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Question: Is soft proofing effective?
No, never use it - 1 (1.1%)
Sometimes - 18 (19.4%)
Better than no SP not a match - 18 (19.4%)
Yes, always use it - 51 (54.8%)
Just make a print! - 5 (5.4%)
Total Voters: 92

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Author Topic: Soft proofing doesn’t work  (Read 29782 times)
digitaldog
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« on: February 11, 2011, 12:10:50 PM »
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I’m kind of at a loss why some are so down on soft proofing, to the degree they go out of their way to not recommend it. See: http://lightroomkillertips.com/2011/did-you-know-lightroom-can-soft-proof/#comment-19510

I’ve seen it work quite well, but I’m not expecting 100% visual match but a far superior simulation than without. What’s your opinion?

Also, we seem to have two camps; those that demand such functionality in products like Lightroom, and those that find it doesn’t work in Photoshop. Just make a print or tweak the file. Unlike politics or religion which is opinion based, this stuff should work (or not work), why the two differing groups here? What do we need from the color management community and software vendors to make this effective? Why do so many users today know and desire to calibrate their displays, but find soft proofing if failing them?
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Andrew Rodney
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John.Murray
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 12:49:28 PM »
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I really wanted to check somewhere between sometimes and always Wink  for any serious prints, i'll round trip into photoshop.  I think a big issue thats doesn't get mentioned is being able to reproduce the print at a later date - color management /  soft proofing gives me that confidence
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walter.sk
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 01:15:14 PM »
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I have an NEC LCD 3090 that I calibrate with SpectraView II and either the Eye 1 Display 2 or the ColorMunki, depending on my mood.  I print with an HP Z3100 with its built-in spectrophotometer, and I view my prints on a Just-Normlicht print viewer, adjusted in brightness to work well with my monitor.

I always use the softproofing in CS5 to adjust my image to compensate for the differences in tone, color, saturation and contrast in the softproofed version of the image compared with the optimized image.  Then, because the softproofing in Qimage is about as accurate as that in CS5 but also shows the color changes of out of gamut colors, I go by the Qimage softproof to determine whether any more work need to be done to adjust the softproof layers in CS5.

I find the "Out Of Gamut" feature in CS5 useless, and I wish Adobe would be able to show the actual color changes for OOG colors as subtly as Qimage does.

Nevertheless, when I put up my fresh-off-the-press prints on the print viewer and compare them with the Qimage softproof view of the file, there are very seldom any unpleasant surprises.

Is softproof perfect?  Nah.  But it is an excellent ink-and-paper-saving tool!
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 01:23:18 PM »
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I saw the same blog that Andrew pointed to.  I'm somewhat of a fence sitter.  I've found for matte fine art papers, soft proofing is close to a necessity.  With the two glossy papers I print on (Ilford Gold Fiber Silk and Museo Silver Rag) I find soft proofing less useful and only rarely do I need to make any changes from what I've done in Lightroom.  Would it be more convenient to have softproofing in LR, yes; is it imperative, no.
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davidh202
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 04:31:11 PM »
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Just read Rob Sheppards  latest Epson Printing book and he stresses that all the calibrating and profiling is fine and a very good starting point, but the only way to really get the final result you want is to print and do your modifications to the file untill your completely happy with the final result in your hands..
Of course Epson and everyone else sells more consumables that way Wink
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smthopr
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 06:35:38 PM »
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I almost always use the soft proof in photoshop for preparing to print.

That said, it doesn't really look like the print unless the soft proof makes very small changes to the display.

I think this is due to the paper black compensation raising the black level on the monitor so that the display looks muddy compared to the print.

It might be useful to have a slider control that allow lowering the paper black level while keeping the soft proof contrast ratio the same. I think that the deeper soft proof black will help make the soft proof resemble the print more closely to the eye.
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Bruce Alan Greene
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MichaelWorley
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 07:01:24 PM »
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You can't soft proof "big" unfortunately.

A nine-image D3x vertical pano of the Superstion Mountains behind us looked great at 16" or so. Printed at about 36" it didn't look so hot. Pale, lack of contrast. Printed different sized variations for a week. Finally put the 16" version right up against the 36" version. Everywhere I compared the same spot on both images they were the same!

What freak of nature made them look different? Was it me? The paper? The light? The distance? Revenge against the state of Arizona?

No. If I was a real artist I'd have known the answer before the expensive and time-consuming tests. Simply stated, big things look lighter than small things. You have to account for that. How? I don't know, except to do test prints. But I have a 48" wide canvas-printed monument to my ignorance hanging in my office. I don't like it. I have offered it to painters to use as a base for their paintings so they could enhance it, but no takers yet.

Mike
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 07:06:21 PM »
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I always use soft proofing. But often find that the print needs something so I remake it. I figure the soft proof is something like the n-1 proof where n could be a large number (next to last proof) I used to make in the old chemical darkroom days.
I never really miss the print when I soft proof.

Les
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2011, 07:20:00 PM »
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I’m kind of at a loss why some are so down on soft proofing, to the degree they go out of their way to not recommend it. See: http://lightroomkillertips.com/2011/did-you-know-lightroom-can-soft-proof/#comment-19510

I’ve seen it work quite well, but I’m not expecting 100% visual match but a far superior simulation than without. What’s your opinion?

Also, we seem to have two camps; those that demand such functionality in products like Lightroom, and those that find it doesn’t work in Photoshop. Just make a print or tweak the file. Unlike politics or religion which is opinion based, this stuff should work (or not work), why the two differing groups here? What do we need from the color management community and software vendors to make this effective? Why do so many users today know and desire to calibrate their displays, but find soft proofing if failing them?

I'm one of the people who aspire to seeing this functionality in Lightroom, because unlike Matt Kloskowski, for whom I have a great deal of respect, I would abhor a waste ratio of 50%. My waste ratio fluctuates well below 10% and I fully intend to keep it that way, if not reduce it further by any means I can to reduce "pilot error". So I export to Photoshop for final tweaks and printing. The fact is that it does work. As Alan says, for matte paper you can see it working in spades, while for Ilford Gold Fibre Silk you can see the difference being more subtle, but nonetheless present. Paper black is not as black as display black, paper white needs to be seen, and display white point needs to be roughly in line with viewing conditions otherwise the differences between what you see on display and what you see on paper will be palpable and the waste ratio goes up. It is science, it is mathematics and it does work. The soft end of it is in the mind of the user. There are very well known photographers printing on baryta or gloss papers who don't soft proof - they make their adjustments on the display with an innate sense bred of practice as to how the prints will look in their studio viewing environments, and the results are fine. There are others who have less confidence in themselves to make these mental adjustments, so they want the comfort of the soft-proof. A viable and reliable soft-proofing condition which gives predictability and reliability of outcomes is both economic and comforting. It's fine if there are people who disbelieve that - *chacun a son gout* - but they'll spend more time and money getting to where they want to be. Their choice, but if they are into photographic education they should be objectively informing their students about the options and their relative merits.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 07:21:34 PM by Mark D Segal » Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2011, 09:05:37 PM »
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Yes, I think soft-proofing works and is clearly the best option.
No, it's not perfect - but it's quite close. A big advance from earlier times.
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Schewe
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2011, 11:11:50 PM »
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What’s your opinion?

Between Matt and Scott, I think they need to actually learn how to USE soft proofing before they can make a definitive statement of the value of using soft proofing...apparently neither one actually knows how to use the soft proofing function. I have a session at PSW Orlando which should help teach them how to use it. Maybe they will sit in on the session.

Look, if you want an accurate prediction of what an image WILL look like before printing, soft proofing is both useful and beneficial–if you know how to use it to help you finesse an image before ink hits paper. It's ok to make test prints...but if you can accurately predict what an image will look like, wouldn't you want to make use of that prediction? I would. It saves ink and paper!!!

It's not simply a matter of controlling the final rendering, it's a matter of picking the best rendering intent and improving the image before the final printed image.

The better you can predict the final image tone and color–with tone being arguably more important than color once you pick the best rendering intent–the better the final printed image. If that matters to you (it does to me) it behooves you to learn how to do it (soft proofing).
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PhilipCummins
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2011, 02:35:41 AM »
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IMHO those who don't find soft proofing useful are people who have never really learnt how to use soft proofing or understand what it is for. I meet numerous people who simply don't understand the computing tools they are using and prefer to find some make-shift means of making it work, regardless of how slow or wasteful it is. They simply don't have the aptitude or time to invest in learning faster, more efficient ways of handling their job, or they are not educated on more efficient means of doing the job.
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2011, 05:11:52 AM »
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IMHO those who don't find soft proofing useful are people who have never really learnt how to use soft proofing or understand what it is for. I meet numerous people who simply don't understand the computing tools they are using and prefer to find some make-shift means of making it work, regardless of how slow or wasteful it is. They simply don't have the aptitude or time to invest in learning faster, more efficient ways of handling their job, or they are not educated on more efficient means of doing the job.

I don't share your opinion. IMHO, there are several cases where softproofing simply isn't representing the print on display enough.

The comment in this thread that scaling of the iamge isn't and can't be represented in the softproof is one issue.

Viewing light still is a compromise on the actual display conditions later on. The more with papers containing FBAs.

There is a huge difference between prints made of scenes no longer present in the digital darkroom and reproductions of art still present in the digital darkroom. Matching your/the photographer's memory, taste and imagination is something else than matching an existing original in the same viewing light. If soft proofing should work for reproduction photography then it has the complexity of making a metameric match twice (for all colors in the image!!!), first to the monitor, second to the print. It is a nice tool at most in conditions like that but to get there fast and correct prints/print crops at a 1:1 scale to the original are inevitable.

So it depends a lot in what trade of printing you are working in, which should temper opinions on what others experience and think.

met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst Dinkla

Try: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wide_Inkjet_Printers/
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digitaldog
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2011, 09:26:41 AM »
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Their choice, but if they are into photographic education they should be objectively informing their students about the options and their relative merits.

Yup, its this ‘agenda’ of criticizing soft proofing that makes comments from those who should know better heartrending. They say they calibrate their displays, then say they observe the dreaded “prints are too dark” syndrome (and recommend fixing this by altering the document). It makes you wonder how they can’t understand the disconnect here nor ask for help in fixing the issue.

None of us were born with innate understanding of Photoshop, imaging, photography. We learn it from others or through trial and error. I think Jeff’s suggestion of teaching Scott and Matt how to do this would really help their audience.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2011, 10:22:46 AM »
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I can't help thinking there's something else going on here, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Highly intelligent people DO understand what soft-proofing does and have most likely used it, but still dismiss it. What better an example than the primary developer of Lightroom back then, because he thought it low priority or no priority, maybe still does, and here we are three versions later still waiting for it despite the countless repeated requests to Adobe from the professional imaging community to get it in there. Yes, there have been issues developing it because Lightroom data is not Photoshop data so it wasn't a matter of just importing an established algorithm, but I think the technical aspects have all been resolved. So what is it that makes those highly intelligent disbelievers carry-on disbelieving even though the science and logic of it is very clear? I think it has to do with the propensity we humans often have of throwing the baby out with the bath water. It ain't perfect under all conditions and circumstances so it's no good. You know, the perfect being the enemy of the good. We will never (well never say never) completely bridge the perceptual gap between transmitted and reflected light and probably not achieve on paper the maximum black of a display, so this technology will not be perfect as long as those conditions maintain, so in that circumstance what do we do: say it's no good? No we don't. We say it's MUCH better than the alternative of not using it, for all the good reasons we've discussed above. Sure Jeff, no harm encouraging Matt and Scott to sit in your session - but I think, behind the scenes, they should be encouraged to give their huge audiences the benefit of a balanced perspective on it.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2011, 12:31:14 PM »
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I can't help thinking there's something else going on here, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Highly intelligent people DO understand what soft-proofing does and have most likely used it, but still dismiss it.

They understand they need to calibrate their displays too. But some haven’t put the concept that how you set your calibration targets affect the prints are too dark issues or the lack of successful soft proofing. If you go back enough years, the lack of acceptance that one needs to calibration their display was high. Plus that required an expenditure of money. Soft proofing in Photoshop is free. This seems to be an educational issue, hence my confusion about why the educators are not making the connections.

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What better an example than the primary developer of Lightroom back then, because he thought it low priority or no priority, maybe still does, and here we are three versions later still waiting for it despite the countless repeated requests to Adobe from the professional imaging community to get it in there

Well based on knowing a bit about the bkgnd here, the lack of soft proofing wasn’t due to a lack of acceptance of soft proofing being an effective tool. The reason we don’t yet have soft proofing in LR is due to far more complex issues. And I don’t believe we want LR to mimic the soft proofing we have in Photoshop which hasn’t seen much technological progress since 1998 but rather for the team to raise the bar several notches. Also, unlike Photoshop, if you have the soft proof in effect, and you want to edit the image, how do you effectively do this in a metadata editor? In Develop? In Print? Are these output specific edits kept separate from the non output specific edits? In Photoshop, you can build adjustment layers, then layer sets which allow you to name and control when such output specific edits are visible and applied. What provisions do we have in LR to do this and what would the ramifications be if you had a master with 6 different output device sets of edits? Do this with Virtual copies? IOW, there’s a lot more work in LR than just turning on a soft proof, picking a profile and a rendering intent.

While using Photoshop to round trip soft proofing/editing and printing in Photoshop is a bit of a kludge, it works for the time being.

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We say it's MUCH better than the alternative of not using it, for all the good reasons we've discussed above. Sure Jeff, no harm encouraging Matt and Scott to sit in your session - but I think, behind the scenes, they should be encouraged to give their huge audiences the benefit of a balanced perspective on it.

Agreed on both counts. What will be interesting is the reactions of these two students. Right now, the conversations from them go something like this: We know it is useful for some users, its not useful for us, do whatever works best for you. What I find interesting is what appears to be a their lack of curiosity as to why so many vocal users praise soft proofing yet still dismissing it because its easier to make multiple prints. Or correctly calibrating their displays and correctly setting up the soft proof. Its like someone in the high end of Photoshop educational business saying “I don’t use the pen tool, its too complicated and doesn’t work for me, the lasso tool does, therefore, if you want info on using the pen tool, go elsewhere”. They’d be off the hook to some degree if they pointed to another expert educator who could provide information about the pen tool. In this case, the message is, soft proofing doesn’t work for us, if you like it great. If not, here’s the kludge to move forward. I find that attitude troubling.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2011, 12:58:26 PM »
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Well based on knowing a bit about the bkgnd here, the lack of soft proofing wasn’t due to a lack of acceptance of soft proofing being an effective tool. The reason we don’t yet have soft proofing in LR is due to far more complex issues. And I don’t believe we want LR to mimic the soft proofing we have in Photoshop which hasn’t seen much technological progress since 1998 but rather for the team to raise the bar several notches. Also, unlike Photoshop, if you have the soft proof in effect, and you want to edit the image, how do you effectively do this in a metadata editor? In Develop? In Print? Are these output specific edits kept separate from the non output specific edits? In Photoshop, you can build adjustment layers, then layer sets which allow you to name and control when such output specific edits are visible and applied. What provisions do we have in LR to do this and what would the ramifications be if you had a master with 6 different output device sets of edits? Do this with Virtual copies? IOW, there’s a lot more work in LR than just turning on a soft proof, picking a profile and a rendering intent.

While using Photoshop to round trip soft proofing/editing and printing in Photoshop is a bit of a kludge, it works for the time being.
Real good point and something that had not occurred to me.  If one is only going to use one particular paper then a LR softproof tool is somewhat easier to deal with but as Andrew notes, what if you are doing multiple different sets of edits?  One would have to be very careful with virtual copies making sure that one had the right one open and didn't mistakenly modify it thinking it was something else.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2011, 01:07:06 PM »
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Well based on knowing a bit about the bkgnd here, the lack of soft proofing wasn’t due to a lack of acceptance of soft proofing being an effective tool. The reason we don’t yet have soft proofing in LR is due to far more complex issues. And I don’t believe we want LR to mimic the soft proofing we have in Photoshop which hasn’t seen much technological progress since 1998 but rather for the team to raise the bar several notches. Also, unlike Photoshop, if you have the soft proof in effect, and you want to edit the image, how do you effectively do this in a metadata editor? In Develop? In Print? Are these output specific edits kept separate from the non output specific edits? In Photoshop, you can build adjustment layers, then layer sets which allow you to name and control when such output specific edits are visible and applied. What provisions do we have in LR to do this and what would the ramifications be if you had a master with 6 different output device sets of edits? Do this with Virtual copies? IOW, there’s a lot more work in LR than just turning on a soft proof, picking a profile and a rendering intent.

While using Photoshop to round trip soft proofing/editing and printing in Photoshop is a bit of a kludge, it works for the time being.

Andrew, what I've heard - from usually reliable sources - is that the technical issues of creating the softproofing conditions have been resolved quite some ago, and what remained was interface design, perhaps to deal with the questions you are raising here. Of course, to remain faithful to the concepts of non-destructive and reversible editing which are at the foundation of Lightroom's philosophy, they would be designing the interface so that whatever softproof condition a user posits today for today's purposes, can be discarded or amended for tomorrow's purposes. I have no doubt this would/will be part of the design when it gets published. I could see them placing it independently in the Web module, the Print Module, or giving it a new Module of its own. My understanding is that by now the development of this functionality is beyond whether it can be done, but in making and implementing some design decisions for the interface.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2011, 01:58:14 PM »
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I use it, and I find it useful. Today's fiber-gloss/baryta papers are so good that for a lot of image types you can probably get away without soft-proofing, depending on how critical you are. But for matte papers it's essential to getting a good print. There's just too much gamut/tonal compression going on for most images when you output them to a paper that at best has a tonal range of L*=17-96 or thereabouts.

I think people who downplay its usefulness have unrealistic expectations. IMHO, soft-proofing does not do a good job of simulating what the final print will look like - not for matte prints, anyway. When I say that, I mean that what you see on screen (especially if you use the options to simulate black-ink/paper white), tends to look worse than the final print. I think this is because our perception of contrast is different when looking at a display compared to a print. And so when people expect the soft proof to look like the print, they're disappointed.  

But the real usefulness of soft-proofing is to identify problem areas, since it can indicate where things like loss of detail, gamut clipping etc are going to occur. Identifying those problems is where soft-proof shines. It's just a matter of learning what the soft-proof can show you and how you can use that information to improve the final print.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2011, 02:33:02 PM »
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Another thought. There is the idea of soft proofing to view the image and print in terms of seeing a better match. Or using soft proofing to edit the image to make it look more like the original (without soft proofing). But just picking a rendering intent choice requires soft proofing. How does Matt and Scott and others select the rendering intent for printing? Or do they always use the same intent, no matter the image, profile creator (which can be quite different in terms of how a perceptual intent is built), even BPC?
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Andrew Rodney
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