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Photography Question 
Constance Reid
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/5/2006

Color Space

I recently upgraded my old HP printer to an Epson R1800. Until recently, I've had my camera (Maxxum 7D) set to sRGB color space, but because of the way I've set my printer, it always wants to convert to the embedded space. After looking through my camera manual again, it seems that I should probably have it set to Adobe RGB. When I first bought my printer, its output seemed to be calibrated very closely to my monitor ... but I couldn't leave well enough alone and wanted to make it even better by adjusting some of the settings as indicated in my manual. (I'm also using Photoshop 7.) But now, my colors (saturation, brightness, etc) are off and I can't figure out why. Can anyone help?

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9/14/2007 3:37:21 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Constance,
1) You have to first calibrate your monitor to the printer. Hopefully, you have already done this.
2) sRGB or RGB rarely makes a difference when printing with average home printers. RGB simply has a greater "Color Gamut" (more colors).
3) Your difficulty is more than likely an uncalibrated ICC profile (International Color Consortium).
If your printer is set for sRGB, then your editing software be to match. Prior to a save, you should have a check box that indicates a ICC Profile ... usually sRGB or RGB. If your printer is set to RGB, set your software to RGB before you save it and Vice Versa.
ICC profiles are a standard that computers can understand. In other words, Red is red, blue is blue, etc. It is understood across any platform as long as you are using the same ICC profile.
My best guess is that you have your printer set to RGB and the software is saving as sRGB ... a complete mismatch.
Hope that helps a little,

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9/14/2007 9:02:59 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  The solution is probably in the color settings you changed in Photoshop or how you are handling profiles. If I can see a screen shot of the Color Settings dialog, I may be able to tell you what is wrong. It sounds from the results like you are converting to AdobeRGB and then the printer is not seeing the profile -- which can easily happen if you do not embed the AdobeRGB profile on save.

Just a note about sRGB and AdobeRGB, in 8-bit, each have the same exact number of colors (16.7 million). AdobeRGB has a somewhat broader gamut that favors colors intended for print...but there will be larger gaps between the colors that are mapped in sRGB. It is a common misconception that AdobeRGB has more colors--simply not the case. The real difference between these is somewhat overplayed, and can be mitigated by good technique in correcting images for color and tone.

I cover color workflow and corrections in separate courses here on, but I'm glad to answer your questions here.

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9/18/2007 4:07:45 AM

estelle knize   I have a question re: your answer to Constance ...

Where and how can I find out which ICC profile is used by my printer? I generally use sRGB for the web, and Adobe RGB for print, but was not aware that the monitor and printer profile should match.
I do calibrate my monitor periodically, but don't know how to find the printer profile.


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9/18/2007 5:49:02 AM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
Your printer should be using the profile you embed in the image. This should be based on the workflow you have established, rather than just assigning a profile at the end of the process, which is bad practice (converting to another profile may be a different matter). You should see the profile if you open an image and choose Save As.

I use 'should' a lot because a lot depends on how you have the Color Settings adjusted and what version of Photoshop or Elements you are using.

When you say that the "monitor and printer profile should match" that would not be correct. A monitor profile should be created when you calibrate your monitor, and this is used by the system. Your image should be tagged with your working space.

I hope that helps.

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9/18/2007 8:23:40 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005

My apologies Constance..I wrote "calibrate your monitor to the printer"..what I intended to write was Calibrate your monitor to your screen so WYSIWYG. Has nothing to do with color space, but needs to be done for serious work.

Sorry about that.


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9/18/2007 10:28:37 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  Constance, your problem may be a conflict between the printer driver and photoshop. You need to decide whether you want the Printer Driver or Photoshop manage the colors. If both are active, you can get some bizarre results.


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9/20/2007 10:10:43 AM

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