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Lightroom / Epson 3800 and Enhanced B&W Mode

Eric Chan Makes them Play Nice

Flipped. Madagascar. November, 2007
Canon 1Ds MKIII with 100-400mm lens @ ISO 160

Here's the Problem

Arguably, Lightroom is the most popular raw processing and image handling program currently available. It's taken the industry by storm, and with good reason. Again, arguably, the Epson 3800 is the most popular and highest performing desktop printer currently on the market.

So far so good. But for people that want to make the highest quality B&W prints there's a gottcha. To do this, (unless you're going to tint your images and print monochrome in colour mode) you need to engage the 3800's Advanced B&W mode. This lets the printer only use primarily the black, gray and light gray inks, producing wonderfully rich toned B&W prints without any colour cast whatsoever.

When printing from Photoshop this isn't an issue. But when printing from Lightroom it potentially is. The problem is that Lightroom's native colour space is ProPhoto RGB and there's no way to change it. For colour printing this isn't a problem since it holds your raw image in the widest possible colour space and then you output to your printer through an appropriate printer profile and rendering intent. Standard stuff.

But when printing with Epson's Advanced B&W mode (ABW) you want to set Lightroom's printer colour management mode to "Managed by Printer". This allows you to engage ABW in the printer driver's dialog box. But – here's the rub. ProPhoto RGB colour space is Gamma 1.8 rather than 2.2. This means that your prints will appear too dark.


Here's The Solution

Thanks to Eric Chan, one of the members of the Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom team responsible for printing, there is an elegant solution, and it's available for free and is simple to implement. Eric has written a small program that builds gray curves into ICC profiles. All you need to do is visit Eric's site and download one of these "profiles" for your favourite paper and use it from within Lightroom using the directions provided.

Very cool!

Thanks Eric.

ICC Profiles for the Epson 3800 Advanced B&W Photo Driver


November, 2008



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Concepts: Color space, Printing, RGB color space, Color, Adobe Photoshop, Raw image format, RGB color model, JPEG

Entities: Michael Reichmann, Epson, Eric, Eric Chan, ABW

Tags: Lightroom, colour space, printing, ProPhoto RGB, B&W mode, profiles, printer colour management, icc profiles, ProPhoto RGB colour, widest possible colour, native colour space, appropriate printer profile, popular raw processing, colour mode, Lightroom team, highest quality b&w, light gray inks, image handling program, Eric, Epson, desktop printer, colour printing, Adobe Camera Raw, colour cast, B&W Photo Driver, printer driver, prints, good reason, Eric Chan, B&W prints, gray curves, raw image, dialog box, Standard stuff, elegant solution, favourite paper, small program, tint, monochrome, storm