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Photoshop manages vs printer manages

paul sooHoo , Aug 23, 2008; 02:22 p.m.

Like David T. I have gone through Ian Lyons nicely written tutorial and several references but am confused as what is causing the difference in output.

Background:

I'm printing off of a Mac G5 running the latest version of Leopard using Photoshop CS3 with a recently calibrated LCD monitor using Spyder2. All of my epson drivers are up to date and I worked my way through the craziness of Apple trying to be helpful with their print drivers as a default. I'm printing from an epson r1800 nozzle check shows all cartridges are firing correctly.

When I print using Photoshop manages colors using say Spr 1800 EnhMatte BstPhto.icc the output is very close to the LCD monitor except it is slightly darker.

When I print using Printer Manages colors (see settings) the output is just about dead on and good enough to work from.

Questions:

1. Any idea what is causing the difference in output? Clearly I should stay with Printer manages color. But Ian Lyons says, "This option produces by far the best print quality." but doesn't explain why. From my perspective the best print quality doesn't help me unless it matches my monitor as closely as possible. Where this darkness is problematic is in subtle shadow detail. I am aware that on an LCD shadows will show my more detail than a reflected light print but when I use "photoshop manages colors" subtle shadow detail is typically lost but "Printer manages colors" maintains this detail on printed output.

2. In the printer dialog box there is a high speed option. I've tested it both ways and can not perceive a difference. Do you typically leave this checked too or do you see a difference? Could be me or my printer since every printer is slightly different.

3. I'm guessing a way to resolve this issue is to get a custom profile of my paper/ink combo (yes I'm using real epson inks). Have you gone this route and did it resolve your printer/monitor differences?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or insights.

Responses


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Colin Mattson , Aug 23, 2008; 02:50 p.m.

1. Any idea what is causing the difference in output? Clearly I should stay with Printer manages color. But Ian Lyons says, "This option produces by far the best print quality." but doesn't explain why.

If you're happy with the results of "printer manages color," by all means continue to use it. The difference between the two options is that the printer's essentially guessing how it will respond when using Printer Manages, whereas a profile takes into account how the printer will actually respond using Photoshop Manages.

As for the differences in brightness you're seeing... Often if the prints are coming out darker, it's because your monitor backlight is too bright relative to your viewing environment. When the printer's in control, it seems to lean toward assuming your display environment is going to be fairly dark.

You can try turning down the monitor backlight, or putting more light in your workspace, or just keep doing what you're doing if it gets the results you want.

2. In the printer dialog box there is a high speed option. I've tested it both ways and can not perceive a difference. Do you typically leave this checked too or do you see a difference? Could be me or my printer since every printer is slightly different.

Epson has improved the high speed option with every batch of printers, to the point you can often get away with using it seamlessly now.

Under some circumstances, you can still tell the ink was laid down in two different directions, though, and in those cases you can remedy the problem by turning it off. High speed is also more sensitive to proper alignment (but obviously that's easily remedied by running through an alignment). I typically leave it turned on these days.

B G , Aug 23, 2008; 03:30 p.m.

Paul,

Photoshop vs. printer manages? They should look exactly the same if you do it right. They do for me.

If you're using printer manages like in your screen captures, you also need to select "colorsync" in the epson driver and choose the paper selection that matches exactly the paper you're using.

G Dan Mitchell , Aug 23, 2008; 03:48 p.m.

I don't think you want to use "printer manages output."

In the print window, after correctly setting up your printer via "Page Setup," set it to "Photoshop manages colors." Leave the upper setting (Document and Profile: Adobe BGB) as is if that is the color space you work in. Under printer profile, select the printer/paper combination you are using. The other settings in this dialog could be as you have them, as long as that is what the paper manufacturer recommends.

Just because one person says that you'll get the "best print quality" with a particular setting - especially one that differs from typical practice - you should not necessarily assume that this is the case. There is a lot of witchcraft, smoke, and mirrors when it comes to advice for printing. The fact that _you_ don't think you are getting better print quality from this approach should suggest something to you - that it may not, in fact, be producing better quality output.

I've read that there is no significant difference when using the high speed option... though I don't use it. Someday I'll have to print two versions of the same print and see what differences, if any, I can see. I guess I'm just not in a hurry to have the print emerge from the printer - it will be done when it is done. :-)

Finally, in my opinion, the notion that the monitor and the print are ever going to look precisely the same is really just a hopeful myth. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this - ink on paper will never look the same as light projected from behind glass, etc. Using the soft proofing settings can help, but even these only give you some sort of idea about the direction in which the print quality will change with different papers. My approach - and that of others I've talked to or read - is to go ahead and work with profiled monitors and good print profiles, but recognize that getting the precise effect on paper that you see on the screen is a dream. Sometimes you do get very, very close - and sometimes the result is just fine. Other times the on-screen view gets you close but you still must make test prints, analyze these results, make adjustments, and try again.

My process goes, very broadly, sort of like this. First I get the on screen image to look pretty much the way I want and before printing I make sure to view it with "proof colors" activated for my paper/printer setup. I may make some adjustments at this point. Then I make a small print in inexpensive paper, say Epson Premium Lustre if I'm going for a glossy finish. I inspect this and make adjustments if I think they are necessary - and perhaps make another test print if necessary. If this looks pretty good I'll make a small print on better paper if that is my end goal - I like Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk for some and Museo Silver Rag for others. Once I'm sure that the small test print on the final paper looks good I'll make a "real" print on a larger sheet of the good paper.

paul sooHoo , Aug 23, 2008; 04:21 p.m.

Guys, Thanks for the input and quick response. One more observation/question. When you go to say the Epson site and get their latest profiles where are these installed? The reason I ask is I was investigating my profiles with the colorsync utility and notice this (see screen shot). I have several versions of icc profiles scattered in different paths. In particular the bottom ones listed under "other" has me scratching my head. When I go to that path under finder spr1800_A.profiles and look under Kind is see the words Microsoft Excel bundle ... huh? What the heck is that?

Anyone have any idea what the calculator does in the colorSync utility?

Furthermore, I notice that the creation dates are different by a few months. Under User there is EnhMtte BstPhoto.icc and under computer there is one with a slightly different spelling EnhMatte BstPhto.icc and a different creation date so perhaps I've been pointing to the wrong profile?

BG,

When I go to the printer dialog box and go to color matching dropdown (when printer manages colors) both colorsync and Epson Color Controls radio button options are greyed out. Is it suppose to be. I certainly have no control over that unless I set something incorrectly in the other dialog boxes.

Thomas Travis , Aug 23, 2008; 07:19 p.m.

I'm using the Epson R1800 with Vista and PS3. I Just did a comparsion (printer vs photoshop) using Epson Enhanced Matte with that paper profile. My results were identical.

Thomas Travis , Aug 23, 2008; 07:19 p.m.

I'm using the Epson R1800 with Vista and PS3. I Just did a comparsion (printer vs photoshop) using Epson Enhanced Matte with that paper profile. My results were identical.

Peter Mounier , Aug 24, 2008; 04:09 a.m.

I see that you have "simulate black ink" checked when the printer is managing color. Do you have "Black Point Compensation" checked when PS does the color management? It might make a difference. Try it both ways. You can find out where to put your profiles by copying the name of one that you see in the list, and search for it in the Finder. When the Finder locates the profile, put your new profile in the same place. That will probably be HD > Library > ColorSync > Profiles.

Peter

Diane Madura , Aug 24, 2008; 10:02 a.m.

Hi again, Paul. My understanding is that with high speed printing, the nozzles spray in each direction. That is, they're spraying when the head goes left to right as well as when it goes right to left. When you don't have high speed checked, the nozzles only spray left to right, or it might be right to left, but not in both directions. I cannot tell the difference between the two.

When I first set up my printer and I was trying different things out, I also got good results having the printer manage the color settings. But I did see that sometimes one of the colors wasn't quite right. For example, the overall photo looked fine, but a blue object would have the wrong shade of blue in it. When I switched back to having the ICC profile manage the color, the blue was perfect. So I always use the ICC profiles now and have never had a problem again.

I think Epson allows you the option of having the printer determine the colors to make it simpler for some people. Since you've calibrated, Paul, and are knowledgeable about ICC profiles, I would think you're better off using the profiles.

Brian Ellis , Aug 24, 2008; 02:01 p.m.

I'm not a color expert and I certainly agree with the concept that whatever works best for you is best for you. But the source you quote (Ian Lyons) is the first one I've seen in which someone recommends using "printer control color" rather than Photoshop. Everything I've read has said the opposite, i.e. let Photoshop control color, for whatever that's worth.


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