Printer Profiles

Once you have set up your Photoshop CMS settings and calibrated and profiled your monitor, it's time to look for profiles for your printers and papers. You will need a separate profile for each combination of printer, printer driver settings, paper, and ink. Assuming you use just one printer (an Epson R2400, for example) and that you only use standard Epson inks, you will still need a separate ICC profile for each type of paper and for each quality or resolution setting you make.

There are several ways to obtain a profile for your printer+ink+paper set:

1. The profile is included with the printer's software or can be downloaded from the printer manufacturer's website.

These profiles only cover the original maker's inks and some proprietary paper types. These "canned profiles" are often quite good and can deliver quality prints, depending on the manufacturer, the printer, and the available printer model variants. The printer manufacturer's own profiles - at least those for the fine art printers mentioned on page 426 - will give you about 95 percent print quality compared with what you could achieve using a custom profile.

2. Third-party paper manufacturers often provide profiles for their papers and better-known high-end printers.* It usually takes a few months after the release of a new printer model before profiles are uploaded to the paper manufacturer's website.

3. Some suppliers of third-party inks provide profiles for their inks when used with popular papers and well-established printers. For example, Lyson [118] offers profiles for several Epson and HP printers for their inks and their papers.

4. There are various companies selling profiles for different printers and inks.

5. There are several online services available that create custom profiles if you follow these steps:

A) Download a print target from the service's website.

B) Print the target using your specific printer, ink, paper, and printer settings, and send the print to the service provider by regular mail.

C) The provider evaluates your target print, generates the profile, and emails it to you.

D) Install the profile.

These types of services cost between $30 and $80 for an RGB profile.** Discounts are often available for multiple orders. This is a great way to get hold of custom profiles, and it avoids the expense of buying your own

* For examples, see Hahnemuehle [128], Moab [131], or Tetenal [136]. You will find more manufacturers of fine art papers on page 520. Most of them provide ICC profiles for some or all of their papers and several high-end HP, Epson, and Canon printers at their websites.

** CMYK profiles (often used for press work) are more expensive. Photographers who print using inkjet, LightJet, or direct photo printers rarely use CMYK profiles.

profiling equipment while ensuring that your profile is produced by experienced personnel. Some companies restrict their services to specific printers or manufacturers.

6. Build your own custom profile.

The next section describes how to do this.

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