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Author Topic: HP APS... plea for clarity  (Read 7533 times)
jmvdigital
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« on: August 13, 2007, 09:40:15 PM »
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I need some clarity on what the HP Advanced Profiling Solution actually results in when you hold a print in hand, versus the standard built-in profiling of the Z3100. I'm happy so far with my prints from the Z3100, but can't help but lose a little sleep wondering if maybe they aren't as good as they could be. I spent this much on the printer, a little more for the best possible quality could be worth it.

I've read all about it, and I understand what the APS does, and what's included (and why so many are pissed it isn't standard). What I can't seem to figure out is if the extra $800 really makes a difference in fine art and photography prints, visually speaking. The thousand patches and the extra features of the software are all technically well and good, and it's great to know that the profile accuracy with the APS would be top notch, but am I actually missing out on any of the printer's capabilities without it?

I've only made a handful of prints on the Z, and so far I'm impressed with the color accuracy between it and my Eizo monitor (the Eizo presents another question for the APS' monitor calibration features, since the Eizo comes with proprietary software to update its hardware LUT). Does the APS just improve the "accuracy" of the print, or does it actually improve the gamut and produce noticeably "better" prints; aesthetically and subjectively speaking, not technically and pixel-peeper speaking.

I've also read other threads here discussing the fact that HP has mysteriously deep-sixed the APS from its website. I can find it from a third-party supplier, but is it wise to purchase a now unsupported or advertised piece of pricey software?

Would waiting for the Colorbyte IP update be the best possible solution? I realize it is twice the cost of the APS, but I'm after quality, not quantity.

If anyone can share their personal experiences with the Z and/or the APS I would greatly appreciate it. Perhaps someone has an ICC for HP's Pro Satin paper made with the APS that I could compare to my "standard" profile, for a visual experience?

Thanks for your help.
-Justin
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Justin VanAlstyne
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marty m
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2007, 10:45:43 PM »
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I need some clarity on what the HP Advanced Profiling Solution actually results in when you hold a print in hand, versus the standard built-in profiling of the Z3100. I'm happy so far with my prints from the Z3100, but can't help but lose a little sleep wondering if maybe they aren't as good as they could be. I spent this much on the printer, a little more for the best possible quality could be worth it.

If anyone can share their personal experiences with the Z and/or the APS I would greatly appreciate it. Perhaps someone has an ICC for HP's Pro Satin paper made with the APS that I could compare to my "standard" profile, for a visual experience?

Thanks for your help.
-Justin
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Justin:

This is very subjective and in the eye of the beholder.  The APS does result in some improvement.  To some this is so significant as to justify spending $800 for it.  To others the change is so minor as to be a gross waste of money.  I have seen both points of view expressed, and both are right since this is a personal judgement call.  

You will likely be very pleased with the output that the Z3100 is capable of with its own software and without the APS.

When using relative colormetric, I can barely see a difference between the Easy software and Easy profiles versus the APS and profiles created from that. The difference is more evident with perceptual color space. Shadows are slightly more open, especially when comparing the same print using PhotoRag with an Easy Profile and the APS profile. When printing a color test image from Caponigro (a photo of a woman with a fruit basket on her head) there is a difference with red and yellow -- both are *slightly* deeper and richer in color when printed using the APS profile as compared with the Easy profile. If you an exacting professional, the APS might be worth it. If you are an advanced amateur who normally prints only with relative colormetric, it is probably not worth the huge price of $800

If you aren't in a position to compare side-by-side, then you'll likely be pleased with the results you obtain from the Easy software since you'll never know the difference. In my case, I ran detailed tests comparing prints using profiles from the Easy software, to prints from an Epson 4000 using the $1100 Xrite package, and they were pretty similar. And the Caponigro test is a bit artificial. For the standard landscape, I doubt you'd notice the difference.

I hope that helps.

(I assume you bought your printer before the package deal was announced, under which you can get the printer and APS for about the same price as many of us paid for the printer alone in its first two months of release.  Welcome to the HP fan club.)
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rdonson
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2007, 09:02:49 AM »
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Justin,

Q6695A (APS) is listed as available on the HP website.  I didn't go through the mechanics of ordering it though.  I bought mine from ProVantage at a considerable savings.

The base profiling capbilities of the Z3100 are good and does produce good prints.   The printer ships with profiles for Pro Satin and other HP papers that look to be created by a APS TC9.18 target.  If you've created your own profile for Pro Satin with 400 patches you should be able to compare them yourself.  The file size difference between the profiles is easy to spot.

I've used my APS to create profiles from 918 patch targets for some of my non-HP brand matte papers.  I've been pleased with the differences I've seen but they are not day and night differences.  I believe I see differences in shadow detail and some better color.  These are purely subjective observations.  I haven't had time to use it on any satin/luster papers yet or do anything remotely resembling a serious more scientific test between profiles (400 vs 918 patches).

From a practical perspective if you're printing on HP papers use the profiles HP provides.  They are generally profiles from the larger targets.  Checking the profile's files size should help you see which profiles are which.

ImagePrint 7 support for the HP Z3100 should be nice when its delivered.   A lot of people rave about the profiles Colorbyte makes.

Hope this helps.
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Charles Gast
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2007, 07:31:17 PM »
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It depends I think on the media you will use. I am printing on Inkjet art luster with a non-aps created profile and the images look very good. The blues and greens are a definite improvement over the same paper printed on an Epson4800 using Colorbyte profiles.
With the matte papers its a different story.  I have a 24x36 print which I printed on the HP Hahnemuhle fine art smooth using the non-aps profiling in my printer. To me it looked a little flat and the reds a bit dull. I am now using the HP supplied profile for that paper instead. HP uses aps to make these canned profiles. To me the difference is night and day.  I had two 24x36 prints ready to go to sale with the non-aps profile and now that I have two new  aps prints those previous two are just scrap paper!
Many folks would probably not see a big difference, but to me the difference with this paper, aps or non-aps is between fine art and scrap  paper. I think that this particular print also just happens to do a particularly good job of revealing the difference.

But as I said and many others here have noted it is not such a big difference with satin,luster,and gloss media

Charlie
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dkeyes
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2007, 12:43:32 AM »
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If anyone can share their personal experiences with the Z and/or the APS I would greatly appreciate it. Perhaps someone has an ICC for HP's Pro Satin paper made with the APS that I could compare to my "standard" profile, for a visual experience?

Thanks for your help.
-Justin
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Justin, The canned Pro Satin profile should be as good as the APS but I can email you my Pro Satin profile if you would like to compare. It's the paper I use 90% of the time.
- Doug
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jmvdigital
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2007, 12:10:47 PM »
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Marty- To sum up, you found a barely noticeable difference, undetectable without direct comparison. If you had to do it again, would you still purchase the APS after doing all the testing with and without it? I can live with a small visual difference, and can compensate manually if shadows block up a little too much. With my photography, a little sway in the image characteristics are often of little consequence since my edits and "vision" of the image is completely aesthetic and often arbitrary based on what "looks good."

Rdonson- I compared the OEM Pro Satin profile to my own, and while I do see a change in color in Photoshop, I can't determine whether one is "better" than the other. I did however notice that with Gamut Warning on, a lot of colors there were marked as out of gamut on a test image with my profile, were not out of gamut on the stock HP profile. One could conclude that the more complex APS profile is better able to push the printer to it's extreme gamut edge?

Charles- This is the type of report that makes me sad. Fine art vs. scrap? Night vs. day? Sigh. Does softproofing your APS vs. non-APS profiles of this particular image show this big difference that you see on paper? If so, would you be willing to share the profiles (or images with the profiles applied) for my own comparison?

I'm still confused at square one.
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Justin VanAlstyne
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Bruce Watson
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2007, 01:05:59 PM »
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I can live with a small visual difference, and can compensate manually if shadows block up a little too much.
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Actually, I don't think you can. The way ICC profiles work and your specified rendering intent will probably keep you frustrated.

A simplified idea of what an ICC profile does includes a couple of things. First, it defines how the printer should translate the numbers in your file into colors on the paper so that the grass green you see on your monitor is matched by the grass green on the print (assuming both are in gamut for the printer/substrate in question).

Second, it defines the edges of the gamut - the maximum hues, saturations, and luminosities the printer can print on the given substrate. This is used to show you out-of-gamut warnings in Photoshop, and used to determine how to calculate how to compress the image information into the gamut using the rendering intent you specify (typically perceptual or relative colorimetric). The edge of the gamut is a solid wall that your image can't cross. You can't do any photoshop tricks to get the printer to print pixels that are beyond the gamut of which the printer/substrate is capable.

So, if you tend toward images that push the edges of the gamut (really dark blue skies, blazing red sunrises, that sort of thing), you'd want the APS option. If your images tend to be more muted and use less than the full gamut, then the APS option probably isn't worth it to you.
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Fred Ragland
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2007, 01:46:34 PM »
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Actually, I don't think you can. The way ICC profiles work and your specified rendering intent will probably keep you frustrated.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=133457\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Maybe not.  But you will have to be a good soft proofer.  There's a great section in "From Camera to Print," a tutorial which is sold for $25 on this site, which will help you hone your skills.  And the rest of the 6 1/2 hour tutorial will help you in a lot of other ways.  Highly recommended.
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jmvdigital
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2007, 02:22:34 PM »
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Are there any negatives or downsides to the APS? It seems the major (and only) detractor to the APS is the additional $800.

Hasn't anyone come up with a software package that does what the APS does without the extra colorimeter and hefty price tag? With my Eizo monitor, I won't even be able to use the monitor calibration features of the APS.
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Justin VanAlstyne
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rdonson
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2007, 04:26:03 PM »
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Are there any negatives or downsides to the APS? It seems the major (and only) detractor to the APS is the additional $800.

Hasn't anyone come up with a software package that does what the APS does without the extra colorimeter and hefty price tag? With my Eizo monitor, I won't even be able to use the monitor calibration features of the APS.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=133468\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not really.  APS behaves like i1Match for the most part.  You also have to program to the HP Z3100 API to get the spectro to read a patch chart.  I suspect that Colorbyte is working on this for ImagePrint 7.  Perhaps others will seize the opportunity as well.  In the meantime the colorimeter is just a dongle for the software.  I think that all i1 software uses the colorimeter or spectro as a dongle.  With the Z3100 design it may not be possible to use the built-in spectro for a dongle.

The Z3100 with or without APS is a very easy to use calibration/profiling package.  Its kind of like having the i1IO which isn't cheap.

The price of APS would seem to be an HP/X-Rite marketing misstep.  It should have come bundled with the printer if the target audience was professional photographers or high end printers.  I suspect that's why it does now with certain Z3100 packages.

The question is how much are you willing to pay for a package that does what APS does?  The cost of developing such a software package has to be weighed against how many licenses for that software you might be able to sell.  If HP has sold 100,000 Z3100's then you stand a good chance.  If, on the other hand, you think the software should sell for $100 and HP has sold 5,000 printers the economics simply aren't going to work out.
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jmvdigital
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2007, 11:24:46 AM »
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Last night I was softproofing an image that contained saturated, dark browns which turned a magenta/purple cast with my non-APS profile, but looked slightly closer to the original with HP's APS profile. I was convinced that the APS was the way to go.

Before dropping the $700 I decided to do test strip series with the two profiles on different rendering settings. I did 5 cropped strips of this photo: APS w/ Rel. Colormetric w/ BPC, APS w/ Rel. Colormetric, APS w/ Perceptual, non-APS Rel. Colormetric w/BPC, non-APS w/ Perceptual.

I can honestly tell you that I found VERY little visual difference between all of them. The difference is  almost non-existent between the two using Perceptual rendering. I see a small increase in transition smoothness in the shadows with the APS profile.

I'm still a little hesitant that I'm not getting "the best" print, but I feel a little better after seeing the test results.

-J
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Justin VanAlstyne
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Charles Gast
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2007, 02:43:10 PM »
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Last night I was softproofing an image that contained saturated, dark browns which turned a magenta/purple cast with my non-APS profile, but looked slightly closer to the original with HP's APS profile. I was convinced that the APS was the way to go.

Before dropping the $700 I decided to do test strip series with the two profiles on different rendering settings. I did 5 cropped strips of this photo: APS w/ Rel. Colormetric w/ BPC, APS w/ Rel. Colormetric, APS w/ Perceptual, non-APS Rel. Colormetric w/BPC, non-APS w/ Perceptual.

I can honestly tell you that I found VERY little visual difference between all of them. The difference is  almost non-existent between the two using Perceptual rendering. I see a small increase in transition smoothness in the shadows with the APS profile.

I'm still a little hesitant that I'm not getting "the best" print, but I feel a little better after seeing the test results.

-J
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I dont' have APS. I am assuming the profiles HP provides for their papers are APS created.
As I said in my previous post it could be that certain images really make the best of APS and many other images would show marginal or even no difference.  For me I am using the HP papers for now. Hahnemuhle is excellent media.  HP definitely did the right thing partnering with them.   I am waiting (and waiting and waiting..) for Colorbyte to release IP7. I am hoping that is the best way to go.  I will gladly pay $1500 or so for a clearly superior print quality from Colorbyte rather than pay $800 or so just to get APS.
As far as I know you still need 24 inch stock just to create the ICC profile target with APS. Blah to that.

charlie
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rdonson
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2007, 05:41:25 PM »
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As far as I know you still need 24 inch stock just to create the ICC profile target with APS. Blah to that.

charlie
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Not according to APS 1.3.  I'd love to test it but it will be probably two weeks before I get the chance.
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2007, 06:33:29 PM »
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As far as I know you still need 24 inch stock just to create the ICC profile target with APS. Blah to that.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=133686\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

With version 1.3 I have been able to create profiles using 17x22 sheets. I believe it will also work with two 13x19 sheets, but I have not had the chance to try that yet.

Roy
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2007, 07:20:57 PM »
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I'm pretty confident it will work with 13x19 as well.  I don't know if it will work with A3 paper.
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joncanfield
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2007, 11:39:50 PM »
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I'm pretty confident it will work with 13x19 as well.  I don't know if it will work with A3 paper.
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13x19 works fine, I just profiled some Moab papers today.

Jon
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2007, 11:58:52 AM »
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Jon, I think you've hit on the answer, at least for me. Since I don't have APS, and you do, and you've profiled the Moab papers, how about selling the profiles you've made? It would cost me far less to buy them than to buy APS, and I'd have the benefit of your expertise...
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jmvdigital
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2007, 12:30:26 PM »
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Jon, I think you've hit on the answer, at least for me. Since I don't have APS, and you do, and you've profiled the Moab papers, how about selling the profiles you've made? It would cost me far less to buy them than to buy APS, and I'd have the benefit of your expertise...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134557\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This isn't really ideal if you are looking for "perfect" profiles. Each and every printer (yes, even the same model) has slightly different print characteristics. Using Jon's profiles would be no different than using a manufacturers canned profiles. They are close, but are general representations of the inks and characteristics of a particular printer and environment. Perhaps the Z's calibration check, which is separate from a profile, helps to minimize this. You still won't achieve as good a result as using the APS to characterize your particular paper, printer, and environmental effects when it builds the profile.
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Justin VanAlstyne
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joncanfield
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2007, 09:41:17 PM »
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Jon, I think you've hit on the answer, at least for me. Since I don't have APS, and you do, and you've profiled the Moab papers, how about selling the profiles you've made? It would cost me far less to buy them than to buy APS, and I'd have the benefit of your expertise...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134557\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I'd be happy to email them to you, no need to pay for them. Contact me off the list if you'd like them.

The previous poster has a good point though - while the profiles, especially after calibrating the paper will be good, it's not the same as profiling them on your particular printer.

Jon
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neil snape
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« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2007, 03:24:33 AM »
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Unless something changed, APS has a bit of math in the creation of the profiles that corrects for the blues going purple, some nice math making extensions into gamut boundaries at a steep power curve in the perceptual mode (called Colorful in Profile Maker) and better screen preview returns over the Easy profiles.
I did so much testing between the two that I'm going to have to say there are a lot of differences in output. APS is better in almost all cases exception being on cotton or matte papers that are rather uncoated. Easy profiles do much better for me there. The results are not only subjective but objective. I made many measurements between the two and APS does more for photographers.
Easy is always there and can be used in parallel. If you already have an i1 display, just sell the HP one, and the price is reduced to a pretty good value for the services this package provides.
There will be improvements in APS, features and functions, that will take it beyond. It's not an app that is stuck or forgotten, hence a serious addition for those who need the extra capacity of more customized profiling and profile editing.
So far IP7 for this printer is working well. The transitions are smoother, quite a bit more shadow detail. Yet there are things in the color maps that are not correct for the version and profile (s) I have. I suppose Colorbyte are farther along now, and I'm confident they will deliver a sound , solid performer for the Z. BTW IP7 also works on the 9180!
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