Printing to an Epson R2880. Theory and practice

The “5-95%” rule

In a thread on Photography-on-the.net 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.

Whàt?

One source of the advise was at www.lynda.com: 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:
Levels
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…
Read the rest of this entry »

Sharpening in Lightroom 2

How does it work?

Lightroom 2 has two kinds of sharpening: Capture sharpening and output sharpening. Capture sharpening is used to neutralize the blurring caused by the Anti Aliasing filter in your camera.
Output sharpening is dependent on output (print or screen, what size) and meant to overcome the softening caused by resizing or happening when printing.

Differences

Output sharpening in Lightroom is simple: You get 4 options when you export the image: Off, low, standard or high. All else is taken care of by Lightroom. Ease of use for sure. Drawback is that you cannot preview it, so you’ll need to experiment a bit. After that, it’s “set and forget”.
Capture sharpening on the other hand, requires a bit more user interaction. The settings will depend on camera used, subject and personal preference. You can preview it, but only at 100% or higher magnification. So you either need to zoom in, or you can view sharpening in the microscopic small “preview window” Lightroom 2 has for this purpose.
(There is off course the workaround I mentioned in an earlier blog post)

The “Detail” Tab

…in Lightroom is where it’s at: You get 4 sliders for sharpening: Amount, Radius, Detail and Masking.
Some of these are quite self-explanatory if you know a bit about digital imaging, the others might be new to you. Read the rest of this entry »

PSCS4, OsX and Epson…

part 2, not the best news

In my previous blog post about the subject, I mentioned a workaround for the bug, and also said I didn’t like the idea of converting to GenericRGB somewhere in the process since it might clip colors…

Gave it a quick try today, and yeah, it does clip “somewhat”…

Same image as last time. Original is AdobeRGB. In this image, some purples and dark blues are out of gamut for the R2880, using Epson Premium Glossy paper. Admittedly, not your “average” color palette, but one that does show problems if they are there.

Softproofed

Let’s start by showing the original converted to sRGB; Read the rest of this entry »

PSCS4, OsX and Epson…

don’t seem to play nice together.

When testing my Epson R2880 on PSCS4, it was quite obvious that something was off; The print came out looking nothing like the softproof on screen.

To give an indication of what it looked like: Here is a splitscreen: Top left is the softproofed image, bottom right is what the print looked like:
(screenshot converted to sRGB for web display: The difference is bigger in print)Softproof vs. print

The same image printed from PSCS2 was a perfect match to the softproof. Very weird.
I remembered that another photographer had complained to me about similar issues, and showed me some pdf files in preview. (In OSX you can preview a print as pdf file in Preview).

So I tried that. What a surprise: pdf generated when printing from PSCS2 was entirely different from the one using PSCS4. Same printer driver, same settings in Photoshop, same everything.
Neither of the pdfs looked even remotely like the respective prints by the way. The PSCS4 pdf looked like the softproof (as did the PSCS2 print).

Getting weirder by the minute.

A search on the net only brought up a “Double profiling” issue in OSX 10.5.something. Not what I was experiencing. Also, I’m running 10.4.11.

So, I decided to investigate further.
The pdf generated when printing from PSCS2, has an AdobeRGB1998 profile embedded. No idea why, since it is obvious the wrong profile (should be the paper specific profile for the R2880 I’d think, but that also isn’t the case)
Even weirder, the PSCS4 pdf, had a GenericRGB profile. What? Why on earth… That one has an even slightly smaller gamut then sRGB as far as I know…

Workaround

Some messing about testing with profiles followed.
It turned out that converting the PSCS2 pdf to GenericRGB, then assigning the paper profile, gave two identical images (easier to compare that way around, since the pdf coming out of the PSCS2 print path was very saturated and weird looking because of the wrong profile). Both were now again looking like the softproof in Photoshop.
So, doing the reverse (Convert to paper profile, assign GenericRGB) should give a decent print out of PSCS4. (at least, looking at the pdf. Haven’t wasted any paper on it yet).

So far for a workaround, now for the explanation…

Including “GenericRGB” in the search term proved to be a good idea. On the Adobe Forums I found a thread about grayscale printing (no wonder I hadn’t found it earlier).
In that thread Eric Chan explains how OSX Leopard will convert the image data to Generic Gray or Generic RGB before handing it off to the driver. So, yeah. That’s likely to screw things up…
I’m still not sure why or where the PDF out of PSCS2 gets an AdobeRGB profile. Seems rather silly if you ask me.

I might use the workaround when in PSCS4, or print from PSCS2 until this issue gets fixed… I think I’ll mostly use the latter, since I don’t like the idea of converting to GenericRGB somewhere in the process; it might clip colors without me having any control…
Have to compare a few prints, to see if there are differences.

Edit: The workaround does have its drawbacks: See my next blog post.

(Apple and Epson: Are you reading this?)

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