Getting the best possible printed output

The printer and paper you use will make a big difference in the quality of your prints. Most mid- to high-end printers, when using good quality papers, are

The Print Job panel options will change to let you specify:

File Resolution: the resolution in ppi for the output file. Use the info provided by your lab for this.

capable of making very accurate, beautiful prints straight from Lightroom, or from jpG files made by Lightroom. Here are a few tips to help you get good prints.

Use good paper

You really do get what you pay for. When you're printing your photos for display, don't skimp. For inkjet, I highly recommend papers from Hahnemuhle, Harman, Premier and Ilford. For laser imagers, Fuji Crystal Archive is usually the way to go, and the Kodak metallic papers are really nice, too.

Photo papers (gloss, luster, semi-gloss, etc.) provide the widest gamuts and the deepest blacks. This results in prints that look vivid, clear and show the most "depth".

Art papers (matte, cotton rag, etc.) provide a more artsy look. Prints on art papers may lack the three-dimensional characteristics of those on photo papers and thus appear more "painterly". The range of colors possible with art papers is significantly smaller than with photo papers, and most art papers are available only for inkjet.

Choose the right paper for each image: photos with large, solid-color areas will look better on smooth papers. Photos with lots of fine detail look great on textured paper or canvas.

Use good profiles

For the most part, the profiles you download from a printer or paper manufacturer can get close to optimal color, but they weren't made using your printer. Don't expect perfect color from "canned" profiles. A custom printer profile, made specifically for your printer and paper combination, will produce the best possible results. (See the tips earlier in this chapter, or search the Web for "custom printer profiles".)

Adjust derivative photos to match the printer/paper gamut

Different papers have widely varying color gamuts. It's highly likely that you won't get equally good results printing the same photo on a variety of substrates by only using different profiles and driver settings. Sometimes it's necessary to adjust the image prior to output to compensate for the destination gamut. It depends on the printer, the paper and the ink.

For example, Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk has an extremely wide gamut on an Epson Stylus Pro 9800. The colors in most photos translate well to the print, with not much shifting of color or tone (using my custom profile). Still, I usually lighten the shadows a bit (Fill Light is good for this), and bump the Saturation by +4 to +7.

On art papers (and especially canvas) it's necessary to tweak the file settings

Use vcs to make different versions, with different adjustments, for the various printing conditions you encounter. This procedure is described in detail earlier in this chapter.

Print anomalies

Some users have reported seeing differences in prints made from Lightroom versus those from Photoshop or other software. Problems have been reported on a few printers from Epson, hp and Canon.

There are several possible reasons for this. First, as Lightroom is still a relatively new program, some printer drivers have trouble with Lightroom's color-managed output. In cases where the problem lies with Lightroom's printing pipeline, Adobe has worked diligently to iron out the bugs. Unfortunately, this hasn't always been the case with problems in printer drivers. Printer manufacturers notoriously blame the operating system (and vice versa), so these kinds of problems are resolved slowly, if ever.

It's important to note that true software bugs related to printing from Lightroom are rare; the vast majority of prosumer and professional printers are capable of producing excellent prints from Lightroom. Problems with printed output are most often due to incorrect settings in Lightroom, the printer driver, or both.

Google the name of your printer model along with "Lightroom printing" etc. to see if people are discussing problems with your particular printer.

Test, test, test

If you're planning to do a lot of printing from Lightroom, I recommend you do your own tests to see the results on paper. Lightroom won't preview settings such as resolution and sharpening in the Print module, and there's no substitute for an actual print.

Print the same photos using different settings, and you will quickly get a feel for how those settings affect the final output. Get the hang of Lightroom's printing workflow and identify key variables before you're up against a deadline or an important print job.

more dramatically in order to produce similar appearances in tone and/or color.

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