The Canon IPF8300, ColorMunki, and prints that match my originals

Richard Charpentier Canon Cameras, Lightroom 3, Photography, Printers, Prints, RLC Design, Wide Format Printing 6 Comments

If your screen and print match, you're doing great. I was so thrilled to make a 16x24 of this shot from Saddle Mtn today!

You know, I had several other titles in mind for this post.  Let’s list them out:

  • Breathing Color Rocks!  The 8300 is now good to go.
  • The secret handshake trick to getting perfect prints out of the 8300
  • My “Duh!” moment
  • The non-obvious solution to my recent color matching issue with the 8300

Oh, I’ve got a few dozen more titles in mind.  Bottom line…..Paul over at Breathing Color really helped me out yesterday and today, and for that help I’m now totally back in business.  Whew!  I was getting worried there for a while.  And seriously, I haven’t had a vendor as good as Breathing Color since back in the Lucent days.  The only thing Breathing Color doesn’t do is send me free clothing, pens, golf balls, and free multi-thousand dollar gear for telecom switches.

Maybe by noting that I’ll get some cool Breathing Color shirts and golf balls.  Sure, I don’t golf, but it’s the thought that counts!

The IPF8300 worry

The other week out of the box I was pretty concerned about color matching with the new Canon.  Prints from Lightroom looked like they came from Dogdoo 8 (a Futurama reference for cartoon fanatics everywhere).  And we all know the universe ends at Dogdoo 7.  So, the prints were looking fairly awful!

After going through Photoshop with the Canon provided Photoshop Plugin I found colors to be closer, but still not on it.  Disappointment and tears.

Finally, the ColorMunki arrived and I thought the world would be a good and safe place for color matching.

Boy, was I wrong.  Blues went purple, reds went orange, and my hair became completely unmanageable!  The last part probably has more to do with the fact that I don’t use conditioner…..

I left the gallery last week for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with the 8300 not performing how I needed it to.  I left wondering if the purchase had been a mistake.  And to be quite honest I had 2 different nightmares about printing with the 8300 and not being able to make acceptable prints.  I know, I know…..dreaming about color matching, how pathetic…….

Back in the day, after setting up countless DSX cross connects and piping in thousands of packet pipes through a TelLabs DACS I’d dream all night about doing that work.  Work while awake, work while asleep… rest for the weary engineer or printer guy!

Putting in the call for help!  Paul to the rescue!

Tuesday after my return from the North Rim I contacted Steven over at Breathing Color.  I left him a message asking if he could put me in touch with his color guy.  I needed help, and for the first time since I started this business I couldn’t figure things out on my own.

An hour later Paul called.  He suggested a few things, and then he made me an offer.  He’d put together a few videos on using the Media Configuration Tool, and on the proper usage of the Canon Plugin.  Woah, a custom video for a small client?  Talk about amazing support!

So, for those of you out there who are running this system, or thinking about it, here’s the links to Paul’s “quick and dirty” videos.  Please keep in mind, he did these on the fly.

As a final follow up, Paul was also kind enough to send along his own profiles for the Breathing Color papers and canvases I use.  Thanks Paul!

Extreme disappointment…..

This morning I sat down and ran through Paul’s videos.  How jazzed was I to get going?  Well, arrived at the gallery around 7:30 a.m. if that tells you I was ready to get rocking.

Paul’s videos showed me that I did just about everything I was supposed to.  The Media Configuration tool was something I hadn’t used until yesterday.  Okay, a missed step.  Printing from the plugin?  Yeah, I had that down pat.  But I went forward and redid everything along with his steps.  I even reprofiled the 30MS Decor paper I was using to test with (in testing I’ve laid waste to a whole roll).  And in the end……?

Severe disappointment.  Blues were still purple.  Reds were still orange.  And my hair was still completely unmanageable!

Clearly I was missing something.  So, I tried Paul’s profiles that he sent along as a last resort…….

And Voilla!  It worked!

It worked, it worked, it worked, it worked!  Obviously when it comes to color matching and profiling I’m a neophyte.  Why else wouldn’t my profiles work?

The follow up call with Paul

Mid-morning I left a message with Paul regarding my findings.  His profiles rock, and mine?  Not so much.  Yup!  Neophyte!

Shortly after I left a message with Paul he called back.  Pretty surprising too. He’s on the road today going to meeting after meeting.  But he was kind enough to call me back.  And during our conversation I learned the error of my ways…….

I’m not a neophyte after all.  I just don’t think like a Canon Engineer.  Hey, I’m a Lucent engineer.  I’ve got enough in my head!

Nothing works without the Plugin!  Nothing!

As we discussed my usage of the ColorMunki Paul stopped the conversation dead.  He asked me, “When you print the color swatches from the ColorMunki interface, are you using the print driver?”  Ummmm, well of course, yes I am.  That’s the only option I have.

Ah ha!  Problem identified!  Using the standard print interface is a no no here.  You must print from the Plugin in Photoshop.  Printing direct from the print interface totally hoses you, especially when profiling.

In order to make an accurate profile you go into ColorMunki, get to the test swatch print screens, and print to a PDF.  Then take the PDF and put it in Photoshop.  Now, export the PDF to the Canon Plugin and print the swatches……..

Once Paul told me this it became so obvious.  To get the best prints you have to use the Plugin!  I know that much after reading so many forums.  The Plugin is key.

So, what was I doing wrong?  Well I’d get into the ColorMunki Profiling setup.  I’d get to the section where you print color swatches from the ColorMunki program to the printer.  Doing this gets you into the generic print dialogue.  WRONG!  Printing direct from the ColorMunnki program lands you in a world of hurt on this printer.  Blue turns purple, red goes orange, and don’t even go down the road of thinking about what it does to your hair!

The correct process?  When you get to the print dialogue, print to a PDF.  Take the PDF and open it in Photoshop.  Now, export to the print Plugin!  Once the swatches are dry, scan and go on with your life.

Reds are red, blues are blue, and you’ll come away every time looking like you’ve been to the best hair stylist in town.

Sorry for the fixation….I need a haircut this week!

Big Thanks Paul, Big Thanks Breathing Color…..And Canon, what were you guys thinking.

So, once again, Breathing Color has proved that they are a valuable vendor for me.  Beyond that, they really know what customer service is all about.  With the new Canon dialed in perfectly I’m up and running once more.

And Canon…..hey guys I do love you, but really?  What’s the story with this plugin?  The only way I can get accurate screen to print colors is with the plugin.  When profiling it’s not an obvious leap in my mind that I must run the profile swatches through the plugin.  If I hadn’t had the support of a color engineer who had to run through this exercise I’d be in tough shape.  So, how about extending the powers of the plugin to the ColorMunki Photo, Lightroom3, and any other program I’d like to print from?  Just a thought guys.  🙂  And seriously, I’m a Canon guy through and through.  10D, 30D, 40D, 5D Mark II and too many lenses, speedlites, etc, to count.  😉  So I’m not aimlessly picking at you guys.  And by the way, once the printer is dialed in the quality ROCKS!

Finally for all you readers out there.  Would you like me to put together a full video on calibrating this sucker?  I know some Canon users out there who have expressed similar issues.  Now that I’ve got this fully down (Media Tool, Print Plugin, and Profiling) I’d be happy to put something together this week.  Leave a comment if you’d like to see that!

Comments 6

  1. Happy to hear you figured everything out.
    I’m looking forward to running a few prints in the near future of the project I’m working on. Have you ordered in an pearl finish paper yet?

  2. Oh and sorry for the double post, but very nice job on that edit. I can’t tell if it’s HDR or not and it looks fantastic… the way it should be.

  3. Post

    The Polar Pearl Metallic Josh, or that Satin you liked? The Satin will be in on Friday, and I’ve got Polar Pearl in stock too.

    Thanks on the image. I knew you’d like it! It’s an HDR, all the work done in only Photomatix. Took some extra tooling around with the smoothing sliders and using the Medium Light Smoothing. 65 on the Saturation, 85 on Strength, lower setting on Microcontrast as well. I really liked the scene and wanted it to look like the exact moment I stood there. 🙂

  4. And I woulda thought the title would be something like:

    Eureka! We have a printer again!

    Been reading and enjoying the images of the last few days Ric – great work! 🙂

  5. Hey dude, am i glad i found you on the interent, my hair has gone grey trying to sort out this CM lark, for that read colour management and colour munki…

    we have been doing exactly as you have and printing swatches from the std dialog box that munki spits up, and getting lovely colours out of munki and then crap colours out of the PS plug in…. ie reds in particular,.

    issue we have is we are running LION and the MCT keeps crashing and will not let us update our custom profiles into the printer ??? we have upgraded to what we think are the latest drivers etc…

    sorry we are kinda newbs with this and muddling thru, but does the profile we create attach itself to the image when we send to the 1pf8300 ? even if it does not yet reside in the printer itself ? ie we just choose say canvas matte in the LCD screen and not our profile as we cannot load it in….
    i have watched the u tube vids and trying to take it all in..

    anyway if this makes sense,will check back for a reply.
    Once again, you may have solved our issues, will advise asap.

  6. I just updated to Mountain Lion on my MacBookPro from a much earlier version. What used to work, didn’t. On the ColorMunki website buried in comments, I found a sequential issue with the way Apple wrote the print interface. The software guy expected the user to make entries into the options from the top down. There is an issue in which selecting the “no color adjustment” under printer controls, messes up the subsequent selection of the color match setting. Make sure that you do NOT select the ColorMatch selection, use vendor or equivalent, in the second option, then select “no color correction” under printer controls. This fixes the initial problems under sRGB color space. I’m still working on ProPhoto color space issues. Obviously your working with multiple softwares, but there is definately an interaction issue with the Mountain lion printer/color profile software. Part of this could be that there is not an updated colormunki driver for the apple. While the software still executes properly under the new OSX, there may be a difference in how Apple now manages color now.

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