Calibrated display, still doesn't seem to match output from printer

Nov 12, 2016
350
93
#1
I got a Spyder 5 display calibrator and used it with the Display Cal software since most people seemed to say that worked best with it. After calibrating the display, it does not seem to match how my prints look coming out of my Canon PRO-1000 printer. The prints look more contrasty, a little darker overall, and the colors are not quite a match. I thought the idea was that if the display was calibrated, it should match the output I should be getting from a good printer.

I'm using my Macbook Pro's display, and letting the printer manage the colors via the settings in Photoshop since I've been using Canon's Pro Luster paper for the recent prints I've done. (When using Canon paper, it seems like the only option is to set it so the printer manages the colors, as there are selections in the printer, but Canon does not seem to offer downloadable ICC profiles for its own paper.) What else can I do to get my display to better match what comes out of my printer?
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,212
113
Germany
#2
As the printer is not necessarily the 100% truth its colors can vary, too.
That's the reason why datacolor (as you are already using a spyder) offers the "spyder 5 studio" where you can also calibrate the printer.
Sorry for spoiling by only giving a solution in spending more money :(
 
Nov 12, 2016
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#3
The Spyder printer calibrator costs $350 and gets a solid 3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It doesn't seem to work well, especially for that price. Is there anything to do this that actually works?

And honestly, I thought the whole idea by having a quality printer and ICC profiles was so that the printer output matches the same standard as a properly calibrated display.
 

Random Orbits

EOS 6D Mark II
Mar 14, 2012
2,136
55
#4
The Spyder printer calibrator costs $350 and gets a solid 3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It doesn't seem to work well, especially for that price. Is there anything to do this that actually works?

And honestly, I thought the whole idea by having a quality printer and ICC profiles was so that the printer output matches the same standard as a properly calibrated display.
It calibrates the monitor to be more accurate, but the monitor doesn't know what your printer can do, so isn't that the purpose of softproofing in LR? Monitors typically have much wider color gamuts than printers. You're also comparing backlit vs. reflected surfaces, and finishes matter. My Spyder 4 gets it close enough for most of my prints (I don't own a printer and send it to a shop), but for the darker photos, I typically raise the exposure just because the physical media tends to crush the shadows.
 
Nov 12, 2016
350
93
#5
Soft proofing never seemed to make much of a difference to me. I know what you mean about the fact that the screen is backlit vs the print which is not. But like any other variation, shouldn't a printer profile take that into account so the print matches a properly calibrated screen as well as possible? If I'm making any adjustments to my photo just for printing, and based on a guess as to how far I have to tweak the photo for it to print well, then at that point the display might as well not be calibrated at all.

It was expensive, but I decided to order an X-Rite i1Studio. People seem to be pretty happy with it, and it calibrates both displays and printers.
 

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
647
7
Canada
#6
I'm using the X-Rite i1Display system for my iMac Pro and Dell 5K monitor. I've found it works better than my old Spyder system. Soft proofing in Lightroom gets me within the 95% range with my prints, especially when using Hahnemuehle's William Turner matte photo paper.

I'd say that people can generally get away without soft proofing their images if they are using glossy, semi-glossy, or baryta paper, but I'd still advise against it. I've had several friends who've recently bought printers tell me they don't soft proof and that their prints look fine. I always follow up by asking them if they compared the print's colours side-by-side with their image shown on their monitor; the differences are more noticeable when viewed together.



You say that you're using Canon's Luster paper. Like I said above, generally speaking, the colours should be pretty close to what you see on your calibrated monitor, even with no soft proofing done.

Are you making sure that everything is properly set in Lightroom's print module? Make sure that in Printer Settings you've selected Luster, and that on the far right of the screen you've chosen the correct ICC profile for the paper. After installing the drivers for my printer, I was able to select exact profiles for the Canon's paper -- i.e., Luster, semi-gloss, Platinum, etc. Also make sure to select between gloss and matte in the Lightroom print module.

The other thing you can try is downloading Canon's Print Studio. All the Canon paper profiles are installed within it, and it's far less onerous to setup than using Lightroom's Print Module, which has settings in many different areas that can easily be overlooked.
 
Aug 1, 2017
153
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#7
It's pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole on color management and in the end a monitor is a monitor and a print is a print. Calibrating the monitor and building your own printer profiles helps but you are still going to have to rely on experience to a certain degree to understand how what you see on the screen will be translated to paper. Certain monitors are better for this than others. In general Apple displays can be a challenge since they have high gloss, brightness and contrast that even the brightest paper can't acheive. If you're are printing on low luster papers it's that much harder. Your money might be better spent on a monitor that is better at emulating print output. I have an old mac pro with a calibrated display that I only use for print output. I'd have to crush the brightness on my iMac or MacBook to get them to emulate paper.
 
Likes: stevelee

Mt Spokane Photography

Spends too much time on this forum
Mar 25, 2011
14,823
266
#8
I have a Spyder Studio sitting here, it was originally spyder 3, but works with more recent versions of the display calibrator. I spent untold numbers of hours with it, but its really difficult, I found my Epson 3880 was managing prints better, and I can tweak brightness and contrast in lightroom. Violet (Purple) seems to be the most difficult.

BTW, the Epson 3880 printer has a wider Gamut that sRGB monitors, and can even print some colors that fall outside Adobe RGB, so a wide gamut monitor can help.
 
Nov 12, 2016
350
93
#9
I messed around with my printer settings a little more. I tried reinstalling my printer driver, and this gave me all of the proper Canon paper options in Photoshop when I set the color management to "Photoshop manages colors." Before, I was just letting the printer manage the colors since I didn't have the option for this Canon paper in Photoshop. I assumed this was Canon's way of pushing me towards allowing the printer to manage the colors since, I assumed, the printer should be able to do properly since it was Canon paper.

Well, surprisingly, printing with Photoshop managing the colors and set to the proper paper as opposed to the printer managing colors yielded noticeably different (and better) results when making the same print.

It should be noted that the Mac version of Photoshop makes this whole thing extremely confusing. First off, you can run the printer without installing the proper driver for it, you'll just be running a generic Mac driver that doesn't have nearly the number of options as the Canon driver. Even with the Canon driver installed, if you set Photoshop to "Photoshop manages colors" a warning pops up with a big yellow triangle and exclamation point saying to be sure to disable the printer color management in print settings. However, when you go into print settings, the option where you would set this under color matching is greyed out. So, it appears that even though Photoshop warns you to turn off printer color management, it does it itself automatically, and even greys out the option for it, making it unclear if it's set up properly or not. :mad:
 
Aug 1, 2017
153
71
#10
Sorry about that. I should have known it was a software issue when you said the colors were way off. That's usually a sign something isn't installed properly.

It's not just you. Apple or Adobe seem to have done something to screw up the color profiles in the lastest round of upgrades. All of the ICC printer profiles on my iMac were gone as well. Not sure exactly how I fixed it. I couldn't find the ICC profiles as a download but I reinstalled the latest version of the driver from Canon as well as their third party profiles and the Print Studio Pro app and everything is back to normal. Not sure where canon hides their profiles. They aren't in the usual ColorSync/Profiles folder.

Sounds like you are on the right track. Letting Adobe manage printing is the preffered method IMO. Canon's "Art Paper" collection of ICC profiles is worth downloading if they have a profile for a non canon paper you might want to use.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

Mikehit

EOS 5D Mark IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,078
278
#11
And therein lies the challenge - I have a Canon 8750 and always use 'printer manager colours' and get very good results: this does not mean they are right, or that you would be happy with them and people have different knowledge or tolerances. Maybe I don't know a good colour rendition from a bad one? :D This also happened with my previous Epson printer and once people started telling me on a forum that this is a bad thing to do, I got a surprising number of comments supporting me. I stuck with that at the time because it was next to impossible to find any detail on Epson ICC profiles and Canon is not much better.
When I started using Permajet paper they have a free profiling service where you print their standard test sheet, post it to them and they send you back a profile and I found that very useful.
 
Nov 12, 2016
350
93
#12
Sorry about that. I should have known it was a software issue when you said the colors were way off. That's usually a sign something isn't installed properly.
Well, when I said they were "way off" by that I mean I could hold the print next to the monitor and it didn't look quite the same. I would say the print had a little bit more of a green cast than the display. I think most people would say it was fine. I've gotten really sensitive to color. I mean I'll sit there and move the color temperature back and forth only 100 degrees in Photoshop trying to decide which is better.

Anyway, I got the xrite I1 today, and used it to calibrate both the display and the output of the printer. I've made about three prints since then. Things are looking much better. I mean, yes, admittedly, a print is a print and a display is a display. They're never going to look exactly the same, especially as far as brightness and contrast goes. But as far as the overall color cast, it's pretty much spot on. There's no more estimating how much white balance I should cool off or warm up to get it to look right coming out of the printer. How it looks printed is how it looks on the screen. It wasn't cheap, but I'm really happy with this thing. I think the worst thing is that without it, you'll make a print, and the colors will come out just ok enough that you call it good. But ultimately many prints I've made just didn't look how I intended them to. But, this is a big improvement.
 
Jun 6, 2016
271
14
#13
What I have had to do on the printer side, is run a colour swatch printout where for each CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) colour level (using ONE percent increments), I print out a sheet that has an 3 x 6 grid of each colour value (i.e. Square one = 0% Cyan, Square two = 1% Cyan, Square three = 2% Cyan, etc). I display the same colour swatch grid on-screen as what I am printing out. This SAME 3 x 6 grid of solid colours is then COMPARED using the Spyder calibration system where I sample, using the Spyder's Colorimeter device, the same colours on the paper AND on the monitor and have Spyder save a CUSTOM COLOUR DIFFERENCE PROFILE that matches the Current Monitor Display Swatch to the CLOSEST-to-my-eye PRINTED colour swatch.

Since monitors are EMISSIVE devices (sending light out the the viewer like a flashlight) while paper printouts are REFLECTIVE (which bounces light back like a mirror), we can ACCOUNT for those differences by MANUALLY signifying which printed colour swatches of the same colour BEST MATCH what is on screen. This means that 30% Cyan on the monitor may match best with 42% Cyan on the printout....BUT....that's OK! The Spyder Colour Profile software can take those differences and make a NEW custom profile for the type of printer you want to colour-match!

For the average higher-end Epson/Canon Artist-series printers, I redo this calibration about once a year. YES! I have to print out 40 pages of swatch colour BUT so long I keep my display white-points and MASTER CMYK colour-point values AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE to what I first sampled, my printouts will look VERY SIMILAR to the display! Inks DO CHANGE over time and as you change each purchased lot of ink cartridge, but the changes are small enough that only a once-a-year re-calibration is needed IF you keep the printer clean and in good running condition!
 
Dec 20, 2012
2,089
116
Southeastern USA
#15
With an Epson 3880, Lightroom's soft-proofing is excellent (in Windows 10) with glossy and matte. I'd be wasting so much ink and paper without it. Often it helps me choose one paper over another before printing. I use a Spyder4Pro on a Viewsonic 32 inch. Except for black and white, I always let Lightroom and the paper's ICC manage things. This Epson is amazing at handling B&W, but it does require a little guess work, a little trial and error to warm or cool B&W prints, as the "preview" for the adjustment is a little lame.

When Jeff Schewe wrote THE DIGITAL PRINT, he claimed that Lightroom's print engine was better than Photoshop's for ink jet. But that was several years ago now.

If you can get soft-proofing to work for you, it helps a lot.
 
Nov 19, 2016
208
12
#16
I got a Spyder 5 display calibrator and used it with the Display Cal software since most people seemed to say that worked best with it. After calibrating the display, it does not seem to match how my prints look coming out of my Canon PRO-1000 printer. The prints look more contrasty, a little darker overall, and the colors are not quite a match. I thought the idea was that if the display was calibrated, it should match the output I should be getting from a good printer.

I'm using my Macbook Pro's display, and letting the printer manage the colors via the settings in Photoshop since I've been using Canon's Pro Luster paper for the recent prints I've done. (When using Canon paper, it seems like the only option is to set it so the printer manages the colors, as there are selections in the printer, but Canon does not seem to offer downloadable ICC profiles for its own paper.) What else can I do to get my display to better match what comes out of my printer?
Have you done a softproof before printing?
The softproof will show you in advance which colors can be printed at all. It is worth nothing to have your monitor calibrated when you display colors on your monitor your printer can't reproduce. Your monitor is far more capable of showing colors than your printer is. These colors have to be recalculated for the printer output which can cause the difference between what you see on screnn and what you see on paper.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

Spends too much time on this forum
Mar 25, 2011
14,823
266
#17
What I have had to do on the printer side, is run a colour swatch printout where for each CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) colour level (using ONE percent increments), I print out a sheet that has an 3 x 6 grid of each colour value (i.e. Square one = 0% Cyan, Square two = 1% Cyan, Square three = 2% Cyan, etc). I display the same colour swatch grid on-screen as what I am printing out. This SAME 3 x 6 grid of solid colours is then COMPARED using the Spyder calibration system where I sample, using the Spyder's Colorimeter device, the same colours on the paper AND on the monitor and have Spyder save a CUSTOM COLOUR DIFFERENCE PROFILE that matches the Current Monitor Display Swatch to the CLOSEST-to-my-eye PRINTED colour swatch.

Since monitors are EMISSIVE devices (sending light out the the viewer like a flashlight) while paper printouts are REFLECTIVE (which bounces light back like a mirror), we can ACCOUNT for those differences by MANUALLY signifying which printed colour swatches of the same colour BEST MATCH what is on screen. This means that 30% Cyan on the monitor may match best with 42% Cyan on the printout....BUT....that's OK! The Spyder Colour Profile software can take those differences and make a NEW custom profile for the type of printer you want to colour-match!

For the average higher-end Epson/Canon Artist-series printers, I redo this calibration about once a year. YES! I have to print out 40 pages of swatch colour BUT so long I keep my display white-points and MASTER CMYK colour-point values AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE to what I first sampled, my printouts will look VERY SIMILAR to the display! Inks DO CHANGE over time and as you change each purchased lot of ink cartridge, but the changes are small enough that only a once-a-year re-calibration is needed IF you keep the printer clean and in good running condition!
Having used my Spyder Calibration system, this is indeed the level of effort that needs to happen if I want a critical match. Its not that important to me, so I live with what the printer provides, paying attention to selecting the proper paper type.
 
Jul 18, 2013
12
0
#18
Hi KLJ:

The three most important things that you can do in calibration of a monitor for soft proofing is make sure that you have the white point as D50 and gamma set to 1.8. This along with brightness on my monitor set to 90 cd/m^2 gives me almost perfect color and brightness match with my 2016 MBP. I am using a Color Munki Display as my calibrator.

Read this article in Scientific American from 2012:
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/how-to-calibrate-your-monitor/

Of course, you will still need to set up Photoshop for soft proofing with the correct paper profiles.

Let me know if this helps.

Donald Barar