Points in Focus Photography

Going at it blind: Printing, Rendering Intents, and Lightroom

Don’t use perceptual rendering intent when printing. Well maybe.

The truth is, I’m new to this whole printing thing, and that means this is all an uphill battle for me. Yes, I’ve done a lot of reading on it, and watched Michael Reichman’s series From Camera to Print, but in the end there’s no substitute for actually putting ink on the page and printing things. Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles for me for the time being is profiling my printer; namely I won’t be doing it any time soon.

In any case today I learned a number of things starting with be wary of the perceptual rendering intent.

For those that aren’t aware, and while I’m probably going to butcher the explanation anyway, the perceptual rendering intent aims to prevent banding from out of gamut colors by compressing the images whole color gamut into the printers (or display’s) available color gamut. Conversely relative colorimetric simply collapses the out of gamut areas into the last in gamut color the device has. Cambridge in Color has a real nice page on this.

In theory, the perceptual intent should allow some degree of set it and forget it ability. Namely it will keep images from banding where colors go out of gamut.

That said, color is more complicated than just a 1D line, and it seems that the process of compressing colors into the printers gamut may very well also alter the hue, even if it’s not supposed to. Of course it’s possible that OEM Canon profiles for the Pixma Pro 9000 Mk. 2 are wonky, or have broken perceptual intents, or it could be Lightroom, since the soft proofs in Photoshop look pretty close to the prints.

Which I think is the real lesson I learned here; Lightroom, while arguably the best DAM and RAW processor currently available in my opinion, is still grossly deficient when it comes to printing, and possibly even just viewing images. Without soft proofing, if not also lacking the ability to use relative colorimetric rendering intents throughout the program you’re doing little better than guessing, or guessing and checking in Photoshop.

The plan for the moment, I guess I’ll be keeping track of what worked somehow, (maybe I’ll have to write a LR plugin for this) and soft proof in Photoshop before printing. I also think I’m going to default to relative colorimetric unless something ends up looking really wonky because of it.

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