first, i love printing.
printing is still complicated because it is a transformation from one medium (self illiuminated screen) to another medium (reflective medium).
from the nature of things this transformation can not be 100%.
another difficulty is, you only have limited influence under what light the print will be viewed.
a print can look good under D65 light but strange when viewed under natural light conditions.
a monitor is way more consistent.
ambient light can change your receiption of a monitor display too.
but for print it´s much worse (light color, metamerism).
it´s as difficult as translate a poem from one language into another.
with a color managed workflow you can come close.
even then you have to do a lot of testprints to get the best
but without ICC paper profiles and at least a calibrated monitor... it´s a guessing game.
i have 3 epson printer.
the cheapest is a P50 i use often for 15x10cm prints.
it produces fairly got results when i let the printer manage the colors and set the color management options to: Adobe RGB, Gamma 1.8 in the printer dialog. not perfect but usuable results are the outcome. i use this when i print on paper i have no ICC profile for.
when i use the epson standard settings the colors are too vivid and it´s a bit on the dark side.
i still get the best results when i let photoshop manage the color and use the correct ICC paper profiles.
for all my other printers (R2880, R3880) i let photoshop always manage the color and use only paper i have ICC profiles for.
no fineart printer i know does his work without testprints and then tweaks based on the print output.
no calibrated system can do this perfect, because it´s not just a numbers game.
the mediums, screen and paper, are to different.
if there was a way to make prints perfect without testprints, companys who print packaging would do it.
but they still do expensive testruns and measure the results.
i have a calibrated system from monitor to printer.
yet i still have to do 3-4 testprints to get the results i want and im happy with.
most people who watch me print say.. "why do you destroy that print, it looks great".
but i see things i can improve.