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What about print calibration?

This is for those people who want to print their microscopy images on their home printer.

Basically, you need to bear in mind that your printer has a different colour gamut (colour range) and that this is also influenced by the ink, the paper and the interaction between ink and paper. Companies like Epson try to do all the colour matching in the background so you don't have to worry about it. They also have a catchy phrase, print image matching. This has had little imapct on life as I know it. Generally, if you use good inks and the photo paper designed to be used with those inks (I use Epson inks with Epson paper, others use Lyson inks with reccomended Lyson paper), you will get pleasing results 95% of the time by just using the printer driver presets. If you mix inks and papers then you get unpredictable results. I have submitted images to journals for review which I have printed myself and have yet to receive criticism regarding image quality. I also printed my photographic portfolios for the Royal Photographic Society in a similar manner.

For your 5% of images that do not demonstrate colour accuracy, you may need to print a calibration image such as the ones I provide on this site, then adjust your monitor to match the print. Do make sure you are using between 200-350dpi to give your printer enough resolution to avoid pixellation or image softening. Other people recommend letting Photoshop do the colour matching and/or loading a colour profile specific for your printer and paper.

Epson have a short tutorial on using ICC profiles with their printers from Photoshop. Actually, they have a few useful tutorials at their photoexpert site. You can download specific ICC profiles for some of their photo printers at the bottom of this page.

I've tried fooling around with this but to be honest, I haven't achieved noticeably better results. In my experience, the images which don't print accurately do not because they contain colours which are out of the printer gamut (out of the colour range of the printer). These include a particular shade of royal blue, and fluorescent or vibrant colours (orange, green, pink). If you print such colours, the best thing you can do is to dampen your monitor colours so that you get a realistic idea of the image will actually look on paper.

Here is a image you can use as a reference:

monitor calibration image

Click here for 1024 x 768 pixel version (for screen) or here for the 2048 x 1536 pixel version (for print)

You will find that most printers will not be able to print the blues and greens on the top row accurately. Some of the shades of blue and purple will not match either. Generally, histology and cytology images print adequately. Fleshtones are less vibrant on paper.

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(c) 2003 Dr FJ Leong
drjoel[remove this]@telepathologycity.com

 

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