In a recent post I wrote about how pleased I was with the black and white results from the Epson 3880, not to mention how easy it was to set up and select the right settings. Whilst I expect most of my prints will be in monochrome, there will be times when I want to print a colour photograph, so I thought I would run a test print.
As opposed to using Lightroom I opened the image in Photoshop CS5, resized the image for A4 paper and selected the ‘Photoshop manages colours’ option. I also selected the ICC profile for the Fotospeed Platinum Lustre fine art paper which I had chosen for this first print.
The settings are shown in the screen shot below.
The print settings in the Epson print driver is shown below.
The printer started doing its job and the result looked quite promising. The printed colours were as I had hoped, although the clouds in the sky were rather more grey than blue when compared to how they appeared on the screen, but arguably more true to the scene itself.
I have taken a shot of the finished print standing against the iMac. A camera will never satisfactorily capture the true colours of a back lit computer screen so it would be wrong to compare the print with this image below, so its purely for illustrative purposes. Having said that the screen does appear to have a ‘blue’ cast, so this is something I need to look in to in the future. It may well be the iMac needs calibrating which is something I have not done for quite some time. So in colour terms the print isn’t perfect but it’s more than acceptable and frankly if it wasn’t standing alongside the monitor no one would know the difference anyway.
Having seen the results of this first test print I decided to print another version of the image with the same paper, ICC profile etc but using Lightroom instead of Photoshop. Lightroom has a ‘sharpening’ algorithm built in, so I wanted to compare the results both in terms of sharpness but also to see whether or not there was any noticeable colour variation.
In the print module in Lightroom I used the settings below, selecting ‘glossy’ paper for the print sharpening.
When laid side by side the colour rendition of the two prints was very similar. I could not detect any difference in the greens and oranges of the foreground and middle distance, nor could I see any change to the colours in the distant hills and the clouds. It’s pleasing to know there is no discernible difference when printing between these two programs, with one notable exception. The big difference between the two prints was the sharpness. I had not applied any extra sharpening when I printed from Photoshop, whereas Lightroom had applied it’s own sharpening for the size of print. There is no question the additional sharpening applied by Lightroom improved the image considerably. The grasses in the foreground now had real impact. The same can be said of the wall and the branches of the trees.
Given these were the first colour prints from the Epson 3880, I am very pleased. It really is quite a printer and in no way am I disappointed with any aspect of the product. Having read so many excellent reviews before deciding to purchase the 3880, there is always the possibility that it wouldn’t have met with expectations. This is far from the case. It’s a first class printer which more than meets my requirements and whilst it’s expensive at nearly £1,000, it fully justifies the cost in my opinion.
I now need to make sure that the quality of my photographs are up to the quality of the Epson 3880; after all, ‘rubbish in and rubbish out’, as the saying goes!