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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    What is the most accurate photo printer?


    I have owned 3 different HP printers....2 given to me and this last one came with a camera I wanted. I have been disappointed with all of them. Whatever the actual photo looks like is nothing like what is printed. I've adjusted the thing til I want to shoot it!
    Is there anyone who has a really great printer that will get me excellent color quality results for accurate photos?
    I'm a photography nut so quality is very important.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Hillsboro, OR, USA

    Re: What is the most accurate photo printer?

    Jeena, I've been where you are, and it's frustrating as heck. Unfortunately, the solution can be frustrating as well.

    So, first things first. The printer is the constant. It prints what it prints. So the problem is not to get the printer to print what the computer shows you, it's getting the computer to show you what the printer prints.

    There's two steps in that process. By far the more important one is to calibrate your monitor. Have you ever been in a store, and looked down a row of TV displays? Individually, each TV seems fine, but taken as a whole, they are vastly different in terms of brightnsess and color. Computer monitors are that way too, especially if they've been used for awhile without rechecking things. So how to make sure that you monitor display things accurately?

    The answer is a spectrometer, also known as a colorimeter. In the same way that a light meter measures light falling on a camera subject, a colorimeter measures the color being emitted by your monitor. In calibrating a monitor, the software actually makes dozens of such measurements and compares them against known definitions. In the end, it adjusts your monitor to display the colors correctly. There are probably dozens of such systems on the market, but most photographers I know use either Spyder3 ( ) or a product called i1Display2 ( ). That should get you started looking in the right direction.

    Simply calibrating your monitor will solve about 90% of your problem- and buying a new printer- ANY new printer- won't. You'll still be off, because your monitor still isn't showing you things correctly.

    The second step in the process, and the last 10% of the solution, is to create an accurate printer profile. A printer profile is a file that defines the exact color your printer prints, given a certain kind of ink, and a certain kind of paper. The process is much the same, except you'll be reading off of a sample print. Once you have the printer profile, you need only put it where your image editor can find it. While you're looking at those links, do a search for "printer profiles", and you'll be able to learn a lot more.

    It takes a bit to set up, but once you do, color management is a snap. Open an image, and convert it from either Adobe RGB or sRGB (whichever you take photos in) to your printer's profile. Bingo! Photoshop (or Elements, or whatever) now uses your printer's definition for colors, and because you calibrated your monitor, you know that it is showing them accurately. NOW you're seeing the colors the printer will print- in the image editor- where you can still modify them. And if you DO modify them, you'll still know the colors are true, because you're still using the printer's defined colors.

    Questions? (like probably a million of them...). Ask away.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  3. #3
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Mundelein, IL USA

    Re: What is the most accurate photo printer?

    Medley, Nice answer. - TF
    I am no better than you. I critique to teach myself to see.
    Feel free to edit my photos or do anything else that will help me learn.
    Sony/Minolta - way more gear than talent.

  4. #4
    Senior Member readingr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Basingstoke UK

    Re: What is the most accurate photo printer?


    One intermediate step that you can try and it really depends on what level of accuracy you need is to tell Photoshop or whatever your using to be in charge of colour management.

    When doing this you need to tell PSE, PS, or PSP or whatever your using to use the Monitor colour correction as the default for the printer. This will give you a reasonable print as PSE will send the corrected values to the printer. You still need to tell the printer what type of paper your using so that the printer knows what level of ink to use.

    I helped a friend out wiht this exact problem the other day. All his prints had a red tint. Set his system up like this and the prints looked very close to what was on screen.

    Roger R.
    "I hope we will never see the day when photo shops sell little schema grills to clamp onto our viewfinders; and the Golden Rule will never be found etched on our ground glass." from The mind's eye by Henri Cartier-Bresson

    My Web Site:

    Canon 5D; EF100-400 F4.5-5.6L IS USM; EF24-70 F2.8L USM 50mm F1.8 II; EF 100 F2.8 Macro
    Canon Powershot Pro 1; Canon Ixus 100

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