Color Management – Aww, maaaan.

Today kids we are going to talk about taking photographs, printing photographs, and posting photographs on the web – Hurray! That means that we have to talk about “color management” – Aww, maaaan.

If you have ever read the “Captain Underpants” book series by Dav Pilkey, the preceding paragraph should sound familiar.

Now, I like to read to my son for a little while just before bedtime. Our routine is to read a short cute story borrowed from the library and then finish up with something weightier.  After we read through all four books of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series twice in a row, I told him we had to try something else for a while. We tried the Narnia series, but he decided they were too scary so for something different (and I mean completely different), we are reading “Captain Underpants”.

Anyway, back to color management. If you have read Captain Underpants, you will also know that before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story…

A while back I noticed that my aging Epson 2000P printer was not printing up to par. Even though I cleaned the heads and fiddled with it all the time, the prints became lighter and lighter until it was too noticeable to be ignored. I took some drastic void the warranty type measures like pouring alcohol down the nozzles and it got better, but I figured it was time for a new printer.

I decided to stick with Epson printers and budget-wise I needed to stick with a desktop model. That narrowed it down to the R1800 and the R2400. I went with the R1800 because I mostly do color prints and because I’m cheap.

My totally subjective totally unscientific review of the R1800 goes like this. It is a good printer.

Miner RunThe output is better than my 2000P, but not wildly so. The addition of a gloss optimizer is nice for glossy prints as it eliminates bronzing. The 1800 adds a red and a blue ink and both glossy and matte black inks to the original cyan, magenta, and yellow inks. I might be more psyched over the additional inks if my prints were more brightly colored. My stuff tends to have subdued earth tones – green, brown, black, grey, rust, etc. – not a lot of fire engine red or royal blue.

So the printer is fine. The problem is that anytime I change something in my workflow like a new camera, or computer monitor, or printer, I have to spend lots of time fiddling around to get all the parts to play nice with each other and give me output that I’m happy with. A new printer although not greatly different than my last one, means different inks in the printer, different drivers on my computer, and the possibility of using different papers.

I got the printer to print basically like my old one as a starting point. This wasn’t too difficult. Once I updated to all the latest drivers and what not, I pretty much used the same settings in the printer driver that I used on my 2000P and things looked pretty good.

Next I went nuts and decided to crank things up a notch. A new printer with new whiz-bang features should be better and not just the same, right? As Red Green would say, “If it ain’t broke, you’re not trying”.

The new gloss optimizer opens up the possibility of using gloss paper something that I had never been too keen on. However, paper manufacturers have come out with some new papers that I wanted to try – specifically ones that emulate the old sorta glossy F-type fiber based papers from the chemical print days. I ordered a sample pack of various papers from Moab (now owned by Legion). Next time I’ll tell you what my testing revealed.

(I promise this will come around to color management in the end.)

MDW

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3 Responses to “Color Management – Aww, maaaan.”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Color management sucks!

  2. fencer Says:

    I’ve played around printing at home – with an older Canon S830D – to print my photos and to make art cards but I think I’ve given up on photo printing. Don’t do it enough to keep the printer tuned up and the ink is so expensive to do it more…

    My strategy now is have my occasional photos that I want printed done by a professional shop, but probably color management is not so good that way either if one is fussy…

    Regards

  3. Aina Says:

    Great advice, here we learn about very well features.

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