Help, My Prints Don’t Match my Screen
I often get contacted by photographers frustrated and complaining “my inkjet prints don’t match my screen display”. Sometimes they have spent significant sums of money having prints made and when they receive them from the printer they look dreadful. Sometimes it might be the fault of the printer but in most
Whilst there may be other problems, I suspect well over 80% of the problem cases (I would expect it to be over 95% in all honesty) come from three simple root causes. Address these problems and printing will become more predictable. They are:
- The monitor used for editing isn’t correctly calibrated
- The correct printer profile hasn’t been used when printing or soft proofing
- The image hasn’t been correctly soft proofed
Let’s take a look at each in turn.
Monitor calibration ensures that the image you are editing displays correctly on your computer screen. White from the image will be displayed as white, black and black and all the colours will be accurately represented. Once you are confident of this you can confidently edit your images. If the image appears wrong on your screen display you will know that you need to correct it with image editing software such as Photoshop, Lightroom or Elements.
To accurately calibrate your monitor you will need a hardware and software solution. Popular packages include:
As an Amazon
When purchasing a calibration device be sure to pick the correct one. Most if not all will calibrate your monitor. If you want to be able to calibrate a printer, many devices won’t help you. Printer calibration units are usually more expensive.
Personally, I used to use the
ColorMunki in position on the monitor
Once you know that your image is accurately represented on the screen and that you want to print it, you need to ensure your printing software is set up to print using the correct printer profile. The printer profile is unique to a printer and paper combination. Select the wrong printer or use the wrong paper and you will find the print comes out wrong, sometimes very wrong.
The other potential problem here is that the software used to print the photo isn’t correctly configured to use the profile and/or the printer driver isn’t correctly configured to take instructions from the printing software. Typically you will need to set up the printing software (for example Lightroom) to use the printer profile and the print driver to not perform any colour
The printer profile also comes into play when you want to soft proof your image. A soft proof is a rendering of your image on the computer screen that simulates how the final print will appear. Typically people don’t
When you pick the option to simulate paper and ink it will often make the soft proof
Whilst there are other problems that can arise, if you have done the above you will remove most of the sources of poor printing.
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