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Author Topic: simple printing  (Read 4218 times)
geesbert
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« on: August 17, 2010, 05:19:36 AM »
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I am very sure it was the devil himself who invented inkjet printing. for years I am most of the time unhappy with the results I am getting from my current setup, so I wonder whether anyone has a recommendation for a nearly foolproof system.

my current system:

computerwise I am well endowed with a magnificent current mac tower with all the speed an memory I could wish for. I am working on  Eizo hardware calibrated monitors. My main editing tool is Lightroom 3, with the very rare roundtrip to photoshop. I'd love to print out of LR, but if a RIP is really necessary, I'd go for it.
My printer is an Epson 4000, I make my profiles with a spyder print fix pro. Papert I use Epson's matte or Brilliant's Museum Silver Gloss white.

Most of the time I am fighting with the printer not eating my paper as it should. And the outcome rarely looks like what I am seeing on my screens.

A2 size prints are ok, but I'd prefer going A1.

I am not too picky with papers, If I had one semi gloss baryte style paper and one matte paper that worked I would be happy.

My print volume is one or two prints a week. Maybe I should give up the idea of doing it myself and get them printed?

my budget is, whatever it costs.

Any recommendations? Where do I start?



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jgbowerman
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 09:04:25 AM »
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I am very sure it was the devil himself who invented inkjet printing. for years I am most of the time unhappy with the results I am getting from my current setup, so I wonder whether anyone has a recommendation for a nearly foolproof system.

my current system:

computerwise I am well endowed with a magnificent current mac tower with all the speed an memory I could wish for. I am working on  Eizo hardware calibrated monitors. My main editing tool is Lightroom 3, with the very rare roundtrip to photoshop. I'd love to print out of LR, but if a RIP is really necessary, I'd go for it.
My printer is an Epson 4000, I make my profiles with a spyder print fix pro. Papert I use Epson's matte or Brilliant's Museum Silver Gloss white.

Most of the time I am fighting with the printer not eating my paper as it should. And the outcome rarely looks like what I am seeing on my screens.

A2 size prints are ok, but I'd prefer going A1.

I am not too picky with papers, If I had one semi gloss baryte style paper and one matte paper that worked I would be happy.

My print volume is one or two prints a week. Maybe I should give up the idea of doing it myself and get them printed?

my budget is, whatever it costs.

Any recommendations? Where do I start?

Being a newbie, I'd say others with more seasoned experience will be chipping in on your dilemma, but I'll give my 2 pennies.

If the printer is eating paper, as in damaging it or improper alignment, I'd consider investing in a new printer. It is old enough technology to justify the upgrade. I'm not familiar with the Espon 4000, but a quick google shows it coming out in 2004. Six years is two, very substantial generations in the digital age.  

Another thought, printer technology aside, regarding Color workflow failure: Try ruling out issues with the spyder print fix pro. Try a canned profile and if everything else is working as it should, you will be closer to getting on paper what you see on display, and if so, it would stand to reason the spyder protocol/hardware/software is at fault.

Edit: I'm not familiar with the spyder either, and if you are using it to profile your monitor as well, then a canned profile will not solve the problem necessarily... too many variables. Perhaps still worth a try, but consider upgrading profile-making software/hardware, too.

Inkjet printing should be a load of fun and cost effective! Don't hang it up, you can figure this out.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2010, 09:09:03 AM by jgbowerman » Logged

geesbert
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 09:11:37 AM »
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I am really looking forward to the day I am chucking out my 4000, this one has to go. I am eager to invest into a new printer, but I am at lost how to choose them. All I know is that I want A1 size and it should be as trouble free as possible. I know this is difficult to judge, as any product sold is advertised as trouble free, but I am looking for peoples' recommendations.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 11:36:48 AM »
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If you're only making a few prints per week, it will be far more economical for you to have your printing done by a service bureau. All the nitty-gritty details of printer maintenance and color management become their problem, provided you give them a decent file in a colorspace they can work with. A good service bureau will work with you through proof prints to make sure you get exactly what you want.

On the other hand, if you're willing to really dig in and do the work of learning color management and the quirks & foibles of your printer and workflow, you can get fantastic results at home. The advantages include printing on whatever paper you feel like, fine-tuning through multiple rounds of proofing until the print is really perfect, and making prints whenever you feel like it. Even at 2 am if that's when the muse strikes.

I don't think it makes sense any more to make your own profiles with something like Printfix Pro for a number of reasons. First, the current generation of printers from Epson and Canon are so consistent and stable, you'll get very acceptable results with decent canned profiles from either the printer vendor or from the paper manufacturers. HP's wide-format printers actually have a built-in spectro and make decent profiles automatically. If you're pickier, you can have excellent custom profiles made by experts for $30-$100 each that will save you the aggravation of learning a whole new set of hardware/software quirks. Second, if you're determined to make your own profiles, it probably makes sense to bite the bullet and splurge on a higher-end package like X-rite's i1 system. Anything less will drive you crazy as you waste vast quantities of ink and paper making profile after profile, all of which are "not quite good enough". Trust me on this, I've tried.


If money is no object and you want to dive in, by all means buy the best wide-format printer you can find and knock yourself out. But I would very strongly recommend attending a good digital printing workshop. This will get you up to speed quickly, short-cutting past months of painful trial and error. Charlie Cramer's digital printing workshops are wonderful.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 12:18:00 PM »
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If you're only making a few prints per week, it will be far more economical for you to have your printing done by a service bureau.
That may be true for 8x10's or smaller, or if you're just wanting photolab-style prints on Fuji Crystal Archive from a lightjet or similar.

But if you want larger inkjet prints, the equation changes even for relatively low volume printing. Getting fine-art inkjet prints from a pro lab can run you $20-25 per sq foot. And that's for fully-prepped files the lab just has to feed to the printer. If you want them to do any file prep or provide proofs, the cost goes up. It doesn't take too many 20x30" prints at 100 bucks a pop + shipping to make the prospect of buying your own 24" printer seem downright economical, even for relatively low volumes of printing.

All the other benefits of printing yourself mentioned in Geoff's second paragraph still apply for the low-volume printer: complete control, selection of papers, immediacy of being able to proof and re-print right away, etc. It's true there's a learning curve to doing this all yourself, and some people may not want to go down that road, which I can understand. But I do think the learning curve is not quite so bad with the newer printers. Printer consistency and the quality of canned profiles have both greatly improved, reducing the need to create custom profiles (though not completely eliminating it if you want to get every last little bit of print quality, IMHO).

I think for low-volume printers (which includes myself), the Canon large-format models offer a good value and excellent print quality. I've been using an ipf6300 for a few months now (had an ipf5000 before that), and I'm very happy with it. I think for low-volume printers the Canon is also less likely to give you headaches with clogs and cleaning cycles, compared to the 7900. The Epsons seem more suited to higher-volume users. The ipf6300 is also a better deal than the 7900 (about $700 less after all rebates, looking at current pricing at ITSupplies.com).
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geesbert
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 12:26:47 PM »
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Very good points, thanks. I think I really like to own a printer myself, as my prints are really only for myself, all my other photographic work is involving so many other people which i like to get away from for my own stuff.

with the canons: how easy do they handle precut paper? I used to use roll paper, but recently I prefer pre-cut.

somehow I am leaning towards HP printers, having had really bad experience with canon printers, althought about three years ago. I think canon really spent a lot to get into the large format printer market.

another question: hwo good do Large format printers handle small formats? something like 4x6? or is it advisable to get a smaller desktop printer for these?
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2010, 12:36:45 PM »
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Jeff, you can get quite a few 20x30 prints made for the cost of a 24" printer like the 7900 or Canon equivalents.  At only a few/week the payback period is pretty significant.  There are service bureaus out there that don't charge $20-$25/sq ft. and that produce excellent quality prints.  I'm not saying a new printer isn't or shouldn't be a consideration, just that the economics may not be quite as simple.

Geesbert, there are a few places I'd look to with your set up.  

First, the printer itself.  While the 4000 was a good printer in its day, it's a few generations old now and inkjet printing technology and ink technology has improved quite a lot in the 6 or 7 years since that printer was introduced.  The equivalent 13" printer of the day was the 2200.  Those prints looked good, for the most part, at the time but if a print from a 2200 were compared against a current Epson or Canon printer, I think we'd see that the older one paled in comparison.  

Second, if you're 'rolling your own' when it comes to profiles that's also a likely culprit.  Making profiles isn't difficult.  Making good, accurate profiles is more difficult.  Much more.  Are you dissatisfied with your prints if you use Epson paper with an Epson supplied profile?  Have you downloaded the latest profile updates for your printer?  

How confident are you that your monitor profile is accurate?  Have you tested it against an outsourced print from a quality service provider?  Are your Eizo monitors LCD or CRT?  If CRT, how old are they and how often do you recalibrate/reprofile?  Older CRT monitors, even a few years old, are more difficult to profile and need to be profiled increasingly often because they begin to drift faster and more than when new.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2010, 12:41:32 PM »
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Very good points, thanks. I think I really like to own a printer myself, as my prints are really only for myself, all my other photographic work is involving so many other people which i like to get away from for my own stuff.

with the canons: how easy do they handle precut paper? I used to use roll paper, but recently I prefer pre-cut.

somehow I am leaning towards HP printers, having had really bad experience with canon printers, althought about three years ago. I think canon really spent a lot to get into the large format printer market.

another question: hwo good do Large format printers handle small formats? something like 4x6? or is it advisable to get a smaller desktop printer for these?
AFAIK all of the 24" printers handle cut sheets one sheet at a time, so it's a more manual process. You're also going to run into limitations on supported sheet sizes and margins, lack of borderless printing, etc.

The smallest sheets I've used with my 6300 are 8.5x11". The print driver lists 8x10" as a choice, but without borderless printing on cut sheets I question the usefulness of this (the best the 6300 can do is 3mm margins on some media types). So if you're wanting to print 4x6" you'd need a desktop printer for that.

If you want to stick primarily with cut sheets and the ability to print borderless all the way down to 4x6, the Epson 3880 might be something to consider. It's "only" a 17" printer, and not well suited to printing panos, but it meets all your other criteria well.

Either that, or if you really want 24" printing you'll need a separate desktop printer for the small stuff.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2010, 12:49:13 PM »
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Jeff, you can get quite a few 20x30 prints made for the cost of a 24" printer like the 7900 or Canon equivalents.  At only a few/week the payback period is pretty significant.  There are service bureaus out there that don't charge $20-$25/sq ft. and that produce excellent quality prints.  I'm not saying a new printer isn't or shouldn't be a consideration, just that the economics may not be quite as simple.
Sure, there are variables, but like I said if you want fine-art inkjet prints the choices are more limited than for lightjet prints on Fuji paper. I checked the two online labs that I'm aware of that offer inkjet prints, West Coast Imaging and WHCC; they're both in the price range I mentioned. Maybe there are cheaper alternatives, but how much cheaper? Are they using the latest-model inkjets? What sort of paper selection do they offer, and do they provide ICC profiles for soft-proofing? What is the turnaround time?

Even if it takes a couple years for the payback period, that seems preferable to me considering all the other advantages of printing yourself.
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k bennett
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2010, 01:21:11 PM »
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I think that there is a bias in favor of all sorts of advanced techie things here in this forum, enough so that the person beginning to make his or her own prints feels the need to spend a lot of money on calibrators, custom profiles, RIPs, etc. All of these things have their place, of course, but much more so in an advanced workflow. The advanced techniques are designed to solve certain problems, and to refine print quality to a degree beyond what the average printer can get -- NOT in my opinion to be part of the standard package for a beginning printer. (Just take custom profiles, for example -- does anyone seriously recommend that a beginning printer with his or her 3880 fresh out of the box should be creating a custom profile using an expensive hardware/software package? Really?)

Start simple. Buy some basic paper of the same brand as the printer. In my case, some Epson luster paper. Use the profile that came with the printer. Make some prints. They won't be perfect, of course, but with some tweaking of the monitor's brightness, and some tweaking of the printer driver settings, most beginners can start making some nice prints within a day or two. As a 3800 owner and beginning printer, I had the HUGE advantage of the FAQ put together by Eric Chan (http://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/index.html), but one can Google advice on most printer models. Some of the printing workshops get good reviews, or maybe one has a friend or colleague with a similar printer who can offer advice. I was the lucky recipient of some great advice from a local photographer who owned an Epson 4000 when I bought my 3800.

After learning all the intricacies of the printer driver, and learning how to get good prints on basic paper, then it's time to start with fancier paper -- which often looks quite good with the paper manufacturer's profiles. My personal opinion is that it's only time to bring in the custom monitor and paper profilers when I'm making good-to-great prints but they are just not quite what I want, *and* I have exhausted all other options. So far, I haven't reached that point (though to be fair I am not trying to print for the fine art market, or anything like that. Purely for personal pleasure. But then I was able to print a nice 11x17 portfolio on the off chance I need to hit the streets again looking for work.)

As an aside, from a financial perspective maybe my 3800 didn't make a lot of sense. But I agree with Jeff that being able to make the prints myself has intangible but valuable benefits and I would not go back to sending them out to a lab.

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geesbert
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2010, 01:33:32 PM »
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How confident are you that your monitor profile is accurate?  Have you tested it against an outsourced print from a quality service provider?  Are your Eizo monitors LCD or CRT?  If CRT, how old are they and how often do you recalibrate/reprofile?  Older CRT monitors, even a few years old, are more difficult to profile and need to be profiled increasingly often because they begin to drift faster and more than when new.

Its Eizo CG241W, which is not super current, but lots of my work gets printed in magazines and on billboards, and I am happy with those results, usually they turn out as I have seen them on my screen, which of course isn't very scientific.

I calibrate about once a month.
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2010, 01:36:01 PM »
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the reason I am asking is that once I get a nice large print out of my current setup, I usually try to make a few small ones, but if I have to switch to another printer I fear consistency is gone.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2010, 01:45:18 PM »
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somehow I am leaning towards HP printers, having had really bad experience with canon printers, althought about three years ago. I think canon really spent a lot to get into the large format printer market.

HP's large format printers have a number of advantages and some major disadvantages. The Z3100/Z3200 are the best big printers available for black and white. They give a visibly better d-max on matte paper than the Epsons, and at least as good on gloss/semigloss/baryta papers. Their black/grey inks are absolultely neutral. On the other hand, their gamut is not as good as the latest Epson or Canon generation, particularly in the reds. They're a bit fragile and finicky in my personal experience. And of the three main brands (Epson, HP, Canon), HP has the clumsiest handling of sheet paper.

The big Epsons are the best at handling very thick board-like papers, because of their straight-through paper path. They also have the widest 3rd party support. But they really, really need to  be used at least every week, or head clogs tend to be a major problem. Canon and HP can be left alone indefinitely, and they'll take care of themselves without any evident clogs.

The latest Canon iPF6300 is terrific; bulletproof so far after several months of use, and wonderful image quality, both color and black & white.

Finally, I'd probably get a smaller desktop printer if I anticipated making lots of smaller prints, unless you're willing to gang lots of small prints onto a larger sheet of paper. The big rollpaper printers just aren't very good for making small prints; sort of like using a sledgehammer to drive in a finishing nail.
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geesbert
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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2010, 01:53:34 PM »
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So would it make sense to get a large and a small printer by the same manufacturer and expect similar results?

as photokina is looming and I will go there, this is probably the best time to get good deals on current stuff or see what is coming around soon.
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2010, 02:17:33 PM »
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Printing is possibly the most aggravatingly and unnecessarily complicated part of photography, and getting consistent, accurate results is incredibly complicated. It is no wonder nobody outside the hardcore amateurs and a pro here and there prints these days.

If you have your own printer, there is huge frustration, time and effort needed to get color management in order, and even then you have to have a very strict printing workflow - if you neglect to check a single checkbox or even look at your printer sideways you have wasted several euros worth of paper and ink. Nothing is automated, you have to double-check everything with flaky drivers, inconsistent implementation and obscure descriptions. God forbid you have to re-install the drivers or OS, as you get to start from scratch. Oh the joy.

The really bad news is that it only gets worse if you use a printing service. The cheap to mid-priced ones are clueless when it comes to printing. You ask them what ICC profile you should use and you get a blank look. You ask them what output sharpening you should use and they give you a blank look. You ask them if you can print full bleed they'll call the cops on you. Print the same photo on different days and you get different results depending on the mood of the operator. These guys print huge volumes of small batches for people who couldn't care less about color accuracy or sharpness of their vacation shots. I bet they have competitions on how much they can mess a run and still get paid.

It doesn't get any better if you go up the scale and go to the local pro shop. These guys can't be bothered with that one guy who comes every month or so and buys a few prints. Good luck trying to proof anything with them. They work on huge volumes and huge batches.

After years of this I went and bought myself a 13" printer (Canon i9950). Now I get consistent results, and the ability to tweak and proof is worth the price of entry alone. Now if there just was a 17" printer with a comparable gamut and inky blacks...

Oh and these printers are huge. The 13" printer I have is closer to 30" wide, and if you get a 24" printer you apparently need a football team to move it. You need a separate room to operate it, especially if you want to have a table to peep at the prints.

I even found a local service which does a very good job for the occasional large print I want. They still insist on sRGB, but it's better than taping several 13" prints together Tongue

It is no wonder that many of the greatest photographers never printed a sheet.

To recap my rant: either way you cut it, it will suck. You might get good results eventually. If money is not an object, outsource the whole thing to a master printer. Send her the file and be done with it. You'll also live longer.
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2010, 02:31:16 PM »
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I think that there is a bias in favor of all sorts of advanced techie things here in this forum, enough so that the person beginning to make his or her own prints feels the need to spend a lot of money on calibrators, custom profiles, RIPs, etc. All of these things have their place, of course, but much more so in an advanced workflow. The advanced techniques are designed to solve certain problems, and to refine print quality to a degree beyond what the average printer can get -- NOT in my opinion to be part of the standard package for a beginning printer. (Just take custom profiles, for example -- does anyone seriously recommend that a beginning printer with his or her 3880 fresh out of the box should be creating a custom profile using an expensive hardware/software package? Really?)

Start simple. Buy some basic paper of the same brand as the printer. In my case, some Epson luster paper. Use the profile that came with the printer. Make some prints. They won't be perfect, of course, but with some tweaking of the monitor's brightness, and some tweaking of the printer driver settings, most beginners can start making some nice prints within a day or two. As a 3800 owner and beginning printer, I had the HUGE advantage of the FAQ put together by Eric Chan (http://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/index.html), but one can Google advice on most printer models. Some of the printing workshops get good reviews, or maybe one has a friend or colleague with a similar printer who can offer advice. I was the lucky recipient of some great advice from a local photographer who owned an Epson 4000 when I bought my 3800.

After learning all the intricacies of the printer driver, and learning how to get good prints on basic paper, then it's time to start with fancier paper -- which often looks quite good with the paper manufacturer's profiles. My personal opinion is that it's only time to bring in the custom monitor and paper profilers when I'm making good-to-great prints but they are just not quite what I want, *and* I have exhausted all other options. So far, I haven't reached that point (though to be fair I am not trying to print for the fine art market, or anything like that. Purely for personal pleasure. But then I was able to print a nice 11x17 portfolio on the off chance I need to hit the streets again looking for work.)

As an aside, from a financial perspective maybe my 3800 didn't make a lot of sense. But I agree with Jeff that being able to make the prints myself has intangible but valuable benefits and I would not go back to sending them out to a lab.

The philosophy of incremental improvement is a valid one, but some of us prefer to get things right the first time (given current skillset).

Also, getting a custom profile for my i9950 had the biggest ROI on IQ of my prints than anything before or since - and it was only around 50 euros - with the possible exception of wired remote release.
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2010, 04:48:38 PM »
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Okay, two more pennies.

From what I gather, geesbert is a professional photographer and has been dabbling with print-workflow for quite some time. Each to his/her own when it comes to printing or not printing. I'm a newbie at this game, and I have found it satisfying beyond measure to do it myself. If one takes the time necessary in learning to do it correctly, it can be done. It is part of the art. It is not that difficult with today's technology and resources. It is creative and hugely rewarding.

The advice I got when starting out is invest to succeed. Don't shortcut yourself. Already, Geesbert has stated money is not the object. Buy the best equipment... camera, lens (especially the lens), monitor (BTW, the Eizo CG241W is an outstanding monitor), printer, whatever and wherever one wants to go with the art of photography. It might stop at the camera and lens for many, but for those who take it all the way to printing, matte cutting, and placing the piece behind glass, it is all part of the creative spirit.

My recurring theme in life has been the vast majority can do no better than me... I can't stand having someone prune my trees, I can do at least as good a job and more often better. I have no less confidence the same can't be said for photography. But that is me.

Off my pulpit, and down to the printer... yes, the 6300 is marvelous (I have the 8300), and as already stated, better than Epson for low-volume work, and arguably better than Epson for print quality, too. I don't like the way HP builds their profile maker into the printer, I believe they should be separate applications. It is like having an oven and a microwave, if they are one piece, the microwave fails, then a new oven must be had, too.

As for building profiles, I use: http://www.colorhq.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=EOBIS/PM5PL . I employ 1860-patch 2-page test targets, and WYSIWYG. As I continue learning, I am now enjoying all the more exploring the world of paper. Without building one's own profiles, one will limit the potential for fun to be had testing different papers. The more control I have, the more I will learn, and the better I can refine my skills and the finished product. But again, that is me.
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2010, 04:51:53 PM »
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Printing is possibly the most aggravatingly and unnecessarily complicated part of photography, and getting consistent, accurate results is incredibly complicated. It is no wonder nobody outside the hardcore amateurs and a pro here and there prints these days....to recap my rant: either way you cut it, it will suck. You might get good results eventually. If money is not an object, outsource the whole thing to a master printer. Send her the file and be done with it. You'll also live longer.

Wow. I'm sorry your experiences have been so negative. I have a different perspective.
I began shooting back in the heyday of color slide film, on Kodachrome 64. Getting prints made was an exercise in frustration, as most labs were incompetent at printing from slide film. Few labs were able to make direct positive prints, which in any event had terrible contrast problems. Your choices were a low-quality print made via an internegative (with lousy sharpness and unpredictable color shifts), or an extremely expensive Cibachrome which required custom masking for decent results. Out of frustration I began scanning my slides on a first-generation slide scanner, and printing them myself on an Epson 1200, a first-generation 13" wide printer. Even with extremely crude circa 1997 tools, my results were instantly better than anything I got from a lab. As of about 2004, I started getting consistently excellent and very predictable output using Bill Atkinson's excellent profiles on an Epson 7600. Since then things have only gotten better, as each successive generation of printer provides wider color gamut, better surface characteristics, better consistency and more accurate canned profiles.

Sure, you need to be consistent in your workflow, and there are lots of little 'gotcha's' and potential pitfalls. But that has surely always been the case in the chemical darkroom. With complete control of the process, and multiple points of control, comes complexity. I'll take that complexity in return for complete control of the process. As I mention above, a digital printing workshop will shortcut a lot of the painful trial & error, and will rapidly improve both your skill level and the quality of your prints.
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2010, 05:27:32 PM »
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Jeff, WHCC and WCI are two of the more expensive service bureaus out there.  There are others that are less expensive that also offer a wide variety of media, high quality inkjet printers, full colour management workflows and profiles to proof with. 

Geesbert, not trying to demean your set up, rather just trying to eliminate possible hiccups in the loop to try to come to a workable solution.  Probably I'd look at the custom profiles and the printer.  When the 4000 came out, manufacturer provided profiles weren't overly good.  Epson's first generation profiles for the 2200 were a prime example.  George Lepp/Tim Grey made a set of profiles for the 2200 that make their way around the 'internet black market' and eventually Epson updated theirs and were much better.

As others have pointed out, canned profiles from printer manufacturers today are generally very, very good.  The higher quality paper manufacturers also provide extremely good profiles for their papers with a variety of printers. 

While I don't believe it's necessary to always upgrade to the latest printer (or camera, or lens) to get great quality, there are times when the gap from one generation to the next is so great that upgrading makes sense.  That is the case with your 4000 though.

If you were to get a smaller printer, no you shouldn't expect the same results.  Unless that smaller printer has the same inkset, the results are going to be different.  Print head screening will make a difference too but shouldn't be as much as the inkset itself.  The smaller, letter/legal size desktop printers don't have the same multi-grey, 8, 9, or more cartridge inksets as the larger printers. 
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feppe
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Oh this shows up in here!


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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2010, 06:39:27 PM »
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Wow. I'm sorry your experiences have been so negative. I have a different perspective.
I began shooting back in the heyday of color slide film, on Kodachrome 64. Getting prints made was an exercise in frustration, as most labs were incompetent at printing from slide film. Few labs were able to make direct positive prints, which in any event had terrible contrast problems. Your choices were a low-quality print made via an internegative (with lousy sharpness and unpredictable color shifts), or an extremely expensive Cibachrome which required custom masking for decent results. Out of frustration I began scanning my slides on a first-generation slide scanner, and printing them myself on an Epson 1200, a first-generation 13" wide printer. Even with extremely crude circa 1997 tools, my results were instantly better than anything I got from a lab. As of about 2004, I started getting consistently excellent and very predictable output using Bill Atkinson's excellent profiles on an Epson 7600. Since then things have only gotten better, as each successive generation of printer provides wider color gamut, better surface characteristics, better consistency and more accurate canned profiles.

Sure, you need to be consistent in your workflow, and there are lots of little 'gotcha's' and potential pitfalls. But that has surely always been the case in the chemical darkroom. With complete control of the process, and multiple points of control, comes complexity. I'll take that complexity in return for complete control of the process. As I mention above, a digital printing workshop will shortcut a lot of the painful trial & error, and will rapidly improve both your skill level and the quality of your prints.

Your experience with chromes is similar to mine - I stopped trying with printing houses ten years ago, and have had them scanned for digital workflow. Just yesterday I got an Epson V700 for MF/LF film for proofing.

As I implied, one can get good, consistent results. But the path to get there is painful. And it's clear that printing technology has improved tremendously in the last 5, 10 and 15 years. But workflow is still archaic and convoluted, and I have very little hope of it improving. If I knew when I started with digital printing the lengths it would take to be able to do decent prints, I'd seriously consider outsourcing all my limited printing. Getting good or great prints is a whole new ballgame; just read today's TOP for an idea.

Different workshops and tutorials here on LL and elsewhere should take much of the pain away. They still can't help you with some of the minutiae of profile, driver and software interactions as they are often dependent on a particular printer model, OS and software combination. And tracking down that one checkbox in the last tab under advanced settings of the printer driver to turn off the "make all my prints look like crap" -feature will ruin your day. Or two.

Although the skills I've learned might get handy if I ever get crazy enough to buy a wide-format printer...
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