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Author Topic: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!  (Read 6141 times)

Doug Gray

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2018, 04:46:42 PM »

Yes, 'good enough' color. Like close enough.
I think it goes beyond "good enough."  The OEMs understand color management. If it were "good enough" there would be clustering around a proper color management result and, from what I've seen so far, there is a consistent skewing towards increased saturation and some degree of image lightening.

I've been reading Fairchild's "Color Appearance Models," 3rd edition and it goes into considerable detail about appearance changes due to factors such as surround including a lot of things CAMs don't currently account for such as the cognitive effect of "illuminant discounting" which occurs when viewing something tangible like a print but does not viewing a monitor. Fairchild has published other studies on this as well. My reading of Fairchild's text resonates with what I've seen. So it seems to me the color shifts OEMs use in their defaults are intentional and that each one tries to come up with whatever recipe pleases the largest numbers in some obscure way. Their secret, if ugly to us, sauce.
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2018, 04:47:22 PM »

Before anyone gets carried away with conclusions about the relative merits or demerits of Printer Manages Color (PMC), (which BTW is not a workflow I would use for my printing), please consider that not all versions of it are born equal. Epson engaged some high-end scientific talent to design it for the SC-P5000 printer and the results that I obtained using this printer would seem to justify that effort (please see my Printing Can Be Fun and Easy article).
Don't have such a printer Mark, curious how my Gamut Test File appears to you. I wouldn’t be surprised that our mileage may vary depending on the driver which kind of makes PMC iffy.

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Andrew Rodney
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2018, 04:48:56 PM »

So it seems to me the color shifts OEMs use in their defaults are intentional and that each one tries to come up with whatever recipe pleases the largest numbers in some obscure way. Their secret, if ugly to us, sauce.
Like a Perceptual Rendering intent. Or transparency film.
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Andrew Rodney
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2018, 04:54:53 PM »

Just tried a similar test to the one previous but used my Printer Test File (http://www.digitaldog.net/files/2014PrinterTestFileFlat.tif.zip) which is in Adobe RGB (1998) rather than ProPhoto RGB. Not as awful but pretty bad!
Here's a quick and dirty shot of the Gamut Test File from my first test, under the GTI booth, shot on an iPhone X (quick and dirty). Just awful. Maybe Mark I'll try this on a much newer printer and thus print driver, a P800. But based on two tests today, you'd have to put a gun to my head to use Printer Manages Color with Adobe RGB (1998) or ProPhoto RGB image data on a 3880.
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Andrew Rodney
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Mark D Segal

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2018, 04:55:42 PM »

Don't have such a printer Mark, curious how my Gamut Test File appears to you. I wouldn’t be surprised that our mileage may vary depending on the driver which kind of makes PMC iffy.

That could be an interesting sample to prepare Andrew, but right at this moment I'm heavily preoccupied with a pretty complicated piece of work so I can't put the time into it just now, but time permitting I may do so, in which case I'll of course report back. But yes, that was the point I'm making - results could vary depending on the printer model, the driver and the operating system, so there's no way one could assure anything like the inter-device output consistency that is a hallmark or an ICC colour managed workflow.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2018, 04:58:36 PM »

That could be an interesting sample to prepare Andrew, but right at this moment I'm heavily preoccupied with a pretty complicated piece of work so I can't put the time into it just now, but time permitting I may do so, in which case I'll of course report back. But yes, that was the point I'm making - results could vary depending on the printer model, the driver and the operating system, so there's no way one could assure anything like the inter-device output consistency that is a hallmark or an ICC colour managed workflow.
Not sure it's worth the ink and paper, let alone time. I'll play with the P800 maybe tomorrow. Maybe just one print. But IF indeed this is a crap shoot, based on the driver and age of printer etc, and other than for hobbyists only working in sRGB where close enough and good enough is their goal, I don't see the point for most of the audience here venturing down this rabbit hole. Even an OK canned ICC profile will produce better results than I'm seeing today. They can soft proof, they can pick a rendering intent. And they get better output.
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Andrew Rodney
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2018, 04:58:59 PM »

I think it goes beyond "good enough."  The OEMs understand color management. If it were "good enough" there would be clustering around a proper color management result and, from what I've seen so far, there is a consistent skewing towards increased saturation and some degree of image lightening.

I've been reading Fairchild's "Color Appearance Models," 3rd edition and it goes into considerable detail about appearance changes due to factors such as surround including a lot of things CAMs don't currently account for such as the cognitive effect of "illuminant discounting" which occurs when viewing something tangible like a print but does not viewing a monitor. Fairchild has published other studies on this as well. My reading of Fairchild's text resonates with what I've seen. So it seems to me the color shifts OEMs use in their defaults are intentional and that each one tries to come up with whatever recipe pleases the largest numbers in some obscure way. Their secret, if ugly to us, sauce.

I do agree with Mark's statement about different printers of the same brand not delivering equal results with Printer Manages Color which seems to be the case with more expensive printers.

What doesn't make sense and wasn't raised in this discussion is how a printer driver on Mac OS X can hand off ProPhotoRGB data from Photoshop and Mac OS Preview app with Printer Manages Color and get as close as it does with a cheap Epson "All In One".

I demonstrated it here on this 2013 Photo.net thread on this very subject where I posted my Epson settings.

https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/how-to-do-color-managed-printing-to-epson-printers-that-dont-have-paper-profiles.478458/#post-5652198

Five years later I get a poster thanking me for those settings so it must've worked for him and I'm having to assume he wasn't using a cheap printer, but now I'm speculating.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2018, 04:59:10 PM »

Just tried a similar test to the one previous but used my Printer Test File (http://www.digitaldog.net/files/2014PrinterTestFileFlat.tif.zip) which is in Adobe RGB (1998) rather than ProPhoto RGB. Not as awful but pretty bad!
Here's a quick and dirty shot of the Gamut Test File from my first test, under the GTI booth, shot on an iPhone X (quick and dirty). Just awful. Maybe Mark I'll try this on a much newer printer and thus print driver, a P800. But based on two tests today, you'd have to put a gun to my head to use Printer Manages Color with Adobe RGB (1998) or ProPhoto RGB image data on a 3880.

OK, any time you start messing with "Bill's Balls" you're asking for trouble!  :-)
The P800 outcome could be better - I don't know.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2018, 05:00:57 PM »

I do agree with Mark's statement about different printers of the same brand not delivering equal results with Printer Manages Color which seems to be the case with more expensive printers.
That opinion doesn't jive with this statement:
Quote
I don't own an expensive printer. I have to use "Printer Manages Color" on my $50 Epson "All In One" printing Epson Ultra Premium Glossy 8x10's, but I do have to use specific driver settings (not defaults) that renders a close enough match on a wide range of photographed scenes.
Quote
but now I'm speculating.
Remove the word now. The statement is now close enough to accurate.  :o
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 05:07:49 PM by andrewrodney »
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Andrew Rodney
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2018, 05:03:05 PM »

OK, any time you start messing with "Bill's Balls" you're asking for trouble!  :-)
He's got some big balls to mess with!  ::) And they were not designed for printing but they do show some interesting results when used through differing profiles and print paths. The Granger Rainbow is I believe Kosher for printing and also show some interesting results. But in the tests I did today, the print area with actual images look pretty awful without an ICC profile print path.
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Andrew Rodney
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Mark D Segal

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #30 on: March 31, 2018, 05:14:16 PM »

Not sure it's worth the ink and paper, let alone time. I'll play with the P800 maybe tomorrow. Maybe just one print. But IF indeed this is a crap shoot, based on the driver and age of printer etc, and other than for hobbyists only working in sRGB where close enough and good enough is their goal, I don't see the point for most of the audience here venturing down this rabbit hole. Even an OK canned ICC profile will produce better results than I'm seeing today. They can soft proof, they can pick a rendering intent. And they get better output.

Well, yes. This raises of course the logic of who uses what workflow with which equipment. I have a hard time imaging that any one buying a P800 or a P5000 are the kind of people who would be totally happy with Printer Manages Color no matter how improved it has become, especially if they are on Windows OS. But for people buying inexpensive non-professional printers, which can nonetheless make very "nice" prints, PMC can be their option of choice because they may be casual printers, may not want to be bothered going down the learning curve of Application managed printing, and indeed may not even be using Photoshop or Lr again because of the learning curve. Even people using a P800 or P5000 may occasionally want to quickly zip out something "kind of acceptable", so PMC is there as a convenience. A mainstay - no way. Consider, however, the fact that Epson put a considerable effort into improving PMC tells me that their knowledge of market justifies it - recall they see the whole customer base in great detail - we don't.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Doug Gray

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2018, 05:20:09 PM »

I need to clarify in case their is some confusion. I think printing Photos I've worked on in Photoshop using Printer Manages Colors produces bad results. To me.

I want to understand what and why the OEMs are doing this so I've been characterizing the printers I have and shaking my head. I suppose if random cell phone snaps in sRGB are just printed w/o color management it's entirely possible that many, or most people would find the images appealing and perhaps better than properly color managed printing using only perceptual intent and no other adjustments. So I propose that IECCAM02 is likely one of the culprits. Anyone have any experience with it? I linked to a plugin for it earlier.

We are not the typical printers. We have refined processes, utilize soft proofing, recognize some of the differences between a monitor and an image in a different environment and make prints based on that experience. Most users do not.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 05:26:38 PM by Doug Gray »
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2018, 06:33:54 PM »

Well, yes. This raises of course the logic of who uses what workflow with which equipment. I have a hard time imaging that any one buying a P800 or a P5000 are the kind of people who would be totally happy with Printer Manages Color no matter how improved it has become, especially if they are on Windows OS. But for people buying inexpensive non-professional printers, which can nonetheless make very "nice" prints, PMC can be their option of choice because they may be casual printers, may not want to be bothered going down the learning curve of Application managed printing, and indeed may not even be using Photoshop or Lr again because of the learning curve. Even people using a P800 or P5000 may occasionally want to quickly zip out something "kind of acceptable", so PMC is there as a convenience. A mainstay - no way. Consider, however, the fact that Epson put a considerable effort into improving PMC tells me that their knowledge of market justifies it - recall they see the whole customer base in great detail - we don't.

Let's make sure we specify here that PMC can stand for Photoshop Manages Color AND Printer Manages Color. I had to correct myself referring to this acronym in my previous posts.

If the user's primary goal is to serve the paper (craft papers with matte and satin finishes for interior decorating purposes) over optimizing the dynamics of the image (requiring glossy or less absorbent paper) custom ICC profiles and Photoshop Managing Color would be required.

For me Printer Manages Color works best and only best on glossy paper made by the printer manufacturer in my case Epson Ultra Premium Glossy. Matte papers (including Epson's) don't really serve the image's dynamics. IT'S NOT GOOD!

At this point for me all I care about are archival 8x10 prints that serve the image's dynamics with the least amount of time and cost invested. $50 All In One is fast enough but I don't believe inexpensive per print considering the cost of ink. And after about ten full color 8x10's on Ultra Premium Glossy, my cheap Epson printer requires head alignment and cleaning. And pizza wheel marks are an issue which I've given up on remedying.

At least I have a physical hard copy of my images at a reasonable viewing size.
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2018, 06:35:21 PM »

I suppose if random cell phone snaps in sRGB are just printed w/o color management it's entirely possible that many, or most people would find the images appealing and perhaps better than properly color managed printing using only perceptual intent and no other adjustments.
Well I believe sRGB is the expected route for this print mode due to Dave P. of Adobe stating on Windows everything gets funneled into sRGB as I believe we've discussed.


Anyway, I converted my Gamut Test File to sRGB then made a print that's the same as my first test with ProPhoto RGB. In the ColorSync area of PMC, I set it to Epson Color Controls, then Color Mode to No Color Management as that's just one option a hobbyist might select but shouldn’t. It looks pretty bad too but not as bad as using ProPhoto RGB.


Next I set the Epson Color Controls to Epson Standard (sRGB). That print looks decent but not anywhere as good as the full ICC Profile path from ProPhoto RGB.


So there are several possible settings using PMC and two are awful, one's OK (close enough?).
Best of the lot can't compare to the ICC path especially when viewing gradients and Bills Balls; lots of banding there, lack of shape in the balls, far less color saturation.

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Andrew Rodney
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2018, 06:40:00 PM »

Let's make sure we specify here that PMC can stand for Photoshop Manages Color AND Printer Manages Color.
You're confused again. We (some here) are not. That's again an issue when you speak for anyone other than yourself here.
There are two modes:
Printer Manages Color.
Application Manages Color.
Applications have names. They may show up, they may not. But when so set, they manage the color!
Go into Lightroom assuming you own it. You will see "Managed By Printer". And no Tim, there's no LMC for Lightroom, or PMC for Preview, or AMC for Acrobat. Those are names of applications.
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I had to correct myself referring to this acronym in my previous posts.
Par for the course! Because PMC isn't an acronym for Photoshop Manages Color even if that application starts with the letter P!

Assumptions allow the best in life to pass you by. -John Sales
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Andrew Rodney
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2018, 06:47:24 PM »

For me Printer Manages Color works best and only best on glossy paper made by the printer manufacturer in my case Epson Ultra Premium Glossy. Matte papers (including Epson's) don't really serve the image's dynamics. IT'S NOT GOOD!
That opinion doesn't jive with how you've told us you are forced to print (you have no options if we are to believe your first text):
Quote
I don't own an expensive printer. I have to use "Printer Manages Color" on my $50 Epson "All In One" printing Epson Ultra Premium Glossy 8x10's, but I do have to use specific driver settings (not defaults) that renders a close enough match on a wide range of photographed scenes.
Please make up your minds as to how something you have no option over works better than something you state you have no option to use. Or not; probably a better tactic in these kinds of technical discussions of color and imaging....
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Andrew Rodney
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2018, 07:01:30 PM »



I have reviewed the performance of Printer Manages Color (PMC)...
Before anyone gets carried away with conclusions about the relative merits or demerits of Printer Manages Color (PMC)....
Even when correctly spelled out clearly, some find it foggy. I've edited your text above with formatting to focus lurkers (and a non lurker) that the correct acronym was indeed provided. Long before the confused arrived to post here (the second post!).  :P
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 07:05:03 PM by andrewrodney »
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Andrew Rodney
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Doug Gray

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #37 on: March 31, 2018, 07:13:27 PM »

Well I believe sRGB is the expected route for this print mode due to Dave P. of Adobe stating on Windows everything gets funneled into sRGB as I believe we've discussed.
And, as I've pointed out to Dave P., it doesn't since I can correctly print an image in ProPhoto RGB, using a custom profile and any Intent using only Printer Manages Color from my Epson 9800.  However, it's also clearly dependent on the printer driver code since I cannot do that on my Canon 9500 II. It's not a Windows thing but the printer driver code and that's written by/for the OEMs.
Quote
Anyway, I converted my Gamut Test File to sRGB then made a print that's the same as my first test with ProPhoto RGB. In the ColorSync area of PMC, I set it to Epson Color Controls, then Color Mode to No Color Management as that's just one option a hobbyist might select but shouldn’t. It looks pretty bad too but not as bad as using ProPhoto RGB.

Next I set the Epson Color Controls to Epson Standard (sRGB). That print looks decent but not anywhere as good as the full ICC Profile path from ProPhoto RGB.
That makes sense.
Quote

So there are several possible settings using PMC and two are awful, one's OK (close enough?).
Best of the lot can't compare to the ICC path especially when viewing gradients and Bills Balls; lots of banding there, lack of shape in the balls, far less color saturation.

Agree to the extent I can replicate.
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digitaldog

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2018, 07:16:39 PM »

And, as I've pointed out to Dave P., it doesn't since I can correctly print an image in ProPhoto RGB, using a custom profile and any Intent using only Printer Manages Color from my Epson 9800. 
Yes, I know there's some controversy here. So you're picking that profile rather than Automatic (if an option) on Windows? Seems the Auto (default) on Mac isn't very good. Any chance you have an Epson to try the same test?
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Andrew Rodney
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Doug Gray

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Re: A Visual Examination of Printer Manages Color - Oh My!
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2018, 07:53:44 PM »

Yes, I know there's some controversy here. So you're picking that profile rather than Automatic (if an option) on Windows? Seems the Auto (default) on Mac isn't very good. Any chance you have an Epson to try the same test?
That was the Epson 9800 that allows printing using ICC profiles. To print a ProPhoto image you have to select the ProPhoto profile as source in the driver, then select the printer profile and intent also in the driver. At least on my Win 10 x64. Can't tell any difference between a print made that way and the usual Photoshop managing color. It prints all the way to the printer's gamut edge. Option is not available on the Canon 9500 II. ICC can be selected but no way to select a printer profile or input RGB colorspace.
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