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filmscanners: best prints possible

I've been requested off list to expand on my earlier comment "I've
spent alot of effort learning how to get the best 24x36" prints
possible from an Epson 7000", so....

I've found (as many of you undoubtedly have), that monitor calibration
is first and most important, and I'm currently using ColorVision
PhotoCal and Monitor Spyder.  Very good value, excellent result.

The printer side is a can of worms when you go beyond oem ink, paper,
and profiles when you're looking for accuracy and want to use the oem
RGB driver.  Most 3rd party inks I've seen are simply not close enough
to oem (talking color here, mechanical compatibility is another issue)
to be successfully profiled, even with a spectro.  It wasn't until I
began using a spectro and using profiled oem materials as a baseline
that I began to understand this.  Some of the bad results users on the
Epson list report with scanner based profiling may be due to this, or
it may be due to a few other variables.  It can be pretty confusing.
But it doesn't matter if you're using a scanner or a spectro, if the
ink isn't fairly linear with given and limited driver (media) settings
there will be too much color and/or tone compression for the profiler
to do anything good with.  It's limited to the values on the target to
build a profile from, and if they're inadequate it will be reflected
in the resulting profile.  This is why the first step of linearization
when profiling with CMYK RIP's is so important.  The closest thing to
linearization one can do with an RGB driver is before profiling
evaluate driver settings for a given printer, ink, and paper.  For
this I use a test file consisting of 7 ramps (RBGCMYK)  in 5% steps
from 0 to 255 sized to fit half sheets for the desktop printers, or
full 8.5x11 for the 7000.  I look for the most linear progression of
all the ramps, banding, mottling, bleeding, etc.  If an ink set or
ink/paper combo is unusable, with experience you'll see it right here.

Spectros are better than scanners obviously, how much better depends
on how critical you are.  If you're critical about print quality, I
would say a spectro is essential.  Unfortunately they're not cheap,
but as important as anything else in your imaging chain, and the
prices are commensurate to good scanners etc.  An X-rite DTP-41
retails for $2500, and is worth every penny.  Your printer is only as
good as your profile.  The conservative route is to calibrate your
monitor and stick with Epson's own ink, papers, and profiles.  You
could do a lot worse.

Regarding inks, I've had near misses and complete disasters (having a
disaster as I speak, in fact:), so I won't say which is which here,
but instead which have worked for me.  Epson's oem dyes are best of
all (surprise), and the only other ink I'm completely satisfied with
to date is Generations Enhanced, available from MediaStreet.com.  The
Generations ink is a pigment instead of a dye, and there subtlies to
be learned about inks and ink/paper combinations that are beyond the
scope of this post.  I'm still looking for a suitable dye replacement
for oem for quantity printing in the desktop Epsons.

I've learned most of what I know about this from the helpful souls on
the many mailing lists and other internet resources, and trial and
error.  There's been plenty of the latter, and likely more to come.
Caveat emptor.

Hope some of this is helpful.



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