Over the last four days (and over fifty prints) I have undertaken extensive and meticulous tests to identify the cause of a problem; namely that targets for profiling a new printer (a Canon Pro9000), printed with ‘no colour management’, were printing far too dark and with what appeared to be a colour cast.
I have conclusively eliminated the printer, the printer drivers, the Mac OS, corrupted preference files, corrupted user accounts, incorrect Photoshop settings, incorrect printer driver settings, the ‘sticky settings' issue, and user error as possible causes of the problem.
I can say with 95% certainty that my tests, conducted using Mac OSX 10.4.11, have proved the following:
- That, printing to a Canon Pro9000 or iP4500, Photoshop CS4 does not print accurate targets suitable for producing profiles. This applies to both the No Colour Management (NCM) and the Printer Manages Colour (PMC) settings.
- Photoshop CS and CS2 are not effected.
I did not test CS3.
Furthermore, colour managed prints (using the same accurate profile made in CS2), printed in CS2 and CS4, show subtle differences. This may not be an issue except in the most critical applications.
It is likely that the problem will not be confined to the two Canon printers above since many other Canon printers share the same driver architecture.
Reading posts and discussions on other websites would seem to indicate that this problem is also manifest with some Epson printers and may also effect Mac OSX 10.5.
I have to conclude, therefore, that Photoshop CS4 cannot be replied upon to print targets of sufficient accuracy to produce reliable profiles for a colour managed workflow.
The fact that this is only just being reported can be attributed to four factors:
- That many CS4 users are continuing to use profiles made under older versions of Photoshop and have yet to make new profiles using CS4.
- Some users may not immediately notice a problem, or may ascribe it to other causes.
- Some users may take the line of least resistance and use a previous version of Photoshop to work around the problem.
- Some users are still using the older versions of Photoshop not effected.
Eric Chan (of Adobe) has stated on another website that CS4 implemented some new APIs for printing and that this has given rise to some "minor glitches". If Eric Chan is correct, and Adobe changed the APIs in Photoshop CS4, this begs question of whether Adobe sufficiently tested CS4 before release ? If Adobe did not test their software, and therefore failed to identify this critical problem, this would suggest negligence on Adobe’s part. If Adobe identified the problem but then did not inform users that a potentially serious colour management issue existed this would suggest wilful or gross negligence.
It is not good enough to say that Adobe simply followed the ‘conventional’ path and ‘followed the rules’ regarding API implementation. The experience of end users does not correspond to a “minor glitch” and, in my case, has been extremely costly in terms of time (over five days in all), lost revenues, and materials. Furthermore, why should Adobe's customers be forced to use their valuable time diagnosing problems clearly of Adobe's creation – and actually admitted.
In UK law providers of goods and services (and this includes software) have to supply them as “fit for purpose”. Clearly, in terms of colour management, CS4 is not fit for purpose. Neither can Adobe hide behind its labyrinthine licensing terms since any exclusions would be ruled unlawful under the UK’s ‘Unfair Contract Terms’ Act.
My strong and unequivocal recommendation is that representatives from Adobe, Apple, and the printer manufacturers meet together – with the utmost urgency – and provide a rapid and complete solution. It is simply not good enough to pass this ‘over the wall’ saying “it’s not our problem”. It is. Adobe's, Apple's, and the printer manufacturers'. Please solve it. And quickly.
Identify the problem clearly, make it and the solution/s public; and publicise it widely and thoroughly.