About color matching

ATTENTION: this section is outdated since FitPlot 6.
Refer to the color management section for the new features about how to control color spaces for images of type bitmap in FitPlot.

Many users complain that FitPlot has a bad color management. Their prints that are good in Photoshop, give bad results when printed in FitPlot.
I have not the needed "know how" to give FitPlot all that color management controls as Adobe programs do.
Fortunately, as far as I know from Apple documentation files, FitPlot does manage color profiles by default.
Being a Cocoa Application and making use of the NSView and NSImage classes, automatically each image displayed in FitPlot uses its color profile (if previously assigned). If the image is untagged (has no color profile assigned yet), the program assigns it the default Generic RGB profile (or generic Gray or generic CMYK profiles).

Since version 3.2 / 3.5, FitPlot is able to change the color space of an image assigning it directly from inside FitPlot. Of course FitPlot does not change the original file on the disk, it just creates a copy on the fly. You can find this feature in the new image adjust panel and this is available on raster images only (so PDF, EPS, PS are excluded from this).

Apart this new opportunity, the application itself does not manage directly color profiles, but delegates this task to the underlying ColorSync® technology so it is a good practice to have a previously assigned color profile from other specialized programs or from the image source itself (scanners, camera etc.).
From my daily use, I obtain good results on Epson Stylus D88 and HP Designjet 500PS doing this way:

  • import an image that has a color profile assigned.
  • from the print dialog, there should be a Color Matching (or Color Management) option.
  • Choose ColorSync and print (this forces the ColorSync┬« engine to match image profile with printer profile doing the needed corrections).
  • Select the paper / quality (these settings are heavily tied to the printer driver and affects the final result, that is each kind of paper should have its proper color profile; usually manufacturers include presets for the papers they sell).
  • Is the result good? ("Good" means the printed image matches what you see at screen, except for colors out of gamut).
  • Of course your screen also have to be calibrated (you can do in ColorSync Utility).
  • In my experience, using printer manufacturer's papers and inks is the straightforward way to get the best result. I have tried other less expensive photographic papers, experimented some printer settings / adjusting (using the sample images at the next link below) and I have obtained very good results anyway. I have saved these printer custom presets for future use.

For my personal purposes this works very well, but I am not a color management expert.
I have made some research on the web and here are some useful excerpts I have found:

From http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html

"...If our monitor is profiled correctly, and our RGB .tif .jpg is tagged with an embedded profile, FitPlot will display it correctly, and it will print correctly as long as the printer honors the source embedded profile and converts it to a good target printer profile.
Of course except if the file has over-saturated, out-of-gamut colors or tones that the printer inks technology can't reproduce on the chosen paper!..."

From http://images.apple.com/pro/pdf/Color_Management_in_Mac_OS_X.pdf

"...When you print to a PostScript printer, the Print dialog includes additional options under ColorSync.
The Color Conversion pop-up menu gives you two choices:

  • Standard. Using this default setting, ColorSync converts the profile data before sending it to the printer. This option is generally faster and more accurate.
  • In Printer. Using this option, ColorSync converts the source data to a device-independent color space before the print job is sent to the printer.
    This device-independent space is then matched to the printer's color space by the printer's PostScript interpreter. This option should be used only when printing to high-end PostScript printers that provide their own built-in color management options.

Printing to a Raster Printer
A raster printer is a non-PostScript printer such as an inkjet printer. There are two ways to print color-managed files to a raster printer:

  • Use Photoshop to prematch your source data to a printer profile. Choose ‚"Print with Preview" in Photoshop and then choose the printer profile.
    Turn off any color correction in the printer driver and print.
  • If you are printing from an application such as Preview (FitPlot also) that does not provide pre-matching, ColorSync will match your source data to a printer profile. First, you'll need to assign a profile to your printer in ColorSync Utility..."

Disclaimer

Hoping these hints can solve some printer quality issue, I know that there are better application than FitPlot to manage color matching.
Hence, if you need professional color matching, do not base your whole work on FitPlot only, and use, as long as you can, professional color matching tools and programs.
I am not responsible for what FitPlot can or cannot do to your works / products.
I welcome your feedback regarding this topic. Please send me your comments using the form at the bottom of this page.

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