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Author Topic: A classics revisited: My prints turn out too dark!  (Read 24475 times)
Nino Loss
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« on: September 01, 2010, 03:32:06 PM »
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I have been reorganizing and rethinking a lot of my work flow and techniques in the last months, last but not least because I moved to bigger studio and finally got myself access to the Internet.

With the new NEC PA241, I find myself in the classic situation, that my prints come out too dark ;-)  That means the monitor, at 80cd/m2 is is too bright or my viewing booth is to dark. A NEC PA241W at 80cd/m2 is at it's minimum. The viewing booth next to the monitor is dimmed to 50% and is visually definitely brighter than the screen. The print looks too dark there, when compared to the screen. But I have a big 3x2m wall viewing booth, at a high brightness level (because that's where I compare proof to print etc.), and still the print is to dark! Contrast looks very good, and usually with the PA241 the print looks closer to the screen when I turn PS proof off... even the colors!

Thank you in advance for any help with this

regards

nino
« Last Edit: September 01, 2010, 04:46:46 PM by Nino Loss » Logged
tho_mas
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 04:14:47 PM »
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- is the printer actually profiled?
- do you use the paper the profile refers to?
- do you use the ink the profile refers to?
- are the printer settings correct?
- are you sure your softproof settings are appropriate?
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 04:42:44 PM »
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Thank you for your quick reply!

- is the printer actually profiled? Yes
- do you use the paper the profile refers to? Yes
- do you use the ink the profile refers to? Yes
- are the printer settings correct? Yes.

- are you sure your softproof settings are appropriate? I don't understand! What do you mean?
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tho_mas
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 04:53:22 PM »
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- are you sure your softproof settings are appropriate? I don't understand! What do you mean?
do you set the softproof to either rel.col or perceptual? did you select simulation of "black ink"? the simulation of "paper white"? is "preserve rgb numbers" deselected?

did you make the paper profile by yourself and do you have extensive experience with profiling papers?
is the paper profile based on Colormunki?
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2010, 05:23:22 PM »
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 I use relative colometric because I do portraits. It comes out darker on the screen than perceptual, so I would think that this should make my prints even brighter.


I have selected "Black Point Compensation" and "Simulate Paper Color", which automatically checks "Simulate Black Ink"

"Preserve RGB Numbers" is deselected.

Also I always try to view the soft proof with no menu bars etc. nothing but the full screen image.


I do not make paper profiles myself. I usually send out for profiling, but as I was not completely satisfied with that either till now, I often end up with the canned profile for Hahnemuhle, Canson and Epson. (Maybe I have to finally try one of the big names and send over to America for a profile?) It is because I have not enough time nor money to start to get some experience with profile making. I played a view times with Monaco EZColor in the past. The software came with the V750Pro, but I was very disappointed. Not that the results where that bad, just the canned profiles where always better. Certainly tweaked, so not related to the actual measurements IMHO. For similar reasons I would not get a Colormonki. If I would believe that there are better results to be obtained with a i1Pro, I would maybe buy one. As time goes by, I buy a lot of all those must haves. Most of them appeared to be way behind the big euphoria on the forums for some reason or another.
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tho_mas
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2010, 05:45:51 PM »
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I have selected "Black Point Compensation" and "Simulate Paper Color", which automatically checks "Simulate Black Ink"
are you telling me that "simulate paper color" makes the softoproof brighter ? (above you said the monitor view without softproof does match better).
try to softproof without "simulate paper color" but select only "simulate black ink". the simulation of paper color actually only works if the profiles are optimized... IMO.
now, if your monitor is already as low as 80cd/m2 and the prints are still too dark... that's strange. Hard to give advice without seeing the actual prints and the actual monitor... sorry.
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2010, 06:41:11 PM »
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are you telling me that "simulate paper color" makes the softoproof brighter ? (above you said the monitor view without softproof does match better).

Checking Rel.col. makes things usually darker on the screen. So, if I uncheck everything except Rel.col, the distribution of highlights and shadows look closer to the print (surprise, I printed with rel.col), but the overall impression of the screen is darker than the print, because the paper simply is not that black and does not have the contrast. Now, when I add to that only the Black Point compensation, as you suggested, that makes things look quite good, though still a bit dark, because of the Black Level capabilities of a monitor. If I than finally mix in, as you said, "simulate Black Ink" without "simulate paper color" things turn brighter, or less contrasted. You are right, it is actually "simulate Paper color" that ruins the game here by me! That's why without soft proof the image looked closer to the print, because simulate paper color spoiled the soft proof.

Thank you so much!!! Finally! I did a little test print right now, and could see definite improvement!

But what about the colors? I guess that adjusting the white point of the monitor to that of the paper, is not enough? What are optimized profiles? (As I thought that that would be a separate subject, I posted a new thread on that: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=46011.0 )
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dchew
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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2010, 08:02:12 PM »
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...
Also I always try to view the soft proof with no menu bars etc. nothing but the full screen image.

Is the screen background around the image set to black?  I need a white background around the image to perceive it correctly.  With gray or black I tend to adjust the image too dark.

Dave
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2010, 09:25:58 PM »
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Checking Rel.col. makes things usually darker on the screen. So, if I uncheck everything except Rel.col, the distribution of highlights and shadows look closer to the print (surprise, I printed with rel.col), but the overall impression of the screen is darker than the print, because the paper simply is not that black and does not have the contrast. Now, when I add to that only the Black Point compensation, as you suggested, that makes things look quite good, though still a bit dark, because of the Black Level capabilities of a monitor. If I than finally mix in, as you said, "simulate Black Ink" without "simulate paper color" things turn brighter, or less contrasted. You are right, it is actually "simulate Paper color" that ruins the game here by me! That's why without soft proof the image looked closer to the print, because simulate paper color spoiled the soft proof.

Thank you so much!!! Finally! I did a little test print right now, and could see definite improvement!

But what about the colors? I guess that adjusting the white point of the monitor to that of the paper, is not enough? What are optimized profiles? (As I thought that that would be a separate subject, I posted a new thread on that: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=46011.0 )

Simulate Paper Color should make the soft-proof more accurate, not less, so there is still something wrong here. You need BPC to remap Black to what is printable if your rendering Intent is RelCol. If you are using Simulate Paper Color, Simulate Black Ink is checked by default and you can't change it unless you don't simulate paper color. 

There hasn't been much discussion here about your monitor settings. Even working in a rather dimly lit environment, 80 cd/m2 is VERY low. One would expect a more correct setting to be in the range of 100~120. From your first post, you appear to be suggesting that the problem started with the new monitor - the NEC PA241. What hardware and software you profiling this monitor with and what calibration settings are you making for the monitor profile. Your whole problem may be more related to the monitor than to the printer side of the colour management chain.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
tho_mas
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2010, 03:48:38 AM »
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Simulate Paper Color should make the soft-proof more accurate, not less, so there is still something wrong here.
it highly depends on the profiles. If the paper contains OBAs you can forget the simualtion of paper color.
But even if it does not contain OBAs it doesn't work out of the box. Assumed your monitor is calibrated to match paper white in the viewing booth... now, if you turn on "simulate paper color" in the softproof settings and it results in the slightest change in white (often goes hand in hand with a loss of highlight differentiation on the monitor) than something simply doesn't add up.
We are talking endlessly about a visuell match for the monitor calibration. Simply because measurement devices are seeing things differently than we are seeing it (if you work under D50 conditions and set the monitor to 5000K it will look yellowish... mostly a value somewehere between 5200-5800 is the better match). Actually it's the same with papers - the simulation of paper color is highly questionable unless someone tweaks the profiles so that they visually match.
On the other hand: if the monitor matches paper white a rel.col softproof with simulate black ink is WYSIWYG (well, very close at least).

Attached sofproof-screenshots with 3 papers - FUJI matt/C-print with heavy OBAs (on Chromira), Innova Fiba ultrasmooth with OBAs (on Epson 11880) and a profile from Bill Attkinson for the Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper (on Epson 11880). Each without sofproof (top left), with rel.col+BPC+simulate black ink (bottom left), with rel.col+BPC+simulation of paper color (top right) and the latter set to abs.col. for reference (bottom right).
The first two reproduce a much too blue white point (logically). I don't use the Bill Atkinson profile nor the paper in question but I am sure nobody would see a greenish tint on the real paper.

In short: these "paper whites" most likely represent correct measurements. But a human eye would never rate the differences of "white" that high. So... assumed the monitor matches the paper white of the respective papers (white point and brightness) the samples bottom left will match the real print.


edit: for further reference see for instance here: http://www.colorwiki.com/wiki/Printer_to_Match_my_Screen#SOFT_PROOFING
maybe Pat Herold can elaborate further...
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 04:41:00 AM by tho_mas » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2010, 08:48:23 AM »
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Simulate Paper Color is a utility in Photoshop designed to use the reverse look-up of your paper profile to project a simulation of the change in tint and reduced dynamic range that will emerge on the print relative to what you see on the display. To the extent your printer profile is a good one and permits a reliable reverse look-up, the feature should work as advertised - to provide a visually more realistic prediction of how the print will come out. I routinely use this feature - in the old days with Epson Enhanced Matte which is chalk-full of OBA to today with Ilford Gold Fibre Silk which has baryta rather than heavy doses of OBA, and in both cases it has prevented me from wasting a hell of a lot of paper and ink. But each to his own. All of this of course assumes that your display is properly colour-managed, and that is why I raised the question about the specifics of how this gentleman's display is managed. He's posted stuff on three different threads, perhaps because he doesn't know that all of these problems may well be related, and it should all be brought under the same microscope in the same place. Then we may begin to get somewhere.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
tho_mas
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2010, 09:32:12 AM »
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To the extent your printer profile is a good one and permits a reliable reverse look-up, the feature should work as advertised - to provide a visually more realistic prediction of how the print will come out.
Great… in theory.

Attached you'll find the simulated paper white of 20 profiles of Bill Atkinson (for the Epson 11880).
I am sure they are all accurate in terms of colormetry. But obviously it's rather unlikely that the real paper whites would look like that visually.
I'd consider them all as ununsable for softproof with the simulation of "paper color" (though I didn't print with them anywhere).

Now, maybe someone can post such a "good" profile with a "reliable reverse look-up" that works as advertised.

as to dynamic range:
1.) when measurement devices record a certain color tint for a certain paper this automatically means that the measured white is not only "colored"… it is also darker than white. This can effectively affect the dynamic range of the softproof (i.e. slightly compressed highlights that are actually visable in print).

2.) if the monitor already matches the brightness of the print paper all you need to do is to check "simulate black ink" to see the actual dynamic range of the print.
This is actually self-explanatory.


agreed on the importance of an accurately calibrated monitor...
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2010, 11:56:21 AM »
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I'm not reporting on theory, I'm reporting on my own experience over thousands of prints. using Photoshop and Epson professional printers. If you are talking from theory, that's one thing, if you are talking from the experience of actually having made prints on the basis of intelligent soft-proofing, well, I can say is that we've had different experience! You won't see the practical effect of any of this by posting a profile. Users just need to try it and see whether it works for them.

Now, how does the monitor match the brightness of the print paper. When you look at a print, you are seeing reflected light, so are we looking at the print under candlelight or bright sunlight? OK, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point. Then the display - what is the ambient lighting environment in which you are looking at display brightness? Ambient environment affects how bright the image looks regardless of the cd/m2 setting, and as someone mentioned, the colour of the surround within the image window. And what do you think makes best practice - to have a different display parameter and therefore display profile for each different paper you use, or have one properly calibrated and profiled display set-up, and use the correct printer profile and corresponding soft-proofing for each different paper? I can tell you the industry-standard answer to that question, but I think you know it - and for those who don't - it's the latter.

None of this is answering the OPs question about why he's getting the kind of mismatch he mentioned in post #1 and what he needs to do to fix it - correctly. So if his problem isn't solved yet, I would suggest we revert to the basic question.

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2010, 12:57:10 PM »
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Are the prints too dark no matter how and where you view them?
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2010, 02:39:52 PM »
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...You are right, it is actually "simulate Paper color" that ruins the game here by me! That's why without soft proof the image looked closer to the print, because simulate paper color spoiled the soft proof....

Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding the issue, but with simulate paper color on, did you actually follow through and adjust the softproofed view to match the non-softproofed view on your screen?  It usually takes some curves or levels adjustments.
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2010, 03:06:15 PM »
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Mark, you didn't adress the issue of colormetry vs. visual perception... (of course not in general, but WRT to paper white).
Papers are different, of course! But they are not as different as the colormetric measured paper white show us.
The (photographic) paper white range goes from warm over neutral to cold white (or so)... but they don't go from magenta over green and yellow to blue... it's not wrapping paper :-)

Now, how does the monitor match the brightness of the print paper. When you look at a print, you are seeing reflected light, so are we looking at the print under candlelight or bright sunlight? ...
are you asking me? D50 viewing booth to eye up prints. Behind my monitor there is a big shade (grey painted) and behind that shade there is a D50 light ... etc. pp. It certainly doesn't meet all criteria of the ISO standards but I'd say it's quite good.
Surprisingly my prints look good (i.e. as intended). Colors match very good, gradation from the blacks to the whites and overall brightness is very close to what I see on the monitor. And I am quite pedantic when it comes to my prints...
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2010, 06:23:25 PM »
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Thank you! All of you!

Lucky me, I had a lot of work, and could not get the time to answer earlier.


regards
nino
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2010, 06:35:55 PM »
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Is the screen background around the image set to black?  I need a white background around the image to perceive it correctly.  With gray or black I tend to adjust the image too dark.

Dave
Dave,

In Full screen mode, I often switch around between black, white and gray, as I find that each of them lets you see different aspects of an image. Typically though, I use gray. Also, I could only notice that the background color has effects on the perception of highlights and shadows, contrast etc., not on color hue, but maybe I am wrong... Huh


nino
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2010, 07:25:19 PM »
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Mark,

Simulate Paper Color should make the soft-proof more accurate, not less, so there is still something wrong here.

I am aware of that. Let me add a thing. Most people I know would say that everything in my color management looks perfect, including most importantly the final result. A lot of my colleagues, whose monitors I have seen, would not notice the problem, or even if they would, they would not bother. I mean to say, that even if I say, that color and brightness are off, things are relative. But for my standard, for your standard, for our standard things are simply off. And something is definitely wrong here since I got a, without any doubt, better monitor, the PA241W.

So I hope that "Simulate Paper Color" will again be of use. Only, what I understood from "tho_mas" is that sometimes it is better to leave it unchecked. I can see an immediate example for that. In the few Epson 3880 canned profiles I use, checking SPC is ok. The Canson canned 3880 profile for CIFA Platine is better with SPC unchecked. Now when I try to use CIFA Baryta Photographique things are worse, because I found absolutely no way of making my colors match the screen. Whatever I do. All this became clearer with the help of "tho_mas"'. I also see that the canned profiles for the 3880 and the 9900 give me very different results, even I soft proof for each on separately.


Quote
[...]

There hasn't been much discussion here about your monitor settings. Even working in a rather dimly lit environment, 80 cd/m2 is VERY low.
That was one of my problems. I continued to turn down the monitor, as prints did not get bright enough. There was change, but not enough. When I hit 80, I realized that I will need help with this Wink
Quote
One would expect a more correct setting to be in the range of 100~120.

"tho_mas"'s questions made me reconsider my whole settings. I started all over again. Calibrating by trying to match paper color visually, which is an extremely difficult task. I am unable to accomplish this to my satisfaction. I tried to measure it, but things are worse. Presettings of 5000, 5500, 5800... all left me unhappy till now. So with the NEC PA241W I started also to be more demanding, as it is such a good piece of equipment. With a  click of the mouse I can change settings. It's amazing. So right now I have a targeted each of my few papers regarding the white point. For example around 4700K x 0.3526 y 0.3584 is close to a visual match for me, the PA241 and JUST@5000K. Luminosity ranges between 110 and 120.

Quote
From your first post, you appear to be suggesting that the problem started with the new monitor - the NEC PA241.

You are right. And, as I said, the exchange with "tho_mas" made me go through this recalibrating, rethinking. I could not go lower than 80cd/m2. So I went back to 120 and left Simulate Paper color unchecked, as per instruction. And it got a lot better, maybe very good  Wink Even for the colors quite close, but not close enough. In my understanding this must be due to a poor profile, right? With a better profile SPC would presumably also work well (I still don't know to whom in America, to send those targets for profiling).

Quote
What hardware and software you profiling this monitor with

NEC MDSVSENSOR and SPectraViewII

 
Quote
and what calibration settings are you making for the monitor profile. [...]

White point: function of paper white (BTW I normaly use OBA free papers)
Gamma: 1.8
Brightness: 110-120
Contrast: Monitor default (around 375:1 for these conditions. I hope that this default means minimum neutral black. High Delta E numbers I get for the blacks might suggest otherwise??)



nino
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 07:31:31 PM by Nino Loss » Logged
Nino Loss
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« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2010, 07:51:41 PM »
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it highly depends on the profiles. If the paper contains OBAs you can forget the simualtion of paper color.

My standard papers, CIFA Platine and HM PR Baryta do not contain OBA/FBAs. I also use Epson semi-gloss and semimatte and SPC works fine with them. CIFA Baryta Photographiue and Harman Gloss FB AL Wt are a real problem for me with the canned profiles.

Quote
But even if it does not contain OBAs it doesn't work out of the box. Assumed your monitor is calibrated to match paper white in the viewing booth... now, if you turn on "simulate paper color" in the softproof settings and it results in the slightest change in white (often goes hand in hand with a loss of highlight differentiation on the monitor) than something simply doesn't add up. We are talking endlessly about a visuell match for the monitor calibration. Simply because measurement devices are seeing things differently than we are seeing it (if you work under D50 conditions and set the monitor to 5000K it will look yellowish... mostly a value somewehere between 5200-5800 is the better match). Actually it's the same with papers - the simulation of paper color is highly questionable unless someone tweaks the profiles so that they visually match.
On the other hand: if the monitor matches paper white a rel.col softproof with simulate black ink is WYSIWYG (well, very close at least).
that makes perfectly sens to me and, as I said, I tried it out. The only thing is that, the visual match gets me in the regions of 4700K. And I understand the profile must be at fault, if my colors are still off with one profile and visual paper white match, but closer with another paper and its profile.
Quote
[...]
edit: for further reference see for instance here: http://www.colorwiki.com/wiki/Printer_to_Match_my_Screen#SOFT_PROOFING
maybe Pat Herold can elaborate further...


thank you also for that reference

nino
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