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Lightroom 2.3 Printing Dark Images

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BernieS  6243 forum posts United Kingdom
26 Mar 2009 - 2:42 PM

I've searched the forum to see if this has come up before, and I can't see it, so here goes:

I've just bought an Epson Stylus Photo R800 and am delighted with the quality of output - however there is no getting away from the fact that the printed image is noticeably darker than the image on my monitor. The colours are correct - it's just too dark.

The monitor is calibrated with a Spyder 3 Pro (last calibrated yesterday); I am using Epson inks on Epson Premium Glossy paper, using the Epson supplied profile.

LR is set to glossy paper, 360dpi and high sharpening. The profile is SPR800 Premium Glossy, and Rendering Intent is perceptual.

Printer settings are Premium Glossy Photo Paper, Best Photo, Gloss is enabled, and High Speed is ticked. Colour Management is turned off for the printer.

I can' think of anything else that might need adjusting - anybody got any ideas please?



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26 Mar 2009 - 2:42 PM

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Chrism8  7745 forum posts England14 Constructive Critique Points
26 Mar 2009 - 2:52 PM

I use an R1800 which may have similar software, from within the printing properties, then printing preferences, you can adjust the brightness of the print.


justin c
justin c  104537 forum posts England36 Constructive Critique Points
26 Mar 2009 - 2:52 PM

I can't help with your actual problem I'm afraid but thought I'd mention one of your settings. High Speed should be switched off for the best reults.The other settings look fine.
When evaluating your print to screen match ensure the viewing conditions are adequate.
For instance, viewing a print in the evening with the sole illumintion coming from a room light will make the print look darker and warmer than what it actually is.
Viewing the print by holding it near a well lit window (but not one lit by direct sunlight) will often give a far better indication of the match between screen and print.


Last Modified By justin c at 26 Mar 2009 - 2:54 PM
Henchard  92744 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
26 Mar 2009 - 3:01 PM

You say you've calibrated your monitor. However, are you sure the brightness is correct? It should be in the region of 120-130 cd/m2 (for an lcd). With my Spyder 2 this reading is displayed at the point where you adjust the three RGB levels on the screen before proceeding with the calibration process.

I have to manually do this by turning down the screen brightness.

Dark prints are often caused by the screen being too bright.

Last Modified By Henchard at 26 Mar 2009 - 3:05 PM
Nick_w  73910 forum posts England99 Constructive Critique Points
26 Mar 2009 - 3:14 PM

Are you letting printer or lightroom / photoshop to determine the colours - I had a similar problem and I had over riden the settings. I tend to let Photoshop (don't have LR assume its the same) setermine the colours that way you ensure the same colour space is used. Ensure you use the right profile in drop down box. Then remember to turn off the colour management in the advanced settings on photoshop check here for a tutorial that covers it in a bit more depth.

BernieS  6243 forum posts United Kingdom
26 Mar 2009 - 3:25 PM

Just had a look at the Adobe Lightroom forums - it looks like this is a known & wide-spread issue that has plagued LR from version 1. Several work-arounds suggested, but no solution.

Henchard - thanks for the advice, I will check that.


What's your operating system???
I ask because I'm having an ongoing nightmare with Colour Management on Vista.
Bottom line is that my calibrated screen is not showing me the correct colours/tones.
Full Story Is Here
It's a long story, but in essence Lightroom has a bug with ICC4 profiles and even if you work out how to generate an ICC2 profile you get shafted by Vista.

I'm afraid the real start point is knowing your screen is displaying the right colours/tones.
Then if the prints don't match the screen it's purely the printing and in isolation that's relatively easy to fix!

I know if I hold a Macbeth ColorChecker up next to my XP system it looks astonishingly similar to the screen.
See my Adobe Forums thread for the test images I used.

Last Modified By DuncanDisorderly at 26 Mar 2009 - 3:33 PM

I'd also add I've seen weird and dramatic colour problems with inks bought from eBay - they turned out NOT to be genuine Epson inks.
Wasn't me I hasten to add!
There is quite a good guide on eBay about spotting fake ink.
Always buy your inks from a reputable source!!!!!

Last Modified By DuncanDisorderly at 26 Mar 2009 - 3:36 PM
BernieS  6243 forum posts United Kingdom
26 Mar 2009 - 4:04 PM


Unfortunately I'm on Vista - SP1.
Any chance that you can e-mail me a copy of the Gretagmacbeth JPEG so I can see what it looks like? I'll PM you my address if that's OK. I had thought that my colours were OK, but having read your threads, I'm not so sure now!!


You can't PM me - I'm still a newbie.
Colour chart is linked from the Adobe Forums thread amongst many other useful images.
But here's a direct link

I see you have been Googling and worked out the Gretag bit...
It used to be just plain Macbeth, then Gretag Macbeth and it is currently XRite Macbeth....
Makes it really difficult to search for all the entries on eBay!!!

Sounds like you need to read that Adobe Forums thread in detail and see how much applies to you - you may be marginally better off with the Spyder - depends which ICC profiles it generates.

Last Modified By DuncanDisorderly at 26 Mar 2009 - 4:27 PM
26 Mar 2009 - 4:29 PM

Everything you need Bernie - except that LR doesn't allow 'Proofing' against a paper profile like PS (I think... I use PS for final output)

Last Modified By User_Removed at 26 Mar 2009 - 4:29 PM

Oh - and if you are comparing a print with the screen, always use daylight or a daylight corrected bulb - otherwise it WILL look different!
I use a Grafilite Mode

BernieS  6243 forum posts United Kingdom
26 Mar 2009 - 4:45 PM

OK - got the colour chart thingy and everything looks just fine in LR - no strange colour casts visible, all of the colour blocks look correct, blues are blue with no trace of purple. It also looks just fine in Firefox - with colour management turned ON.

HOWEVER, print out of LR using all settings as above - and it's noticeably darker than the screen display. That's using non-direct sun daylight BTW.

So I've got a printing problem, not a display problem.

Which is comforting I suppose - if only I knew what the %$@ to do about it!!! Smile

Last Modified By BernieS at 26 Mar 2009 - 4:46 PM

Bernie - it's not that simple!
I'm afraid all you have done is rule out the ICC4 Lightroom problem.
There is still no guarantee what you are seeing are the right colours unless you have a ColorChecker!

However, here's an experiment you can try....
Take a print; one with a good selection of colours and tones.
Use your camera to take a picture of it under daylight with the white balance set to daylight (sunlight works for me).
JPEG is good as it eliminates any post processing errors.
It doesn't really matter which colour space your camera is set to as you are already using colour managed applications.
Ignore the camera screen - it's not calibrated!

Now display the JPEG on your computer screen and place the print next to it under the same lighting as when it was taken.
If they look near-enough the same then your monitor calibration is spot-on.

This assumes the camera is reasonably calibrated; in my experience this true!
My ColorChecker image was taken as described above with a 5D under the Grafilite Mode.
As I already said - the chart and the XP screen look spookily like each other when placed side by side.
I wish I could say the same of the Vista screen.....

As a foot-note, my vista screen looks better uncalibrated - i.e. everything set back to the default SRGB profile. The colours are the right colour.
Th eproblem is that the shadow detail is way too bright and there is a blue cast.
The shadow detail problem is common to uncalibrated laptop screens, it's done by the manufacturer to make the screen look brighter.
This is why people with uncalibrated screen usually complain about dark prints.
And that's why you need have to have a reference print to compare your screen against!

Last Modified By DuncanDisorderly at 26 Mar 2009 - 5:10 PM
BernieS  6243 forum posts United Kingdom
26 Mar 2009 - 5:14 PM

Oh my Gawd - think I might just skip the next caffeine fix & go straight for the G & T!!! Smile

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