Epson 7600 and Snow Leopard printing woes and solution
Brief update from my side is that I picked up a large format Epson Stylus Pro 7600 from a good friend of mine. As much as I was excited to own such a fine printer, I was bummed for two straight days not able to print a test image correctly from Photoshop CS3 on an intel macbook with Snow Leopard (10.6.4). I used the latest 8.19 printer driver.
I followed the standard process. Photoshop manages colors, with Bill Atkinson’s 9600 Premium Luster paper profile (9600PLU1), with Relative Colorimetric intent and Black point compensation turned on. Also NCA (no color adjustment) in the printer driver. Each and every print came out darker as if shadows quickly rushed to blackness. Also the black and white images seemed warm.
From numerous sources on the web I found out that the root cause is “double profiling” due to a bug in the print workflow. What happens exactly is that when we apply a profile in the print dialog in PS, and then go to printer driver dialog, the “Color Matching” section shows that “ColorSync” is automatically selected and is grayed out. This is not desired because ColorSync itself applies another profile depending on the paper, in my case, 7600-Premium-Luster-PK. the NCA option is also grayed out. This double profiling screws up the prints.
Many people have fixed it by pointing the default ColorSync profiles to “Generic RGB” as if it is a null profile. But it did not work for me.
Another source said to convert the image to the paper profile, then choose “Printer manages colors”, and NCA in printer driver. Very strangely, the printer just won’t print anything with this configuration.
Then I found out a very interesting fact that in Lightroom the application print dialog and the print driver dialog are on separate buttons. I had to choose the NCA on the driver dialog first (clicking “Print Settings…”), making sure that Color Matching is “Epson color controls”, the only alternative to “ColorSync”. Then I chose the paper profile on the right side pane before clicking “Print one”, and not “Print…”. If you click the latter, the color matching will be reset to “ColorSync” and you have to undo it by choosing “Printer manages color” instead of the paper profile and click “Print…” again.
The print finally showed shadow details as desired and perfectly neutral black and white.
It will still be a PITA to prepare images in PS and print via LR, but at least the prints will be right. CS4 or CS5 might have this particular bug fixed, but not sure.
Various Epson 7600 related links:
1. Lesson: Printing Images Using an EPSON Pro Stylus 7600 / 9600 Large Format Printer and Adobe Photoshop
2. Lessons from using an Epson 7600 printer
Update: After getting the 7600 working right, the 2200 driver started giving problems. It won’t print and the utility app will not launch. After lots of research the solution that worked was to install the 2200 driver in uninstall mode before re-installing it. Then I tricked the 2200 the same way as 7600 to get it to print using paper profile and “Epson color controls”. The result came out better than what I was doing all along with “Printer manages colors” workflow. The grays are more neutral than the distinct magenta I used to get. It is still a little warm so I might still be using QTR for b/w but the color prints are gonna be better from now on.