« Have Faith in Practice (Epson P600) | Main | Do You Own a Photo Vest, Fedora, or Light Meter? »

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Comments

This is not a direct answer, but another point of meta-view: If you get ImagePrint, then exceptionally accurate profiles for nearly every paper made, under five different lighting choices, using photo black or matte black as appropriate, are immediately available for your Epson. Thereby, no need further to be concerned with that part of getting the best print possible.

I sure don't want to be caught criticizing a new "gimmick" but it sure looks like another "layer" of activity is being set into motion so I'm going to wonder out loud "will it always be correct" and "why is it necessary".

I'm presently using a "poor man's Eizo" an NEC Multisync PA272w 27" monitor - itself not cheap! - that I profile using the company's Spectraview software with an x-rite i1 Display Pro probe. It works beautifully - my monitor to print "success rate" is very high.

So, with my monitor profiled, with my printing paper profiles embedded within the printer software, and with my well fed brain - itself "profiled" by years of experience - operating in an appropriate (for me anyway) low ambient light setting - what am I missing that this "gimmick" is going to help or fix?

Just curious, that's all...

[Hi Dave, I doubt you're missing anything...there are many ways to achieve color management. I expect QCM is one more such, that's all. I'm just curious about the various options and how they work. --Mike]

Mike,

Something I didn't post with a previous comment because it's not about the Eizo QCM, is that I also profile my (mid 2011) iMac using ColorEyes Display Pro by Integrated Color Corp., using the same x-rite probe. It is expensive but works well and is easy to use.

Even though I usually use the iMac screen for all the Photoshop menus and the image is displayed on the NEC monitor, I still use the iMac in many situations with photos. I can happily say the two monitors color match very closely. Interestingly, I cannot use the ColorEyes software successfully on the NEC because it is "blocked" from accessing all the internal LUT settings which need adjusting. NEC wants you to use their SpectraView software which costs an added 100 bucks!

When I first profiled the iMac, its "out of box" color changed considerably.

Consider NEC as well....less expensive than Eizo, but the only other monitor brand that I consider in the same league (although Eizo is tops). It's not just about calibration of course, but also about contrast and tonal range, screen glare/reflections, brightness uniformity, and lots more.

And, as I've written elsewhere, ImagePrint will satisfy all your profiling needs, not only for virtually all papers, but different profiles for different lighting conditions. I'd rather spend my money on that and an NEC....oh wait, I did.

So, is QCM serving as the printer driver, or is Photoshop? If the former, then it seems that QCM may be somewhat akin to ImagePrint, except that IP uses its own proprietary paper profiles, including gray profiles. Also, IP allows for soft proofing both in Photoshop and IP itself. I'm very curious to learn what is unique about QCM. Mind you, I am not knocking it, as it may be truly great. Just curious.

I've never used it, so maybe I'm missing things. But color management isn't hard. I'd stick to the standard color management tools and avoid proprietary tools which will lock you into a system where you're afraid to change anything for fear of breaking the chain. My advice is get a good wide gamut monitor and monitor calibrator at the minimum. From there factory paper profiles will be decent, and making your own will be better. The Color Munki Photo with the Arcgyll CMS software works great for papers without optical brighteners. I love the NEC PA301W I use, but there are many good products, with Eizo making some of the best. I don't see the need for RIPs, other than for quick layout in a production environment.

Mike, I'm glad you're rediscovering to printing. I bought my first photo printer, an Epson 3880, in 2012 and have done a considerable amount of printing with it. It's been a journey, to say the least.

Printing well is hard, and there aren't enough people who write intelligently about it.

Cheers,
Peter

Eizo's been a standard, appropriately so, in the color-critical/color-managed realm for quite a while. I'm not familiar with their QCM methodology, but my guess is it is to simplify the process of providing a color-managed workflow from display to print (which admittedly, can be a daunting process to learn and master). I haven't looked up the price of this system, but knowing Eizo's pricing models in the past, a QCM Eizo system may run into the $2,000-$4,000 price range (though I would love to be proved wrong).

Regarding alternatives: a number of us TOP readers here use the excellent NEC PA-series of displays comprised of a wide-gamut, high bit-depth display along with hardware (the "puck") and Spectraview software to automatically set luminance, black and white point, gamma, etc to provide the basis for a color-managed printing workflow. I've owned and use two of these (presently the PA-272W-BK-SV), and their performance is exceptional.

While the Eizo system looks pretty cute on the face of it, obtaining a color-managed workflow using the NEC's is quite straightforward: calibrate the display every month or so, edit to taste, soft-proof, and you're ready to print.

If you're getting as serious as you appear to be with the new Epson (whch is great, BTW), you will need to get one of these types of displays to provide the most accurate reference point for your color-management printing workflow. Otherwise, you'll be chasing your tail, per your nice landscape photo example from the other day.

The NEC's and EIZO's can be calibrated, Mac displays can only be profiled. The delta-E's I obtain calibrating my NEC is around 0.8-0.9 and less than half of what I obtain with my excellent 5K 27" Retina iMac display.

Oh, and BTW, printing from the Print module in Lightroom is a lot simpler than working in Photoshop these days. Just sayin'...

The Eizo CX241 is a gem of a monitor. It is possible to find the monitor below B&H's list price. Mine cost $995. Then there is the CX241 BK-CNX for around $1,300. The difference being that the latter includes a calibration puck. If you do not have a puck, the latter a good choice.

To realize the full benefit of these monitors, it's important to have a graphics card that supports 10-bit video out. Otherwise, the monitor will be limited to 8-bit video out.

Eizo's Color Navigator 6 software is very powerful. The QCM plugin is okay, but it is limited to OEM papers by Epson and Canon (fact-check please).

Oddly, I find that Adobe Photoshop CC plays nicer with the display than Photoshop CS6. I'm trying to wrap my head around that.

Since my ageing CG2222 doesn't seen to be supported I can't test it, but I suspect that Eizo QCM only ensures that all components of the colour management (CM) chain are at their correct settings. That is, it only does what you could do yourself assuming that you understand CM. So it removes the need to have that understanding, and for those who do understand, it removes the chance of error. There are a lot of recommendations for Imageprint in these comments, but as I understand it, a RIP can't ensure that your Eizo monitor has the correct settings for soft-proofing, which is what QCM seems to do, among other things.

This week I had to reinstall my soon to be 6 years old Mac Pro. It has been exceptionally reliable, knock on wood. I have replaced the original hard drive when it died, and added more drives as needed. The whole process of reinstalling was smooth and quick. I keep paper profiles and calibration software and all my images on a separate disk and just log in and download Lightroom, Photoshop and printer driver for the Epson P800 after the reinstall.

I made sure not to upgrade to macOS Sierra, because the SpectraView software controlling my also 6 year old NEC Reference 271 is supporting 10.11 El Capitan, not 10.12 Sierra. Calibration is the only thing that remains to be done. A puck was included with the screen for free and it has done a great job. I just use Canson and Ilford profiles available on their sites for the Baryta and Smooth Pearl papers.

This setup was initially expensive. I bought it together with an Epson 3880, that was replaced this summer. But it has served me exceptionally well and considering that it gives first class results and has kept on going, the price per year is now reasonable. I believe in buying high quality products and keeping them for a long time is environmentally friendly as it creates less waste and also economically better. The downside is the big investment initially.

I realize that calibration, LED displays and processing power has now reached a new level with newer hardware. And that I will have to replace the Mac and the display one day. Still I have been very happy, and still am, with the gear I have. Calibration and ICC profiles together with good quality paper enables me to keep printing images for paid work and personal projects with ease and excellent results.

Just choosing a setup and sticking with it gives me the best results and frees me up to be creative and focused on the images, not the gear.

The comments to this entry are closed.