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I’m an enthusiast-level photographer with a little disposable income, a big empty space in my apartment, and a huge appreciation for making prints, so I’ve decided to take the leap into a large-format printer (Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-4000). What are some resources for someone who’s just getting started in this world?

In particular, are there non-obvious maintenance tasks that are important for such complex machines? Are there color calibration or profiling steps I should be taking to ensure accuracy from Lightroom prints? Any favorite 44” papers in various categories (luster, canvas, matte)?

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Create yourself a proper editing/printing workflow, this will ensure that what you attempt to print will meet your expectations.

Different combinations of papers and ink sets will all provide a different end result, it's worth noting that what may suit for example a landscape image, may not suit a family portrait. They also have a different range and depth of colour available, depending on the inks/papers.

I'd strongly suggest researching this before you start printing.

A workflow would be:

  1. Ensure your monitor is correctly calibrated.
  2. Create or obtain ICC profiles for your combinations of ink/paper.
  3. Soft proof your image (I've only done from photoshop) to the ICC profile of your ink/paper you plan to print on.
  4. Apply corrections to your softproof image (IIRC it's usually the gamut) to ensure that the soft proofed image matchs as close as it can to your edited digital copy, and no details (shadows/highlights) are lost.

If you can I suggest attending a print workflow workshop. (I was lucky enough to attend one last year with Canon). They're not as massively complex as they sound.

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One easy step to save on ink and quality is to print different small-size versions of the same photo adjusted in Photoshop (levels, saturation, etc) and then picking visually the best. Then print this "perfect" version full size.

The saturation function makes miracles, because paper prints tend to fade colors vs what you see on the screen. I would boost saturation to unreal high, but on paper it looks just right.

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