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Print centers in my city provide bad quality of photos.

I have a printer calibrator. I would like to adapt my photos to uncalibrated printer in print center.

I feel process is as this:

  1. print color chart in print center
  2. use my calibrator to create printer profile for print center
  3. alter my photos to adapt to that printer profile ("printer-calibrated photos" :)
  4. print altered photos

Question: How could I achieve step 3? Software? Automate whole batch?

More info:

P.S.1 I experienced problems with prints on paper and on canvas. Gamut of printers seems enough but no calibration for printer, printer+medium

P.S.2 I know I could do soft-proofing but I want. If quantity of photos is significant, time could also be significant. And soft-proofing result would be eye-calibrated image. I prefer to use advantages of calibrator I have.

P.S.3 such approach would allow me to use different print centers when needed.

P.S.4 I would keep time between step 1 & 4 minimal - it could degrade quality - ink change, medium change, etc...

P.S.5 I could have no-modification print from print center

P.S.6 My monitor is pretty well calibrated.

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  • The print center likely has several printers and you can't tell which one is used...
    – xenoid
    Dec 17, 2021 at 10:57
  • @xenoid I could request they use same printer. Definitely I should do it! 10x for comment
    – joro
    Dec 17, 2021 at 21:40
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    I did something like this a while back. I didn't have a calibrator, I just took a DSLR picture of a test pattern print with a custom WB of the paper. Then I compared the swatches with the orig file with the eyedropper to see the difference in each RGB channel. A simple hue adjustment made it 90% better. I did the same for the luminosity step ramps after desaturating the photo of the print. That let me use curves to make it about 80% better with just a few nodes on the curve. I then saved those two adjustments to a batch action that would copy the adjusted file next to the orig.
    – dandavis
    Dec 17, 2021 at 21:41

2 Answers 2

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I had written a long answer explaining how to "incorrectly" apply your custom printer profile to images for printing. But I felt it was also necessary to add a note to the end of my answer... then I decided to delete everything except for the note.


**Note that the end result is really no different from using your printer profile for soft-proofing during editing (and converting to/embedding the correct color space during save as normal), which is the correct approach in a fully color managed scheme. You said that soft-proofing would make the edits "eye-calibrated;" well, they are adjusted by eye/to taste either way...


Edit to add: This is how I would do what you want using Photoshop.

  • First, create your custom printer profile.
  • Then open any image and record an action of: Edit > Convert to Profile (your custom profile) > Edit > Convert to Profile (sRGB). Use whatever conversion preferences you think are best at both conversion stages (I would avoid absolute colorimetric and saturation modes). Name the action something like "Convert for crap printer".
  • Close the image (no need to save the edit/conversion if not needed)
  • Now open: File > Automate > Batch: Select your action as the one to play (will default to last used/created/edited). Select the folder with the files you want to convert. Optionally set a new output folder with a distinctive name. And rename the files with something distinctive to identify them as broken. Run the batch conversion...

The only reason for applying the second conversion to sRGB is so the printer doesn't have a problem accepting an unknown/bad/wrong color profile (would typically default back to sRGB, or none, which would also be ok assuming you edited them in sRGB). The reason for the new folder and rename is because these files are now no good for anything other than being printed by that crappy printer. If you re-open them the colors will be wrong/off (as if being soft-proofed), and they cannot be re-edited back to original (at least not easily/completely).

enter image description here

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  • “Soft proofing is the ability to view an accurate representation of a digital file on a monitor before it is printed.” I don’t want this. What I want is a similar result as if printer was calibrated. “they are adjusted by eye/to taste either way...” I don’t want second adjustment for each/most of photos. If customers accepted “monitor” version and receive different version, it is obvious motive for problems. So I should do very precise adjustments while soft proofing – would be stupid if I have a printer calibrator.
    – joro
    Dec 20, 2021 at 16:10
  • With canvas prints we have more issues. Often printshops provide just printer profile – not canvas calibrated. Or profile for one specific canvas. So Soft Proof with such partial profile would generate incorrect results.
    – joro
    Dec 20, 2021 at 16:10
  • @joro, you can think of a printer profile as RGB percentage offsets; say it is a +10% red shift. It doesn't matter if you edit in the RGB editing color space and apply the profile after (e.g. R189 x 1.1) or if you apply the profile first for soft-proofing and edit the result (1.1 x R189). You are either adjusting the unprofiled colors or the profiled colors by eye, but the result will be the same. I.e. edit the colors to look right then apply the profile so they are wrong but print correctly -VS- apply profile to make the colors wrong (soft-proof) then edit so they look and print correctly. Dec 20, 2021 at 18:14
  • Definately SoftProof approach works. But that's not what is asked in question. No second "eye-calibration", please. Even more, I want to avoid second "eye-calibration" per image. I want to avoid second manual "making colors right"
    – joro
    Dec 20, 2021 at 19:20
  • OK, I will add back in what I deleted. Dec 20, 2021 at 20:14
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The first step is to calibrate your monitor. This is under your control.

The second step is to print the pictures using a calibrated printer/media/ink combination. This is not directly under your control unless you can choose the specific printer, media, and ink.

The options for high quality prints are:

  1. Using your own printer.
  2. Working with a printshop willing to use a calibrated workflow.

If your printshop doesn't care about consistency, you can't get consistency. It's hard enough if you own your own printer.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – scottbb
    Dec 26, 2021 at 4:48

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