How to do color-managed printing to Epson printers that don't have paper profiles.

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by steven_clark, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. AKA: What is this "Epson IJ Printer 07" color profile, or what does "ICM mode" mean.
    Warning: My instructions here are Windows only. There's probably a way to do this on Mac, but the color settings UI is a bit different on OSX so someone who actually owns any Apple products will probably have to chime in on how to adapt this there. Also, I'm not going to try to explain how to do color management in a forum post: there are much better articles for that. This is just about the weird alternate method for color management Epson provides.
    A non-photo model Epson printer, like the Workforce Pro WP-4530 I just got to replace an aging laser, can still produce some great photo output if you give it good paper (even with only 4 inks). The problem is that Epson doesn't provide any ICC/ICM profiles for the various papers on these units. There is still a way to do a limited form of color managed printing however, even without the individual paper profiles. It's weird, a little half-assed, and probably not quite as accurate, but if you find yourself in need of getting accurate color out of a business printer it's probably good enough. Here's how it works:
    While Epson doesn't provide individual profiles for this printer and all the compatible photo papers they do provide a single profile for the printer itself. In my case here this is the file "Epson IJ Printer 07.icc". What this file seems to provide is a general ball-park colorspace to translate your colors into and a special setting in the driver applies whatever translations it needs to get the colors right for the paper you've chosen. To do this you go into the driver color settings and select "ICM mode" where usually you would choose "no color adjustment" and the driver takes it from there.
    Another alternative in my case is an "AdobeRGB" option that should just assume it's input is in that colorspace, and I think I remember an "sRGB" in Epson drivers years ago as well.

    Advantages:
    It's convenient.
    Lets you have a default color profile set in Windows that doesn't need to be changed. This makes color management in only mildy color-aware programs possible, for example Irfanview with the LCMS plugin only lets you select the monitor profile and assumed working space.
    It's better than guess and check, and cheaper than a Colormunki.
    Disadvantages:
    Soft-proofing is probably a little meaningless. It'll probably still show how the profile manipulates out-of-gamut colors, but it can't say anything about how your printer works with this particular paper.
    Gamut is probably fairly narrow say sRGB or not much bigger, I haven't dug in and tested that yet, but I'd give it good odds. If you're going to have one profile be used for multiple papers, logically, you would choose a color gamut the printer can do a good job of for all those papers. The result should be a lowest-common denominator color space.
    Accuracy probably suffers a little, again I don't have a colormunki to test with. With two color transformations (one in the profile, the other in the driver's ICM mode) there's probably a little bit more munging math happening to the color values. Also the transformation hasn't been tuned individually for the exact settings being used.
    Doesn't help you with 3rd party papers. If your printer doesn't have at least 6 inks as far as Hahnemule, Red River, or Ilford are concerned you're on your own. Even then they may only deign to provide a profile if you shelled out at least half a grand for a 19" model.
    Can't really improve it with a custom profile for your printer: it would favor the paper you measured on.
    Doesn't work at all on plain paper. Not that there really is such a thing as an ICC profile for all plain paper, but the output here isn't even remotely accurate with plain paper. You're better off with a setting like "Epson Vivid" in that case.
    PS: I can almost guarantee this is covered somewhere in the archives here, but a recent Google search turned up a question with no good answers on what the "Epson IJ Printer 07" profile was and how it could be used to get color management working. This approach is so counter to the normal stream of advice I though it was worth reposting. That and I might as well return with a bang.

    PPS: It's been a long time since I played with the "ICM mode" settings and I haven't had the time to do a lot of testing on this new printer yet. There's a very small chance I could be completely, utterly, wrong.
     
  2. Another solution is to have a custom profile made. Some companies will produce one at no charge if you use their papers. E.g. Permajet. See: http://www.permajet.com/Products/PermaJet-ICC-Profiling-Services-for-Inkjet-Papers
     
  3. The "Epson IJ Printer 07" profile is nothing other than rebadged AdobeRGB similar to what you get from camera makers like Nikon sRGB. To prove it assign it to a color image captured/converted to AdobeRGB in Photoshop. On my Mac in OS 10.6.8 there's no change to the preview which is an indication the Epson profile is AdobeRGB.
    It's a useless profile in my case for my Epson "All In One" NX330, but it might be used by the scanner as an output reference space for direct copying of color documents. Not sure.
    On my Mac I get decent color matching printing out of any app including Safari, Preview and Photoshop by leaving the image in its original color space (in my case ProPhotoRGB)...
    1. Apply (.90) to the middle slider in Levels Blue channel (prints a bit on the blue side)...
    2. Choose "Printer Manages Color" in Photoshop (not required in other apps)...
    3. In Epson driver "Color Matching" menu choose "Epson Color Controls"-NOT COLORSYNC! (ICM Windows equivalent)...
    4. Choose AdobeRGB and 2.2 Gamma in Epson's "Color Options" menu instead of Vivid.
    5. Choose Best Photo and the appropriate paper type in Epson's "Printer Settings". See the results below.
     
  4. Here's the results...
    00bUyo-528443584.jpg
     
  5. It's not the profile for scanning. Epson scanner profiles end in an _r for reflective or a _t for transparency and are named for the scanner family they work with. I have one of these of course namely "wp4510_r.icc" installed by the driver. Rereading your sentence: it might get used in software copying, but then it would be a little strange to include it for a printer that doesn't use software for copy features.
    I'll give the profile a look later with a raytraced rgb cube of spheres image I made for use with PWP's gamut alarm. What you've said indicates that it's at least very similar, and you're probably right, but I'd rather trust something a little more precise than the human eye.
    Using color controls with AdobeRGB is probably a good recommendation. I'm gonna note that neither that, nor my approach are a good idea with non-color managed apps that probably assume sRGB or similar lowest-common-denominator colorspace. It's not that the output will be bad, it'll just be more saturated than intended as it's being interpreted as the wider AdobeRGB colorspace.
     
  6. Using color controls with AdobeRGB is probably a good recommendation. I'm gonna note that neither that, nor my approach are a good idea with non-color managed apps that probably assume sRGB or similar lowest-common-denominator colorspace. It's not that the output will be bad, it'll just be more saturated than intended as it's being interpreted as the wider AdobeRGB colorspace.​
    Macs don't have this problem with assuming color spaces and not having color managed apps. Its OS takes over the entire color managed preview/print pipeline as it passes on data to Epson's driver. I can only assume this because I can leave my images in ProPhotoRGB space and print out of Safari, Preview and Photoshop using Epson's driver in the method described above which is supplied and updated through Apple Software Downloads and get the same print results out of all three apps of course a bit on the blue side which is why I print out of Photoshop.
    You are using Window's color managed print pipeline through Epson's ICM system integration which I'm assuming you are getting just as close color matches as I have shown here out of Photoshop. Do your other apps that can print give the same results?
    On plain paper settings I can get much better results printing to Georgia Pacific's Inkjet/Laser Premium Paper ($6 '500' sheet at Walmart) which has their new "Color Lock" technology. I compared the old GP paper with this newer version and there's a world of difference in color matching with far more definition and detail using the settings described above except I choose Plain Paper in Epson's Print Settings.
     
  7. After looking at the files with the ICC profile inspector I'm going to have to disagree with Tim, and myself for that matter. This file isn't just a color space it is structured like a legitimate output device color profile. A color space profile like sRGB or AdobeRGB or BruceRGB consists mainly of a whitepoint, 3 primaries, and 3 Tone Reproduction Curves that are linear brightness tables for those primaries. Actually most display profiles are built this way too (which makes sense since you're just measuring phosphor color pretty much). This Epson profile is built like a printer paper profile with a set of Look Up Tables between color values in the reference space and the device space, and another going the other way. So even if it did turn out to be AdobeRGB in gamut, it's got the look-up-tables for custom handling of out-of-gamut colors and for soft-proofing. As for looking at it with my rgbcube image, it looks like I've lost it, maybe I'll make a new one sometime.
    As for John: Free ICC profiles would be nice, I'm having trouble finding anyone else who offers the service for free. In fact just about the only service accepting US dollars I've found for under $90 per is Cathy's Profiles.
     
  8. Yeah, you're right about the Epson IJ (inkjet) profile having a table. I was only going by the 3D gamut plot comparison between AdobeRGB and Epson IJ. Examining it further by converting to it from sRGB using Absolute Colorimetric rendering intent changes the WB appearance to a warm hue.
    Are you choosing this profile within the Epson driver and getting good results? I don't using Colorsync.
    See below the breakdown of the Epson IJ printer profile viewed in Colorsync Utility.
    00bV3V-528549584.jpg
     
  9. So Steven, how close are you getting in color matches using your method on the Windows end?
    Can you post a print to screen comparison photo like I did above?
     
  10. Here goes nothing, I'm probably doing photo uploads to the forum wrong (are you even supposed to be able to do that as a free member?).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Ultra Premium Glossy Photo Paper - Maintain full gamut, "Epson IJ Printer 07.icm" applied in Picture Window Pro, ICM mode selected in driver color options.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Matte Paper Heavyweight (AKA Premium Presentation Paper Matte), Maintain full gamut, "Epson IJ Printer 07.icm" applied in Picture Window Pro, ICM mode selected in driver color options.
    Both printed on Epson Workforce Pro WP-4530
    Note: You can't select profiles *inside* Windows printer drivers, that's one of the differences.
     
  11. Those are darn close matches, Steven.
    When you say you "applied" the "Epson IJ Printer" profile in Picture Window Pro, do you assign it or convert to it or select it somewhere in the software? What color space are those images you posted converted to?
     
  12. [​IMG]
    Picture Window Pro's Color Management settings
    [​IMG]
    Color Settings for image B
    [​IMG]
    Colo Settings for image A
    [​IMG]
    Picture window Pro print dialog, picture A shown
    [​IMG]
    Epson Driver settings page 1
    [​IMG]
    Epson Driver Settings page 2
    [​IMG]
    Epson Driver Settings color
     
  13. Thanks for posting the details, Steven.
    Now I can see that Picture Window Pro's print dialog box is the only entry for the "Epson IJ Printer" profile much the same as Photoshop's print dialog box except it doesn't work for me because I have to use "Let Photoshop Manage Colors" in order to allow selection of that Epson profile.
    Clearly something is going on under the hood with Picture Window Pro and Window's color management pipeline that I can't get using Mac/Colorsync and Photoshop's pipeline using the Epson IJ printer profile.
    After over ten years of this platform/vendor crap every one still wants to do their own thing. So much for standards.
     

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