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Old Nov 7, 2003, 3:12 AM   #1
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Default Monitor-Printer Adjustment

Right here it is:

My photos don't print the way they look on screen. they are considerably darker.

I've calibrated my monitor with adobe gamma and everything on the screen looks beautiful. pretty much an exact replica of the image on the LCD of my D30. now i understand that manual gamma adjustment etc is inaccurate but i don't have three hundreds dollars for a little kit that wil do it for me! so i'll have to deal.

i have an epson 830 (i think thats an 820 in the US) and whilst the quality is amazing the colours are dark. is there a way that the printer can be configured similar to adobe gamma, or do i have to reconfig my monitor to look like the prints. I tried that but them there were parts of my images that disappeared (the lowlights) and that were obviously correctly exposed because i could see them on the cam LCD.

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. My Sony dye sub printer always gets it right... what can i do?

Thanks Guys
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Old Nov 7, 2003, 1:38 PM   #2
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I am looking forward to any replies you get to this as I have a similar problem. The prints from my epson 740 are far too contrasty.
Pics loaded from my Fuji 4700 or scans look beautiful on the screen without any use of levels or curves but the prints are too dark in the shadows and too light in the highlights.
ie. Brown hair becomes a brown blob whilst the pink forehead is bleached out.
Like you I have gone through the monitor calibration of my Mac using system 9.1 and Adobe 5.5 and everything looks great.
I have set the Gamma to 1.8 as recommended. The printer driver I set to sRGB Automatic, quality 1440 dpi and I have tried switching the Color Management off and on but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

Sorry if I am only compounding your gloom.

Keep hoping, Tink.
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Old Nov 8, 2003, 12:26 PM   #3
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Most of us battle with this, and most of us are unwilling or unable to spend on the gizmos that create profiles for our printers. Here's the cheapest solution I came up with: the purchase of Test Strip by Vivid Details. This is a wonderful plug-in much lauded for a number of years, and I'll sing its praises too.

Without going into it too heavily, you can print a photo, then go into Test Strip and modify the screen version until it's as close to the printed version as you can get it. Then you reverse all the adjustments and save them in a file that contains, not the photo, but just the increases or decreases of the various colors, contrast, and brightness. The next time you go to print another photo, you run it through Test Strip first, bringing up the file you saved and then applying it to this new photo.

Example: Your printed version is too dark. You bring up the screen version in Test Strip and alter that version until it, too, is too dark. Let's say it creates a brightness setting of -15%. You then click a button to reverse it, making it +15%, then save it to a file called, perhaps, "Too Darned Dark." This creates a file that, when applied to any photo, will increase brightness by 15%.

My own Epson tends to print too dark and too magenta, so I have a Test Strip filter that first lightens a photo, then adds green. It looks perfectly horrible onscreen, but it prints out beautifully.

Test Strip is good for all kinds of adjustments, not just geared toward printing. You can use it as if you were applying colored filters for effect or to reduce color casts.

Now here's the caveat: it appears Vivid Details has dropped the plug-in and is no longer selling it. I'll contact them and see what the story is because their current plug-in can't do what Test Strip does when it comes to adjustments for printing.

Sure, you can do all this "by hand" right in Photoshop, writing down all the adjustments, then reversing them, then eventually saving all of it as an Action, but what a royal pain.

I'll return to this spot and report what I've discovered...as soon as I've discovered it.
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Old Nov 10, 2003, 12:04 PM   #4
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Okay, here's the sad truth about that wonderful plug-in, TestStrip: I just got e-mail from the author telling me he's in the throes of a patent "issue" with it and, because of this, he currently has it off the market. Since he is the originator of the idea, I can only surmise that another company has "borrowed" the notion and that TestStrip's author has gone to battle.

If it goes back on the market, I'll alert everyone here to the fact.
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Old Nov 10, 2003, 3:21 PM   #5
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Several other points that might be useful:

1) color calibration is done with the printer and the paper. So if you do ever get ahold of "Test Strip" you'll still have to pay attention to what paper you use when you print it out to calibrate against.

2) Your monitor (assuming its a CRT) will change over time. There is nothing you can do about it. So you might come up with a calibration that work right now, but in 6 months you'll probably have to do it again.

3) Monitors can even change as they are used (because they heat up, I believe.) So don't do a calibration immedately after turning your computer on.

Good luck. You're dealing with a serious problem that every one hits when they get serious about the quality of their pictures. They might get lucky and their printer might print like their monitor, but eventually it won't.

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Old Nov 10, 2003, 4:19 PM   #6
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Just following on from bcoultry's post on a similar theme. Before I used a UK photo processing firm, I found out that they would supply for free, a test target printed from their Fuji Frontier printer, at the last calibration on Fuji photo paper. Although I now have a default ICM file for this printer, I'm trying to get the image file used for the target.

Now they say put the target alongside your monitor, and if what you see looks similar - that's what your print will look like. A bit simple, but sounds like the 'Test Strip'. Of course you can go a step further, print out your pics and compare the features in the printed target e.g skin colour with your prints.

I like the idea of starting with the pro print and working backwards as I know this lab regularly calibrates its printers, and the prints I've had back so far are close to what I see on my monitor. I also have some confidence that if I'm getting something similar with an inkjet, then I shouldn't be too far out when I have photo prints done.

I believe most labs with Fuji Frontiers are supposed to print out these targets in routine calibrations if the labs are any good. Just a thought, but why not compare your prints with these? As I said, I'm trying to get the target image file. I'm sure it's on their site somewhere, possibly in the dealer only section - perhaps one will wing its way to me via a PM alert, but I guess it might be a big .bmp or .ps file!.

Some advice for the original poster: Do not regard your camera lcd as the definitive arbiter of colorimetry/brightness/contrast. If you want to know exactly what your camera records - use the eydropper RGB values. What it tells you about highlights/lowlights will be real, unlike anything displayed or printed. I'm afraid digicams are automated fly by wire with added experience, the only accurate in-cam feature you have is the Histogram if you can interpret the results, but it doesn't help with colour! Everything is movable, nothing is certain along the whole chain. Sort the big errors first and worry about the ICM's afterwards. And I only make critical image edit decisions on a tube monitor as I'm a luddite! VOX
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