Secrets to Digital Printing
Many believe that getting the best from your digital printer is a black art passed on only to the few. To dispel this myth and to help you out, we asked Canon print product manager Jon Penney how to get the basics right.
Q What should people consider when buying a printer today?
A The first decision most people face is output size. Do they need A3? In the past the cost ofa printer this size would have been prohibitive and the camera they had might not have justified that size. Printers are now more cost-effectiveand image quality on DSLRs has improved.
The next thing to consider is that you need at least six inks to get a decent photo print. Six inks give you a broader colour space; meaning you can paint with a broader colour palette. Four inks give you CMYK which provides a broad palette, but if you want to do more photographic work such as skin tone or skies, adding a light cyan and a light magenta strengthens your regular ink, giving more colour capability in those areas.
Dye is known and loved by many photographers for having the broadest, most vibrant colour space. In addition to the six inks there is a red and green, which boosts colour reproduction in those areas considerably, giving foliage or autumnal shots that extra punch.
If you are thinking about longevity, pigment ink gives unrivalled archivability, so someone thinking about selling their work can have absolute peace of mind that their printer will stand the test of time. This is the ink set in our Canon Pro 9500 MkII, which has got 10 inkswith the addition of matte black and grey. The matte black is designed to work with fine art media types. It also produces a high-quality black and adds significant mid tones to prints as well as nice neutrality when you are printing.
With a typical inkjet one colour might predominate in an ordinary view of the colour cast because it has to use colour to produce the mid tones. However, using the grey ink tank will fill mid tones with grey, leaving a neutral print. Something else to consider is that using a Canon printer means it will recognise Canon RAW files so you can print directly from the camera or by using the Canon management software.
Q What are some of the more common mistakes people make when printing?
A Most people have experienced times when what they have printed doesn’t match what they had in mind or what is on the screen, and the printer is blamed. But in our experience it is the other way around and the monitor is at fault. So we advise having a colour-managed workflow, which means calibrating your monitor so what you see on your screen is a true representation of the colours you are working with. Also use the appropriate print profile for the paper type you are using. We provide a profile for every single type of paper we manufacture. Most paper manufacturers do the same. This is to tell the printer how to represent the colours on the page.
Q How can you get the most from your printer?
A Use genuine ink and genuine paper. They are designed to work together and you’ll be able to find the type of paper in the printer driver. You can make a number of changes to the driver to optimise the settings for the output you have in mind. You also are able to save those settings. So if, for example, you are printing a series of monochrome portraits, you can save that setting and have it available the next time you do that.
Q Which would be the best printer for serious enthusiast photographers looking to make money from their hobby?
A Of course I’m going to recommend a Canon printer! And the one that I would choose is the Pixma Pro 9500 MkII. It gives incredible ability in monochrome in particular but also brilliant colour output on to a wide variety of media, from glossy through to matte and also some of the fine-art canvas type media. You can pass paper up to 1.2mm thick, so from fairly stiff board type papers you can make 14in x17in prints.
Jon Penny's tips of the trade:
• Avoid touching the surface of the print, keep the media secured and stored away until you are ready to print.
• Think about where you are going to display the work. If it is behind glass, then avoid using glossy media. Using a matte or satin finish will avoid double reflections and give the best results.
• If you are going to frame it, leave the print to dry for at least 24 hours.
• Think about where you are going to display your work – the lighting conditions have a huge impact. If the light sources are very different between where the work was printed and where it is to be displayed it can look very different. Canon’s Ambient Lighting Correction tool allows you to tell the driver the lighting conditions in which you are going to be displaying the print. You can take a light reading at the venue, get the colour temperature and print with those settings in mind.
• Printers benefit from being used regularly. Roller cleaning is also important, especially if you use a fibrous paper. This can rub off on to some of the rollers, which can lead to feed problems. Use this tab also to align your print head to ensure best quality output.
• To get the best results experiment with different paper types. There are so many available and it’s worthwhile taking a look at the choice and testing different weights, finishes and textures as well as price points.
• I use our own free software for ultimate colour accuracy which allows you to create your own profile for a Canon printer by using CMTP (Colour Management Tool Pro). This software allows you to create your own bespoke ICC (International Colour Consortium) profile. You could find out if other manufacturers offer similar software.
• Experiment with the driver settings until you achieve your perfect print and then save the combination of settings. Next time you want the same look, just call up the settings that you have saved.
Now you’ve got your printer right, we asked Ian Windebank, UK operations manager for The Imaging Warehouse, the top four most often-asked questions to find out what paper you should use to achieve the ultimate results.
Q Is it important that papers and canvases are suitable for both pigment and dye-basedink sets?
A Yes. Make sure that all the media you consider have been tried and tested for their archival properties and suitability with pigment and dye-based inks and that they are all 100% compatible with test certificates. These are often listed on websites and are on ours.
Q How do you personally combat the issues of colour management?
A We offer a bespoke ICC (International Colour Consortium) profiling service alongside our generic profiles to help customers through that first tricky stage. It begins with a simple download from our website; follow the instructions, then we can create and build the successful profile. The service is free on PermaJet media and there is a small charge for other manufacturers’ papers. We also now have a remote access servicefor customers unsure of the best way to set upthe computer to handle profiles. Profiles are the only way to successfully manage your colour output. Without them you are prone to inconsistent colours and to wasting expensive paper and ink. Profiles regulate all colours back to LAB Colour, the industry standard of colour management.
Q Can the majority of printers today handlethe thicker fine-papers that a lotof pro photographers like to use?A In 99% of cases the answer is ‘yes’. Many printers now have dedicated thick media feeds, either mounted as a separate holder feeding into the back or through a front feed. More than 80% of papers will load through the standard ‘sheet’ feeder.
Q I’ve heard other photographers talking about Baryta papers – what are they and why would I use them?
A The Baryta or fibre-based paper range is designed to replicate those papers still treasured by monochrome darkroom users. Each of the papers (FB Royal, FB Gloss, FB Warmtone and Delta Matt Fibre) replicates the original appearance of silver halide papers, supporting vast black-and-white tonal ranges. They are great for monochrome enthusiasts and you can get a test pack containing all the papers (plus many more) for less than £15.
Top 5 inkjet papers
Here are our top five photo papers to ensure your images stand out from the crowd:
1 Canson BarytaPhotographique 310gsm Ideal for black-and-white printing or portraits. A4 25 sheets, £29.28. www.fotospeed.com
2 Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl 285gsm Offers impressive contrasts and pictorial depth in black-and-white or colour images. A4 50 sheets, £53.99. www.hahnemuehle.com
3 Ilford GALERIE Smooth Lustre Duo 280gsm Produces excellent colour gamut and is perfect for skin tones. A4 25 sheets, £16.99. www.ilfordphoto.com
4 Permajet Fine Art Semi-GlossCanvas 360gsm Ideal for full colour landscape, creating movement or depth and shadow. A4 10 sheets, £21.95. www.permajet.com
5 Lyson Pro Photo Satin 265gsm Pure, ultra-white base for clean whites and widest tonal range. A great all-round paper. A4 100 sheets, £35.25 www.marrutt.com
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