
Now click the Setup button. The next screen gives us the Page Setup dialogue. Click the Properties button to get to the next dialogue box which should give you four tabs, Main, Paper, Layout and Utility. At this stage we are only concerned with the Main tab. In this screen there is a Custom bullet which we should highlight. This then reveals an Advanced button, which we also click.
In this page we can select the appropriate paper we are using, print quality and more importantly the ICM setting. This tells the printer to match the IMAGE data profile (sRGB) to the printer ICC profile (Epson Stylus Photo 1270). At this point it bypasses the MONITOR profile because it does not contain any data about the image. We can now save the settings and recall them at any time in the future using the Custom bullet and drop down menu, instead of going through the last few screens. Press OK to all the open screens and wait for your print to emerge.
Unfortunately there is a price to pay for quality.
In this case it is speed, be patient.
Checking the Print
When the print emerges, look at the black and white areas particularly. These should be a neutral colour and provide a wide range of greys. The colour segment of the print should match the colours on screen fairly accurately, but remember to make an allowance for the fact that the monitor is effectively "backlit" and will be more contrasty than the print. Any minor tweaking can be done in the Adobe Gamma Control Panel, in the Gamma section of the routine where we adjusted the Red, Green and Blue colour channels. Use this to match the screen more closely with the print, never the other way round. Remember that this only changes how the MONITOR presents the image to us, and not how the printer reads the image data.
A Cautionary Note
At this point we should clarify the use of ICC printer profiles. Manufacturers will go to great lengths to formulate each individual profile for their printers, spending many thousands of pounds on getting it right. However, these only work when using the manufacturers inks, papers, and hardware together in combination.
If you are using a new paper that they have just brought out, or mixed combinations from other manufacturers, the ICC printer profiles are pretty useless.
This is where Epson score over other marques, because they allow you to create a number of specific profiles for almost any combination of materials and inks.
Printer Setup with Custom ICC Profile
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