Printing to an Epson R2880. Theory and practice

The “5-95%” rule

In a thread on a while ago, someone mentioned reading some advise to set black and white point to 5% and 95% respectively. That’s approximately RGB values (12,12,12) and (242,242,242). Otherwise, shadow and highlight detail would be lost in print.
My first thought was “no way”. After all, white is 255, right? I’d say that’s what printing colormanaged and .icc profiles are for.
I’d accept a bit of a loss, but not thàt much…

So I started to search the web.


One source of the advise was at Prepress Essentials by Taz Tally.
He was talking about offset printing. There was also an example about Newsprint. According to that, for a (hypothetical) example where the newspaper press could print a minimum white highlight dot of 20% and a maximum shadow below 80%. The tutorial proceeded to adjust output levels similar to this:
According to the tutorial, you’d be preserving highlight and shadow detail as much as possible for those particular presses.
Yeah, right. What highlights and shadows? They all became midtones…
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