I'm profiling my screen (iMac) and Printer (Epson right now) with an Xrite ColorMunki and I'm quite happy. That is my colors match when I have very good viewing light. My question is how do you optimize prints for non optimal viewing light?
As far as I understand viewing light should be about 400 Lux (or more) and have D50 characteristics. This is much more bright than what you would have in a home.
The issue I seem to have is that I cannot see good separation in the dark areas. If I have enough light the print "glows up", almost like a transparency. With more subdued light it's just murky, dark and boring.
I would appreciate any views, suggestions or ideas.
The main line of attack on this problem is to get the display to simulate your print viewing conditions as closely as possible, so that it "forces" you to adjust the image accordingly. Hence, if you have rather dim print viewing conditions, you should begin the process with a rather dim display. This will encourage you to pump-up the brightness and contrast enough to achieve the end result you seek. I find that with my display calibrated at 110cd, it's a quite reliable indicator of prints viewedabout five feet under direct Solux D50 illumination, which is quite bright. Hence in your situation I would try calibrating the display at about 90~95 cd and see whether that helps. YOu may also experiment with the display at set at white points within the range of 5000~6500 and see whether that helps, but as you get closer to 5000 the tones start to look excessively yellowish, which can be a put-off.
The next thing is the printing paper you are using. If you are printing on matte papers, the DMax is not as good as it would be printing on a gloss or luster paper, so tonal separation, particularly below the three-quarter mark gets squished, producing that muddy feel to the images. Hence you can improve your dark tone performance by using non-matte papers.
Finally, there is soft-proofing. You should make your final luminosity adjustments under soft-proof so that the display gives you a better impression of what the print will look like. Make sure you have the Simulate Paper White box checked, and implement Black Point Compensation.
Also, I assume you know to make sure that if you are letting Photoshop Manage Color using your paper/printer profile, you have Printer Color Management switched off, and you check that it really is OFF before you print.
I don't know the details of ColorMunki's display profiling process, but I presume/hope it lets you select the luminance of the display and the white point before it reads the patches. Another aspect of ColorMunki over which you have no control is that for generating a printer profile it reads only 100 patches. There is a question in some peoples' minds about whether this is sufficient to produce a sufficiently refined paper/printer profile. I don't know the answer to that first-hand because it is not possible to buy this product on a trial period basis, but there is much discussion about it. To help sort out that one, I would suggest comparing prints made under otherwise identical settings using your ColorMunki paper/printer profile and the canned profile supplied by the paper/printer manufacturer, to see which profile gives you better results in general and better deep tone separation in particular.