Confused about which profiles to use when printing on Canon printers? Don’t know the difference between PR3 and SP3? Then this article is for you. Read on.
Information about using ICC profiles on Canon printers appears to be scarce. It exists, but it is well hidden and not all that intuitive when found. We’ll take a look at what to do and how to set up a color managed environment using a Canon printer.
Those Color Profile Names
The first area of confusion lies in the naming convention that Canon has applied to their profiles.
Their profiles are named like: Canon Pro9000 PR2. While we can figure out what Pro9000 means (it’s the printer we’re using, in this case a PIXMA Pro 9000), we have no idea what PR2 means.
Likewise, other profiles come with names that include codes such as SG1, MP2 or PR3, all of which are meaningless. Well, to come right to the point, the letters indicate the type of paper and the number indicates the quality setting. This table will be your friend in identifying those codes:
|Code||Paper Description||Quality Setting|
|MP1||Matte Photo Paper||1|
|PR1||Photo Paper Pro||1|
|PR2||Photo Paper Pro||2|
|PR3||Photo Paper Pro||3|
|SP1||Photo Paper Plus Glossy||1|
|SP3||Photo Paper Plus Glossy||3|
|SP4||Photo Paper Plus Glossy||4|
|SG1||Photo Paper Semi Gloss||1|
|SG3||Photo Paper Semi Gloss||3|
The lower the number of the quality setting, the higher the quality. In other words “1” is high quality and “4” is low. This quality setting should match the quality setting that you select in the print driver. It is not automatic!
In the printer, you will find this quality setting by selecting the properties of the printer. On the “Main” tab, first select the appropriate paper you will be printing on and on the “print Quality” section, select the custom option then click the “Set..” button.
This will bring up a dialog box with a slider in which you can select the quality setting we’ve been referring to. This should match the color profile you have selected or wish to use.
If, for some reason, you cannot match the numbers up, select the ICC profile with the lowest number. So, for example, if the slider is set to “3”, but your system does not have SP3 available, select SP2 rather than SP4. That way, you will be picking a higher quality setting in the profile than the printer will render. This is better than the other way round. Of course, best is to have the two quality settings match.
So, now that we know how Canon names their profiles we are in a much better position to select the most appropriate one for the job at hand.
Now we can complete the color management set-up of our print workflow.
Because we prefer to be in control of how color is rendered and do not want the printer to override what we’ve specified, we will need to tell the printer not to interfere. We therefore need to turn the color management in the printer OFF. This too is set in the properties dialog.
In the “Main” tab. Tick the “Manual” option of the Color/Intensity section and click “Set…”
Then select the “None” option under the Color Correction pull down. This turns off all color management activity inside the printer, allowing us to trust what we see on-screen when editing the photo. We typically use applications like Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, Photoshop Elements or Lightroom for that task.
Preparing the Photograph
The most common color space used by digital cameras is the sRGB color space. It is a good idea to have this color space associated with your images if you use them on the web or have them printed by a commercial printing lab (although some of the higher quality labs may provide you with alternative instructions).
However, the sRGB color space does not provide the widest of color gamut. The reproduction range of the modern Canon printers actually extends beyond the sRGB range. If you have your camera set to assign sRGB profile to the images you take, then you are limited as you cannot increase the gamut. It is advisable therefore, to set your camera to AdobeRGB, a broader color space, especially if you plan on doing a lot of printing on your Canon printer. [note to Canon users: Your camera produces files names like IMG_6733 when shot in sRGB, but changes the naming convention to _MG_7355 when the AdobeRGB profile is selected. So now you know, your camera is not broke, :-)]
Remember to assign sRGB to your images when sending files to labs or when putting them up on the web!
To assign in Photoshop, go under the FILE menu and select the “Assign Profile . . ” option
Now we are ready to print.
1. We have the photo represented on-screen in a color gamut that is suppored by the printer.
2. We’ve turned off all color management inside the printer, so it will not override what we send it
3. We have loaded the printer with a specific type of paper
4. We know the naming convention of Canon’s paper profiles, so we know which one to pick.
Now we can proceed with printing the photograph.
If using Photoshop, select the Print With preview.. option, found under the File menu.
Double check to make sure the photograph has the Adobe RGB profile assigned.
Then, in the options, select the following:
1. Color Handling = “Let Photoshop Determine Colors”
2. Printer Profile = Here we select the Paper Profile that matches our paper and selected quality setting
3. Intent = Perceptual
When all is confirmed, click “Print” and you should get a beautiful print that matches what you see on screen.