.......Then there's another question: printer calibration. I don't plan to buy a printer, any eventual printing services will be carried out by a specialized provider. How do you know how and if their printers are calibrated properly?.........
Ask the service for icc profiles, if they have none to offer (or seem clueless), find another service.
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As I understand it, printers are not calibrated in the sense that actual print output capabilities can be corrected, a printer can only print what it is able to.
Printers can and preferably should be profiled.
Profiling should be done for each specific printer to be used and with the specific paper and ink set to be used.
To profile, PC installed profiling software sends a print job to the printer, this print job consists of many different colored squares over a couple of pages.
The resulting printed squares are then scanned/read with a color measuring device, the Datacolor SpyderPRINT calls theirs a Spectrocolorimeter..
The printer was unable to reproduce the exact colors sent in the print job, the Spectrocolorimeter measures what colors actually did print and then generates what is essentially an error file.
This error file is named with either an .icc or .icm file extension, it is the printer/paper/ink profile.
SpyderPRINT prints 225 or 729 different color patches on 1 to 4 sheets depending on options selected.
The better print houses provide icc files for download as do printer manufacturers and paper manufacturers.
To use, install the appropriate profile to your PC, then, in your image editor use soft proofing>print emulation, choose the relevant profile for use while editing.
The final print comes out pretty darn close to exactly as you intended and expect.
I've only done this a few times with various papers and images, I've gotten exactly what I wanted on the first try, no wasted paper or ink, no disappointment or guesswork wondering what or how to tweak.
I'd sure not expect any of this to work well without a calibrated monitor.
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There's another method that I've read of but not tried that involves loading and selecting icc profiles directly to the PC's monitor color settings.
My imagination goes to overload trying to reason how a monitor can be both calibrated true and use another color profile simultaneously.
I believe it's also much faster to switch profiles in software rather than hardware for A<>B/before<>after comparisons.
Somewhere in the literature that accompanied my NEC monitor was a comment to the effect it's preferable to use the soft proofing method rather than icc profiling the monitor by I cannot recall why nor find the document right now.