Price: from £495 plus VAT
Colour Confidence Print Profiler is a keenly priced bundle that creates profiles to compensate for your printer’s colour characteristics – so you have a better chance of seeing the results you expected. The idea isn’t new, but the price of £495 is very much lower than earlier systems, bringing it into reach of more people who need accurate colour but haven’t been able to justify the cost. Matching the colours you scan, photograph, or create on-screen to what you get in print is always a challenge. The ICC colour profiling system helps, but it’s only absolutely accurate if the profiles are made for the actual units you’re using – generic profiles may not be good enough. Visual monitor-calibration software is built into Mac OS X and bundled with some Windows applications (such as Adobe Photoshop), while more accurate hardware readers cost from around £150. Scanner profiling software is often free with scanners. Printers need colour management too, but the generic profiles supplied with many printers are often hopeless. Some firms offer profile creation, but often charge £100 or more per paper type. So TypeMaker’s bid to create an affordable print profiler is welcome. It generates ICC profiles for RGB-accepting desktop inkjets, colour lasers, colour copiers, or for printers controlled by CMYK RIPs, such as proofing or wide-format inkjets. You’ll need to create a separate profile for each type of paper. The entry-level £495 bundle includes a basic ColorSavvy CM2C ColorMouse colorimeter – this is the version we tried. The ColorMouse is a manual reader, and the process requires you to click individually on more than 400 colour patches on two calibration sheets produced by your printer. This is tedious and takes well over an hour per printer/ paper combination profile. Actually, it often takes longer – you need to leave dye-based inkjet prints for half an hour before reading, as the colours shift drying. If you want a more automated or accurate measurement unit, the same software is sold with a semi-automatic Avantes SpectrocamUV spectrophotometer for £1,595, or a top end X-Rite DTP 41 UV spectrophotometer (which automatically reads strips of patches in about five minutes) for £2,995. The Print Profiler software is also available on its own for £1,095 with a bundle of drivers to run with measurement units you supply yourself. For manual readers, Print Profiler prints a ‘Linearisation’ sheet of 105 coloured patches (remember to switch off the printer’s colour management first), which you read with the ColorMouse. Then you output a ‘target’ sheet with 300 patches, and read all of those, too. With automated readers (such as DTP 41) up to 1,400 patches are printed for more-accurate results. The software calculates an ICC profile for that printer and paper combination. This appears in the list of ICC profiles you choose from when printing. An advanced option lets you override black generation, black weight, GCR, colour GCR, total dot coverage, and 8/16 bit support – though this isn’t for novices. I used the entry level system to profile my Epson Stylus Pro 1290 photographic inkjet printer for glossy paper – the profile was certainly more accurate than Epson’s.