Printer Color Management

I was lucky! I was getting beautiful prints from my Epson Stylus Photo 960 printer that I purchased several years ago. I was using the the paper profiles for the Epson papers that came with the driver, and the prints matched my color-managed monitor very well.

Then I bought a new computer... with Windows Vista. Epson doesn't make any Vista drivers for the Photo 960 printer. :-( So, after much review-reading and soul searching, I bought a new Epson Stylus Photo 1400 printer, which uses the "Claria" dye inks. This printer is supposed to print gorgeous prints, according to all of the reviews.

My first print (just a random photo that I wanted a print of) out of the printer looked OK, but nothing spectacular. So I printed a photo that I had previously printed on the 960 that has brilliant colors. It was drab and very disappointing. I checked my settings, and everything seemed correct. I tried to vary the settings a bit, and got different-looking prints, but I wouldn't say better-looking prints.

I was printing from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (where I do most of my work), and using the "Managed by Printer" Color Management option. In the printer setup, I specified ICM, and then picked my best guess on the settings. I had selected "Premium Photo Paper Glossy", as that was the paper I was testing with. I noticed that the Epson driver picked "SP1400 1410 PGPP" for the Printer Profile Description, which is the Epson profile for this paper.

In hopes of getting something better, I decided to let Lightroom manage the color. So I select "Other" in the Color Management, and saw all of the Epson paper profiles. I enabled the "SP1400 1410 PGPP" profile, then select that profile in Lightroom. I opened the Epson printer driver properties, and selected ICM, "Off (No Color Management)".

Crossing my fingers, I printed another print. This one came out looking just like the one I loved from my 960 printer!

So, if you are using software that is capable of performing color management when printing photos, definitely try that out of you are not happy with the colors you are getting when the printer driver performs the color management.

I will be buying some printer paper (not Epson brand) from a company that has profiles for their paper for several Epson printers (the 1400 included). I will report on that as soon as I get a chance. Also, I will report here about a relatively inexpensive way to make your own printer color profiles (the normal price for the hardware and software is $400 and up - this is just $75. I'll let you know how well it works).