Epson Stylus Pro 3800: Printing experiences with Hahnemuelhe PhotoRag 188 and Photorag 308

Massimo Cristaldi Digital Darkroom, Photography as Technique Leave a Comment

If you surf on the NET you’ll find interesting articles on Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer. I consider worth a reading the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 FAQ , maintained by Eric Chan and Review Diary by Giorgio Trucco. So what are you going to read here? Basically my experiences with this printer, Hahnemuele Photorag 188 and 308 fine art papers and some hints on how to manage Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper. Most of these experience are based on Eric Chan recommendations. I followed them added hints coming from my personal experience.

  1. What I use
    1. (A PC with Photoshop CS2 and a Calibrated Display Samsung Syncmaster 913v)
    2. (A MAC with Photoshop CS3 beta and a Calibrated Display Samsung Syncmaster 225BW)
    3. UPDATE: A MAC with Photoshop CS3 a (i) NEC 2690Wuxi (calibrated with spectraview II) + (ii) Samsung Syncmaster 225BW (calibrated with EyeOne Display 2
    4. (A Gregmacbeth Eye One Display 2 colorimeter)
    5. UPDATE: an XRite Eye One Display 2 colorimeter
    6. The Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer
    7. Hahnemuele Photorag paper
    8. My files are 16 bit TIFFS created from my Raws out of my Canon 5D Digital Camera.
  • Monitor Calibration
    • First, make sure your display is properly calibrated and set to a target luminance no higher than about 100 cd/m^2. I prefer closer to 90 cd/m^2. If you use something higher such as 120 cd/m^2 (even though the software may recommend it) then your prints will probably come out looking too dark in comparison.
    • For Gamma I use Gamma 2.2. If you want to check your gamma your can perform some visual tests. Please read Norman Koren article here. You can check quality of your display making this test. My Samsung 225 works pretty well as I can identify differences in Black after the second step.
    • I recommend using Native White point for LCD monitors. My Samsung 225 has a native white around 6000k. If you have differences btw monitor and prints I recommend to step down to 5.500 k.
  • Upscale your Image
    • Epson printer driver use native printer resolutions (360dpi or 720dpi). Better upscaling your images BEFORE printing using Photoshop (resamplic with Bicubic Smoother) or a specific software as Genuine Fractals.
  • Photoshop Settings – COLOR PRINTS
    • In Photoshop, go to File -> Print With Preview… A box comes up. Under Options section, set Color Handling to Let Photoshop Determine Colors. Under Printer Profile, choose the appropriate printer profile. See here for a list for Epson papers: http://people.csail.mit.edu/… …/dp/Epson3800/faq.html#profilenames Example: if you want to print on Premium Glossy Photo paper, choose “Pro38 PGPP”. The profiles for Epson papers are all installed by default with the printer driver — no need to d/l them separately from the Epson site. Do NOT choose Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, or other profiles from this menu! You have to specify a printer/paper profile here, not a working space RGB profile.
    • For Rendering Intent, either choose Perceptual and uncheck Black Point Compensation, or choose Relative Colorimetric and check Black Point Compensation. Epson Premiun Glossy NEED perceptual. Hahnemuele Photorag works perfectly with Relative Calorimetric.
    • Click the Page Setup… button. Choose your paper size and image orientation. Click OK. Back in the Print with Preview box, click the Print… button.
    • The Print box comes up. Click the Properties… button. The Epson printer driver box comes up. In the Main tab, choose the appropriate Media Type for your paper. For an Epson paper, this is straightforward. If you are printing on Premium Luster, for instance, choose the Premium Luster Photo Paper media type. For printing color images, choose Color from the Color menu. Under Mode, click the Custom button. Then click the Advanced… button.
    • The driver settings box comes up. Choose your desired print quality (1440 or 2880 dpi). I recommend disabling High Speed, Finest Detail, and Edge Smoothing. Now here is the critical thing: under Printer Color Management section, click Off (No Color Management).
    • (optional). Click the Paper Config button. The Paper Configuration box comes up. If your image will be printed close to the bottom edge of the paper (e.g., you have a 1/2 inch border all around, e.g., 12×18 image on 13×19 paper) then I recommend setting the Platen Gap to Wide (instead of Auto or Standard) to avoid potential issues with head strikes. This is also useful if you experience Paper Transport issues . Click OK.
    • With this settings you can Print the Image. If you get dark prints check your monitor luminance and change rendering intent (being perceptual the one that provides lighter tones).
  • Photoshop Settings – B&W PRINTS
    • The ABW driver assumes that the input image data is gamma-encoded using a gamma of 2.2. If your RGB working space uses a gamma other than 2.2, then you should convert your image to Adobe RGB (which has a gamma of 2.2) prior to printing. For example, if you are using ProPhoto RGB (which has a gamma of 1.8) as your working space, then you should go to the Edit menu and choose Convert to Profile… (NOT Assign Profile…). In the box that comes up, choose Adobe RGB for the Destination Space and click OK.
    • In Photoshop, go to File -> Print With Preview… A box comes up. Under Options section, set Color Handling to No Color Management. The Printer Profile menu and Rendering Intent menus should become grayed out. That’s fine.
    • Click the Page Setup… button. Choose your paper size and image orientation. Click OK.
    • Back in the Print with Preview box, click the Print… button. The Print box comes up. Click the Properties… button. The Epson printer driver box comes up. In the Main tab, choose the appropriate Media Type for your paper. For an Epson paper, this is straightforward. If you are printing on Premium Luster, for instance, choose the Premium Luster Photo Paper media type. For printing B&W images, choose Advanced B&W Photo from the Color menu. Under Mode, click the Custom button. Then click the Advanced… button.
    • The driver settings box comes up. Choose your desired print quality (1440 or 2880 dpi). I recommend disabling High Speed, Finest Detail, and Edge Smoothing. Note that Printer Color Management is fixed at Color Controls — that’s fine.
    • I recommend changing the Tone option to Dark (the default is Darker); if you do this, the Color Toning menu will automatically change to Fine Adjustment (instead of Neutral) — that’s ok. The Color Toning menu is just a quick way to access some basic presets in the ABW driver.
    • I recommend leaving the Brightness, Contrast, Shadow Tonality, Highlight Tonality, and Max Optical Density at their default values of 0. It’s better to control the tonality of your B&W image in Photoshop (because you have more control).
    • You can change the Horizontal and Vertical numbers to values other than 0 if you prefer to tone your image (e.g., warm or cool). Note that the current ABW driver does not support split-toning.
  • RESULTS
    • The results are absolutely stunning. Perfect monitor-to-print matching, great tones on the paper (Epson Premium Glossy looks as “plastic” in comparison) . Details is good for the type of paper and you should really wait 24 hours to have out the complete gamut, expecially in dark zones. I had some paper transport issues (the right end of the paper, at the corner, is a bit dirt in some prints) that are mostly solved changing the Platen wide settings. I’ll give a try also to the Photorag Pearl 320 and update the post.

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