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Thread: Color Management Confusion

  1. #1

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    Color Management Confusion

    Hi,
    As rule I like my colors to be quite bold. I printed a couple of pictures a little while ago and I was very dissapointed with the reds and yellows. To try and improve in the future I carefully read the four tutorials on color management. In general terms I thought I got it. However, when one tried to relate the information to my current equipment it becomes a little more difficult. I have an HP all-in-one printer (which does not boast HP's latest inkjet technology) and a 19" flat panel LCD monitor attached to my laptop for photographic work.
    I have tried to establish the color profile for each and the best I can do is estimate that they both function similarly as 8 bit sRGB. My computer, which I assume acts as the CMM for all these devices boasts a 32 bit color quality and appears to function as sRGB also. My camera, a Canon XT, allows me to choose between RGB, which Canon recommends, or sRGB, which the handbook implies is used by people that know what they are doing.
    So putting all this together, it does not appear that I have much control over my color quality. In adition the dialogue box in PSE 7 allows the selection of "Let the printer control" which disables the "Printer Profile "pull down menu which allows a number of selections which inlclude RGB-sRGB, CMYK-US web, and sRGB. I substitute a CMYK ink cartridge when printing photos.
    To say I am at somewhat of a loss as to how I should proceed is an understatement. So if anyone can help me I will very much appreciate it.

    Regards

    Paul.

  2. #2

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    Re: color Management

    Hi Paul,

    I can't tell you more rather than: Buy a calibration device.

    I have one and all my colors are great and my prints are stunning no problem on colors at all.

    I was using some profiles and adjustments but it didn't work great as with my calibration adjustments, and my advice for you is to buy an inkjet printer, not Laser or all-in-one [called multifunction] printer.

    Good luck!

  3. #3

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    Re: color Management

    Hi Paul,

    Working from a calibrated and profiled screen to a profiled printer is always the first step ...

    The other thing to keep in mind is that CMYK printers struggle with bright reds because they don't have a red ink, wheres the monitor has a red channel - so it's easy to go out of gamut with the bright ones. Yellow isn't normally an issue though (unless you try and go too bright and it ends up washing out).

    If you're serious about colour management then the book "Real World Color Management" by Fraser, Murphy, and Bunting is "required reading".

  4. #4

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    Re: color Management

    Tareq, there's nothing wrong with a good multi function printer, all it means is that the machinery has a scanner attached. I have a Canon MP980 multi function inkjet and you would need to spend a lot of money to get a noticeably better A4 print.
    What I'm saying is don't write off all multifunction units. While some of the cheaper multis are marginal in their results, the better quality ones are quite surprising in the results they give, particularly if they incorporate a Grey cartridge like the MP980, you'd be amazed at how much of it is used even in colour prints.

  5. #5

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    Re: color Management

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill44 View Post
    Tareq, there's nothing wrong with a good multi function printer, all it means is that the machinery has a scanner attached. I have a Canon MP980 multi function inkjet and you would need to spend a lot of money to get a noticeably better A4 print.
    What I'm saying is don't write off all multifunction units. While some of the cheaper multis are marginal in their results, the better quality ones are quite surprising in the results they give, particularly if they incorporate a Grey cartridge like the MP980, you'd be amazed at how much of it is used even in colour prints.
    I had one old before [HP model i can't remember] and the colors or prints were good but never come closer to my Epson Pro 3800, even not good as another HP inkjet printer of my friend or my Epson stylus very very old one, so i can see that those MF inkjets are doing good for document prints but not for photo high quality.

    Sorry for my replies but seems i shouldn't be direct advice or recommendation without more proof or testing things, so for the OP here i hope he can get the colors correct and right with whatever he uses.

  6. #6
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    Re: color Management

    I think if you set everything right you have a lot of control. I managed to get my new printer to print what I see onscreen. I can even get it to print identical red (it's cmyk printer printing rgb images on hobbicolor ink, re: my post about it yeah it's worked out ). Getting office epson dx5000 in particular to print what is on screen was awkward to say the least. It uses cheaper compatible carts and the epson setup options don't seem too flexible and defaults to dumbed down approach (which is good unless you're trying to do this).

    Basically what worked for me will work for you if I haven't misunderstood your question. If I have got the wrong idea sorry, if not then I hope this will answer your issue. First set driver opions to allow ICM rather than printer color control. Manually set everything up to allow for colour managed environment from the printer settings point of view. Now open photoshop and in print options set to pshop manages colours like you did. Set the approprate ICC profiles, you will need ones for your printer and the paper you use. Some cheaper papers I notice have no profile of their own but have close well known brand recommendation so use this.

    For instance when I print an sRGB image photoshop automatically selects the colourspace of the document, then I set my printer profile to matching paper etc so for canon pro glossy paper in my ip4600 I use "canon ip4600 pr1" and have driver set to ICM, paper type proglossy and detail level 1 (hence pr1). This will vary for your printer and paper. Print when all done and see if matches, if not you will need to tweak it. I had to tweak dx5000 to get a match. To do this I set everything as appropriate to closest match then override some settings (dropped magenta levels under manual control in driver settings, tiny up on the yellow and gamma 1.8 gives perfect brightness match). I printed a small dot sampled from an image that printed too pink in the reds, if it didn't match I moved the dot over in pshop (to allow me to compare to preview result and save paper) and printed again with revised settings. Eventually I got the epson to match the screen output and my own canon output.

    Hope this helps. It might not be clear so if there is any bits you do't understand please just say and I'll try to clarify, post pics of examples or make vid with cam studio for ya or something.

  7. #7
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    Re: color Management

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    As rule I like my colors to be quite bold. I printed a couple of pictures a little while ago and I was very dissapointed with the reds and yellows.
    This begs the question of whether the colors actually were bold in the original photograph. Generally speaking, color management is designed to give you more control over color accuracy, but not necessarily to manipulate colors. That's more the job of various editing tools in photoshop. However, once you've done the editing, and the colors look bold on your monitor, then color management can help ensure that they are replicated in print as accurately as possible with your equipment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    To try and improve in the future I carefully read the four tutorials on color management. In general terms I thought I got it. However, when one tried to relate the information to my current equipment it becomes a little more difficult.
    The concept of color management can get quite technical, and is indeed a "color science". However, a typical photographer often doesn't have to worry about the inner workings of the process once they find a workflow that works, and they are able to stick with it. In other words, while there's a science to it, there's definitely also an art to getting your colors just right, depending on the range of colors in the original photo, the printer and your monitor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    I have an HP all-in-one printer (which does not boast HP's latest inkjet technology) and a 19" flat panel LCD monitor attached to my laptop for photographic work.
    I have tried to establish the color profile for each and the best I can do is estimate that they both function similarly as 8 bit sRGB.
    Be careful here. The just because two devices have the same color gamut does not necessarily mean that their color reproduction will be the same within that color space (see below for a lengthier description). In other words, it's the distinction between the edges of the color space (full saturation) and the colors at it's interior (the more subtle tones which are not at full saturation).

    The LCD monitor's color gamut is likely somewhere near sRGB if it's a mainstream model, but many LCD displays have their contrast increased by the manufacturer to give them more pop in the store showroom. This means that even though the total range of colors is encompassed by sRGB, all colors may appear much more saturated than would otherwise appear. If your color is at the edge of what the monitor can display (such as a red value of 255 and 0 for green/blue), then the increased contrast will not influence that color. However, all other colors will be pushed closer to the edges of the sRGB color space (making them more saturated).

    What does this all mean? It means that colors will look much duller when printed when compared to how they appear on the monitor, even if the color space of your printer is the same as that of the monitor (not likely). This is why monitor calibration is so important, but you've presumably now got this aspect covered based on your previous thread (Calibrating laptop monitors).

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    My computer, which I assume acts as the CMM for all these devices boasts a 32 bit color quality and appears to function as sRGB also.
    32 bit color quality on a monitor generally just means regular 24 bit color plus "alpha channel". In other words, each pixel has a red, green or blue value of 0-255 (8 bit), plus a channel which describes how transparent that pixel is, which also ranges from 0-255 (8 bit). Whether your monitor functions like sRGB, and how it differs, are what your monitor calibration device will take care of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    My camera, a Canon XT, allows me to choose between RGB, which Canon recommends, or sRGB, which the handbook implies is used by people that know what they are doing.
    The color space setting only applies to JPEG files produced by your camera. This generally won't matter much if you are using a color aware application to print the image, such as photoshop, and if your printer's color gamut is not much wider than sRGB.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    So putting all this together, it does not appear that I have much control over my color quality. In addition the dialogue box in PSE 7 allows the selection of "Let the printer control" which disables the "Printer Profile "pull down menu which allows a number of selections which inlclude RGB-sRGB, CMYK-US web, and sRGB. I substitute a CMYK ink cartridge when printing photos.
    Using the "let the printer control" setting in Photoshop just means that color will instead be controlled by the printer driver software, as opposed to being controlled by Photoshop itself. If checked, you will therefore need to define your color settings within the printer properties menu. This is different for almost every printer, so you will need to consult the manual or play with the printer properties menu on this one.

    OK, so this might seem a bit overwhelming and even confusing. Here's my advice: EXPERIMENT. If it's not too expensive, try different combinations of settings to see what gives the desired result. The settings I would concern myself with most would be: the printer profile and other printer settings, the photoshop color space settings, and the embedded color profile used in your JPEG file. One can often get better results much more quickly by doing it this way, compared to trying to understand the meaning of every step. Of course, understanding is very helpful, and should certainly be pursued (the books Colin mentioned are great), but is not something that has to be completed before printing your first photograph. It will take time, reading, and lot's of trial and error to get a feel for it all...

    You might also find the following two threads helpful as well:

    (1) Preventing washed out prints from Walmart, HyVee, Sam's etc.
    (2) Why do Adobe RGB 1998 photos look dull on my monitor?
    Last edited by McQ; 5th March 2009 at 05:57 PM.

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    Re: Color Management Confusion

    Hi again,

    Colin, based upon your comment, would I be advised to ignore the CMYK ink container and leave the RBG one in the printer?

    THANX
    Paul
    Last edited by McQ; 5th March 2009 at 05:46 PM.

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    Re: Color Management Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    Colin, based upon your comment, would I be advised to ignore the CMYK ink container and leave the RBG one in the printer?
    Hi Paul,

    To be honest, I wouldn't have a clue (I didn't even know that they made RGB cats for printers). Many like mine (Epson 7800) esentially have an extended CMYK set, but they're accessed via an RGB interface (so the image remains set for RGB, not CMYK).

    If I were you, I'd start by getting a copy of the book I recommended - it would take a bit of time to work through, but once you understand whats going on in terms of profiles & colourspaces you'll be in a much better position to handle the issues you're coming across. Next - if you're serious about colour management - then there's no escaping the requirement for profiling equipment (probably something like a ColorMunki would suit you).

    Unfortunately it's just one of those areas where if you want guaranteed consistent results then there are no shortcuts.
    Last edited by McQ; 5th March 2009 at 05:55 PM. Reason: split thread

  10. #10

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    Re: Color Management Confusion

    Thankyou all for your responses. Mc.Qs information will prove extremely usefull. Although I am searching very hard for the specific info for my printer. They only speak computerese and I only speak Paul's English. Oh well keep on trucking.
    Paul

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