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Your situation leaves out some crucial information. You said you compared your custom profile to "canned profile I got for the same printer and different substrates". What does that mean? The comparison is ONLY VALID if you are comparing the same exact paper and the same printer/ink combination. Even then, two identical printer models may not perform exactly the same.
Creating the best custom printer profile is not just a matter of printing a target and then reading it. You have to be certain you select the best media setting in the driver first....the one that gives you the best Dmax, best color gamut, and good separation in the shadows for that paper. You also need to pick the other driver settings that give the best results (ie, dpi, high or low speed, etc). Often, the "best" driver setting is a compromise.
How did your profile PRINT compared to the canned profile? What do your results look like on a few images? I'd try printing some wide gamut images, some neutral ones, and some with skin tones to see how your custom profile performs. Of course, you need to use the same exact paper, printer and ink, and you will need to compare the final print to a soft proof in Photoshop, using the same profile and rendering intent. And your monitor needs to be accurately profiled too, otherwise a good monitor to print match is doubtful.
It is possible that your spectro is out of whack, but it is hard to say, since you haven't mentioned how your printed output looks. You can download a free diagnostics for your spectro from the XRite website. I'd assume your spectro is fine before spending any money on a new package. Make sure you do everything right first, and if your results are still terrible, then dig deeper.
A canned profile is based on a generic machine, so it is hard to say whether the gamut will be wider or narrower than on your 'specific' machine. But, it shouldn't be vastly different, at least not for the same paper/ink/printer combination. You also need to use the OEM inkset to have a valid comparison against the generic profile.
There are lots of good monitor profiling packages out there. EyeOne Display2 is good and you can get it for $219 at the following link:
If you want to learn more about custom printer profiling, you may wish to read the "Monitor and Printer Profiling" article on my website. It goes into a lot of depth.
I printed the patches from Illustrator with color management off. Which I actually am not sure, I did. I turned it off in Illustrator (I believe, I did not see anything that said 'color mgt off' explicitly but I did find a saved setting that said that). I did turn it off in the printer driver but again, in the dialog box itself, nothing really says "no color management".
The prints looked fine to me and presumably were picked up fine by the DTP41 since it did not give me any errors and advanced to the next strip until the end.
I understand what you mean about comparing to the same exact paper but I did not have any profiles for this paper and that was why I created it. I was only initially comparing it to see how close it was to LexJet's profile but the subset of the my generated profile is so puny that I find it hard to believe that everything is right unless, vinyl is just that different (who knows, I guess it could be). I suppose it is easy enough to profile some canvas and compare it to their canned canvas profile.
My photo printing out of PSCS3 is fine. I am trying to generate accurate prints of PMS spot colors from Illustrator. I have an old Encad Novajet Pro that is giving up the ghost so I am looking using this printer until I get what I think is Epsons version of a production printer - the 9900.
Thanks, I will take a look at your site.
Hmmm, I now understand what might be going on. I printed my target using the vinyl media from the driver but I should have tried using many different media settings with the color management turned off.
Your pdf file mentions measuring the dmax, I do not know how is this accomplished in PM5. I will attempt to find that out.
Thanks, I will post what I find.
So is there no 'scientific' way of doing this? Can we not set the ink limits somewhere and just send this target to print or am I stuck experimenting with the different substrate selections because I am trying to profile with a driver instead of using a RIP?
Can we not at least open the media profiles in a utility that would allow us to see their preset ink limits? This would at least allow us to find one of the preset media profiles that have an ink level closest to the media we are trying to profile, no?
You don't need a RIP. Also, I recommend you print your profiling targets from Photoshop, not Illustrator. If you cannot measure the Dmax, then just select a reasonable driver media setting for printing your target (if printing on matte paper, select a matte fine art setting, if printing on glossy photo paper, then select glossy photo paper, etc).
I custom printer profile describes the gamut, Dmax, and other characteristics of a printer/paper/ink combination. It will be good for ANY color managed application that prints to that printer/paper/inkset.
Follow the directions in my PDF file as best you can and you should end up with a good custom printer profile. If you are unable to measure Dmax, color gamut, etc, prior to profiling, just select a reasonable driver setting for the paper you are profiling. That should get you a good profile. I recommend using 1440 or 2880 dpi, low speed, and highest quality (in general). If speed is important to you, you can experiment with faster print settings, but be sure to use the exact same setting when you use your profile.
You cannot see ink limits in profiles. The profile just describes what that printer and inkset can print on a given paper using a specified set of driver (or RIP) settings. It is up to the user to make sure they use the same settings every time a print is made.
Read the paper and understand it, then try again. If you follow the directions, you will get good results.