April 18, 2014, 02:44:51 PM

Author Topic: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark  (Read 5169 times)

kyamon

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2013, 12:58:33 PM »
I may have missed it in reading this thread, but do you have the "Soft Proofing" box checked in the LR4 Develop module with the correct paper profile selected under "Create Proof Copy" ?  It is pretty clearly noticeable on my NEC Multisync PA241W monitor that my monitor image turns darker when I activate the Soft Proofing box. 

I am having pretty good monitor to printed image matching up on my Epson Stylus R1900 - but I do have to adjust Brightness and Contrast in the Print module to get a close match -- and the level of Brightness/Contrast needed varies between paper profile selection.  LR4 remembers the last settings you printed with for each profile and comes up when you go into Print module for printing after you select the appropriate paper profile above.

Tony M

Thanks, Tony. I had not used the soft-proofing in LR, and you are right, the difference is considerable. What it does is that it seems to remove some of the color saturation when I check the soft proof box, but what remains is the excessive red in the prints.
I had played with the brightness/contrast settings in the print module, and I can get the print to look better in terms of colour. But I do get the feeling that the photo becomes softer in general.

Is it possible that my dark test-photo is just a particularly hard case? The Pixma Pro 9000 MII is known to not perform great with B/W, so could it be that it just isn't so great as soon as there is a lot of black (or dark) involved? How does the printer produce a black point? I noticed with these tests that even though an estimated 10-20% of the photo are "black", the black cartridge was only used by about 1/5 or less, while I went through almost an entire magenta (the M, not the PM). I presume it uses a lot of that for the brown hair and the skin tones, but that much?

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2013, 12:58:33 PM »

kyamon

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2013, 01:04:55 PM »
Just for the record - I had a look at the ICC profiles from Ilford.
GSPP12 and GSPP11 are identical (for all I can tell) - makes sense since the supposed difference is only the thickness of the paper, but the paper is otherwise the same. What surprises me more is that they date from 10/2009.
This gets me back to the question what these are good for if each software produces a different result in print, even though the same printer/paper profile has been used...

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2013, 01:38:58 PM »
Interesting point - but I always assumed that cheap inks also have drawbacks with regards to longevity, resistance to sunlight etc.

Third-party inks, as a rule, are less expensive than manufacturer-branded inks...but they're not all cheap. Lyson, for example, makes some very, very good inks, including a number of printer-specific alternate inksets that are superior in every way to what the manufacturers offer for those particular printers.

Cheers,

b&

kyamon

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2013, 01:41:18 PM »
Interesting point - but I always assumed that cheap inks also have drawbacks with regards to longevity, resistance to sunlight etc.

Third-party inks, as a rule, are less expensive than manufacturer-branded inks...but they're not all cheap. Lyson, for example, makes some very, very good inks, including a number of printer-specific alternate inksets that are superior in every way to what the manufacturers offer for those particular printers.

Cheers,

b&

Good to know, thanks.

TonyMM

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2013, 01:43:28 PM »
Also -- watch the Histogram at the top of the panel in Develop/Soft Proofing as you click in the Soft Proofing check box (underneath the image) -- you will note that the histogram of Red/Green/Blue concentrations changes significantly with Soft Proofing activated and not activated.  This may be causing the "Red Shift" you're seeing.  For example, when I look at one of my images in Develop/Soft Proofing checked and not checked, I see a big shift increase in the number of Red pixel concentration shifting to higher end -- this would indicate to me that the printer will be told to print more red content, particularly in the upper end (I'm using Red River Polar Pearl Metallic paper profile in this example).

So, this provides an opportunity to adjust both the Hue and Saturation red values if you want to more closely duplicate what your monitor is showing you.  It will also give you a reading on whether or not some color values are "out of gamut" (will not print) on the specific paper.  This again, will give you an opportunity to go back and change hue/saturation to try to bring that portion of the print back into printing full gamut.

Pretty useful, if tedious for some prints.

Tony M

kyamon

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2013, 05:22:42 PM »
this is really frustrating... I am close to giving up and just try to avoid in the future to print dark photos. And otherwise use PS to print...

I really find it unbelievable that this is not a solved problem. The fact that two programs from the same company produce different output on the same setup is miserable. These are computers, after all. They may not always do what we want, but they are pretty good at doing the same thing over and over again. So all we need is a reasonable way to calibrate. Once. And then it should work...

Or is it all just so sensitive that nothing is reproducible? Does a tiny change in the composition of the ink change everything? Does the temperature of my room change? Or is it only the amount of coffee I had before sitting down at my desk...?

(as a side-note... I am a scientist and do experimental work. I know that things never work the first time around. But then someone works to understand what is going on and improves it, and ultimately something functioning results. In this case the fact that Canon, Ilford, and Adobe (or all the others) do not manage to produce a proper system together is outrageous. And it is not like this is a new problem in any way... OK, I am frustrated and will stop my rant here ;) )

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2013, 06:10:23 PM »
I really find it unbelievable that this is not a solved problem.

As I indicated in my first post on this thread, it is a solved problem. It's just that the solution isn't obvious and requires equipment and skills.

Here's super over-simplified instructions to how to solve the problem:

  • Buy a spectrophotometer such as the i1 Pro or the Color Munki.
  • Use said spectrophotometer to calibrate and profile your display.
  • Again use said spectrophotometer to profile every combination of printer / ink / paper you use.
  • Learn what to do with all those ICC profiles you've created. That includes things like soft proofing -- and there's a lot more to soft proofing than ticking a box in Photoshop. Much more. And that's just one small piece of the puzzle....
  • For bonus points, use better software than that X-Rite ships with their instruments. They make some very good but very expensive profiling software that shouldn't be too hard to use. ArgyllCMS produces superlative quality and is free, but it's command-line only. There are other options, too.

I assure you, that's "all" you need to do to solve your problems within the physical limits of the various pieces of hardware. Problem is, it's not an easy solution....

Cheers,

b&

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2013, 06:10:23 PM »

kyamon

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2013, 07:38:39 PM »
I really find it unbelievable that this is not a solved problem.

As I indicated in my first post on this thread, it is a solved problem. It's just that the solution isn't obvious and requires equipment and skills.

Here's super over-simplified instructions to how to solve the problem:

  • Buy a spectrophotometer such as the i1 Pro or the Color Munki.
  • Use said spectrophotometer to calibrate and profile your display.
  • Again use said spectrophotometer to profile every combination of printer / ink / paper you use.
  • Learn what to do with all those ICC profiles you've created. That includes things like soft proofing -- and there's a lot more to soft proofing than ticking a box in Photoshop. Much more. And that's just one small piece of the puzzle....
  • For bonus points, use better software than that X-Rite ships with their instruments. They make some very good but very expensive profiling software that shouldn't be too hard to use. ArgyllCMS produces superlative quality and is free, but it's command-line only. There are other options, too.

I assure you, that's "all" you need to do to solve your problems within the physical limits of the various pieces of hardware. Problem is, it's not an easy solution....

Cheers,

b&

OK, I have calmed down a bit by now :)

I know that there is a way to get prints look the way they should. I know there are people (professionals) who are skilled enough to get these systems to work properly.

What I meant was that I find it weird that there is no simple solution to get this to work at home, for amateurs who can not invest the time and money to go through the entire recipe you described (command-line is not even the issue, I would not have a problem with that...). My thought when I purchased that printer was that it is a way to get around the randomness of large-scale commercial photo-printing companies. I thought that if I get a printer, use that company's own ink, quality paper, and established software I would get a system that is close to plug-and-play. But that is far from the truth... That is what annoyed me, and that is what I meant by "unsolved problem".

Granted, if I want to make the best possible espresso in my own kitchen I can not just get a professional espresso-machine. I also have to learn which beans to buy, how to grind them, how much of them to use, how much pressure to apply, etc. But since we are dealing essentially with chemistry and computers in the case of photo-printing, I thought that things would be sufficiently well standardised and controlled to make the procedure simple. I think if I would take to photos with different cameras of the same type, using the same settings, I would get identical pictures - or is that not the case? That is what I also expect from printing.

Essentially what this all means is that for any non-professional (or for me, at least) it is simply impossible to get great prints without investing a lot more money and a lot more time. Both of which I am able to invest only to a certain extent. It just looks like I have to reduce my expectations, and that frustrates me.

jondave

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2013, 07:51:13 PM »
Interesting point - but I always assumed that cheap inks also have drawbacks with regards to longevity, resistance to sunlight etc.

OEM inks are not as trumped up as you think they are. Epson and Canon make it seem so because it's in their interests to protect the HUGE margins they make on it.

The are a lot of crap inks out there, don't get me wrong. But the best ones are not hard to find, and perform even better than OEM (in terms of color gamut for the most part). And they save you heaps of money - the best ones don't even cost a quarter of OEM. Guilt-free color-lab quality prints that costs pennies, yeah baby. It's quite addicting actually.

In fact, it is the same OEM ink manufacturers that make the the top of the line refill inks.

Essentially what this all means is that for any non-professional (or for me, at least) it is simply impossible to get great prints without investing a lot more money and a lot more time. Both of which I am able to invest only to a certain extent. It just looks like I have to reduce my expectations, and that frustrates me.

It actually depends what your definition of great prints are. In my opinion, what you're getting is already great - in comparison to what most people not using LR/Photoshop, icc profiles, and professional home printers get.

But it seems what you want is the peak of Mt. Everest, which means you do have to invest time and money to reach. Nothing comes easy my friend, such is the bitch called Color Management. So I say take the plunge, get a spectro. Best investment you'll ever make.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 11:54:49 PM by jondave »

kyamon

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2013, 08:13:09 PM »

OEM inks are not as trumped up as you think they are. Epson and Canon make it seem so because it's in their interests to protect the HUGE margins they make on it.


This is certainly true - after all, they have to pay for the printers that they give away basically for free...

It actually depends what your definition of great prints are. In my opinion, what you're getting is already great - in comparison to what most people not using LR/Photoshop, icc profiles, and professional home printers.

But it seems what you want is the peak of Mt. Everest, which means you do have to invest time and money to reach. Nothing comes easy my friend, such is the bitch called Color Management. So I say take the plunge, get a spectro. Best investment you'll ever make.

No... Mt. Whitney would be good enough. Or Mont Blanc, since it is around the corner from here ;)
Maybe you are right and I should look into spectrometers...

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2013, 08:16:51 PM »
Essentially what this all means is that for any non-professional (or for me, at least) it is simply impossible to get great prints without investing a lot more money and a lot more time. Both of which I am able to invest only to a certain extent. It just looks like I have to reduce my expectations, and that frustrates me.

Believe me, I feel your pain. Been feeling it for years....

I think my best advice for somebody willing to settle for less than perfection but looking for something better than hit-and-miss, my advice would boil down to this:

At the very least, you must calibrate and profile your display. There are lots of options out there, most not bad. When in doubt, get something made by X-Rite. If you're on a budget, get the ColorMunki Smile for $100. And part of the process will involve properly setting your display's brightness -- the devices will measure the brightness and either interactively tell you how to adjust the display's brightness (and other controls) or they'll automatically do it all for you.

If you want the cheapest up-front costs, stick with the printer manufacturer's own ink and paper and use their ICC profiles. You'll pay more in the long run for supplies, but if everything is coming from one of the major manufacturers, especially Canon, Epson, and HP, the results are generally quite good.

If you don't mind a bit larger capital investment in exchange for a great deal of flexibility as well as cheaper operating costs, get a ColorMunki Photo for $450. It'll do a better job of profiling your display than the Smile, plus you can then profile any combination of printer, ink, and paper. The software that comes with it is quite capable, though there are certainly better options out there. But it's all very simple and easy and you'll be up and running in no time -- all for the low, low price of $450, so call right now! Operators are standing by!

You'll also either want to invest in a decent book on color management or be prepared to do lots of research and experimentation on your own. I went the latter route so I can't recommend any books, but I'd suggest going to the library and / or a local bookstore with a good selection of computer-related books and just start browsing until you find something that speaks to you.

Start with that. It may well be all you need. Indeed, lots of people are more than satisfied with the results they get from these products.

If you find yourself wanting even more, the good news is that the ColorMunki Photo is a very capable instrument for a very reasonable price; it's just the software that's crippled (though in a good way that makes it very easy and painless to use). You can use the instrument with basically any profiling suite, so the investment is a good one that'll last you a long time.

The next step up from the ColorMunki is the i1 Pro. It comes in various packages, but the only difference is the bundled software. If you go that route, I'd suggest the cheapest one you can get (it'll probably be just under a kilobuck) and use ArgyllCMS. The X-Rite software is capable and easy to use, but you have to spend lots of money to get to their good stuff.

For photography and graphic arts in general, there's no need to spend any more than that. The next step up first gets you to high-volume devices designed to do nothing but automated reading of charts all day long. Then you're getting into the prepress devices that, frankly, though they've got much better specifications don't actually deliver any meaningfully better real-world performance. And then you get into scientific research gear that'll cost more than your house.

Hope this helps....

Cheers,

b&

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Re: Pixma Pro 9000 II prints are dark
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2013, 08:16:51 PM »