I love listening to people discuss things on forums but my love can easily turn to frustration when they start to argue that they are right without taking into account everything in the argument.
As an example in the RV world there is a difference between a vehicles starter battery and the RV house battery. A starter battery is designed for high output in a short time and a RV house battery is designed for a sustained output over a long time. In a lot of people’s worlds the two should never be mixed and they are right to an extent. Years ago my Dad had an electric trolling motor for a boat. He would get a good car battery and charge it up and away we would go for a day of fishing. We had lots of fun and at the end of the day he would charge up the battery and we would be ready for the next day. In reality the battery was not the right kind, it should have been a Marine or RV battery but for us it worked and we had fun. Same with RV’s, I have seen people use car batteries hundreds of times and had more fun then you could imagine even with the “wrong” battery.
In the printing world the same thing happens. There is always talk about using canned printer profiles vs custom printer profiles. They will argue over and over about what is right and best but they fail to take into account all the facts.
First a profile is no good if you first do not have your monitor balanced. A monitor is a wild card that cannot be overcome by any printer profile. Start with a good monitor and you are a step ahead of 99% of other people.
Second I hear it so often that someone is trying to get one type of paper to look like another and that is why they need a printer profile. Sorry no go!!! You cannot make a print printed on a matte paper look like a print printed on a gloss paper. There are too many variables that you cannot fix with a printer profile. For instance a matte paper tends to be more yellow then a gloss paper, a printer profile cannot change the base paper color so you cannot make the whites look the same. Sure you may be able to get other colors to look close but you will always be handicapped by the white. Second light hits a matte paper differently then a gloss paper. You may be able to get the ink to be close according to your profile but as soon as you look at the print it will look different as the light will reflect off it differently.
This is why I always ask what paper a client wants as this will determine how the image should be prepared for printing. A matte paper and I will bump the saturation and the contrast a little, a luster and just the saturation gets adjusted and a gloss most times only the contrast is adjusted – this is not always true as some of my customers have printed so often with me and on the same paper that they do the adjustment and I leave it as they send it.
The other day I had a client bring me in some images. He told me what paper he wanted and as soon as he did I recommended adjusting one of the images a little as he was using a semi matte paper. He agreed and when he got the prints he was blown away how good they looked.
Now what profile did I use for the printing? I used the profile supplied by Epson for that paper. It was 99.999% perfect and the print looked beyond amazing. Would a custom profile look better? No it would have looked the same to our eyes.
So how can you get the best images?
First balance your monitor
Second have a room that is neutral in colors and lighting so your monitor will look correct
Third use Adobe RGB as the color space
Fourth do not overly adjust the image till you know what paper that you are using for printing
Fifth if you are really picky about the color have me produce some test swatches that you can select from. I run the first swatch then based on your requests tweak the color, density and saturation as you like then I will do anther swatch and will repeat till your are 100% happy. FYI there is a charge for this service.