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Thread: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

  1. #1
    NLAlston's Avatar
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    Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    I have been wrestling with this dilemma for quite some time, and can see no way (at present) out of this pit. I am very interested in getting into printing photos at home, and my present printer is the Epson Artisan 725. I have the Spyder2 Express monitor calibration device, and have gone through the calibration steps a number of time - but never without any change. Mr prints DO NOT reflect what is displayed on my screen. They come out TOO DARK. Now, I have calibrated under the general lighting that I normally work under, and also with no lights being on in the room at all. As per ColorVision's recommendation I always reset my LCD monitor to its default setting. But no satisfaction with my printouts have been realized. The colors aren't right, and the prints are too dark.

    Does anyone have an idea as to what else I could try? By the way (in case this info might be important) my monitor is the HP 2509b model).

    Advanced thanks.

  2. #2
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    I use an xRite Color Munki Photo to calibrate my monitor; it also calibrates my printer by printing out a target which is then scanned using the same Color Munki device.

    This does get me very close to being able to print exactly the colors that I see on my monitor; but the brightness of the image is another matter: that setting is one which I have to fiddle with myself during the monitor calibration process.

    Prior to getting the Color Munki device, I wasn't doing too badly just by virtue of the fact that I had Photoshop color managed to run in Adobe RGB color space; I had all my images digitized to the same color space; and my color laser printer was set up to Adobe RGB color space (which it called "Prepress") also.

    Color management is one of the most difficult areas of digital photography to master, since by definition when we edit images we are starting to move color values away from what the camera originally defines them to be; but it is also the most rewarding area of digital photography to master, since it allows one to really take control of the editing process.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    See if you can set printer to: "Supported Digital Camera Technologies: Exif Print".

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    NLAlston's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Thanks John (Morton), and the other John (Shadowman) .

    I appreciate the info, and will certainly see if I can get my printer to adopt that suggested setting.

    I was printing my photos through Photoshop CS6, but I just tried the same recent photo through Lightroom 4. In the latter program my prints came out a whole lot better. Still not a perfect representation of what was shown on my screen, but a far cry from what I was presented via CS6.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Nathan - Your prints will NEVER look the same as they do on the screen. Your screen uses an additive / transmitted light colour process (RGB) and your printer uses a subtractive / reflected light (CMYK) process.

    The brightest you can ever get a print to be is the white of the paper stock you are using (you don't see a lot of printers with white ink), whereas you can just turn up the brightness on your screen if you want things to look brighter. The gamut of your screen and printer are going to be quite different too.

    Did you adjust the brightness and contrast on your monitor as per the calibration instructions? I assume you are using the correct ICC profiles for your printer / paper combination.

    Have you used the soft proofing function in Photoshop, as this will give you a view of what your printed output will look like, although on my screen it is still brighter than what I get in the print? I actually resorted to using a black fill layer as my top layer in Photoshop and turned the the opacity down to around 5% to better emulate what I was seen on a physical print,

  6. #6
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Hi Nathan,

    Can you calibrate the brightness of your screen with the Spyder2?

    On my calibration device I can choose the luminance level I want and then the device tells me to put the brightness up/down to get the right level. I use 100 candela per square metre (cd/m2). Most monitors will be putting out over 200 by default. I run my screen at 14% brightness to achieve this.

    If your screen is too bright you will become accustomed to bright images. You will naturally darken your photos when developing them to tone down the brightness. They will then print very dark since a print can never match the brightness of a screen.

    If you cannot calibrate luminance then here is something you can try instead. Download a test image from here:

    http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/a...st_images.html

    Try the Datacolor test image because Keith has written notes on what to look for in the print.

    Print the image without modifications to colour/brightness/etc. See how it looks compared with Keith's notes.

    If you see what he expects then your printer is fine. You then need to adjust your monitor brightness down to a level where it agrees with the print.

    If you see a very dark image then you have a problem with your printer. This image is the correct exposure. So either your printer is poor or you are expecting too much from the printer.

    Alex

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    NLAlston's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Alex provided me with a Data Color Test Image link, and the following two images with reveal the differences in what I am getting. There has been a wealth of information provided to me, here, and I do truly appreciate the time & effort expended on my behalf. I will certainly travel through the steps of applying everything that's been shared with me, towards championing the matter.

    Data Color Test Image:
    Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    My Printer's Output (which, actually, looks much darker on photo paper):
    Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

  8. #8
    NLAlston's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Well, I just finished printing the Data Color Test Image again - this time, via Lightroom. I don't know why there is such a variance betwixt the the two Adobe programs (Photoshop and Lightroom), but the latter made a world of difference. I compared this printout against the data Color Test Image, on my screen, and the two were nearly identical. You really hard to look hard to see what very minor color differences there were. Perfect? No. As I just very recently learned, from a responder to my post, a print output will NEVER match (perfectly) the image presented on a monitor. But what I have, now, is close enough to make me happy . Hopefully, this wasn't just a fluke.

  9. #9
    herbert's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Hi Nathan,

    Glad you are making progress. It sounds like maybe you had some printer profile issues.

    Photoshop (and other coloured managed programs) can send the data to the printer as is and let the printer convert the colours for printing (printer colour management). Or they can convert the colours themselves and send them to the printer. To allow for this there is a setting in the printer dialogue that allows you to turn off colour management.

    If Photoshop has converted the colours, then the printer converts the colours again then they will be wrong. You must ensure that either:

    1. The program (Photoshop/Lightroom) leaves the colours alone and the printer then converts them
    2. The program (Photoshop/Lightroom) converts the colours and the printer leaves them alone

    Option 1 is the default since it will work for all programs. They just send data to the printer and it does all the conversion.

    Option 2 is used when you have a lot of faith in your colour managed program. Usually you can specify more about how the conversion is done such as the rendering intent (relative/perceptive). It is useful when you want more control than your printer options allow.

    Have a look at your printer dialogue and see if you can find a section where you can set colour management to none or off. Then try printing with colour management turned on in Photoshop/Lightroom.

    Note that both Photoshop and Lightroom remember and pass through settings for the printer dialogue. So the setting in the Print Dialogue with Photoshop/Lightroom will not be the same as any other program (or even between Photoshop and Lightroom). This is a bit annoying. I just get round it by always checking the settings before printing.

    Alex

  10. #10
    NLAlston's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    Hi Nathan,

    Glad you are making progress. It sounds like maybe you had some printer profile issues.

    Photoshop (and other coloured managed programs) can send the data to the printer as is and let the printer convert the colours for printing (printer colour management). Or they can convert the colours themselves and send them to the printer. To allow for this there is a setting in the printer dialogue that allows you to turn off colour management.

    If Photoshop has converted the colours, then the printer converts the colours again then they will be wrong. You must ensure that either:

    1. The program (Photoshop/Lightroom) leaves the colours alone and the printer then converts them
    2. The program (Photoshop/Lightroom) converts the colours and the printer leaves them alone

    Option 1 is the default since it will work for all programs. They just send data to the printer and it does all the conversion.

    Option 2 is used when you have a lot of faith in your colour managed program. Usually you can specify more about how the conversion is done such as the rendering intent (relative/perceptive). It is useful when you want more control than your printer options allow.

    Have a look at your printer dialogue and see if you can find a section where you can set colour management to none or off. Then try printing with colour management turned on in Photoshop/Lightroom.

    Note that both Photoshop and Lightroom remember and pass through settings for the printer dialogue. So the setting in the Print Dialogue with Photoshop/Lightroom will not be the same as any other program (or even between Photoshop and Lightroom). This is a bit annoying. I just get round it by always checking the settings before printing.

    Alex
    Alex, let me tell you what I just did. Right after reading your response, I went to my printer's software settings and ventured into an area that I had never gone, before. I found a monitor calibration feature, there, and went through the laid out procedure for calibration. I had, previously, calibrated my monitor with my Spyder2Express calibration device, but thought that I would chance what my printer's software had to offer. There were a few things that I had to change, but 'flattening out' my Brightness & Contrast levels were the biggest. My monitor screen is a fair bit darker than I was used to viewing it but, like anything else, I can adapt. I just finished printing out a photo, and came away quite amazed at the mega-difference in quality. It is almost like night and day. I allowed my printer to handle the print output, after this new calibration, and its output is like a night & day difference from what I was getting, before.
    For the 'Big Ticket' jobs (such as weddings, etc.) I may certainly hire the services of a professional printing lab. But there are times when a client may come to me with a request for a single photo, or two, and I always want to be able to give the best that I can.

    I am using a Continuous Ink Supply System and had, initially, thought it was the inks which was causing the problem. But so many others (who also bought their CIS systems from Hotzone 360) were raving about their satisfaction with the quality of their print outputs, and I figured against anything being wrong, or inferior with the inks. As it turns out, I have found what the problem was, and am now sitting before a system that I feel I can depend on to deliver just what I am looking for.

    Thank you for your guidance, and this thanks go out to ALL who participated in an effort to help me conquer my dilemma. You all are the absolute BEST - and I mean this, sincerely.

  11. #11
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Nathan - in general, when using my colour managed system, for printing, I let Photoshop handle the colour management, rather than letting the printer. In your case, it is probably even more important to do so, as the printer will be using profiles for the Epson inks rather than those for the ink supplier that you are using.

    As your printer is not a pro printer, I rather suspect that the ink manufacturer will not necessarily have a broad range of ink / paper profiles avaialble, which means you will likely have to develop custom profiles for the ink you are using for each different paper type. You should check what is supported on the ink supplier's website.

    I found for my printer (Epson 3880), the only time I let the printer set the colours is when I am printing B&W as I find that the Photoshop colours have a bit of a green overtone, whereas the printer management gives me true black. I use the Epson inks so if I use Epson paper, the profiles are built into the printer drives and if I use third party paper (I sometimes use Moab paper), I can go to the Moab website and get the appropriate ICC profiles for my printer / paper combination on line and download and install them.

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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Nathan - in general, when using my colour managed system, for printing, I let Photoshop handle the colour management, rather than letting the printer.
    Agreed. I cannot think of a single occasion where I'd let the printer manage the process over Photoshop.

  13. #13
    NLAlston's Avatar
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Nathan - in general, when using my colour managed system, for printing, I let Photoshop handle the colour management, rather than letting the printer. In your case, it is probably even more important to do so, as the printer will be using profiles for the Epson inks rather than those for the ink supplier that you are using.

    As your printer is not a pro printer, I rather suspect that the ink manufacturer will not necessarily have a broad range of ink / paper profiles avaialble, which means you will likely have to develop custom profiles for the ink you are using for each different paper type. You should check what is supported on the ink supplier's website.

    I found for my printer (Epson 3880), the only time I let the printer set the colours is when I am printing B&W as I find that the Photoshop colours have a bit of a green overtone, whereas the printer management gives me true black. I use the Epson inks so if I use Epson paper, the profiles are built into the printer drives and if I use third party paper (I sometimes use Moab paper), I can go to the Moab website and get the appropriate ICC profiles for my printer / paper combination on line and download and install them.
    Manfred, I thank you.

    Yes, I would LOVE to have Photoshop manage my color managements, but it has been such a huge battle for me. One thing that confuses me is why Photoshop will have such a difference in color output from Lightroom - when they are both from the Adobe family.

    The fact that I use inks from a CISS may be 'eyebrow raising' to some, especially when the manufacturer had informed me (upon questioning) that there were no ink/paper profiles for them. But, what I am about to add is very likely to stun your senses . The paper I am currently using is photo paper purchased from BJ's. I bought 150 sheets of gloss photo paper for the measley sum of $20. Yes, I know that this borders on madness, but it wasn't as if I was expecting truly optimum results from that paper. I definitely could not afford to test my equipment out by using the best papers (my wife would have killed me, found a way to bring me back to life - and killed me AGAIN ), but I hoped that it would get me close enough to realize where my position would have been had I used the more expensive paper. Methinks that I am about ready, now, to venture into such papers. I am close enough where I think I will fare rather nicely by doing so.

    Hopefully, I am right.

  14. #14
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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Agreed. I cannot think of a single occasion where I'd let the printer manage the process over Photoshop.
    I do all of my printing from InDesign. I do my photo editing from Photoshop but I place my images into an InDesign document and I print from there (so that I can use the 'optimized subsampling' option).

    I output all my files as Adobe RGB and I let my printer handle the conversion into CMYK. It is a very upscale color laser printer, state of the art when it was released in ~1998 as a way to produce prepress proofs before running jobs on a commercial web press; and consequently, it has a very advanced Rasterized Image Processor (RIP) that is calibrated specifically to optimize its own print output.

    This, then, would be an instance where it is better to let the printer handle color management than to give the job to Photoshop.

    That being said, I am aware that for the longest time one of the main reasons that inkjet printers were so much cheaper than color laser printers is precisely because inkjets did not include the very expensive RIP software which came with color laser printers.

    I have no idea what the situation is now in the marketplace; but I would expect that the higher end inkjet printers must by now be including custom RIP software.

    In any event, it is very important to make sure that the color management decisions made within the editing software match those to which they correspond in the printer; the choice of color space (Adobe RGB, sRGB, etc.) being a very big factor which often trips up the unsuspecting.

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    Re: Cannot defeat my 'Dark Printing' issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    In any event, it is very important to make sure that the color management decisions made within the editing software match those to which they correspond in the printer; the choice of color space (Adobe RGB, sRGB, etc.) being a very big factor which often trips up the unsuspecting.
    Not if Photoshop is managing the print process, as it'll convert the space to whatever the printer profile can handle, in accordance with the selected rendering intent.

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