Custom Printer Profiles: Worth the Time and Cash?

Discussion in 'Printing' started by clockwise, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. clockwise

    clockwise Mu-43 Regular

    38
    Apr 23, 2012
    New York, NY
    Brian R
    Hi guys! After receiving some excellent advice from Mu-43 forum members, I recently picked up an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 and am loving the quality of the prints so far.

    I have another question for you printing gurus: is it worth the time, effort and money required to generate custom printer profiles, as opposed to using the canned printer and paper profiles that are available online?

    I ask because I've heard and read varying opinions on the matter. Scott Kelby seems to think that Epson and the various paper companies do a great job coming up with printer/paper-specific profiles, but I'm currently reading an excellent textbook on inkjet monochrome printing, and the author is clearly of the opinion that independent printer/paper profiling is required for optimal results.

    Thanks in advance, everyone!
     
  2. MrPhotoBob

    MrPhotoBob Mu-43 Veteran

    261
    Jun 16, 2012
    You might try giving this site a look. Eric Chan who was a principal scientist at Adobe made some custom profiles for that very printer. Eric Chan
     
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  3. clockwise

    clockwise Mu-43 Regular

    38
    Apr 23, 2012
    New York, NY
    Brian R
    Thanks! That page is definitely helpful. It seems like Eric Chan used Epson ColorBase to calibrate his individual printer to the Epson standard, and recommends that others do the same.

    I'm still curious to hear some more opinions, though. In your experience, is there significant variance between individual samples of the same printer model? The textbook I mentioned suggests that a given printer's output will be improved once that exact printer has been calibrated and profiled, and that a standard, pre-canned profile won't give precise results, while the Kelby materials suggest that the canned profiles work just fine, and variance among individual samples of the same printer model is insignificant. Thoughts?
     
  4. rkelac

    rkelac Mu-43 Regular

    68
    Feb 15, 2011
    Think it depends where you get your paper and profile from. I always make my own profiles and the ones I compared are very different from canned ones.

    Here is an interesting post from someone working in the industry:

    "Profiling is a huge issue, and a huge joke. To build a proper profile, anyone who's read much on this forum knows you've got to either build a profile for your special, individual printer, or do it the way Epson et al does it... take about a dozen printers, profile them several times, then average the data to build a good profile. Do you think a small company can spend that kind of effort? This one certainly couldn't. We'd build one profile on outdated equipment and software, run what was considered a "test" (I considered it a "joke") and call it a profile.

    One thing that was pathetically common was to simply re-name profiles for new printers. If you had a profile for, say, an Epson 9600, you could try re-naming it for the 9900, sending it out there and seeing if you get complaints. I'm embarrassed to say I was told to do that dozens of times, and did it. It's the only way a company that owns only 3 printers can claim, and appear to support, every new printer on the market. I at least tried to get them to approach clients with current printers and use them to build new profiles on selected stock... but that was only one stock, and sampled from only one printer. Far from the correct way of doing things."

    Reality Check: Inkjet media suppliers (Dept of Buyer Beware)
     
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  5. clockwise

    clockwise Mu-43 Regular

    38
    Apr 23, 2012
    New York, NY
    Brian R
    rkelac, that is disturbing. Thanks for sharing. I just switched over to a Canson paperstock, and will try making a custom profile and comparing it to the canned version.

    Thanks again.