Monday, January 19, 2009

Profiles and Proofing

I recently picked up an Epson 3800 - I'd been less than happy with the gloss differential on my Canon 5000 (which of course had been replaced on the market by the 5100 within a year of coming out expressly because of this problem). I couldn't afford to update to the 5100 and wouldn't because of the downright awkward interface, so the 3800 seemed to make sense. Yes, I knew that it is near the end of it's cycle, yes, it still has to clean and switch to handle matte paper and yes, almost certainly a new model will be announced soon. I did think though that the time from announcement to availability is often several months and I wanted to improve my printing now.

In addition, I had admired framed prints on Epson Exhibition (or Traditional as it's known in Europe) and thought to combine the paper and printer for the best possible quality, particularly in black and white.

Anyway, I was somewhat disappointed with the quality of the colour prints I was making on the 3800 so I double checked by using the Photoshop proofing capability and behold, the proofing showed exactly what I was getting in print - that's a good thing. Bad though is how far from the screen is the final result - so far it is a completely non scientific impression that the 5000 produced prints much closer to what I see on screen - certainly with the epson enhanced matte paper. I will find a profile for the 3800 for the Harman gloss paper and check that for fit.

I can correct the image to compensate for the profile to some degree which I find odd - surely that was the job of the profile.

I'm going to have to do some proper testing to see how this plays out and will report back. In the mean time, the Epson does make some very fine black and white prints which was after all why I bought it. I find that the Epson Exhibition doesn't look anything like the paper I saw at Photokina - less shiny, courser texture. It's nice, just not what I expected. I had been fairly happy with the Harman gloss, the paper that Lenswork has adopted as the standard for their new folios. My only concern was that on the 5000 the gloss (which is further enhanced by the ink) is so much that it's hard to hold any images in any direction without getting some reflection in the shadows.

I have written before that I have a theory that it is the subtle variance in these shadow reflections which actually give prints their three dimensional appearance when in hand, which is somewhat lost when the print is dry mounted and entirely gone when behind glass (ie. not moving), but the Harman and the 5000 inks seemed to me to be just a bit too much.

I have Mitch Dobrowner's folio on this paper and I don't know what printer Lenswork is using but again it's just a little bit glossier than I like. On the other hand, I think the Epson Exhibition I'm purchasing here is not quite glossy enough, as well as being a bit too much textured.

Am I being fussy? You're darn right I am. Too fussy? Probably.

Question: does anyone actually know if Epson Traditional and Epson Exhibition are in fact the same paper - I'm beginning to doubt that they are. If that is the case, how does one get hold of Epson Traditional in North America?


grant kench said...

George, not 100% sure but very confident that these are different papers. The Traditional is slightly less weight.
Grant at

Chris said...

Printing is so far behind where one might think it should be based on the hype. I bought a B9180 with great excitement a year ago; now I have a heavy, broken paperweight, many uninspiring prints and a much lighter wallet to show for it.

As far as I'm concerned the inkjet printing industry is an enormous scam and we've all been suckers by buying into it.

George Barr said...

I hear Chris' frustration though I have been luckier with few mechanical problems with the printers. Michael Reichmann comments that he still uses his very fist and the original Epson Stylus when at the cottage - now that's longevity.

Now don't ask me about interfaces and ink use and clogs and paper handling which have all been issues at one time or another.


Anonymous said...


As the print dialog boxes are different, are you sure you've got the settings right? (printer color management: off) I'm sure you know what you're doing, but just thought to offer my only idea as teh color I am getting is very, very close to my monitor.

As for Chris' comments regarding printing, I completely disagree. IMHO, printing quality has actually come farther and faster than sensor technology, at least until recent camera announcements. Not sure why he's having so much trouble, but photographers from Charles Cramer to Clyde Butcher are printing digitally, at least in part. Both of those guys are beautiful printers and neither would print digitally if their images looked bad.

Anonymous said...

...also, George, your prints look fantastic, and for my part I am extremely happy with the results I am getting. If Chris, or anyone else, is having quality issues, I can only surmise there is a workflow issue or, perhaps, a faulty printer.

Howard Grill said...

I, too, am quite happy with inkjet prints....not that it comes out just the way I envisioned it with the first print. In fact, it often takes several if not many iterations. But ultimately I am able to produce what I envisioned and with an incredible degree of control.

I really enjoyed a quote from Michael Reichmann on one of his videos when he mentioned that someone came up to him, I believe it was at an exhibit of his, and said something along the lines of that the photographs didn't look like the way he was used to seeing them years ago to which he replied that this was what photographed looked like now. He went on to clarify that what photos 'look like' has always been evolving based on the current processes available. It was an interesting video.

Anonymous said...

hi, i live in europe (Portugal) and as far i can tell their are the same paper. You can't find Epson Exhibition Fiber in europe...
I own a 3800 and i'm very pleased with it.

George Barr said...

When I checked the paper at Photokina, Traditional was a very smooth paper with a fine tooth to it - rather like a piece of really fine sandpaper (say 600 grit), and of course fairly shiny - but the tooh broke up the shine and didn't make viewing difficult. The Exhibition I have is not smooth - it has a definitey irregularity to the surface which is a little bit linear (along the length of the paper - this irregularity is on the order of 1/16 inch and is subtle. The surface itself is slightly dull compared to a glossy paper and there isn't much in the way of sandpaper like tooth to it.

The irregularity was absolutely not visible in the samples I saw in Germany.