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Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:36 pm
by chriznatch
I'm looking to buy a photo printer. Although I use outside printing services from time to time, I often find that the printed pictures look different from (and usually worse than) what's on my screen. I'm hoping that with a home printer, I can eventually get the colors and overall brightness right through trial and error.

Can anyone recommend a good printer? I print a lot of 4x6, with some larger sizes thrown in now and then. For the truly large prints, though, I will continue to use a printing service. My home computer is a Mac if that matters.


Re: Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:23 pm
by mvanrheenen
Just a thought, but could the difference between the screen and prints be due to your screen not being calibrated?

I have this issue and know this after having a few discussions about it with a DTP, color and printing specialist I always consult when I want to get something printed.
My screens cannot be calibrated due to lack of controles for this. My images are always more yellow on screen than when he prints them. When I see my images on his equipment, the match his prints. I try to correct for it, but it's always a gamble.


Re: Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:20 pm
by chriznatch
My screen is definitely not calibrated. At least, I've done nothing to calibrate it since I got the computer. My prints come out yellower (and usually somewhat darker) than what shows on my screen.

Is there some easy way to calibrate a screen on a Mac laptop? Does it require special software? My non-technical solution was just to print some stuff at home, note the differences between printer and screen, and then try to adjust Photoshop settings to compensate. That's pretty tough to do when forced to wait for prints from Adorama or someone like that. But all in all, if there's some other way to calibrate, it would be good to avoid the expense of a printer and ink and all that stuff.

Re: Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:40 am
by David Kilpatrick
Pantone Huey Pro - does not cost much and will calibrate all your screens. Very good on Mac laptops.


Re: Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:11 am
by dewarp
Hi chriznatch

No one here has suggested a printer. Unfortunately I too cannot recommend one as you seem to need an A4 printer whereas I use the truely amazing Epson 3880, which is an A2+ printer and surely too expensive for your needs. However, some comments:

Agreed that the first thing to check is the calibration of your screens. Also, your ability to edit your images is dependant on the quality of your screen.

Next, accept that no matter how good your equipment and skills, your printed images will never look identical to your on-screen version.

For years I used a specific print shop for my A3 club prints. The print shop used a standard Xerox A3 photocopier, not their more expensive Epson Pro printers. The Xerox tended to over sharpen, increase saturation, increase contrast, and had a slight green shift. Since I insisted on them using the one particular Xerox and one particular paper I was able to compensate for these changes and over time could get some impressive prints. I would prepare my images in Photoshop and then, at the end, deliberately make "negative adjustments" to compensate for what the Xerox would do. My point is, if you stick to a single printer and insist that they use a particular machine and paper it is possible to tune your print files to get your desired output.

Next I decided to print some larger images for permanent framing. The same shop printed these on their big Epson roll-feed machine. I was disapointed at the outcome. I realised that I could go through the same learning curve, but because the prints were so much more expensive, it would be pretty costly. I decided to bite the bullet and buy the Epson 3880 (May 2010). Since then I have done all my own printing.

By the way, getting seriously into printing is another huge learning curve, something akin to learning photoshop.

regards - Peter

Re: Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:30 am
by chriznatch
Thanks everyone for the responses. I'm going to try to calibrate my monitor, and then I'll see if I can live with the output of the print shops. Peter, thanks for the info. I'd planned to use a home printer to correct the color in my pictures, then to send the pictures on to the print shops for larger prints. It sounds like that would still be a problem given the differences in output between printers.

Re: Printer recommendation needed

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:26 am
by dewarp
When you calibrate your monitor for print work try to set the luminance lower than the "normal" recommendation of 100 cd/m2. I currently use 5800 deg K and 80 cd/m2 on my working screen, and even then I have to lighten the image slightly prior to printing.

regards - Peter