It's always very exciting when evaluating a new product. Being one of the first on the planet to try something out that's going to enhance one's future workflow or a new tool which will add benefits is great. It goes without saying that this is how it felt when Canon asked me to evaluate their new 12 ink large format printer aimed at photographers; the iPF6300.
However, it's not all excitement and fun as there is a surprising amount of hard and laborious work involved. One of the things I was asked to evaluate was how the printer behaved with various papers; both Canon and third party. This entails having to make hundreds of prints, in colour and black and white, using a variety of images and also a variety of print settings on all these different papers.
One hurdle I soon came across was that as this printer was so new and hadn't even had it's European launch, I was missing a large number of paper ICC profiles. These profiles, along with the correct media setting tell the printer how to print (how much ink, how to print the correct colour, which black ink to use and a host of other 'under the hood' settings which are chosen automatically) once the ICC and media settings are applied in the printer driver or plug-in. These ICC profiles simply didn't exist. Canon had supplied me with most of the profiles for their wide range of papers but Hahnemuhle and Ilford didn't yet have profiles and were working on getting them to me for some of their papers. I also had other papers from other manufacturers like Olmec too.
At this point I asked to borrow a ColorMunki photo from Canon's Gary Vaughan who had kindly trained me on the printer. Apart from being used for screen calibrations, the ColorMunki from X-Rite can also be used to create ICC profiles for printing.
I loaded up the software, read the concise instructions and was good to go. Although my screen was already calibrated using my Eye One Display 2 and Color Eyes software (with which I've always been happy) I decided to calibrate my screen with the ColorMunki too. One very neat feature is that it can measure the room's ambient light and take this into consideration when calibrating the screen's luminosity.
After the screen was done I proceeded to getting my paper's profile done, and chose Canon's Glacier paper as my first port of call. I had already made some prints with this paper using a profile of a very similar paper but the results just didn't sing. One extremely important thing to remember when making paper profiles is to make sure that colour management is switched off in the printer driver. The software guides the user through and I must say that I'm very impressed by the way it makes it child's play to use. After a few steps, it prints out a colour chart which one then 'reads' with the ColorMunki puck. All you need to do is basically run the unit over the coloured bars, one column at a time. It then creates a second print out with a different set of colours and the same step is repeated, allowing the software to create an extremely accurate ICC for that paper. So easy and very smooth.
I chose my newly created printer profile and made another print - this time the print sang. I must say, I'm so impressed with this unit. It's so straightforward to use with extremely user friendly software and is such a capable unit calibrating my screen and printer paper that I'm in absolute awe. I cannot recommend this highly enough.