Digital Printing Insights #7: Media Type Settings

MediaType

the Media Type selection

Exactly what does the Media Type (or Paper Type in non-Epson drivers) setting control? Most importantly and critically, it determines the amount of ink coverage (or ink density) that the paper will receive (in addition to: drying time between printer head passes; paper thickness; platen gap, and many other variables). The Media Type selection is not something to be taken lightly – the quality of your prints depends greatly upon having made the right selection.

So you’ve got a new inkjet paper that you really like, but it’s made by a third-party vendor (not the same manufacturer as your printer). Naturally, the Epson printer driver Media Type selector (click the image at left for a larger view) does NOT include a media selection for your new inkjet paper since it is non-Epson. So how do you know what media type to choose? Check first with your paper manufacturer’s website. Most not only provide free printer profiles for their papers (more on this below), but they also share other technical specifics; including what media selection should be used in conjunction with their paper. What if they do not suggest a media selection or provide profiles for your printer? Time to start printing and testing! Select the most appropriate match to your media type (for instance, select Matte Paper if you’re printing to a matte paper), and make test prints with each of the specific media choices available under Matte Paper. Allow sufficient time for drying (I suggest 12-24 hours), and carefully analyze the subsequent prints. You’re looking for the most dense ink coverage you can get without any ink bleeding; that is, the inks are not running or bleeding into white border of the paper. The prints should be smooth and ink dots should not be visible to the naked eye. Once you determine which media type gets you there, record it and stick with this setting each time you print.

Now you’ve got your media type dialed in, but the paper manufacturer does not provide a printer profile for you to use. No worries! I create very high-quality and low-cost custom printer/paper profiles and getting one is very easy and fast. Please visit GreatPrinterProfiles.com for more information and to order. Please be sure to read the testimonials of my many happy print-making clients.

Thanks for tuning in! If you have any suggestions for future editions of Digital Printing Insights, please let me know!

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website

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Digital Printing Insights #4: “My prints are too dark”

Dancing OaksCall me a dinosaur if you like, but I still prefer working with and editing images on my LaCie CRT, although it seems the rest of the world has switched over to LCD displays. I do not know of one manufacturer producing higher end CRT’s today.

Even in a accurately color-managed environment, photographers who edit their images on an LCD and output inkjet prints are quite possibly familiar with the scenario of prints that appear too dark relative to their display. As a CRT user, this is not a problem that I have experienced, but I’ve heard it from friends and acquaintances and have read about it in online forums quite a bit. Are you experiencing a similar issue? David Brooks of Shutterbug magazine has written an excellent and informative article that addresses this problem and offers a few possible solutions. In short, this problem is caused by luminance differences between CRT’s and LCD’s (LCD’s are often about 25% brighter), with many lower end LCD’s not offering the ability to reduce the luminance to CRT levels. Check out David’s article.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

Digital Printing Insights #1: “What media and quality settings do I choose?”

Epson printer settingsA custom profile client writes:
I have an Epson 2400 and I’m having trouble figuring out the proper paper & quality options to use. It was much easier in earlier models/software, but now the paper choices and quality are confusing – especially if I am not using Epson paper. In the Print dialog there are 4 different matte papers and 3 different quality (dpi, I assume). I plan to be using Calumet’s Brilliant Matte. Does it matter which Media Type I choose? As far as the profile goes, does the quality or dpi I print the targets with make a difference? I will also be using Epson’s Watercolor RW paper, but again the question about the dpi. Or should I just choose the best or highest dpi available?”

My reply:
You’ll need to check with Calumet to find out what media type they specify for their paper. The media type does matter, because this selection determines the overall ink density (how much ink gets laid down on the paper). ICC Profiles can only map COLOR from one device to another; it is the media selection that defines other characteristics such as ink density. The wrong paper selection may result in reduced dynamic range and/or weak/muddy prints, or may cause too much ink to be laid down. If Calumet does not specify a particular media type for their paper, it will be in your best interest to conduct tests with each of the available matte media settings. Pick the media that offers the richest print without bleeding any ink, especially black.

As for quality selection, most who have done this testing (myself included) have determined that the quality increase with BEST (2880 dpi) is not enough to warrant the slower print times and extra ink consumption. My advice is that you also test this for yourself. Take the same image and print it both with PHOTO (1440 dpi) and BEST PHOTO (2880 dpi), and examine the prints with and without a loupe. You will not likely see any gain by the naked eye, and possibly only minor gain under a loupe. If you find otherwise and determine BEST PHOTO to be better for your prints, then by all means!

Regardless of what settings you choose, be sure to save them as a uniquely named media setting for future use! Whatever settings you use to print the targets are also the same settings you will need to use when making prints with my custom profiles.”

If anyone has additional questions about this or other printing topics, please let me know! I solicit your suggestions for future ‘Printing Insights’ columns.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.