Note that in September 2020 I updated this tutorial as a new post here. The process has become much easier and less error-prone following some updates, so please follow the later tutorial.
Following on from the previous episode, this week we look at creating camera profiles for Capture One Pro using a product called Lumariver Profile Designer. This is a video again, so the audio player is basically redundant, but I’ll include it anyway.
I’ll leave my notes below, for those that prefer to read, but this really is an episode that requires you to watch the video to not only understand how to create these camera profiles but also to be able to see the benefits when applying the profiles to images in Capture One Pro. Here’s the video.
My Procedure Notes
Here are the notes I made as I prepared for this episode.
The Lumariver manual states that exposure should be around 220 on the white patches, and I have a photo of the Digital ColorChecker SG from last year that is around 221 on the white patches, so that’s perfect! This image was exposed so that the white patches were not blinking, but 1/3 of a stop brighter would have made them blink on the camera’s LCD.
We first use the White Balance picker to set the white balance using one of the mid-gray patches and note that the image is pretty much a perfect 5000K white balance. Nice!
Then we need to go to the Base Characteristics panel, and under ICC Profile select Effects > No color correction, and also set the Curve to Linear Response. We then export the file as a 16 bit TIFF with the ICC Profile set to Embed camera profile, then export a second TIFF with the Curve set to the setting we usually use, so I’ll go with Auto.
Next select New Project from the Edit menu in Lumariver Profile Designer and select “General-purpose ICC profile”. You can use Lumariver to create DNG profiles for use in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, but our objective is to create a camera profile for Capture One Pro, my raw processing software of choice, so we need to select ICC profile.
We then click the Load Image button and load our linear curve TIFF file, and then select the Illuminant that is closest to the light source that we photographed the target in. My custom white balance showed me a reading around 5000K so D50 is smack on. Then select the type of target used, which in this case is the X-Rite ColorChecker SG.
Press the Show Target Grid button and align the corners of the grid that is displayed with the registration marks on the ColorChecker target, then turn on the Grid is in place checkbox. Click on the Tone Curve label towards the bottom of the right sidebar in Lumariver, press the Load Base Curve button and select the second TIFF that we exported with the Auto Curve applied.
The next option, Curve Mode is actually key to making Camera Profiles for Capture One Pro that work without having to brighten your images up again after applying the profile. You need to set the Curve Mode to Add to Base Curve. The default setting of Replace Base Curve gives you a dark profile. On this screen let’s also load the curve from the Capture One Pro load the ICC profile from Capture One.
Under the Look section, I changed the Tone Reproduction Operator to Neutral, as opposed to Skin&Sky, as I don’t really want anything changing. I also changed the Gamut Compression to None. Gamut Compression basically compresses the colors into a smaller working color space, like sRGB or AdobeRGB, but as I keep my images in ProPhotoRGB for as long as possible, and because I know that the camera is working in a much wider color space, I don’t want to limit them falsely with the profiles I’m creating. It’s great to have these options!
Finally, under the ICC Export section, I turned on High-Resolution LUT, because I can, and we’re now ready to press the Render button. Wow! Right there I like what I see very much. We can now export the ICC profile. The default Profile folder that was selected was for me only. So that I can access this profile from other users, should I create any, I changed this to the /Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder, and called my new profile “CanonEOS5DSR-MBP Generic”. I used this naming convention so that Capture One Pro would list my profile alongside the other CanonEOS5DSR profiles.
I also created a second profile with a 3D LUT (Look Up Table) selected under the Optimization section. The manual says that this is really for Reproduction profiles, but being me, I always want to try to use the best possible options, and 3D LUT profiles apply the corrections differently according to the brightness of the color. Although the manual warns that 3D LUT profiles should only be used on images shot under the same conditions, my tests have shown that these work great as a Generic ICC profile for my Canon 5Ds R.
Note that I needed to leave Scale to Match off when creating a 3D LUT profile, as turning this on made my images too bright, unless I used the Linear Response Curve, and then actually the images looked OK, although a little flat.
Then if it was open we need to restart Capture One Pro so that it can find the new ICC profiles, and all we need to do is select the new profile under ICC Profile in the Base Characteristics section, and WOW! Just watch those colors pop! If you want to really bring out the most from your camera, I think we’ve just found the way to do it!
I honestly didn’t think it was possible to improve the image quality of Capture One Pro, so this is a pleasant surprise. I am going to be applying this new profile from now on, and will also go on to create some other profiles for my studio lighting etc. I think a couple of profiles will probably be enough to cover most of the work I do.
Lumariver Profile Designer Cost
Although the process to create a profile is a little more complex with more steps, once you have saved a project, creating future profiles is a piece of cake, and the look of the images with these profiles is great!
All importantly, the price is very reasonable. The Pro version is said to be enough for photographers, at €100, but for a little extra control and options, the Repro version will set you back €200.
This product now has a place in my Capture One Pro workflow. It’s not that I was unhappy with the color of my images, but I do often tweak it, and these profiles get me closer to where I want to be, and that will be a huge time saver. I just wish I’d found this software sooner!
You can try Lumariver without a license, but you can’t save the project or profiles without a license. That’s still useful, as you can see your photographs after rendering them, to ensure at least that you have the process down before you buy.
Following the release of my video on soft-proofing, I received a few questions that helped me to realize that I need to spend a little time going over the reasons that we even need to use ICC profiles, and what they actually do.
You may recall from the video I released a few weeks ago, that I talked about using ProPhoto RGB whenever possible, and some people asked if they should use this for their computer display. If you recall from the video, I showed you the ICC profiles for my two computer screens, and these were very different from my camera Profile, and my various print media profiles.
Device Capabilities and Restrictions
ProPhoto RGB is a much wider profile, larger than all of the other devices and media profiles that we might use, and this is why I recommend using it when editing our images, but you don’t need to use this for your display, or when actually printing, as these modes of outputting our images have their own limitations, and it’s these very limitations that make ICC profiles necessary in the first place.
So, the first thing to remember is that the ability to reproduce color varies depending on the device or media on which we display or output our images. ICC profiles are used to translate the colors in our image to the ones reproducible by any given device or output media. Another way to think of this is the difference between human languages. If one person only speaks English, and another only understands Japanese, they have no way to communicate. For example, I understand the color red, and the word “red” to describe that color. Now, of course, you’d be hard pushed to find a Japanese person that doesn’t understand the word “red” but assuming they don’t, when I say “red” to a Japanese person, they would not know how to process that information.
Another way to think of this is the difference between human languages. If one person only speaks English, and another only understands Japanese, they have no way to communicate. For example, I understand the color red, and the word “red” to describe that color. Now, of course, you’d be hard pushed to find a Japanese person that doesn’t understand the word “red” in English, but assuming they don’t, when I say “red” to a Japanese person, they would not know how to process that information.
Likewise, assuming I didn’t understand Japanese if a Japanese person said the word “akai” to me, I would not understand them either, and not be able to process that information. However, if we had a dictionary to map the color red to the Japanese word “akai” we could communicate. We’d both understand what red is and be able to visualize the color. On a very basic level, this is what an ICC profile does, but for millions of colors, not just one.
What Problems Exist?
Let’s take a look at the problems we are trying to overcome in a little more detail. The core piece of information that we need to keep in mind is that every device capable of displaying an image has limitations on what colors it can display. These days, our computers understand millions of colors. They understand many more colors that they can display or print. You might think that’s strange, but this is the same theory as my reason for recommending that people work in ProPhoto RGB. We need to edit with more wiggle room than we need, and then adjust this to the output device when necessary. More on this later.
To illustrate the issues we face I created a Granger Chart in Photoshop following the steps in this Luminous Landscape article. This chart (below) contains way more colors than our displays or printers have the ability to reproduce. That’s why there are some crunchy gradations in the chart, and those nasty steps in the gradations will change depending on the device on which you look at the image.
Take a look at the image on two different displays, or on your phone or tablet, and you’ll see differences, ranging from very slight, to quite drastic, depending on the device. Note that I also use these charts in my printing tests sometimes, because they force the printer and media to very bluntly show us what they can and cannot do. More on that shortly too.
Note that I used ProPhoto RGB to create the chart, but I had to convert this to sRGB for the Web version, so the colors get scrunched a little during that process. This is one of the challenges we face. Although things are gradually changing, sRGB is still the standard color space for the Web. To really see the original chart, you’ll need to create one yourself. Then try moving it across displays, if you use a multi-monitor computer.
If we turn the clock back just 25 years, personal computers were just starting to be able to work in more than 256 colors, but a lot of technology was still restricted to just 256 colors. In Photoshop, using the Granger chart I created, I changed the Color Mode from 16bit color to 8bit, and selected Indexed Color, then chose to change the colors Perceptually, to at least give the image a chance to show us a few more steps, and I reduced the image to 256 colors. Here are is the resulting image (below). The image looks so bad because it contains the full spectrum of colors, so when allocating these to just 256 slots, there’s no room to save the colors required to create finer gradations.
Granger Chart 256 Colors
My first PC that I bought back in 1994 was considered relatively advanced for the time, but it could still only display between 16 and 32,768 simultaneous colors out of a possible 4096 to 16.777 million, depending on the video mode, and the imaging software available to me at the time was mostly restricted to only 256 colors. I recall displaying and even doing some early printing of these images, and I regularly used Indexed Color, because it would select the most used 256 colors in my images.
Here’s a photo (below) that I converted to Indexed Color with 256 colors, to remind myself of those days, and the limitations that we faced, and you can see how nasty the gradations in the sky and clouds become, as we force the image to display itself with such a small number of colors. It’s better than the 256 color Granger chart because there is a much smaller range of colors that need to be assigned to the 256 available slots.
Namibia Quiver Trees in 256 Indexed Colors
In printing, we can simulate the issues that we are working to overcome and prove how much ICC profiles help us, by printing that Granger Chart without any color management. I printed it directly to a matte media, which has a smaller color gamut (can reproduce a smaller range of colors) and I turned all color management off. This is what the print looked like (below). Compared to the image we looked at earlier, you can see that the colors are very different, and some even missing altogether.
Granger Chart Printed without Color Management
Then, I printed it again, with the color management turned on, and the ICC profile that I created for this media assigned. This is effectively telling the software how to interpret the image, to get it as close to the colors that the ICC profile tells the software that my printer can reproduce. Here is the resulting image (below).
Granger Chart Printed with Color Management
Keeping in mind that the Granger Chart contains many colors that my printer simply cannot print, making it look very different to the chart above, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the colors themselves are much closer to the chart than the version that we printed without any color management. If I was to print the chart out on gloss media, which has a much wider color gamut, we’d see more colors again, but it would still not be the same as the computer generated Granger Chart above, because of the limitations of the printer. Keep in mind too that this is not because I have a bad printer. I have one of the best printers available today, but this is the reality of where printing technology is today.
Keep in mind too that this is not because I have a bad printer. I have one of the best printers available today, but this is the reality of where printing technology is today.
All Devices Are Different
So, just to recap, using a 3D rendition of my displays and matte media ICC profile (below) the important thing to keep in mind is that all devices are different. As you can see, my matte media printer ICC profile is the smallest, then my iMac display is a bit bigger, and for reference, that is actually just a little bit bigger than the sRGB color space. Then the largest wireframe profile here is my BenQ 4K SW320 wide gamut display which is about the same size as the Adobe RGB color space.
Graphed Display and Print Profiles
Why We Need ICC Profiles
All of these ICC profiles are different, and so we use ICC Profiles to interpret the difference, just like an English/Japanese interpreter might help two people that do not share a common language to communicate. With the aid of the interpreter, they might not have 100% smooth communication, but they will be able to understand each other and get closer to fully understanding than they would without any help at all.
Color Management Module (CMM)
In computer terms, the interpreter in this situation is called a CMM or Color Management Module. This is generally provided as part of the computer operating system or built-in to our image editing software. For example, in Adobe Photoshop, if you select Color Settings from the Edit menu, you’ll see a Conversion Options area, with an Engine pulldown. That’s where you select the CMM that Photoshop will use when interpreting colors and matching colors between various color spaces and ICC profiles.
Adobe Photoshop Color Settings Dialog
I generally leave mine set to Adobe (ACE) but if you look in the pulldown you’ll also see the Apple CMM, which is built into the Mac OS. What you are basically doing here is selecting the interpreter. They may do their job slightly differently but will facilitate communication between the various color spaces and ICC profiles all the same.
Just as we have Output Profiles for displays and printers, any device that is used to reproduce an image, we also have Input Profiles, for devices that are used to input images, such as our cameras or scanners. They follow the same principles and basically act as one side of the interpretation that I’ve been talking about. You can think of the camera color space as English in our human language example, and Japanese would be the printer or display, or vice versa.
Where Do ICC Profiles Come From?
If you are wondering where these profiles comes from, in the case of input devices, there is generally some kind of proprietary computation going on inside the device before the image is saved to the memory card, or in the case of a scanner, you’ll often specify which profile to use, but it’s built into the scanning software.
It’s also possible to create camera profiles for Lightroom and Photoshop, using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. You just photograph the ColorChecker Passport (see below) and then use X-Rite software to make a profile. Unfortunately, with this method, the profile is saved in a format that isn’t easily used as an ICC profile, and my attempts at creating a useful ICC profile with the ColorChecker Passport and the larger X-Rite Digtial ColorChecker SG card using the X-Rite software have so far not been very successful.
Luckily, because I use Capture One Pro, they already have a great profile for my camera built in, so this isn’t urgent, but I’m also considering picking up basICColor Input 5 at some point, to see if I can make my own camera profiles with that. I’ll let you know how I get on with that if and when I do pick it up.
For displays, at the basic level, your display manufacturer will provide a profile or it will be handled by your computer’s operating system, but to ensure the most accurate color, it’s better to create your own ICC profile for your display with a colorimeter or spectrometer, such as the one’s available here from X-Rite. Keep in mind that if you use multiple displays, you have to profile each of them, and the operating system will remember which profile is for which display and apply them as necessary.
Let’s note too that you only use your display’s ICC profile for your display, and there’s no need to try to use a different profile for it. Even displays that are said to reproduce Adobe RGB don’t actually use the Adobe RGB color space because they are slightly different. You use your display ICC profile for your display, and that’s all. Remember, every device is different and requires its own ICC profile.
To create my own custom ICC Profiles, I use the X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 Color Management Kit for Photographers, because I also create profiles for my large format printer. This is an expensive option though. If you want to create custom profiles for your display and a consumer printer, the ColorMunki Photo is a great option, and if you don’t print, the X-Rite i1Display Pro is very good for its price. All are available here.
If you use print media from your printer manufacturer, they often come with ICC profiles for their media that are installed with the printer driver software, and if you use third party media, such as the media I use from Breathing Color, you can often download the ICC profiles for your printer from their Web site.
Standard Color Spaces
The standard color spaces that I’ve mentioned, were created by various bodies. According to Wikipedia, sRGB was created by HP and Microsoft in 1996 for use on monitors, printers and the Internet, and subsequently standardized by the IEC as IEC 61966-2-1:1999.
Adobe RGB was developed as you might imagine by Adobe Systems, Inc. in 1998. It was designed to encompass most of the colors achievable on CMYK color printers, but by using RGB primary colors on a device such as a computer display. CMYK is common in commercial printing, and photographers generally use RGB, even when printing most of the time, so we won’t spend any time explaining that today.
The ProPhoto RGB color space, also known as ROMM RGB (Reference Output Medium Metric), is an output referred RGB color space developed by Kodak. It offers an especially large gamut designed for use with photographic output in mind.
Scanning Color Patches
Creating a custom ICC profile for our devices involves showing the software that will create the profile a series of color samples. This software usually comes with the device or color target used. To create a camera profile you include a Color Checker in one of your photos, and the software finds the color patches to understand how your camera has recorded the colors. Because the software knows the actual physical colors of each of the color patches, it’s able to then calculate the difference, and create a table of linkages between the colors in our image and the actual colors that should have been recorded. Those linkages or mappings are what are included in the ICC profile, or in this case, the Camera Profile that gets added to Lightroom or Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw module.
Because the software knows the actual physical colors of each of the color patches, it’s able to then calculate the difference, and create a table of linkages between the colors in our image and the actual colors that should have been recorded. Those linkages or mappings are what are included in the ICC profile, or in this case, the Camera Profile that gets added to Lightroom or Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw module.
Including the ColorChecker Passport in a Photo
When you create an ICC profile for your computer display, you attach the profiling device to the screen. The profiling software then displays a series of colors on the screen and the device reads each color, again, so that it can understand how each color is reproduced by your display. It then calculates the difference between what it sees and what it knows the colors to be and creates the profile containing the mappings between the various colors.
When creating a printer profile, you print out a series of color patches, and then scan them with the profiling device, as you can see in this photograph (below). The process is the same here though, as the software then takes the color information that it scans from the printed media and creates a mapping between what it knows the colors should look like, and what they actually look like, and that becomes your ICC profile for that specific type of media when printing on the same printer.
i1 Pro 2 Printer Profiling
Just as you would have to create a separate ICC profile for both displays if you use a dual-display system, you have to create a separate profile for each type of media that you use, and if you use multiple printers, you’d need to create a separate profile for each printer and for each media type.
Although the printer manufacturer or third party media manufacturer’s profiles are usually pretty good, you’ll generally get better results by creating your own custom ICC profiles.
Working Color Spaces
So, we’ve talked about Input ICC profiles for cameras and scanners as well as Output ICC profiles for displays and printers. When you open an image in your image editing software, you’ll use what’s referred to as the Working Color Space. This is where I recommend using ProPhoto RGB because it’s a very large color space, and that gives us plenty of wiggle room in which to adjust the colors in our image as necessary.
Some people recommend working in smaller color spaces, such as Adobe RGB or sometimes even sRGB because there are limitations on our output options, but this is the wrong way to go about this. To maintain the most color information, use ProPhoto RGB, so as not to limit your image unnecessarily. Note once again, that our cameras generally capture colors that do not fit within the sRGB or Adobe RGB color spaces, so let’s give them room to breathe during our editing.
In this graph (below) I’ve included the Canon 5Ds R ICC profile from Capture One Pro, along with sRGB, the small solid color shape, and Adobe RGB, which is in wireframe, and you can easily see that my camera’s profile extends outside of both the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces, but fits nicely inside the ProPhoto RGB color space, except for a small area of the blues.
Camera Profile with Working Color Spaces
Note that when working in Lightroom, it uses a proprietary color space similar to ProPhoto RGB, and you can’t change that. This in itself should be a good indication that this is the way to go with regards to selecting a Working Color Space. Capture One Pro has it’s own color space too, but you’ll generally be working on your images in the Color Space for your specific camera, and there’s usually not going to be a reason to change that.
ProPhoto RGB for Editing Whenever There’s a Choice
So, whenever you get a choice, for example, if you are working in Capture One Pro or Lightroom, and you are going to send your images to Photoshop or any other image-editing software, there is always an option to select the ICC profile. My advice is to always select ProPhoto RGB unless you have a reason to select something different. For general editing, keep your images in ProPhoto RGB as long as you can.
As you saw in the screenshot from Photoshop earlier, I set ProPhoto RGB as my Working Space, and I turn on the option to ask me what to do if the images I try to open are not in ProPhoto RGB. There’s no point in exporting from Lightroom or Capture One Pro in Adobe RGB, then converting either. Send what you need, to avoid wasteful conversions.
If you have at some point been influenced by someone telling you that you should use Adobe RGB as your working color space, ask yourself, why you shouldn’t use ProPhoto RGB. Just as you’d need to select Adobe RGB as you pass images around your computer in your digital workflow, you can just as easily select ProPhoto RGB. You lose nothing, but you gain the wiggle room that your images need to be as high quality as they possibly can be.
The idea that you should squeeze them into a smaller working space during your editing just because they’ll get squeezed when you output them later for a specific purpose is seriously flawed. Applications like Capture One Pro and Lightroom enable us to work on our raw images throughout our entire workflow, without any negative aspects. If you need to create a TIFF or Photoshop PSD file, you can work with ProPhoto RGB just as easily as any other color space.
sRGB and Adobe RGB Are Export Profiles
Think of sRGB and Adobe RGB only as export profiles. Use these when exporting images for a specific purpose. For example, whenever I’ve finished selecting my favorite images from a shoot, I save a copy as a JPEG to the Apple Photos application, so that it automatically syncs around all of my devices, as I mentioned in a recent post about how I use Apple Photos. When I export these images from Capture One Pro, I specify sRGB as the color space, because these are only JPEGs for displaying on my various devices.
If you are going to send some images off to a printing lab to get some prints made, they will probably ask you to give them JPEGs in sRGB or hopefully Adobe RGB. Personally, I would avoid using a service that only uses sRGB, but Adobe RGB is generally fine for this specific purpose. When printing at home, usually now directly from Capture One Pro, my images are still in the raw format, using the camera profile provided. If I was to print from Photoshop, I’d use ProPhoto RGB color space when saving my file for print.
OK, so enough on that. I hope you get the message, and I hope this has helped you to understand why we need ICC profiles and the different types of uses of these profiles. If you have any questions or would just like to comment, please do so below. I love to hear from you.
Before we close, I’d like to quickly mention that I’ve set up a new tour to Morocco from October 29 to November 10, 2017. We’ll be photographing the wonderful architecture, landscapes, and culture of this beautiful country, as well as using camel handlers as models to photograph them leading their camels through the sand dunes etc. We don’t have much time to lock in on this, so if you might like to join me please check out the details at https://mbp.ac/morocco.
Following some discussion with Canon regarding an issue with printing on my PRO-4000 printer from Mac OS X Sierra, I’ve confirmed the effectiveness of one workaround and one technique to overcome the issue, and I’m going to share these with you today.
To give you a little bit of background on this issue, I bought the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 44 inch large format printer, which I reviewed in the summer of 2016, and although I absolutely love this printer, I found that there was an issue after upgrading to Mac OS X Sierra, and I essentially found myself double profiling.
Double profiling is when the ICC profiles that we usually apply to ensure accurate color reproduction, for some reason gets applied twice, and that generally messes up the colors. The problem is more apparent when printing to matte media, probably because the ICC profile is doing more work with matte media than it needs to do with gloss, and that in turn gets amplified more when you double profile. Black and white images suffer a nasty color cast regardless of the finish of the media.
In December 2016 I reported that I was having problems, and provided a workaround, which I’ve been using since. I’m not going to go into detail today, as you can see that workaround and troubleshooting technique in Episode 554. I had spoken to some of the guys on the large format printer team at Canon in March this year, when I was there to view the test prints that they’d created in February for the CP+ show in Yokohama.
Martin at Canon Head Office with CP+ Test Prints
I was told at the time that there may be an issue that Canon are aware of, and that a driver update was imminent, but I didn’t hear anything for a couple of months, so I followed up with them last week, and they suggested that I try a couple of things. I’ll go into detail on these shortly, but to cut a long story short, both techniques worked, so I’m happy to be printing easily again, although with a different workflow than I’m used to using.
Double Profiling Examples
Before we get to the workarounds, let’s look at a some photos of my test prints, so that you can understand how the double profiling effects the prints. I made a test image of four images in a row, which I printed at 24 inches wide and 10 inches high. In this photo (below) you can see three vertical strips of four prints.
Double Profiling Workaround Test Prints
The left and center vertical columns of images were printed using the two techniques that I’m going to explain, and the right column of images was printed the way I’ve been printing for more than 15 years, and will hopefully at some point be able to work with again. Although the left column might look a little bit darker, this is because of how I photographed the images. The prints using both techniques are actually identical.
As you can see, the right column color images are less vivid than the center and left column images, and the black and white image has a strong sepia tone, although the base image is totally neutral, like the center and left images. Another very unwelcome symptom of this double profiling, is a very nasty blotchiness in the blue sky, as you can see in this closer photograph (below).
Blotchy Blue Sky in Double Profiled Print
If you can’t see the detail, click on the images to open them at their full size, and widen your browser window if necessary. To stop the images from auto-advancing, just roll your mouse over them. You should be able to see how nasty that sky turned out, yet the original image has a very smooth blue sky.
The photo has a much cleaner clear blue sky in the center image, as you can see in this image (below). We can also see that some of the red color has gone from the mountains, and the red from the top of my Namibia photo is also much weaker.
As we can see in this last photograph of the test prints (below) the black and white image gets a strong sepia tone. I actually don’t dislike this artistically, but when it’s not supposed to be there, it’s a problem.
Color Cast in Black and White Images
Only Effects Custom Media Types
One other thing that I should mention, although I have not tested this myself, is that this double profiling issue only effects custom media types. If you use Canon brand media with their ICC profiles, I’m told that there are no issues. If you have found otherwise, do let me know. I can do more tests, but for now, I’m trusting what Canon have told me.
As this started to happen from Sierra, I think it’s safe to assume that if you are using Windows, you don’t need to worry about this issue either.
Workaround – Disable Print Preview
OK, so now you can appreciate the problem, let’s look at the two ways to avoid this. The easiest way, although somewhat risky, is to simply turn off the Preview when printing, as you can see in this screenshot (below).
Uncheck Print Preview
I usually use the preview as a final check before hitting the print button, so this worries me, but it works. The center of the three strips of images was printed this way, and the colors are printed as expected.
Embed ICC Profiles in Custom Media Settings
The second thing that I have confirmed to work, is to embed the custom ICC profile into the custom media that I created on the printer, to print to my favorite Breathing Color media. To do this, you first need to open the Canon Media Configuration Tool that you will have installed with your printer drivers etc.
I actually recommend that you create new custom media and embed the ICC profile into that, rather than simply adding it to your current custom media, because I’ve found no way to remove an ICC profile once you add it. If you save the information without a profile specified, it just leaves the one you previously added, and there is no option to delete the profile.
I first tried to simply reimport the media information from the media information file that I saved when I first created the custom media on the printer, but that failed because the original media was still there, rather than allowing me to duplicate it, so I had to create each media type again from scratch. In this screenshot you can see that I have recreated most of my custom media types with the letters ICC appended. These are the media types that I’ve embedded my ICC profiles into (below).
Custom Media Types
Once you’ve created a custom media type, to embed your ICC profile, select the media type in the Media Configuration Tool, and press the Edit Custom Paper button, then click the ICC Profile tab, and browse to your ICC profile. This could be one you created yourself, or one that you downloaded from a third party paper manufacturer.
Embed ICC Profile into Media
I found that the Media Configuration Tool doesn’t recognize ICC profiles on the Mac OS that don’t have an extension. The .icc extension isn’t necessary on a Mac, so I generally save my ICC profiles without an extension because it looks cleaner. But, MCT doesn’t recognize the file as an ICC profile without the .icc extension.
Also, if you use long descriptive file names for your ICC profiles, as I do, these also cannot be used. For most of my profiles, I had to shorten something like “MBP Canon PRO-4000 Breathing Color Pura Smooth” to “MBP Canon PRO-4000 BC Pura Smooth” before I could embed the profile into the media information on the printer.
Update Media Information
Once you have embedded the ICC profile in the media, ensure that you go to the printer drivers in the System Preferences, click the Options & Supplies button for your printer, then select the Utility tab, and click the Open Printer Utility button. From the Printer Utility dialog, select Media Information, and click on the button to update it. This brings the information that you added to the printer back to the computer.
Update Media Information
It would be nice if this happened automatically, especially as I added the ICC profiles from the same computer. I actually missed this for a few days, as it didn’t work like this on my old Canon large format printer, and I spent a lot of extra time over the weekend trying to figure out what was happening.
The Printing Workflow
So, once you have your ICC profile embedded in your media information, you can print how I’m sure most of you are used to printing. To be thorough though, I’ll quickly run through the important points about that process.
Once you have the image that you want to print ready, you’ll select Print and then it’s important to select that the program you are printing from manages colors or color correction. In Photoshop, you’ll select Photoshop Manages Color under Color Handling, and then select your ICC profile from the Printer Profile pulldown.
I do all of my printing from Capture One Pro now, so all I have to do is select my profile from the Color Profile pulldown, and Capture One then knows that it’s in control of color, rather than leaving it to the printer driver software.
Printing from Capture One Pro
Then, after ensuring that my margins are all as I want them, I hit the Print button in the bottom right, and check two important settings. The first is on the left in this stitched screenshot (below). Under the Color Matching tab, ensure that ColorSync is selected, but greyed-out, essentially showing that the Mac OS is not doing any color management.
Important Printer Driver Settings
On the Quality & Media tab (above) we also need to ensure that we select the Media Type that we created earlier with the ICC profile embedded. We also of course need to ensure that the printer has that Media Type selected. Then, the whole point of this, is that I can now turn on the Print Preview, to get my final confirmation that all looks good before I send the print to the printer.
Although I could live without the Print Preview if I was forced to use the first workaround that I mentioned today, I have to admit, I do like to see this preview screen (below) and get final confirmation that the print looks how I expect it to before I press that Print button.
Recap of the Issue
Just to reiterate, at this point in time, May of 2017, if you don’t embed the ICC profile in the media information for custom media, and you use this Print Preview, when you print the image, the colors will all come out weird. It’s a bit of work to set up the printer to use media types with ICC profiles embedded, especially if you use more than a few different media types, but to me, it’s worth it to enable this Print Preview.
I also heard from Canon that they would actually prefer people to embed the ICC profile into the media information on the printer, so now that I’ve gotten used to this idea, I will consider continuing to do this even after the underlying problem is fixed, if it actually can be fixed. Canon at this point don’t seem too confident that there is anything they can do, so if you want to upgrade to Sierra, and you use custom media types, this may well be the only way you can do that.
I should also mention that I am assuming that people using the PRO-2000 will also probably run into this issue, as well as PRO-4000 users, but I’m not sure about the other new imagePROGRAF PRO printers like the PRO-1000 or the 8 color 6000S and 4000S.
Other Minor Issues
Before we move on, I wanted to briefly mention another issue, which is that when I initially tried to add the ICC profiles to the media information on the printer over Wifi, and more importantly, with my PRO-4000 connected to my network via an Apple Express base station, I was not able to export the updated or new media information to a file, or edit it in any way. The only thing I could do was delete it, and that’s not very useful.
Then, I tried with a wired network and all was good, so I went back to my Wifi and found that if I set up my PRO-4000 to connect directly to my Apple AirPort Extreme base station instead of an AirPort Express, I can add the ICC profiles to the media information and save this to a file, and edit the details of the media in the Media Configuration Tool, so I’m leaving my PRO-4000 set up that way for Wifi. If you find you have trouble editing the media information over Wifi, this could be the cause.
And, if you are wondering why I would even be using a large format printer over Wifi in the first place, I only really do this for management tasks and small prints. When I want to do larger prints, I actually run a long LAN cable from the printer on my second floor, to my studio in the third floor, or I print from my MacBook Pro on the second floor, using the USB connection directly to the printer.
Printing Patch Sheets for Calibration
There are also a couple of last relatively important things that I’d like to point out, the first of which is that when you get a new type of media, if you create your own ICC profiles, you will initially set up the media in the Canon Media Configuration Tool without an ICC profile, because you haven’t created it yet. This is good, because we don’t want any profiles coming into play as we print our profiling patch sheets. You can then add the ICC profile to the media type after you’ve created your patch sheets and then the profiles.
If for any reason you need to create a new profile, you will have to use a media type without an ICC profile embedded, because we have to turn off all color management when printing our patch sheets. This is another reason that I decided to create a new media type to embed the ICC profile to, and not just update my original media types.
Use Print Studio Pro for Patch Sheet Printing
While we’re talking about printing patch sheets, I want to also mention that I’m now using Canon’s Print Studio Pro to print my patch sheets, as I’m told it has a pretty reliable way to completely turn off all color correction, and this is an important part of this process.
Print Patch Sheets from Print Studio Pro
For a number of years now, I’ve been using the Adobe Color Printer Utility, but people have reported mixed results with that for these imagePROGRAF PRO series printers, so I tried using Print Studio Pro and the resulting ICC profiles are different, so that indicates that one of these programs is doing something different, so for now, I’m trusting my friends at Canon on this.
Actually, before we finish, I should also mention that I am using the X-Rite i1 Photo Pro 2 Color Management kit to create my ICC profiles. This might be overkill if you are not using a large format printer, in which case the ColorMunki Photo is a great alternative solution, but for this level of printer, or for the totally quality conscious among you, the i1 Pro 2 is the best available solution if you want to create your own ICC profiles for printing.
I realize that this episode won’t be of interest to many of you, so sorry if you don’t print or use a Mac, but if you have listened or read this far anyway, thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you were still able to gain a few takeaways from this.
Thanks to Canon
Finally, I’d like to thank Canon, not only for their patience as we worked through these issues, but for creating this amazing line of printers in the first place. As I’ve printed more with the PRO-4000, I’ve realized that they really have created something special. Gloss media blew me away from the start, but I was initially not happy with the performance of printing on matte media. However, since we’ve figured out these issues, and now arriving at a very workable solution, the results I’m getting with this printer are absolutely stunning.
As I mentioned last week, I found a workaround for an issue with my Canon PRO-4000 not correctly using the selected ICC profile when printing from Capture One Pro and I believe also Lightroom, so today I’m going to talk you through the issue and my workaround.
This really only applies to Mac users, and is also just a good way to troubleshoot ICC profile issues, so it could be useful for any Mac user that is having trouble getting good prints. If you are a Windows user, sit back and giggle at the fun and games us Mac users sometimes have to go through in our printing workflow.
[UPDATE: If you are having problems getting good prints when using custom media type registered in your printer, there is an easy workaround (embed the ICC profile in the custom media AND specify it in your software when printing) which I outline in this post. If you want to learn about the troubleshooting method, read on here.]
To be totally honest, I’m a little bit uncomfortable putting this out there right now, because there are a number of unanswered questions, but I am traveling for a few weeks and I didn’t want to wait until I get back, partly because I want to potentially correct a statement that I made in my review of the Canon PRO-4000 large format printer.
Basically, I was seeing nasty crunched up gradations and transitions between a few colors in one of the photographs that I printed on matte fine art paper. What confuses matters is that the bright yellows in the image I printed are way out of gamut, so the printer shouldn’t really be able to print them anyway. But, my old imagePROGRAF iPF6350 used to print the same image pretty well, so it was a good test to compare these two printers.
During my tests, I tried printing with Capture One Pro initially, then to help me troubleshoot the issue I was seeing, I also tried Lightroom and I think also Photoshop, and I got the same results from each application. Since then, all of these products have been updated, and the Mac OS has been updated to Sierra too, so I’m not confident in saying that this issue is still occurring in all of these applications, although I did try from Lightroom again, and the print looked like it was still displaying this issue.
My main tests were with Capture One Pro though, as I printed some images out for last week’s review of the new media from Breathing Color, Signa Smooth 270. After a few prints that looked a bit iffy, I printed a black and white image that was supposed to be totally neutral, with no color toning, yet it came out of the printer with a strong brown cast.
Here’s a photograph of the brown print on the left, with the photograph that I printed after figuring out my workaround on the right (below). I actually quite like the toning of the brown print, but that was not intentional, so I set about finding out what was going wrong.
Brown Incorrect Print with Neutral Correct Print
I’ve been printing photographs and working with fine art media for around 15 years now, so I recognize this kind of unexpected toning as a sign that the ICC profile that I specified for my paper and printer combination is not being correctly applied to my print. This sometimes happens after a major upgrade of the operating system, so I’m kind of suspecting Sierra, but my PRO-4000 review was created before that, so maybe things just got worse with Sierra. It’s hard to say without rolling things back and I don’t have time to do that right now.
Specifying Your ICC Profiles for Best Results
Anyway, if you print yourself, I hope you already know that the best way to get great color and neutral black and white prints is to create your own ICC profile for each type of paper that you print to. You have to do this on your own printer for best results. Failing that, you can often download an ICC profile for your printer from your paper manufacturer. If you print with a printer from a maker that also produces paper, you will sometimes find that the printer driver installation also installs a number of ICC profiles to your system as well.
Then, when you are ready to print, for best results, you will tell your software to not leave color management to the printer, and specify your own ICC profile. In this screenshot (below) from Capture One Pro, you simply need to select your ICC profile under the Color Profile pulldown on the Print screen. This generally works well even if you specify the manufacturer’s profile at this stage, and turn off color management via the printer drivers.
Printing with ICC Profile
To check that you have turned off Color Management by the printer driver, you check that ColorSync is grayed out in the Color Matching screen before you send the print to the printer.
Test and Workaround
This is usually the way to get great prints, but during my recent tests, it just wasn’t working, so I tried a trick that I learned a few years ago, to test for problems with the use of the ICC profile during printing. Basically, you leave Color Management to the printer, which in Capture One Pro terms means selecting Managed by Printer under Color Profile on the Print screen (below).
Specify ICC Profile in Driver
Then, under the Color Matching screen in the printer driver, you will notice that ColorSync is not grayed out, and the pulldown below it is active. You then just need to select your ICC profile from that pulldown. If necessary, select “Other profiles” from the bottom of the pulldown, to see custom profiles that you’ve created or installed on your system.
Print and See
This is really all you have to do differently to either workaround the current issue that I’m seeing when printing to my PRO-4000, but as I say, this is a useful trick to remember as a way to troubleshoot profile issues in the software from which you are printing. This is how I was able to print my recent test images, and get a nice neutral black and white print of my Skogafoss Umbrella Man shot (below).
Brown Incorrect Print with Neutral Correct Print
Of course, this is just a troubleshooting trick, and a workaround to try when for some reason your ICC profile is not being applied correctly when printing. The next step is to report the problem to either your printer manufacturer, and/or the company that makes the software from which you are printing. It may also be an Apple issue to fix, but generally the printer or imaging software manufacturer will work with Apple if necessary.
Correcting My PRO-4000 Review Statement
As I mentioned earlier, wondering if this was partly if not totally the cause of the issues I was having printing to matte media during my tests of the PRO-4000 when it first arrived, I also tried a quick print of my yellow poppies shot that was giving me trouble.
As you can see in this photo (below) the smaller print on the right has some very harsh transitions in the gradations around the balls of bokeh. The yellows in this photo are way out of gamut anyway, so I thought the PRO-4000 was just handling this worse than the iPF6350 did for some reason, but when I tried the print again using the workaround that I explained today, the print was much, much better, as you can see in the print on the left in this photo.
Yellow Poppies Looking Good!
I was thinking that this issue was only affecting matte media, which was also strange, and to be honest, I’m still puzzled as to why everything looked great in my gloss test prints, but gloss paper has a much wider gamut than matte, so it was probably just able to get by without things looking out of wack, where as the smaller gamut of matte paper couldn’t hide the problem.
Check for Comments and Updates
As I also mentioned earlier, this issue is still somewhat up in the air. I don’t know yet which company needs to fix this, and I also haven’t got time right now to fully retest Lightroom and Photoshop in addition to Capture One Pro. I have confirmed that Canon’s Print Studio Pro does not have an issue, which kind of points to a problem when printing from third party imaging software, but I don’t want to speculate too much at this point.
The best thing I can recommend at this point is if you are here following a search to see what’s going on with your printer, check the comments below, or look for updates to this post, which I usually add as an [UPDATE: In square brackets], often in red if it’s a really important update.
So, a relatively quick episode today, but I wanted to get this out there, rather than sitting on this for a few more weeks as I travel. I hope you find this useful. If you learn anything about this or similar issues that you want to comment on, please do so below.
Also, before we finish, my next episode will probably be shortly before the New Year, if not January, so Happy Holidays!