For those who have wanted to know, I’m using a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014, El Capitan) and the Epson P800.
I never imagined that my OP would generate so many interesting comments about aspects of our undertaking that appear to be far from my most immediate questions. But it did, and having thought about what has been written here that I am less familiar with than I want to be, I’d like to point this in different, and I hope narrow, direction.
Assume (for the sake of simplicity) that my curiosity in what follows is limited to ABW printing on the P800, always in Normal (no added hues) and that (in case this information is significant) my images are printed no larger than 9.75x6.5 inches for a 3:2 image or 7 inches square for a 1:1 on Canson Baryta (I do print larger sometimes for proofing of a sort).
Having spoken with many people who print and having read a lot on LuLa and elsewhere, it has remained unclear to me whether calibrating and profiling are important to my specific workflow, or even possible, given my equipment and the fact that I do not have optimum control over the ambient light in my working area.
I have not done any calibration/profiling work at all (beyond reading a lot), and while I probably wouldn’t hesitate if I felt confident it would make a difference in my work (and not “merely” theoretically), my most fervent curiosities do not lie in the direction to “merely” see before and after calibration/profiling results just to compare them. I am pleased with my prints and wonder whether any paths that lead to their pleasing me more pass through the world of calibration/profiling.
In contemplating the linearity of my MBP/P800 system (which I hope I’m correct in assuming would be the major factor to consider for my BW work were I to undertake calibration/profiling to the extent my current system allows), I have always fallen back on the idea that it’s my eye looking at what the MBP/P800 produces that determines if the result is what I want and not achieving a technically measurable linearity.
The diagrams I’ve seen discussing curves that can correct non-linearity on even ideal monitor/software/printer setups (I’m thinking here still of just BW work) look to me to be relatively smallish tweaks (I don’t mean this usage here disparagingly), whose difference in the overall appearance the print would be minimal at best.
In my work, I use two cameras, one of which gives me DNGs, the other NEFs, and for the latter, I always start with the Camera Calibration panel’s profile set to Camera Neutral. I have generally not sought other “starting point” ideas for what the image wants to become, although sometimes (if the image isn’t working to my satisfaction after I’ve put some time into it) I’ll use some of the Lr presets or the Silver Ex Pro possibilities to generate some ideas of what the image could become. In Ps, in addition to whatever I do I also sometimes work with Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks, and also with low-amount high-radius contrast adjustments (often with blend-if settings), and all of these things seem more important for the final output than whatever I might accomplish from calibrating and profiling and starting with a linearized system.
Assuming -- again to keep it simple and focussed and limited to a more easily managed number of variables -- that I don’t want to print in color, or get a high-end monitor, or establish a working area with controlled ambient light, or begin using new software, what would calibrating and profiling (if they are worth doing for my MBP/P800 system) do for my prints?
I am especially pleased here to be addressing an audience many of whose members have deep, comprehensive experience in these matters. I want very much to understand these aspects of our work in the context of my needs.
Thanks in advance.