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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

epson printerRIPs
By and large, RIPs (raster image processors) can make a difference in your printing. A RIP is an engine itself that drives the printer to control the amount of ink that's put down on any given medium and the speed at which any print job can be completed, with the sole purpose to make things accurate for printing.

Robert Eversole, president of ErgoSoft, a company that produces a RIP called StudioPrint, says its RIP gives the photographer two kinds of control: specific control over each particular channel of ink and total control, which allows you to maximize the amount of ink for any given medium.

“Some people like the output from the driver more than they like that from a RIP,” says Eversole. “A good RIP makes things accurate. It doesn't gauge what's pleasing; its only job is to look at things very objectively. The RIP's job is to take what you give it and output that, period.”

Another manufacturer of RIP software is ColorByte Software, and its ImagePrint solution uses its own color-management engine instead of your computer operating system's default.

“One of the things that ImagePrint provides is an out-of-the-box solution,” says John Pannozzo, president of ColorByte Software. “When you buy the software, you don't have to buy anything else in order to make it work. A RIP greatly cuts down the amount of time you stand in front of your computer trying to get your print jobs ready.”

Printer's Point Of View
Printer manufacturers have a high level of technical support for their printers and the media they sell; however, when it comes to some other company's paper or any kind of substrate, they can't guarantee the results.

Dan Steinhardt, marketing manager for Epson, says that if you find a problem with an unsupported media type and you're printing on an Epson printer, it's a matter of contacting the support team of any third-party media manufacturer or taking another step to create a workflow for yourself that lets you create your own ICC profiles.

“We recognize that there are certain types of papers or looks that aren't achievable with our pretty extensive line,” Steinhardt says. “As far as supporting those, how they're manufactured and how they're tested, one has to look to those companies and make sure they're setting the correct recommended paper setting because that will determine the ink load, as well as the correct profile.”

At Canon, Felix Ruiz, senior technical representative, says they're trying to take the guesswork out of printing by offering an extensive list of ICC profiles for both Macs and PCs on their Website. “The trick to all of this,” Ruiz says, “is understanding the material you're working with and knowing where to put the driver setting—that's the hardest part because that's what controls the amount of ink that hits the paper. With RIPs, you can actually go in and do as you want inside the settings; you can pretty much control this depending on the degree of a RIP.”

HP anticipated this issue, and the results are evident it its newest pro line of printers. You can create your own profile in the HP Designjet Z series of printers because they have built-in GretagMacbeth/X-Rite i1 Color Technology, says Ben Wolf, creative segment manager for HP Designjet.

“One of the many things we see in the photo space is that color is a huge issue,” says Wolf. “It ranges from people making edits on their screens to match whatever they think they want, which is a time-consuming, manual process, to buying pretty expensive packages of handheld spectrophotometers or even automated ones that can do this. I think we can make printers a little bit better here, so we built the spectrophotometer into the printer and automated it for professionals.”



ColorByte Software












X-Rite (MAC Group) 




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