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SpyderPrint black and white print refinement

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SpyderPrint B&W print refinement

Black and white test image for use with the SpyderPrint

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A new version of Keith’s black and white printer test image designed for use with the Datacolor SpyderPrint spectrocolorimeter.

The measurement data can be used for linearising black and white printing, either by applying special correction profiles or making adjustment curves.

The adjustments were tested using Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo.

B&W test print image for the Datacolor SpyderPrint

The SpyderPrint profiling system includes a spectrocolorimeter more measuring targets and making printer ICC profiles [SpyderPrint review info]

I’ve created a version of my standard test image for black and white printing that is easy to measure using the device.

spyderprint-colorimeter

The new target is the same basic test print as used with other measuring devices (or a scanner) – there is a list of all related articles at the end of this one.

The image is free to use for non commercial use – B&W test image download

See the main B&W test image page for details about how to use it in addition to the 21 step greyscale part covered here.

new-test-print

The image is in the Grey Gamma 2.2 colour space – it’s also available in the Adobe98 colour space. That is also a gamma 2.2 colour space, and may be easier for some to print (it is still a B&W image).

Printing the image

The image is meant to be printed as a normal photo, using whatever printer driver or black and white print setup you would normally use.

Do not try and print it as a profiling target – it isn’t one

I printed test images on several types of A3+ paper I had left over from some of my paper reviews. I printed from Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo.

In the Photoshop print window, I’ve moved the (A4) test image over to one side of the paper – this makes it easy for me to get a second print on the same sheet.

print-from-photoshop

In Affinity Photo, I’ve loaded the Adobe98 version of the image.

Make sure that the info for the file (under the strip at the top) shows Adobe98 and that you haven’t accidentally converted the file to something else)

file-open-in-Affinity

Then print as you would for any B&W image.

I’m using the Epson ABW print mode on the P5000, but it could be any printer – or even using a normal colour profile.

The key is to print the image exactly as you want to print your B&W photos.

affinity-output-problem

Unfortunately Affinity Photo doesn’t support placement adjustment at this point, so I had to go back to the image and extend its canvas size to create an A3 image with my test image over to one side.

I’m using the Epson ABW mode, which needs the printer managing colour.

Colour-matching-affinity-ABW

I set the paper type and am just using the default settings for ABW.

ABW-settings-Affinity

Measuring the test image

I’m using the Shareware QuadToneRIP software to process the data file created from measurements. At its simplest, the graphical output from profile generation will tell me how linear my reproduction of grey tones is. At best, I can see that it’s good enough to print B&W images with no need for any adjustment. You’ll see this graph shown in many of my paper reviews where I use it as a measure of paper characteristics too (dMax etc.)

QuadToneRIP (QTR) is a splendid bit of shareware from Roy Harrison that provides a wealth of B&W printing capabilities for Epson printers, including those set up with third party ‘grey only’ ink sets. I’m using just a small part of it here.

QTR download

SpyderPrint measurement

The SpyderPrint software has a measurement mode that expects the 21 patches on the target.

  • Launch SpyderPrint, with the Datacolor spectro attached. You’re going to use the commands in the Tools menu, rather than going through the normal user interface screens. First, calibrate the spectro on the white tile in it’s calibration base, using the Tools:Calibrate command.
  • Then: use the Tools:Measure command, click on Export To: and choose the name of a temporary file to save your measurements into. (This file will be written into SpyderPrint’s “Export” data folder) Use a name that tells you what the data is from.
  • Select Lab
  • Check the QTR Format Override box. (This tells SpyderPrint to write the Lab measurements into the file format that’s specifically needed to use with QTR, rather than as simply a series of text lines containing Lab values).
  • Make sure the CreateICC radio button, beneath that checkbox, is selected.
  • Measure your target patches. (Either by pressing down on the spectro’s nose as you move across them, or using the Return/Enter key to take the measurements while you move the spectro) When you’re finished, click Done. NOTE: You have to take -exactly- 21 wedge step measurements here.
  • Use SpyderPrint’s File:Open Export command to open the Export data folder. You should see your exported file containing the QTR data there.

sp-measurements

It’s likely taken you as long to read those instructions as it does to read a chart.

paper measurement with SpyderPrint

I’d suggest using a white backing board of some sort. If you look to the right of the printed area, you can see where the paper looks darker. This is the piece of white paper I had under the test print. You’re measuring the paper, not the desk underneath…

Dropping the datafile onto the QTR-Create-ICC-RGB app will create a profile and a text file showing the data.

Here are two data sets for an HP Lustre paper and a HP Glossy paper (both from old sample packs I’ve got)

HP-Lustre-outputHP-gloss-output

Both are pretty straight and show minimal kinks/bumps.

For both, the 50% patch is a tad light, and there’s a bit of a jump from 95% to 100%

Just looking at these charts tells me that I probably don’t need to make any strong adjustment to my image for printing on these papers. There’s certainly not the serious crunching of shadows I’ve seen in the past (printer/drivers are a lot better than 10 years ago in this respect). This 51 step example from a test on my old Canon iPF8300 shows serious problems – indicating that I’ve likely got something wrong in my media/driver settings.

qtr-out-51

I could correct this, but I find that anything needing a strong adjustment (either by curve or QTR profile adjustment) may well show other faults in the test print. Remember that getting a straightish line is one objective – fixing this only to introduce banding/posterisation is no fix at all.

Sometimes this testing will reveal that a paper just isn’t any good for your B&W print set-up no matter how good some people say it is…

Corrections for printing

There are two ways I look at adjusting an image before black and white printing.

One creates a simple curve adjustment and applies this to the image to correct things. So in this instance a curve that slightly darkens the midtones is all that I’d need. There’s more about such curves in the article looking at using a flatbed scanner for linearity testing,

The second method involves the QTR profile created earlier. You use this to correct your image before printing.

It’s important to note that you use this profile and then print your image exactly as you printed the target. It is NOT a profile to use as you would one created for normal colour printing. So, it has no part whatsoever in your print settings. It is only used to make the adjustments to the linearity of that line of ‘L’s

To use the profile with the target (so as to see if it works)

Open the target – I’m using the A98 version.

First convert your image to the QTR profile – there will be no change to the file.

Note that BPC is enabled – this is important if using the Relative Colorimetric Rendering intent

Here’s the process in Affinity Photo (you do the same thing in Photoshop)

converting-in-affinity

The profile you created needs to be wherever profiles live on you computer – on my Mac, that’s ~Library/ColorSync/Profiles You my need to restart your editing software (Photoshop/Affinity Photo) for the new profiles to be seen (they will have QTR added to their name).

Next Assign the original colour profile associated with the test image – the image will change.

Now print this modified file exactly as you did the original test print.

Remember – this is not a profiling target – print it as a normal image

Testing the test print

For confirmation, measure this new test print, whether produced using a curve or a profile. It’s worth doing so as check all is well.

convert-assign

The overall line is much straighter, although I’d prefer a bit less of that bend at the end.

However, whilst the profile pulls in the linearity of the print, the important bulls eye part of the test print shows a bit of posterisation. You could try using a 51 step target (2% steps rather than 5%) but experience tells me that working in 16 bit mode and using a slight adjustment curve (curves are still 8 bit I’m afraid) is often the best for my own work.

Now, that’s using papers on the Epson P5000 here – whether that’s so for your printer/driver/paper is something you’ll have to experiment with.

Other test set-ups

The image is available in several different formats. For details and links to a free download see:

Test Image for B&W printing

Related articles

There is a good example of using the correction profile in an article I wrote about testing and using an unknown fine-art paper

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Site Notice: Like many working photographers, our work has completely dried up in these challenging times, so I'll be at home a lot. The silver lining is that I've lots of articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith ...Why not sign up for our (ad free) Newsletter to keep informed about new articles.


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