Hi there and hello all,
I’ve just registered because this looks like the sort of place where I might be able to find accurate information based on user experience and not recycled ‘knowledge’. So here’s hoping some of you clever bods can advise me.
Basically, I’m setting up in a professional capacity to offer photograph restoration and renovation. And of course the issue of colour management is currently very much at the fore. But I’m finding it to be something of a minefield simply because out of an awful lot of resellers and providers out there - it seems most of them are either just trying to sell me product or, when presssed a little deeper on issues, seem to just not know the answers (or are unwilling to tell me). I’ve ordered the Real World: Colour Management book on recommendation but the supplier claims to have lost it in the post :0(
So to my question(s): I’ve got as far as buying a half decent pro LCD monitor and added calibration from an Eye One Display2. All fine and good. I bought some decent printer paper and had a custom profile written for my trusty Epson 1290 and the results - via CS2 with all my soft proofing enabled - really seem quite good - the prints seem to possess a ‘wow’ factor when I show them to acquaintances. But being the really curious sort - and needing to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, rather than just take it on faith - I’ve started to dig a little deeper and here’s where I’m beginning to lose the trail (as it were).
I’m not going to stick with a single brand of paper for ever and it’s been suggested that inks vary sufficiently across batches so that I would be required to recalibrate on a regular basis. So I’m looking at buying my own hardware/software to maintain my own ‘closed loop’ production system as a more cost effective long term solution.
But very recently I installed the Microsoft Color widget thingummy and started looking at basic 3D colour spaces. So if this information is to be believed, the custom profile written for my printer doesn’t really possess a ‘bigger’ gamut than some of the standard Epson profiles. Sure it’s more biased towards some darker tones (please excuse my lack of technical vocabulary) but essentially they seem to have rearranged the colour spread rather than substantially widened/expanded it. Yes the prints are better as a result, but I don’t understand why. I don’t really know how this new profile instructs my printer or software differently.
So if I wanted to experiment with shaping my own profiles, could I do this just in software? Or would such a relatively abstract undertaking bear no proper relation to the actual output of the printer? By all means I’ll listen to experience here, but I’m reluctant to shell out $1000 US or more to buy a photospectrometer if I can actually muck about with a standard profile with some software. And what exactly is a profile? I don’t mean what does ICC stand for - I mean what is it? A piece of code? How exactly does the printer interact with the profile information? According to (my understanding of) subtractive colour theory, even with today’s relatively small set of five colour and one black ink, my printer should be able to output a vastly greater gamut than is currently configured? It’s been suggested to me by a very knowledgeable source that the manufacturer’s profiles are largely designed to tie the end user to OEM supplies like ink and paper, rather than have accurate colour as their primary function.
Sorry for so many questions but this is essential to my workflow plus - well I’m fascinated. I have a scanner but won’t add that into the discussion here, yet it will become colour managed.
I maintain a sense in all of this that whilst the technical details and procedures are important and do have a direct bearing, it is finally about looking at what I print and asking a few basic questions like “Does that look like the photo/scan/whatever?”. I only yesterday came across the principle of Metamerism which surely means that there is most certainly more than one way to skin the colour cat when applied to inkjet printing.