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Old Tuesday 11th August 2015, 17:35   #1
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Photo printers

I've been taking digital photos for a while but have only recently entered the realm of more sophisticated post-processing. My camera+lens kit isn't particularly advanced but I now take all pictures in RAW and use Canon's DPP (and also wondering if upgrading to Lightroom should be a consideration).

I'm now beginning to see the rendition of colour between monitor and printer can also be "problematic" to say the least! I've been trying to get to grips with concepts like colour space, gamma corrections, gamuts etc. but it's pretty baffling for a novice. My computing set up is mainly for my work - my laptop screen plus a second, larger LG monitor and an HP Deskjet 4200 printer - so both the monitor and printer are run-of-the-mill, low end, budget models.

Prints from the printer come out with a distinctly warm cast compared to the image on the screen and I'd like to get the two looking more similar. I've tried the inbuilt Windows display calibration tools and have fiddled with the monitor settings a bit but without much success.

Is my cheap printer the main problem which might be helped by me buying a more photo-dedicated one? If so, what type(s) is/are best go for? I've heard Epson are generally considered the best for photo prints (I've used HP for general office work since forever but am happy to change).

Any tips much appreciated.
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Old Wednesday 12th August 2015, 19:19   #2
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Somewhat tricky business.

To get consistent results you will have to manage both sides, computer and printer.

First step is proper calibration of your computer screen, best with appropriate hardware (i.e. Spyder Calbrator, ColorMunki and alike). I don't think manual tweaking looking at charts will get you close to a somewhat standardized display Even if printing is not intended this is a good thing to do once in a while to be consistent over time when processing images. Yes, it has to be done more or less frequently as a monitors changes over time.

Second step would be the use of print profiles specific for your printer (ICC profiles). Some manufacturers of printers or papers provide some generic ones that may be close, but there is also hardware to calibrate your own printer. The company that I use for printing offers such profiles for their machines for download and also those are updated on a regular basis.

If you use Lightroom you will be able to specify what printer profile is to be used to generate the file for printing. Note that for one printer model there are usually multiple profiles depending on the paper used for the print. In an ideal world the printed image should look close to what you see on your calibrated screen, and if you print another one a year later the two prints should also be almost identical.
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Old Thursday 13th August 2015, 13:10   #3
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I agree - the first issue to address is color calibration. Many computer manufacturers release computers that are excessively bright and slightly blue. For example, my native display has a brightness of around 200, while for photo editing the calibrated display requires a brightness setting of around 100.

Secondly - not all paper is white - and it certainly does not match the whiteness and brightness of a backlit LED display. Even if your monitor is calibrated, paper profiles are used to align the print brightness with the actual paper you are using. You can get both color differences in paper, and brightness differences. Paper profiles can help a lot in laying down the right inks and color.

Even if your monitor is calibrated properly, it's not unusual to need to need to adjust brightness and contrast of prints. The LR print function provides for print adjustments if needed.

Finally, be sure you are choosing the right color space for the image you are printing - and a color space that matches your printer. If your printer only prints sRGB (likely), you need to either start with an sRGB file or provide instructions as to how the printer or computer should convert your Adobe RGB or Prophoto color space to sRGB.

You don't need a new printer or expensive gear to print suitable smaller prints for personal use. We have an older HP photo printer that works just fine for my wife. I have a much larger Epson 4900 for my photo prints. It's usually more expensive to produce your own prints, but you get immediate feedback, immediate prints in hand, and more flexibility to experiment with paper options. I think your current printer will do the job if you get your computer tuned properly.

If I were to look at a new printer today in the sub$1000 range, I'd probably look at Epson, Canon, and HP in that order. Epson has just released some nice new printers that are excellent. Epson is widely used so there are papers, training, and online help you can get if you have issues. The new Epson P600 is a very good home printer for $799.
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Old Friday 14th August 2015, 10:02   #4
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Thanks all, clearly a subject that needs a bit more thought and doesn't have a quick "click 'n' fix" solution. I'll certainly investigate the colour calibration hardware. I'm thinking of upgrading my monitor anyway - it's a 21" LG which was fine when I bought it about 6 years ago but I need something bigger for work as well as play (and old eyes too).

I'll keep plugging away...

Cheers and happy printing!
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Old Tuesday 13th October 2015, 11:16   #5
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Just a brief follow-up, on the recommendation of a colleague I uploaded 4 photo files to Loxley Colour as tests (no bird photos in that batch though).

The price was not excessive (11 for 4 images of varying sizes around 12 x 4 to 16 x 3 for basic prints and which included return postage) and the services was very quick (ordered Sunday evening, prints arrived Tuesday morning).

I think I'll probably go this route in future as trying to get my printer's output to match the monitor is very frustrating, particularly black and white.
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Old Tuesday 13th October 2015, 12:12   #6
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Glad that you have found a solution.
A lot depends on what kit you are using - shooting Olympus, I can go from camera to printer just with minor tweaking (Samsung 24 inch monitor, Epson pigment ink with overcoating layer). Shooting on Nikon took me far longer last year. I ended up shooting the same brown wheely bin with 4 different makes of camera just to see how easy it was to match wheely bin brown with each manufacturer!
I suspect that it is down to individual technique, rather than any problem with a particular manufacturer, but someone else in the family is shooting using my Nikon gear this year and is very happy with their results!
I used to spend a lot of time trying to calibrate everything using the video card supplied utilities and the built in monitor software. In the end the monitor seems to have aged to match my camera/printer/ink/paper combination.

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 13th October 2015 at 12:17.
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