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articles

Weekly Chatter:CMS Tools Upgrade Advice Needed
Monday July 26, 2004

Section 1: CMS Tools Upgrade Advice Needed






Color Management/WorkFlow > Hardware and Software > CMS Tools Upgrade Advice Needed

















AuthorSubject: CMS Tools Upgrade Advice Needed  
Eddie Gilbert
Posted on Sun Jul 25, 2004 4:21 PM

My apologies for the lengthy posting -- there is some real "meat" here that, hopefully, will lend some reason behind my concerns and will help those who try to reply to do so efficiently, and also perhaps will help others struggling with certain similar issues, most notably ImagePrint color profile concerns.

I am at a point where I need to reconsider and revamp my color management toolset, and I would welcome any helpful guidance I could get, especially from Bruce, Andrew, and Jeff.

First, some contextual info, to set perspective, and to clarify my goals.

For a while now, I have used Monaco Proof (v3.2 on Mac OS 9) with a DTP-41 to generate printer profiles for EPSON printers (1280, 2200, & 7600's) using the EPSON drivers. The resulting prints, as viewed in my GTI SOFV-1e Soft-View station, were a decent match to the soft proofs displayed by Photoshop using these profiles, when viewed on an Apple 23" HD Cinema Display, profiled using an EyeOne Monitor device using EyeOne Match (v2.0.3 on Mac OS X). The primary point to emphasize here was that this process produced a good match between soft-proofed image and final print when viewed under controlled lighting, which, in my mind, is my #1 motivation for employing a CMS workflow.

There were, and are, issues. The DTP-41 is one of the older ones that does not have UV filtration, and so my profile accuracy may be somewhat skewed as a result, particularly with non-matt print media. The DTP-41, as a strip reader, is slow, and has now become quite tempermental in pulling strips through the reader reliably, most notably with the calibration reference strip itself, and so it most probably needs either a service overhaul or replacement of major drive parts, anyway. The overall print profiling process, with Monaco Proof's separate passes for the initial linearization target & profiling patch targets, allowing for adequate print dry time prior to measurement, made the overall profiling process time & labor intensive. And Monaco Proof, with its somewhat limited set of some 500-ish set of color patches, probably didn't result in the most color-accurate profile possible.

These issues aside, the solution was affordable and workable, and the soft proof was a reliable indicator of final print quality.

Then ImagePrint came into the picture, and won me over with it's amazing grayscale output (for the 7600) and overall better print quality than was achievable from the EPSON drivers. I discovered that (probably because of better print linearization control & inkset gamut utilization) the ImagePrint RIP seemed to offer better color manageability of my 7600 than I had achieved using the EPSON printer driver, which was a bonus as well. Re-creating profiles for all of my media through IP was a chore, and when ColorByte released IP 5.5 and changed their core printer drivers and rendered all of this hard-won profiling useless, I entered into some serious conversations with John from ColorByte about the pros and cons of using the ColorByte profiles vs. continuing to create my own.

What I found disturbing then, and still find disturbing today w/ IP 6, is that soft proofing with the ColorByte profiles is _NOT_ a reliable indication to me of final print appearance. There are color anomalies in the print that do not appear in the soft proof at all. I have read recent postings from Andrew that indicate he sees this as well. Given my statements above about the importance to me of reliable soft proofing, I was fully prepared to continue to create my own profiles to overcome this problem.

My discussions with John touched on the relative level of profile accuracy, based in large part on accuracy of the CMS tools ColorByte uses and their overall superiority over the relatively low-end tools I was using. John expressed his lack of appreciation for the compromised approach to soft proofing used by Photoshop. We also discussed capabilities ColorByte would be building into their own profile/RIP coupling that would not be possible or available to folks who created their own custom profiles. The upshot of these discussions was along the lines of "Soft proofing in Photoshop is unreliable anyway because Adobe's doing it wrong, and with the 7600 manufacturing tolerances being what they are, you can rely on our profiles working well enough for you such that you will be better off using our superior profiles, enabling yourself to use some of our forthcoming advanced features, and save yourself the time, effort & expense of continuing to create your own." My matt-media 7600 prints using their profiles did look "good" -- I could see overall color management print quality advantages from using the ColorByte profiles, lending great credibility to the "superior profiles" arguments. However, my own observations and personal successes with soft proofing using my self-created Monaco Proof profiles caused me to be highly suspect of his soft proofing reliability arguments.

Having now added a 2nd 7600 to my configuration (dedicated to Photo Black ink, for non-matt media), the adoption of ColorByte profiles for overall better print color quality, soft proofing shortfalls aside, falls apart somewhat. Using the ColorByte profiles (usually ECWF2 for 1440 4-pass), I'm seeing color artifacting in the prints to EPSON Luster & SemiGloss media that are nowhere to be found in prints to, say, EPSON Enhanced Matt media. [Please assume I have checked all side-effect factors, such as head alignment, firmware version, etc. -- I have.] The results I'm seeing using ColorByte profiles with my Photo Black 7600 smack of being generated on someone else's printer and not my own -- close in many areas, but serious objectionable color shifting that I cannot accept professionally. This, coupled with a strong desire to return to something resembling valid soft proofing reliability, puts me squarely back in the position of returning to generating my own color print profiles again -- it isn't worth the convenience, or even the ability to take advantage of some potential future IP-specific features, to have to deal with poor color print results (from the non-matt media) or unreliable soft proofing across the board.

However, having witnessed the overall color quality "superiority" (although not necessarily in terms of color matching, in particular with blue hues) of profiles generated with higher-quality profiling tools, I have come to acknowledge that sticking with Monaco Proof v3.2 and my failing DTP-41 may not be in my best print quality interests. So, I am considering alternatives. My concerns are (a) being financially prudent, (b) improvement in overall color quality over my DTP-41/Monaco Proof output, and (c) enhanced measuring device reliability and ease-of-use/efficiency.

I would consider the purchase of an Eye-One Photo, to replace my Eye-One Monitor, to be an "affordable" start, and I see the ability to measure, for example, light color from my GTI booth a bonus. I also appreciate that there is no drive mechanism to wear out, as is happening with my DTP-41. What I do not know is how "good" this device is in terms of color measuring quality of print output targets as compared with the DTP-41. The DTP-41 uses a fairly large measuring aperture, which helps when measuring targets output with dithered ink patterns as opposed to more contone output -- how does the Eye-One Photo compare in this regard? How finicky is the Eye-One Photo when it comes to the actual practice of measuring color print targets -- is it tedious and prone to mis-measuring and needing a lot of "care" in practical use, or is it reliable and useable without aggravation? Given my experience with my Eye-One Monitor device, relative to the DTP-92 I was using before, I would expect the Eye-One Photo to be of commensurate quality and usability improvement, but I would like to know from those "in the know".

I have read Bruce's PDF review of ProfileMaker 5 (Photo version), and can appreciate many of its high-end features, but I'm ultimately a little less concerned about many of its color analysis capabilities than I am in generating print profiles of an improved level of quality over my prior toolset, and, if, for example, I can obtain these "better" results using an Eye-One Photo device with the currently-available upgrade to Monaco Proof, it would be to my financial benefit to go that path instead. I know that PM 5 supports creating output profiles based on very large sets of sample patches, but what I do not know is whether the overall profile accuracy or resulting print color quality warrant the hefty $2500 pricetag just for this capability alone, especially when coupled with a spectro device I could afford to pair with it (I consider the ICColor/PM5 bundle to be outside my budget).

Or, might even the Eye-One Match software, used in conjunction with en Eye-One Photo, be a better choice than the current Monaco Proof software when paired with this same device?

So, given my focus on improved overall quality, reliability, return to reasonable soft proofing confidence, and financial sensibility, what can you share with me to help me decide on a reasonable path back to sound color management and solid (professional) color printing results?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and consider my concerns, and for any helpful information or suggestions you may offer.

Best,
/eddie

Eddie Gilbert
Eddie Gilbert Studios


Eddie Gilbert
Posted on Mon Jul 26, 2004 12:20 AM

PS:

I have just spent the evening reading through a bunch of posts here in the Color Management : Hardware/Software forum, and my takeaway seems to be this:

* EyeOne Photo (the device) can be a bit tricky to use, but once you employ some reasonable care and technique tactics, readings can be about as fast and reliable as with the DTP-41 (true ?)

* The measuring aperture on the EyeOne Photo device is on par with that of the DTP-41, making it just as reliable for stochastic/dithered injet print measurement as the DTP-41 (can someone please confirm/deny this)?

* The EyeOne Match software allows the same 918-patch RGB print measurement as does PM 5, and the results with this patch set seems to be well-regarded. In comparison with the Monaco 500-ish patch set (for RGB), this would seem a step in the right direction...

* The use of PM 5 to utilize targets having significantly higher numbers of patches does appear to offer tangibly better results, but at a steep price (time/effort)... still not sure if the capability, and resulting gain in print quality, warrants the additional time/effort/expense of PM 5 over EyeOne Match -- Bruce?

* Andrew mentioned in one of his posts that he thought Monaco profiles were a bit magenta in the blues, while he felt that GM profiles were spot on -- Andrew did I get this right, and would you care to elaborate on any other Monaco vs GM (EyeOne Match, in particular) differences you find noteworthy?

* In general, I don't get the impression that folks on this forum think much of Monaco, their dongle, their EULA, or the quality of their CMS profiles or software product -- experts, care you to be more explicitly verbal in this regard?

* In general, I get the impression that for $1500, using the EyeOne Photo with EyeOne Match software, I will accomplish my goals of arriving at significantly better profiles than I have been able to create with my Monaco Proof/DTP-41 combo, at a reasonable cost (better technology at lower cost several years later...), with a device that can be at least as reliable, if not more reliable (no drive system to fail over time) -- I would very much like to hear one of our experts state this explicitly, or correct this impression if it is wrong. I don't want to spend more money just to take a step backwards!

* In general, I get the impression that folks in general, and Andrew in particular, see the issues I myself see with ColorByte's profiles and have decided it is well worth their effort to continue creating their own profiles.

While I will still very much look forward to hearing what folks have to say in response to my original posting, reading through this forum has been an interesting homework exercise, and I appreciate all who have contributed.

/eddie


Robert Craige
Posted on Mon Jul 26, 2004 7:38 AM

Eddie

I do not use IP or Monaco software, so I can only comment on some of the issues you raise. I do however use Eye One, DTP41 and a Spectrolino Spectroscan T and Profilemaker 5.

You stated that your DTP41 is an older one without a UV filter. With proper software, you definitley are better off without the UV filter. Using the UV filter is definitely an inferior solution. Profilemaker looks at the spectral output and is designed to detect optical brightners. It has built in ability to compensate the profile for the brightners. Using a UV filter just blinds the system to the presence of the brightners. Well desinged software should look at the complete spectrum and deal with it accordingly. Using a UV filter dumbs down the system and is a workaround for software not smart enough to deal with the full picture.

While your DTP41 may indeed need service, I assume you have cleaned the rollers? This is best done by removing the base, then runnng the Tool Crib program and in terminal window and issuing the command DM. This will make the rollers turn. Moisten a paper towel with 91 isoproply alcohol (from the drug store) and gently press against the rollers untill they are clean. If you have not been doing this, the drive will definitely slip.

I am a huge fan of the Eye One Spectrophotometer, but the DTP41 is an excellent instrument. The Eye One will measure almost as fast as the DTP41, but it is easier to do with the DTP41 and the DTP41 is little less prone to mistakes. The Eye One is an amazingly versatile system and does a great job. It's ability to do monitors, output devices, projectors and ambient light, even ambient stobe, makes it an exceptional tool. The iO automated arm due end of year will make it even more exciting. That said, I think you probably would still be very well served with your current DTP41 brought back to proper working condition. It will still be a more efficient way to read targets. You should also be aware that the reference strip for the DTP41 has a limited life and should be replaced, I think they say every 12 months. This may improve your accuracy as well. If cleaning the rollers fixes the problem, you can just purchase a new reference from X-rite ($50) and load the data with Tool Crib as I recall. Factory recalibration loads the data into a more permanent memory so that you don't have to reload it if you do a full reset.

I am not a user of Monaco software, but Profilemaker is an excellent solution and fully supports your DTP41. In PM5 you can custom generate targets for your DTP41. You can also use the lineraize funtion to update profiles as the printer's output drifts.

My overall thoughts are that you might retain the DTP41, but add PM5 to do your profiling.


Andrew Rodney
Posted on Mon Jul 26, 2004 10:24 AM

The DTP-41 is a good unit and wasn't inexpensive. You might want to see the cost to have it serviced. I've had mine sent to X-Rite in the use for recertification and they did a good timely job.

The EyeOne has some advantages although I suspect that if you build a profile with both in the same software, the results would be comparable. The EyeOne is USB which is nice, it's able to do spot and handle reading ambient light/strobe and deal with a display.

ProfileMaker pro (and it's little brother EyeOne match) do a good job handling UV so that's an advantage. The software is pretty "smart" and takes a lot of the advantages of reading and using spectral data. I think most color geeks feel that using a filter isn't as savvy as just reading the spectrum provided and accounting for UV at profile building time. I kind of agree however with Robert that the DTP-41 is a fine unit and you might want to consider getting it looked after and then using it with ProfileMaker Pro although if you find that EyeOne Match has enough functionality, it might end up being less money ($1500).


Marco Passanisi
Posted on Mon Jul 26, 2004 10:31 AM

Eddie,
I have IP, the Eye-One Photo, both Gretag ProfileMaker and Monaco Profiler, and I've also had the DTP41 in the past.

So I think I know exactly what you're going through.

Let me start from IP.
IP is a strange beast in my opinion. I've yet to decide if I like it or if I just use it because it is highly praised. Leaving B&W; printing apart (where it is CLEARLY superior) I've never found it to be far superior to the Epson driver. I find it lacks punch in the midtones and has a very washed out black. Softprofing it with "Ink Black" is shocking... Normally I use it to print images with large areas of solid colors (skies, clouds...) and that don't have very deep shadows.
I find that images with deep shadows are beeter printed with the Epson driver.

I personally have a PERFECT match between my monitor and my prints, but this is not the result of a single silver bullet. It's series of things that work all together towards that goal.

I've had the DTP41 in the past and I liked it a lot, but the Eye-One is significantly superior, in my opinion.

I have Monaco Profiler, but I don't use it anymore. I like the open structure and the smart handling of the OBs of ProfileMaker much better.

ProfileMaker also allows you to macth your Monitor White with your Paper White. I've found this simple method of calibrating the monitor, the SINGLE MOST important way to increase the "print to monitor" match.

Monaco Profiler does not have this capability.

My adviceis to sell everything you have, and buy the 2 things that will allow you to do everything with unbeatble (by other products) results. The Eye-One spectrophotometer and ProfileMaker.

It's not a cheap solution, but you have 2 7600, it means you're not a casual user.

You'll be happier than ever, and you'll soon consider it a sound investement.

Marco





Eddie Gilbert
Posted on Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:35 AM

Robert, Andrew, & Marco -- Many thanks for your responses.

It has been an interesting day so far. Between these responses and phone calls to various other color management folks whose opinions I respect, I must say I'm still confused as to which way to go, but at least now for very different reasons. As you might expect, opinions are differing. But at least I'm getting input, which is extremely helpful.

Marco, you mentioned in your reply that you felt the EyeOne Photo device was far superior to the DTP-41 -- can you please elaborate? I get the rest of your message loud and clear, but this point escaped me, and it is important for me to ask you to elaborate because other feedback has informed me that switching to this device would be a huge mistake, in large part because it is so difficult to use in comparison. Is your favoritism based on accuracy, flexibility, ease-of-use (hardly), or something else? This is not a challenge -- I genuinely want to know why you favor it so.

Also, feedback from another CMS expert source (very color mgmt savvy guy, uses both Monaco Profiler and GM ProfileMaker Pro extensively, conducts workshops with both, and has therefore seen lots of results from both packages) tends to think Monaco Profiler produces more color accurate profiles than does ProfileMaker Pro. Granted, Monaco does not have the monitor to paper white point balancing that you speak of, nor does it support profiling RGB devices with 10,000 color sample patch targets, but this individual still finds it to generate more accurate color profiles. Just his datapoint. I would love to hear from more folks that have used both as to their decision, and the factors that played into this decision for them.

Regarding relegating IP to grayscale printing and going back to the EPSON driver for color output, I had considered this as well -- after all, when I purchased IP in the first place, it was to arrive at neutral grayscale printing capability. It was after comparing head-to-head prints made using profiles created from both IP and the EPSON driver that I felt that IP offered better color manageability over the EPSON driver, but I was using a 1280 at the time and things could be very different now with the 7600 and its (OS X) driver. I'll give this some consideration as well.

Thanks again for all the feedback.

/eddie


Marco Passanisi
Posted on Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:58 AM

Eddie,

generally speaking I think that the DTP41, although very capable, is somewhat an istrument of the past, while the Eye-One is a brand newe instrument that will groth even further when the automated table will be added.

When I was using the DTP41 I had to rescan strips several times. The Eye-One, when you get used to it, is much more error-free, in my opinion.

I like to have all the capability I need in one single istrument: monitor (spectral), paper profiling (spectral), and ambient light. Long term you will find this capability well worth the price and onece you switch to it you'll not widsh to go back (at least this what happened to me). I agree with everybody who says that on the same software the DTP41 and the Eye-One will produce comparable profiles. But with around $1300 you can get the Eye-One Photo bundle, while you need at leat $2000 only to get a DTP41.

I sold my DTP41 on Ebay for $1300 and bought the Eye-One Photo at the same price, so without paying anything more, I got all the extra features the Eye-One has. At that time I was using the DTP92 to calibrate the monitor. After I got the Eye-One, I sold it too and I got some other money back. Pricewise it was definetely a savvy move, and I also felt I increased the easy of use of all my CM gear.

In this sense I think the Eye-One is superior. Maybe not in terms of absolute accuracy, but in a broad sense I think it is.

I would also add that swithching to it won't be a HUGE MISTAKE.
You might like more or less (I'm personally a big fun of it, but I understand other people might feel less strongly about it), but it is a professional instrument and I don't think it ever really disappointed anyone.

Marco





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