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Author Topic: Epson's Colorbase Linearization Tool  (Read 4085 times)
Jack Flesher
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« on: December 08, 2005, 09:20:05 AM »
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I finally had a few minutes free today and downloaded and installed Epson Colorbase, their linearization software for the 48/78/9800 printers.

Without writing a full review, be advised that I realized it had some shortcomings for my uses right out of the gate: the main one being it can only be used with Epson media... So if you have a favorite non-Epson paper as I do, this tool will not add much value.

But, since I also use Epson's Premium Luster 250 on occasion, and since I happened to have a roll loaded in my 7800, I thought I'd go ahead and test out the linearization process. I followed the wizard and printed the small test target. Then after an approximate 30 minutes of drydown time -- the software prevents you from proceeding until the print has dried down -- I read the target with my i1. I then printed my standard test print with the linearization activated and printed a second copy with the new linearization turned off.

The net result for me was I saw virtually no difference between the two prints.

My opinion is that this tool has potential for anybody who prints primarily on Epson media, or anyone who has multiple (supported) Epson printers AND primarily uses Epson media and wants to keep those printers all in synch while using said Epson media.

It could be a superior tool if it allowed one to spec and use ANY paper.

***Note: My next thought was to go ahead and try to read a non-epson paper and generate a linearization while trying to trick the printer by selecting the similar Epson media -- similar to what we do when creating a dedicated profile for a third-party paper. I printed this target on the new paper per the above but at the reading process got an "out of gamut" error telling me the target was unusable and to reprint another. Apparently the software is smart enough to know what its own media base should look like and won't let you try and circumvent it.

So for me, it's back to using dedicated profiles.

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 08, 2005, 09:24:44 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Stephen Best
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2005, 01:59:20 PM »
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Without writing a full review, be advised that I realized it had some shortcomings for my uses right out of the gate: the main one being it can only be used with Epson media... So if you have a favorite non-Epson paper as I do, this tool will not add much value.

I haven't yet run this utility on my printers, but I think the point is that you're linearizing the printer itself and not for any specific media. Epson are of course going to utilize papers of their own for the job. All you need to do is just have one of these kicking around.

The idea is that if you're going to use canned profiles (for any brand paper) it makes sense that the profiler and you both linearize your printers first to bring them to a common state. Bill Atkinson has used this for his own profiles:

http://homepage.mac.com/billatkinson/FileSharing2.html

The irony is that you need a spectro to get best use out of the canned profiles :-).
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2005, 03:35:01 PM »
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I haven't yet run this utility on my printers,

Download the software, then actually run the software, then get back to us --

You will find that when you do, the software does NOT alter the firmware in the printers -- IOW it does not perform a true linearization -- but rather creates a dedicated lookup file for each combination of supported printer and (supported) media you use.

And if you still don't believe me, try and profile say Kodak's new Glossy or Luster for your Epson 48/78/9800 and get back to me with those results.

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 08, 2005, 03:35:24 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Stephen Best
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2005, 04:59:29 PM »
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You will find that when you do, the software does NOT alter the firmware in the printers -- IOW it does not perform a true linearization -- but rather creates a dedicated lookup file for each combination of supported printer and (supported) media you use.

My mistake, I assumed this was (at least similar to) what Epson themselves use to linearize the printers in the factory. I had looked at the software but my old spectro isn't supported ... I'm still undecided whether to update it. If the printer can be linearized properly I'm thinking you'll get better results with quality canned profiles (like those hand-crafted by Atkinson) than you would with a consumer-level profiling package.

On further thought, updating driver files will give the same result. If you're printing to third-party papers (with or without custom profiles) you're still limited to the choice of Epson media types in the driver. It's these media settings that the calibration data presumably alters, not the profile.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2005, 05:14:09 PM by Stephen Best » Logged
Jack Flesher
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2005, 08:26:16 PM »
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It's these media settings that the calibration data presumably alters, not the profile.

Precisely -- it alters the ink settings for specific media in the lookup table to match some pre-established Epson standard.  

What it amounts to is an easy way to normalize the minor changes that can occur during paper and ink manufacture, preventing the need for a complete new profile.  However it accomplishes this task by requiring the generation of an additional "mini-profile" for each specific media.  And I for one question the logic of this process...

Since I only have one Epson x800 printer, and since I only use a few different types of media, and since I already own an excellent spectro, and since it does not take that much longer to print and read my 900+ patch charts, I have decided to simply build a complete new profile ifandorwhen I notice something has changed.  
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