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Thread: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

  1. #1
    mastamak's Avatar
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    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Following advice that I have read on this forum I decided it was time to get serious about calibrating my monitor. Fortunately I was able to borrow a new Spyder3 Studio from my local photographic society. Calibrating my monitors was quite straightforward and I was pleased to see that my main monitor (HPw1907) was pretty close to right but my secondary monitor (Samsung) was way out of whack. Now, happily, they both look much the same. But I have struck a problem with the printer calibration. The Spyder3 Studio includes a spectrometer that is used to read a 225 colour patch that you are supposed to print using standard papers, inks and with NO printer colour adjustment. When I did this the printed colour patches were generally darker than the same patches with colour adjustment, Particularly, there was little differentiation in the darker blues and greens. I suspected this would be a problem for the spectrometer and that appears to be the case as when I print from Photoshop (using Photoshop manages colours, printer profile set to the ICC created as above and no colour adjustment set for the printer properties) I get a very unsatisfactory result. However, when I print as above but with the manufacturer's ICC profile downloaded from the printer site (Epson) I get an image very close to what I see on the monitor. I am starting to think that I should print the colour patches using the standard printer ICC profile then read these with the spectrometer. I feel that this would fine tune the manufacturer's ICC and get an ICC closer to the correct value for my particular printer, paper & ink configuration.
    I would be grateful for any advice and help.

    Grant

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Hi Grant,

    It sounds to me that you are on the right track. This is a bit too technical for me, so I'd wait untill the boffins turn up later!

    I will say this however, using Epson's ICC profile is the better bet. I used to have an Epson and didn't get along with it very well. I've now switched to a Kodak. Anything bigger than A4 I outsource.

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Hi Grant,

    No - totally the wrong track I'm afraid.

    What we're trying to achieve with the reference print is "unbiased" output from the printer - a bit like your wife before she puts on the makeup. The program knows what colour SHOULD have printed, and the photospectrometer measures the colour that WAS printed. From there, a profile is created that adjusts what's asked for so that the printer in essence prints the colour you want.

    if you print the targets using a profile - then create a new profile - that new profile is all that's used, but it won't know that the previous targets were already biased. It's the difference between putting a set amount of makeup on your wife when she has no makeup - and putting exactly the same amount of makeup on her after she's already put the normal amount on herself ... and the results may not be pretty!

    Side note while I think of it: You're not calibrating your monitor - most of what you're doing is profiling it. Calibration is adjusting the controls, profiling is the final adjustment done by the software. (just a little pet "thing" of mine!)

    There are a few "gotchas" though - Don't print with the media settings set to standard paper though per sec - it really depends on what you media is. The built in media defaults determine the base settings that are used by the printer - for example, canvas may absorb more ink than glossy paper, and may require more drying time - so if you choose semi-gloss paper and then try to profile canvas, you'll probably get a poor result. So choose the closest type and weight of media setting to match what you have - write it down - and don't ever forget to use it when you're printing on that paper when using the profile you've created (gotcha #1). Make sure the printer is set to NO ADJUSTMENT (gotcha #2) and remember that the ink may change colour whilst it dries - so if in doubt, leave it at least a couple of hours if you can - not hypercritical, but helps (gotcha #3). The photospectrometer shines a light onto the paper - if it's thin paper it can pass right through and pickup some reflection from what ever is underneath (yellow pine wood did you say?) (gotcha #4). Also, when scanning with my Photospectrometer, occasionally it'll miss a reading - DON'T GET OUT OF SEQUENCE (gocha #5).

    Keep in mind that the colour you get is a function of the media settings + printer bias + ink colourants + paper + the chemical reaction that occurs between the last two. So you're creating a profile - in essence - for an ink / paper / media settings combination - so it's important to always use the same ink / paper / media settings with that profile.

    Keep in mind too that it's not an exact science - monitors are an additive colour process with red, green, and blue colourants that have about a 6 stop dynamic range. On the other hand, printers use a subtractive process with cyan, magenta, yellow colourants, and have about a 4 stop dynamic range - so they're as different as chauk and cheese. What comes out the printer will never match what's on the monitor perfectly - but at least (hopefully) it'll be consistent. I consistently get blue -> purple shifts for example.

    Hope this helps

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    mastamak's Avatar
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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Thank you Colin for taking the time to give me a very comprehensive reply. I am confident I generally understand the purpose of monitor calibration - sorry, profiling and likewise the need to create a particular printer profile for my combination of printer/media/ink. However, the difficulty I am having is that when I print the Spyder colour patches with no colour management the colour differentiation for a large number of the darker colours in the printed image is so subtle that I am not confident that the photospectrometer can differentiate sufficiently to create an accurate printer profile. In fact, I am sure this is the case as images printed with the profile generated from this exercise are clearly in error. The images below will (I hope) illustrate the problem.

    Image #1
    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Image #2
    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Image #1 shows the Spyder colour patches printed with colour management to give a rough idea of what they are supposed to look like. Image #2 was printed with no colour management. Image #2 has lost all the subtlety of colour in the lower left corner, hence my concern that the spectro cannot generate a useful profile. I can only think I am doing something wrong with the "no colour management" setting.
    Grant

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Quote Originally Posted by mastamak View Post
    Thank you Colin for taking the time to give me a very comprehensive reply. I am confident I generally understand the purpose of monitor calibration - sorry, profiling and likewise the need to create a particular printer profile for my combination of printer/media/ink. However, the difficulty I am having is that when I print the Spyder colour patches with no colour management the colour differentiation for a large number of the darker colours in the printed image is so subtle that I am not confident that the photospectrometer can differentiate sufficiently to create an accurate printer profile. In fact, I am sure this is the case as images printed with the profile generated from this exercise are clearly in error. The images below will (I hope) illustrate the problem.

    Image #1
    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Image #2
    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Image #1 shows the Spyder colour patches printed with colour management to give a rough idea of what they are supposed to look like. Image #2 was printed with no colour management. Image #2 has lost all the subtlety of colour in the lower left corner, hence my concern that the spectro cannot generate a useful profile. I can only think I am doing something wrong with the "no colour management" setting.
    Grant
    Grant

    The second target sheet is very dark as expected and right for profiling with the Spyder. When the straight-though path to the printer is not affected by applying a print profile, what you get is just the effect of ink on the paper you're using. It's now down to the spectrophotometer to read the resulting colour and make sense of it, given the input data that was sent. It's the making sense that provides the data for a correct profile.

    How different the spectro finds one patch from the next is not the important thing: what is important is how different the spectro finds any patch from what it expects, given the colour data sent to the printer.

    A (made up) example may help: Suppose the target data is (85, 100, 180) and (90, 110, 256) for adjacent patches but they print looking nearly the same. The job of the spectro is to discover that they look the same, to 'know' that they should not look the same, and provide the data to build the profile that will rectify that characteristic of the ink and paper.

    You may be right to be concerned about the measurement capability of the instrument - but not in terms of whether it can distinguish one patch from the other. It doesn't have to do that.

    As Colin notes, incorrect media settings and adequate drying times can really screw up measurements with any printer profiling gear.

    For a bit more on media settings have a look at Keith Cooper's stuff at http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/a..._settings.html

    Cheers

    Tim

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Hello Grant,

    Just a note to reinforce the advice given by Colin and Tim. I use a Spyder 2 and print with an Epson 3800. My patches look very similar to yours – large blocks of apparently identical colours that should look slightly different to one another. Don't worry – the fact that printing the patches with an ICC profile gives you a more expected result shows that the process is actually working! Just stick with it, and use Colin's advice – your almost there.

    Regards,

    Nick.

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    If it helps, feel free to post some screen shots of your print dialog boxes.

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Thanks very much Mark, Tim, Nick and Colin. I now have a much better understanding of the process and I will persist with the Spectro. Very reassuring to learn, Nick, that your patches look similar - so there is nothing dramatically wrong with my printer.

    Just to clear up one last matter I will take up Colin's offer to post my print dialog boxes. I cannot work out, in the printing process what takes precedence - The Windows colour management, photoshop settings or the printer settings in the photoshop dialog box. I hope the example below illustrates my question. For the sake of clarity I have entered different printer profiles that I don't necessarily use:

    This is the Windows printer properties;

    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Here is my Photoshop print dialog. I am using "Photoshop manages colours" and setting a printer profile "SPRX500 ..."

    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    And, finally my print settings

    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Should I remove all of the printer profiles in the Windows printer properties or are they simply overwritten by Photoshop?

    Is the Photoshop print dialog correct? Does this setting mean that the printer is forced to use the profile set in this box?

    Finally - the print setting made under Photoshop. If I set "no colour adjustment", as in this example, I presume the profile set in the previous box is the one used by Photoshop? On the other hand, if set "colour management" or "photo enhance" in this last box will it overwrite the previous photoshop print settings?

    Sorry to be so persistent but the only other way I can figure this out is by trial and error and that is getting a bit expensive in terms of ink and paper.

    Grant

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Hello Grant,
    I can answer some of your questions – but not all since the specifics of the dialogue boxes changes with operating system and printer model. Hopefully Colin or others will be able to fill in the blanks. I suggest that we give others a chance to do that prior to doing any more patch printing.

    OK that said, here are some answers – hopefully they will help and not cause more confusion.

    All the colour management profiles are kept in one place on a Windows system – Typically C:\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\color. So the dialogue boxes in your post above all point to that same place. There is no separate store of profiles for Windows or Photoshop.

    I normally have the “Color Management” in the Printer Properties set to Automatic. The actual setting here should not matter. This is because you have selected “No Color Adjustment” in the print settings dialogue What that should do is to tell Windows to NOT apply any profile or colour management to the data it sends to the printer. That is correct and is consistent with your Photoshop dialogue which shows “Photoshop Manages Colors”. The Photoshop dialogue also shows a profile is selected – which means that the data sent to the printer will have that profile applied via Photoshop and NOT via Windows or the printer driver. This is correct and consistent with the exclamation warning triangle.

    By setting things as described you avoid the common pitfall of having two lots of colour management applied to a print job. When the spyder software prints the patches (the ones with the colours that look “wrong”) - It prints without ANY colour management. So the resulting profile is built in such a way as to normalise the printer output for that one specific printer / ink / paper / media settings combination. When you print your patches you must use your intended paper and the appropriate media settings. Once the profile is built it must be used with the same paper and media settings.

    For photo printing turn OFF “High Speed” printing – shown in your last dialogue box. High speed on Epson printers is actually bi-directional printing. For that to work on photos printer head alignment has to be perfect, so leave that for another day.

    HTH

    Regards,

    Nick.

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Quote Originally Posted by mastamak View Post
    Thanks very much Mark, Tim, Nick and Colin. I now have a much better understanding of the process and I will persist with the Spectro. Very reassuring to learn, Nick, that your patches look similar - so there is nothing dramatically wrong with my printer.

    Just to clear up one last matter I will take up Colin's offer to post my print dialog boxes. I cannot work out, in the printing process what takes precedence - The Windows colour management, photoshop settings or the printer settings in the photoshop dialog box. I hope the example below illustrates my question. For the sake of clarity I have entered different printer profiles that I don't necessarily use:

    This is the Windows printer properties;

    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Here is my Photoshop print dialog. I am using "Photoshop manages colours" and setting a printer profile "SPRX500 ..."

    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    And, finally my print settings

    Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Should I remove all of the printer profiles in the Windows printer properties or are they simply overwritten by Photoshop?

    Is the Photoshop print dialog correct? Does this setting mean that the printer is forced to use the profile set in this box?

    Finally - the print setting made under Photoshop. If I set "no colour adjustment", as in this example, I presume the profile set in the previous box is the one used by Photoshop? On the other hand, if set "colour management" or "photo enhance" in this last box will it overwrite the previous photoshop print settings?

    Sorry to be so persistent but the only other way I can figure this out is by trial and error and that is getting a bit expensive in terms of ink and paper.

    Grant
    Grant

    I don't use Windows personally, but in helping Windows users locally I must confess to having suffered a bit of the same issue as you in terms of the number of dialogues to keep and eye on to ensure everything goes well.

    That said:
    • your Photoshop settings look right (assuming the profile you've selected is the one you want to apply) and the print driver selection (no colour adjustment) is also correct.

    • Your Spyder-produced profile doesn't appear in the list in the printer properties. Did you remove it? (It should be in the directory fingered by Nick).

    • I would worry, like Nick, about the 'Manual' profile setting under the print properties. For a start I don't like it apparently defaulting to sRGB. sRGB is not a proper print profile. And I'd worry that with 'Manual' selected, it might over-ride the PS and/or driver settings. I'd choose 'Automatic' as suggested by Nick.

    Keen to hear how you get on.

    Tim

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Hi Grant,

    There's really 2 phases to this:

    1. Producing an accurate profile, and

    2. Printing with that profile.

    First things first ... producing an accurate profile ...

    Do do this - in essence - all we need to do is print the patches with all forms of colour management switched off, but ensuring we use the correct (or at least appropriate) media settings, and then scan it with the photospectrometer. When printing the patches, Photoshop isn't involved - so it's just printer settings.

    Your settings are different to mine - but in theory, the colour management tab in the printer properties sheet shouldn't enter into the equasion - but having said that, I'd probably put it on automatic in case a manual selection overrides the no colour management property (it shouldn't - but that's how I'd do it anyway). The ability to select a profile under the main tab bothers me slightly, but again, so long as no colour adjustment is selected, you should be OK.

    The burning question in my mind though is "have you created any profiles yet?", and if so, were are they?

    If you have, then that's the profile you need to select in Photoshop - all other settings look OK, but, a couple more things ...

    It's been mentioned that you have "high speed" selected - normally this enables bidirectional printing. If you turn it off you'll get better looking prints IN THEORY; if it's anything like my 7800, you won't see any difference, and it'll take 3 times as long - so your call there. The other thing ... there is another option to print a patch sheet with 700+ patches - if you're desperate, you might like to try that - it's a pain to scan, but you only need do it once.

    I don't pay a lot of attention to what the patches look like, but having just said that, I don't recall any groups quite that dark ... so not sure if that's helpful! If you still don't have any luck, let me know and I'll print out a set and take a closer look.

    Make sure you're using the latest spyderprint software too - the earlier versions left a bit to be desired.

  12. #12
    mastamak's Avatar
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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Thank you, Tim, Nick and Colin. I have persisted with the spectro and have selected the Spyder generated printer profile as described above. I am pleased to say that I am now getting a printed output that is comparable to the Photoshop soft proof, so I hope I can say - "Mission Accomplished".
    Grant

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Grant,
    Yes "Mission Accomplished" - Very well done

    Regards,

    Nick.

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    Re: Calibration Issues - Am I on the right track

    Quote Originally Posted by mastamak View Post
    Thank you, Tim, Nick and Colin. I have persisted with the spectro and have selected the Spyder generated printer profile as described above. I am pleased to say that I am now getting a printed output that is comparable to the Photoshop soft proof, so I hope I can say - "Mission Accomplished".
    Grant
    Well done Grant

    Just a final note - prints NEVER match monitors, but if both are profiled, then at least the results you get should be consistent - and thus you'll learn what compensations you need. If you're keep to learn more, the industry standard text on colour management is Real World Color Management 2nd edition, by Fraser, Murphy, and Bunting. It can make your brain hurt, but it's well worth the effort, especially when we can help explain things here for you.

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