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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos RAW, Post Processing & Printing 
Thread started 26 Mar 2018 (Monday) 15:51
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Black levels on photos are off when printed

 
Naraly
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Mar 26, 2018 15:51 |  #1

I just started printing my own photos at home with the Brother MFC-J460DW printer (photos for myself, not re-sale), and I can't seem to figure out what the problem is after various tries. The photo levels look good on my computer, and i've printed them elsewhere without using their auto-correction services and they look the same as on my screen. But these that I'm printing at home don't come out as vibrant. The colors are are just a tiny bit off, but the biggest difference is that there's no true black in the shadows. I'm not sure what the correct term to explain it is, so I'll attach a photo comparison below.

They are saved in the sRGB color profile.


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Mar 26, 2018 19:58 |  #2

What software are you using to do the printing? Are you using the correct printer profile for the specific paper and ink combination that you are using? When it comes to colour management have you made sure that you are not double profiling in both the application, and the print driver? Dose the software you are using have a soft proofing option and are you comparing the images using the soft proofing facility, and with Paper white compensation turned on?

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agedbriar
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Post edited over 1 year ago by agedbriar.
     
Mar 27, 2018 14:30 |  #3

For the results you are after you need a printer with photo-black and grey inks besides the three basic colors, as well as some high quality photo paper.




  
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Wilt. (2 edits in all)
     
Mar 28, 2018 13:24 |  #4

Naraly wrote in post #18594517 (external link)
I just started printing my own photos at home with the Brother MFC-J460DW printer (photos for myself, not re-sale), and I can't seem to figure out what the problem is after various tries.


  1. The photo levels look good on my computer,
  2. and i've printed them elsewhere without using their auto-correction services and they look the same as on my screen.
  3. But these that I'm printing at home don't come out as vibrant.


The colors are are just a tiny bit off, but the biggest difference is that there's no true black in the shadows. I'm not sure what the correct term to explain it is, so I'll attach a photo comparison below.

They are saved in the sRGB color profile.
thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by Naraly in
./showthread.php?p=185​94517&i=i7938096
forum: RAW, Post Processing & Printing

In quoting your post, I numbered key 'clues'.

Since 2 = 1, your monitor is appropriately adjusted to levels achieved with commercial print making
Since 3 ≠ 1, the problem must lie in the printer, or in the software driving your printer

It might be simply that you cannot get the intensity of black as you might want to get, for the combination of the ink + your paper
It might be that the combination of the ink + your paper simply needs to have a printer profile created and used to drive the printer

Glossy surfaced papers generally provide deeper appearing blacks than matte finish papers. Period. A simple proof of that point can be seen in Kodak Master Darkroom Dataguide samples of 11 different chemically processed photosensitive B&W print papers...the deepest blacks are in the one glossy surface sample!


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agedbriar
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Post edited over 1 year ago by agedbriar. (2 edits in all)
     
Mar 28, 2018 14:16 |  #5

The Brother MFC-J460DW is an all-in-one machine with 4 ink carts: yellow, cyan, magenta and a single black, with also (so it seems) a single droplet size for each color.

I print my pictures on an all-in-one too (Canon) and I'm happy with the results I'm getting, but mine has separate black inks for documents and photos, a grey ink and 3 droplet sizes which mimic 3 ink densities in each cyan, magenta and grey.

All Nora can do, IMO, is use high quality glossy photo paper to get all her printer is capable of.




  
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Naraly
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Mar 31, 2018 15:14 as a reply to  @ agedbriar's post |  #6

I used the HP advanced glossy photo paper. Would you say that is a good high quality photo paper?
You mentioned yours has gray ink, since mine doesn't i'm wondering if that somehow contributes, as agedbriar mentioned I should have gray.



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Naraly
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Mar 31, 2018 15:18 as a reply to  @ BigAl007's post |  #7

Well I am definitely a newbie in this. I'm not using any special software. I use mac and the "print" option from the dropdown option on the photo itself. It has very minimal settings that I can adjust, basically just the paper type and paper handling options. Is there an application you recommend that I should be using?



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Naraly
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Mar 31, 2018 15:20 as a reply to  @ agedbriar's post |  #8

Hmm my printer does not have gray. Just black, and the 3 primary colors. I am using HP Advanced glossy photo paper, I thought that was a good choice when purchasing, but I also thought that with the printer.



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Naraly
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Mar 31, 2018 15:24 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #9

I am using glossy paper. I had read about that in glossy vs matte but looks like I still have a lot to learn. When getting them printed at shops I usually go for matte and I've liked the results, so I thought with glossy I'd like them even more but I clearly do not know how to handle a printer.



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agedbriar
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Mar 31, 2018 18:16 |  #10

Yes, the small ink-set that your printer is using is definitely limiting the output quality, at least to some degree.

For deeper blacks you may try Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II or Canon Photo Paper Pro Platinum. Should be better than the HP paper you are currently using, but it's hard to say in advance how much difference it will make.

You may also try to make "home-printable versions" of your pictures, in which you move the black point slider a bit to the right (in any Levels tool) to deepen the blacks before printing. Not every picture will take that kindly and you will lose shadow detail if you overdo, but for many pictures it could be a good solution.




  
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Apr 01, 2018 06:36 |  #11

Home printing I found tricky.

If the photo on the right in OP is the printer (I assume it is) push your B/W contrast on the PC/Mac and try again.

Also try moving your black point up.


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Apr 01, 2018 08:26 |  #12

Some printers despite having a black cartridge may not use it for what we think is black. They may still be mixing the primary colors.


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Apr 01, 2018 12:59 |  #13

Looking at the summaries of reviews on Google, plus looking at the CNET review of the printer it looks like it is designed as a fully multifunction office printer. The strengths all seemed to be centered around office use, what with the document feeder for the scanner, built in fax capability and even full duplex printing. Print quality for documents and "graphics" seems to be adequate too. To get all of that into a sub $100 US printer though it means that they will have made compromises in other areas. About the only place left for those compromises is photo printing. While it's possible to print photos to glossy photo paper I'm pretty sure that as TeamSpeed alluded to it is only using the CMY inks for photo printing. This means that it has to mix the three to make black, and that really hasn't worked for photo printing for something close to twenty five years.

The problem with mixing CMY to create black is that when you mix them up what you actually get is something that is closer to a really really dark green/brown colour. Compared to actual black ink though it is quite a bit lighter, and of course has that colour cast. That is exactly what you get in the result that you have posted. Initially I didn't consider it as a factor, since I didn't actually go away and look at the exact type of printer you have.

There are some relatively cheap priced multifunction printers that do actually do well in the photo printing area. Canon have some in their Pixma line of printers, I have a rather old MG5150 that actually does very well when it comes to printing photos. It's less suited to a full on office environment though, since it lacks the feeder for the scanner, and has no fax. It was also a little more expensive in that it cost about £120, or about $150 - $175 US at the time I bought it. The big advantage that it has for photo printing is that it uses the three CMY inks, and also a photo black ink, as well as a pigment based black for document printing. This additional black ink allows for a much better looking photo, as it is able to create the blacks, not just the mixture of the three CMY inks.

Unfortunately I don't think there is going to be anything you can do to make that printer produce better photo output. For this sort of printer I would normally suggest that you use an OEM branded photo paper and of course OEM inks to get the best possible quality. That way you can select exactly compatible settings in the print driver for the paper, and you also have the correct ink. This would allow the printer to get a reasonable colour match regardless of the software that was being used. If your printer driver offers you choices of a specific brand, and version of photo paper, rather than just the generic Glossy/Matt choice then I would try that particular paper in it, since it should be optimised for that paper. What I would not do is use a different premium brand paper, such as the Canon Platinum Pro, which is at the top end of cost. I just don't see you getting any improvement from it.

I do actually use Platinum Pro, along with OEM ink in my Pixma printer, and they do give excellent results. But only because I have the required profiles for that combination of paper and ink. Without them, and just using a generic glossy photo paper setting I wouldn't expect any significantly better result than any other reasonable quality glossy photo paper. I would put your HP paper into that class in this case.

When it comes to printing photos I have used either Photoshop, or more recently Lightroom as my software of choice. Since I have shot pretty much everything in RAW since about three days after getting my first DSLR back in 2005, I generally find that I have to use some program or another to work with and edit the images. Also since for most common photo paper sizes other than 6×4 you have to crop the image to some extent to get it to fit on the paper that requires more than just using the system print functions. Another advantage of using programs like Ps and Lr is that they can very often offer you more control than you will get from using the printer driver on it's own. Although it is a potentially complicated process for the novice using these programs, with their colour management systems you can get a much closer representation on the computer screen of what the printed image will finally look like. The difficulty is that to make it work for you you need to have a reasonable understanding of how different types of devices, such as screens and printers, produce the colours, and how you have to compensate for those differences between the devices.

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Apr 01, 2018 13:21 |  #14

I've used al-in-one printers and not had this problem, but at least my current version has two blacks.

Having said that, I have also had a lot of problems with getting color profiles right for all-in-one printers - granted I usually give up easily because I have a photo printer and end up just using that. I still cant figure out how to print on the glossy 4x6 paper I have which I'd like to do for quick small prints. It doesn't seem easy to get printer profiles for the cheap paper on these printers and the internal settings don't seem to manage it either.

Not sure this helps, but IME, all-in-one printers can be a PITA. However, don't let this dissuade you if you decide to get a photo printer (even a $100 one), I can almost guarantee you will get good prints out of it with just a little bit of effort.


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Apr 02, 2018 13:38 |  #15

ejenner wrote in post #18598320 (external link)
I've used al-in-one printers and not had this problem, but at least my current version has two blacks.

Having said that, I have also had a lot of problems with getting color profiles right for all-in-one printers - granted I usually give up easily because I have a photo printer and end up just using that. I still cant figure out how to print on the glossy 4x6 paper I have which I'd like to do for quick small prints. It doesn't seem easy to get printer profiles for the cheap paper on these printers and the internal settings don't seem to manage it either.

Not sure this helps, but IME, all-in-one printers can be a PITA. However, don't let this dissuade you if you decide to get a photo printer (even a $100 one), I can almost guarantee you will get good prints out of it with just a little bit of effort.


Edward I think the thing with the all in one "photo" printers having two blacks is a relatively recent thing. Back in the dim and distant, probably all the way back to my original HP DJ540 back in 95, it had CMYK carts, and they were all essentially compatible dye inks, so they were able to use the black ink for photos too. I notice with the modern five cart printers that the ink for document printing is actually a pigment ink, which will give much better results when printing text. The problem being that you can't mix the pigment black with CMY dye inks for photo printing.

I agree about the problems with getting profiles for the smaller multifunction printers, but it's not just for use with cheap paper though. Actually IMO it's an even bigger problem for the higher quality non OEM brands of paper. In that case the paper manufacturer provides matching profiles, but the printer manufacturer provides drivers for the printer that don't allow for the addition of new paper profiles. In that situation you are left having to use a third party program, such as Ps or Lr to print from. At least for the Epson (RL240?) and Canon photo printers I have tried they do allow you to turn off colour management in the printer driver, even if they do seem to hide it a bit. I guess you don't want someone who has no idea about colour management turning it off by mistake.

When it comes to putting cheap photo paper in my MG5150 I usually don't worry, and just keep using the same settings as for Platinum Pro. Given that it is cheap paper the results that I have got have been very acceptable. Mostly this is printing on papers from Poundland. Sometimes it's Polaroid branded paper, sometimes it's own branded. The paper has a pretty similar look and feel either way. Thing is that I don't usually bother with printing 6×4's on an inkjet. The cost, at least here in the UK is just too high. The cost of the ink pretty much matches using a lab, especially if you order a lot of prints, but even for a small number it's cheaper.

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