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Monday, January 7, 2008

DPP Solutions: Printer Drivers

Get the highest-quality prints even when your printer's drivers won't cut it


This Article Features Photo Zoom

colorbyteProfessional printers are getting even better, giving us amazing picture quality with exceptional printer drivers. Usually printing with the manufacturer's media guarantees the best print with its printer drivers, but when using a third-party paper or any other sort of substrate medium, it becomes harder to get the best and most predictable results. For those of us who want the highest-quality photos and the most control over our output, there are reliable options that ensure what we have on the screen will be yielded when we queue our print jobs.


Building Blocks
Creating custom ICC profiles using color-management software is one step that will improve both the output and what you see on your monitor.

X-Rite has various bundles, but the i1 Photo LT is the simplest solution, says Brian Ashe, business development manager at X-Rite. It builds color-management profiles with a spectrophotometer, a handheld device that creates a custom profile. You then build a profile unique to the conditions of the substrate on which you're printing.

“I would move up to a spectrophotometer to build a specific or unique profile because the generic profiles are just that—generic,” says Ashe. “If you're printing in L.A. and it's dry, or Florida where it's humid, that's going to make a difference in how stuff looks. So I'd say you need to have that next step, and we kind of make it easier for folks. We don't want to sell them a box, we want to sell them a solution.”

The goal of printer profiling is to get a result that's specific to your printer and media, says C. David Tobie, product technology manager at Datacolor. Tobie says there are three steps you need to take to get the best prints possible with Datacolor's Spyder3Print software before you start. The first is to optimize the best available printer settings in your driver; second is to check if your printer is printing correctly and that you're using the right driver settings; and the third step is to make sure you're using the optimal media settings for the media on which you're printing.

“Once you've done all that, then you can read the patch and build the profile,” says Tobie. “Then you're at the point of having a custom profile for use in printing on that media with that printer, which is truly custom—it's not as generic as coming free with the driver or the manufacturer's ink and media, nor is it canned in the sense of coming from a paper company's Website with their profile for their paper, but not for your particular printer.”

ICC profiles are one way to ensure you're creating a workflow, from the color calibration of your monitor to testing the media on which you intend to print, giving you enormous benefits for customizing your print jobs.


 

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