Printers, papers and profiles

Continuing the saga of my attempts to fully understand how best to use my Epson ET8550, I’ve been experimenting with different papers and applying the correct ICC profiles to the paper for the printer, using both Epson Print Layout and Adobe Lightroom Classic software. [At least there’s one constant in this experiment.]

I don’t expect anyone to be able to detect too many differences in the above image, but for the record, the lower set of images were printed using the Epson Print Layout software – which it has to be said is extremely easy to use and which I wanted to check against printing from Lightroom Classic direct.

In the row above the prints are done from Lightroom Classic with (in the main, one or two minor slip-ups) the correct profiles for the papers.

From left to right the papers are (1) Fotospeed Gloss (270gsm), (2) Fotospeed Photo Smooth Pearl (290gsm), (3) Epson Premium Semigloss (252gsm) and (4) Epson Heavy Matte (167gsm) [bottom two] and Fotospeed Matt Proofing (170gsm) above. On the extreme right is a print done on old-stock (5) HP Premium Plus Photo Satin-matt paper, without a profile, which I just thought I’d print to see how it looked without a profile for the printer – it printed quite blue!

It has to be said that at the end of the day the differences are so subtle that it just comes down to an individual preference. Both Gloss prints are extremely sharp and punchy. The two lustre papers bring out the colours well, and are warmer, but I have perhaps a slight personal preference for the Epson paper. The matte prints are much darker, actually more striking, but would have to be lightened/brightened if they were to be used.

The main object of the exercise was to see whether I should continue to use Lightroom Classic to print from, or switch to using Epson Print Layout from prints exported as PSD files from Lightroom (I could also use TIFF, but didn’t). I was satisfied that even though there was far more scope for making a mistake when printing from Lightroom, with all the variables to be checked, that the Lightroom route seemed to be much more precise and detailed when the 360ppi (the default for Epson printers) was chosen.

So, I will continue to use Lightroom to print from. I will tend to use either Fotospeed Photo Smooth Pearl, or Epson Premium Semigloss as my “goto” papers, and remember to lighten (in Lightroom) when using the matte papers.

I also have a test pack from Marrutt which I hopefully will get custom ICC profiles prepared and then come to a firm decision on the route to go for papers.

[UPDATE: It appears that there could be a serious problem with MacOS Ventura not saving Print Settings, so for this reason the validity of my testing may need to be brought into question. For that reason I’m going to use Epson Print Layout which communicates directly with the ET8550 and by-passes MacOS Print Settings.]