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I've been using an Epson R1900, which I'm generally very pleased with, for several years. I use Lightroom with a well-calibrated color workflow and usually get excellent results.

This weekend I was at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport and shot this image (Canon 5D3, 24-105L@50mm, 1/30, f/4, ISO 1600)

Original Image (RAW) downsized and converted to sRGB JPEG

When I printed it on Epson paper (with the matching Epson profile), the nice blue background came out a sickly purple, even worse than the color shift indicated by Lightroom's soft-proofing mode. I happened to have some non-Epson paper (Ilford Galerie) available, so I tried that (with Ilford's matching printer profile), and the results were actually reasonable, somewhat subdued but still quite acceptable.

I would have expected that almost all of the print gamut was inherent in the ink/dye, with only a minor effect from the paper. My sample scan below shows that the paper can have a HUGE effect on gamut.

So, my question is this: What is happening at the microscopic / chemistry level that could cause this much shift?

Here's a scan of the two prints side by side. The one on the left is Ilford Galerie, and on the right is the Epson Premium Photo Paper-GLOSSY. This is pretty close to showing the absolute colors, at least on my calibrated monitor, and gives a sense of the difference between the two prints.

Scan of the two prints side-by-side

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A big part of it is how much light the paper reflects. There is also a question of how much the ink or pigment absorbs in to the paper vs sitting on the top. This can pretty radically impact the gamut of the images. Arguably paper makes a bigger difference than ink, though the number of colors of ink does make a difference as well, particularly when dealing with dark and light greys.

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The issue is not in the media itself, the real issue may also be the canned ICC profile for that media. If you want to test the media only remove the variable if the canned profile. Create a new one, then test. Gamut surface colors are affected by paper coating also, there are tow types, Microporous and Microcrystalline, The microporous coatings absorb and hold ink much better. Some coatings are too thin and do not provide a surface that can hold all the ink a printer can put out. I would be very surprised if this turns out to be a media issue and not a profile issue. The shift in color to the red yellow side is typical of a shift in lamp and calibration tile color overt time on a spectrophotometer. So I suspect the measurement device used for the profile was out of certification.

  • This makes a lot of sense, but I'm very surprised it's Epson's own profile that is so far out of whack. Your suggestion to try the same profile on both papers is excellent. I'll do that this evening and report the results. – Jim Garrison Jun 11 '14 at 15:03
  • @JimGarrison Im not suggesting to use the same profile on two different papers, but do recommend re-making the bad profile. Using a different profile for printing than what what was used to create it is not a good choice either. – R Hall Jun 11 '14 at 15:17

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