Thanks for hosting a forum that welcomes really ignorant questions. And this isn't even about fine photo printing, but just stuff that's barely good enough.
What I'm doing is a cataloguing project. Not museum-exhibition quality or sell-stuff quality -- just good enough to make a good-looking page on plain paper, with well-printed type and a photo that shows what the thing looks like and brings out whatever attractiveness it has. When the project was suspended a few years ago, it had a couple of hundred pages, and it needs to be expanded and improved.
My current problem problem, having changed hardware, is something that looks like wrong gamma correction (pictures dark & muddy), and I'm told that the Mac handles gamma in some different way from other systems. But also, I seem to have proved that this difference is not my real problem. So, I'm looking for advice, and here are the details.
The project ran on a system that's kind of out of date: OS/2-eCS, with Lexmark Optra-45 inkjet printer. It has been ported to Mac OS 10.6.x; the current printer, to show how far this is from fine printing, is an HP LaserJet CP2025, which can produce good enough output for current purposes.
(And if the immediate answer is "Trash that thing, there's no way of knowing what it will produce", let me know. It might simplify things. Of course I'll be asking for advice on this change.)
Anyway, I take the old pictures and text, and crank them through my workflow as adapted to the Mac, and I don't like the results. And the main problem is that they come out sort of dark and muddy and with poor detail. And that seems to shout "Gamma!" And I'm informed that "Macs often use a standard value of 1.8 with is optimized for prepress applications and PCs and the web normally use 2.2 which is optimized for monitors and video."
Interesting, but if it's my problem, I don't know where I should fix it.
The reason it doesn't seem to be the problem: I can run my new workflow, from old JPEG files etc. to new PDF, and send the PDF to the printer via lpr, which ought to keep the drivers well out of it. Or, I can take the final output of the old system, a PostScript file, copy it to the Mac, and print it via lpr. And the results are the same, visibly worse than the old stuff I printed with the same PS file and a different printer.
So if I'm right, I have to adjust the printing, or adjust the pictures, or change the printer. What I don't know is whether my logic is right, or what adjustments I should make, or what sort of printer to get. I'd also like to know what's the soundest advice technically, so that for instance if I make another change in my configuration, I'll get better results and easier fixes than I've got this time.
BTW I have rashly put in an order for a printer that seems better for color work than the current HP. It's the
Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4090. Because I think they have a good reputation in color printing, and the model description looked good. At the moment I could quickly cancel it, before it comes out of back-order. Any suggestions?