Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mac OS X + Epson R1800 = dark prints

I decided I should print some Christmas cards. But when I print the picture I want, it's way too dark. Argh!

This is an ongoing problem. The last batch of printing I did I settled on managing color on the printer (so I could make the following adjustments), setting the gamma to 1.5 (instead of 1.8 or 2.2), and cranking the brightness to the max of +25.

But even with those extreme adjustments, my current print was way too dark. (And it goes against most recommendations to manage color in the computer.)

Lots of other people have this problem (try Google). Leopard seems to have made the problem worse. Epson doesn't seem to want or be able to fix it. Nor are Apple or Adobe any help. On the other hand, it seems to work ok for some (many? most?) people. For some people the problem occurs in Lightroom but not Photoshop, but I get the same results from both.

A lot of the responses to this problem tell people it's because their monitor isn't calibrated. Maybe that's the case some of the time, but if my histogram is correct then the monitor has nothing to do with it. And I have the brightness on my 24" iMac turned down to the minimum. And the images look fine on other monitors as well.

Suggested "fixes" range from using the Gutenprint drivers (which don't support all the printer features) to reinstalling OS X (yikes!). Some people seem to have had success using the older version 3 driver.

I tried some of the common suggestions - deleting my Library/Printers/Epson folder, resetting the print subsystem, emptying the trash (?), restarting (just like Windows!), reinstaling the driver ... I did find there was an update to the 6.12 driver so I installed that as well.

I'm not sure how much difference it made. I now seem to be getting better results managing color on the computer (as most people recommend) rather than the printer. But I still had to adjust the image to the point of looking ugly on the screen (overexposing by .3) in order to get a decent print, which is something I really wanted to avoid. Maybe I can make a preset to make it easier to adjust for printing.

Judging from Google, there seem to be fewer problems with the newer R1900 but I really hate to replace a printer that has nothing physically wrong with it (AFAIK) , just to get around a software problem! And the R1800 isn't that old a model.

It's a frustrating problem because there are so many variables and it's very hard to objectively evaluate the results. I just changed the exposure from +.3 to +.5 making it lighter and I swear the print got slightly darker!


Anonymous said...

I've thought you were a Windows man... now you have your feets wet with unix... after all osx is a BSD derivative, what have we need to do for you to take a shot at Linux :-) (my choice, Ubuntu )
How is jSuneido progressing? ... We'll really love to have suneido in linux and wine didn't make there... yet
Running on linux will make the suneido comunity growt explode, I think.
Merry Christmas and happy new year.


Marlon R said...

Did you ever get this issue fixed. I'm having dreadful results on OSX using Photoshop/LR. It seems that the the print console for PS is just useless. I get bad results everytime. As soon as I put it on a PC it works like magic.

andrew said...

No, I didn't find a real fix.

I can usually get the results I want, it just takes a lot of fiddling every time.

Melissa Shelby said...

Same problem! I was hoping something new had come out to fix it. I can print great from the PC with the R1800 but as soon as I print the same image from the Mac in PS or Lightroom I get heinous dark images. The Mac used to work great and then one day a few months ago (probably after a software upgrade) it just started spitting out these dark unusable images. I've spent countless hours on the internet researching and installing and reinstalling drivers, etc. I was hoping Mac or Epson had finally decided to address the problem. But alas.....

Anonymous said...

Have you tried using R1900 driver for R1800 printer? Just a thought...

nfiertel said...

I have my monitor calibrated with a makes a huge difference and having previously adjusting the monitor using Apple's built in expert calibration does not work as well at all. Further, using the printer to determine the colour works best with an Epson. As well, go to colorsync utility and allow it to repair the ICC profies in it. Then choose the appropriate one in the print pane before printing and see how this works for you. This printer sure does have issues and I have heard of the very same absurd situation with other people also. I believe they started using an odd ink mix for this printer and perhaps this is an issue which is why I would allow the printer alone to choose colour.