Comments on: Camera Raw and the shadow output levels The latest news about the top pixel wrangling application on the planet. Thu, 29 Aug 2013 16:59:14 +0000 hourly 1 By: Andrew Rodney Andrew Rodney Fri, 18 Jan 2008 14:37:50 +0000 >Andrew, I’m not shure what you meant with the PIC Pro front end. I cannot find a single website located in Germany that talks about PIC Pro, let alone finding a minilab offering it.

Its an optional front end for the Frontier. You’ll have to ask the lab if they spent the money for this option.

By: Martin Evening Martin Evening Fri, 18 Jan 2008 09:33:13 +0000 [Quote]
What bothered me were the constantly muddy shadows – no shadow detail at all. Like cut off. That’s why I came up with this maybe strange idea with the levels command.

Could it be that the Black Point compensation was switched off when using this measured profile? I have noticed that canned printer profiles are generally immune to leaving the BPC option unchecked when doing a mode conversion in Photoshop. But with other, measured profiles, it is critical to have the BPC checked otherwise the black levels will all clip to solid black. I am guessing that something similar to this could be happening with the printer’s colour management settings.

By: arne arne Fri, 18 Jan 2008 01:10:31 +0000 Thanks for all your numerous clarifications!

Andrew, I’m not shure what you meant with the PIC Pro front end. I cannot find a single website located in Germany that talks about PIC Pro, let alone finding a minilab offering it. So either Germany is a CM-wasteland or you are referring to the “PD/No convert” mode, also described in the third illustration (Camera ColorspaceAdobeRGB) on page 16 in this Fuji manual (1.6MB):

I also think that my lamelab describes the second workflow illustrated on page 16.

Martin, as I said before and you also annotated: The color accuracy is not critical at all for this job; it’s a mass print for giving away… though the colors obviously shouldn’t be weird.
What bothered me were the constantly muddy shadows – no shadow detail at all. Like cut off. That’s why I came up with this maybe strange idea with the levels command.

KVSSetty, I’ll follow your advice and send different versions of the same image to the minilab… just to see how it will come out.

Though I thought I had a little clue about CM I obviously need more experience and further reading on this topic. Especially with this unpredictable Frontiers!

By: KVSSetty KVSSetty Thu, 17 Jan 2008 06:22:03 +0000 Being a lab owner I completely agree with what Andrew Rodney says the present generation photofinishing equipment from both Fuji and Noritsu and its print drivers are not completely ICC aware like Photoshop SW.They always assume all the incoming files are in sRGB space and even if you embed a profile it doesn’t care about it and simply assumes the image is in sRGB and converts on the fly to Printers space and prints it.
To test this follow this simple procedure:
# open some sRGB image in PS,Assign Pro photo space(please note ‘Assign’ not ‘Convert’ save a copy with this profile embedded.
#Submit both the original sRGB embedded image and the second ProPhoto assigned and embedded imaged for the lab and ask them to make ‘all normal’ prints (with no manual corrections for color and density).
You will be surprised to see both prints look exactly same on the print where as when you open the files in PS they look entirely different the Prophoto image radiantly brilliant highly saturated and sRGB image very dull.Why? because PS is ICC aware where as lab printer driver is not ICC aware and assumes all the files are in sRGB.
So we many labs, always suggest customers to submit files in sRGB though the printers are in fact has much wider gamut than sRGB, labs are not able to take advantage of it.And using a external application (usually third party) like PicPro is the only solution.And from the point of business revenue logistics it is not a viable solution at least in our country.
The other point is that when machine scans film and save files they automatically convert the files to sRGB and save as 8bit jpegs or 8bit tiffs though they scan at 12/14bits per channel.and the most silly part is that the it doesn’t embed the profile.

By: Andrew Rodney Andrew Rodney Wed, 16 Jan 2008 23:21:35 +0000 I’ve built profiles for Frontiers, it can be done and like all output devices, its useful. The issue here is the lab, the front end they use and their unwillingness to supply a profile that a user can use to convert the data, then have it passed directly to the printer without further conversions. Many labs just want to crank out prints as fast as possible. They don’t want to be bothered with profiles or differing color spaces so they ask you to funnel everything into sRGB. It can work, but its not ideal for the customer who cares about controlling the process. And again, the printer doesn’t output sRGB (there’s only one device that can do this, its a CRT display). What’s happening is, the front end is assuming sRGB as the source color space for all conversions to the output color space. But you don’t have to work this way. Labs can and do bypass this as described by Fuji above, using the PIC Pro front end.

By: Martin Evening Martin Evening Wed, 16 Jan 2008 22:59:57 +0000 Arne,

As Andrew says, this is confusing and over-complicated advice that you have been given. Change labs! Soft proofing is valid when working on your system and you can knowingly match the rendering intent you are actually going to convert with. From what I have read of the Frontiera system printers, they have been optimised to work with the sRGB gamut. The gamut of the printer may be greater than this, but the system is designed to accept sRGB as the default and if no profile is present, then assume an sRGB profile.

I don’t know the supplied profile, but if it is a print output profile then there should be no surprise that it indents the shadow output point during the conversion. All print devices I have seen will do this to a lesser or greater extent, even the LED Fuji Pictrograph device that I used to use. If you analyze your workflow you should see that you didn’t need to tinker with the output levels because the supplied profile was doing this for you. If you are happy to send an sRGB converted RGB image, then don’t adjust. The printer software should be doing the necessary profile conversion and adjusting the black output levels as you have seen happen when you did your profile conversion in Photoshop.


By: Andrew Rodney Andrew Rodney Wed, 16 Jan 2008 21:47:40 +0000 >The lab provided me with a profile which is supposed to work only for softproofing at home, not for converting

So lame. They are trying to convince you they have a clue about color management, they don’t. IF you can’t use the profile to actually convert to the output color space, what’s the use? You can’t soft proof and edit based on whatever rendering intent you’ll pick (which is image specific). You can’t be sure what color engine they will use. In fact, they probably are not using the profile at all anyway. Many Frontiers use a front end processing system that only accepts sRGB and does the conversion, on the fly to the printer without an ICC profile. That makes it fast for them, far less accurate in terms of knowing what you’ll get. There ARE labs that have a color managed front end. This is taken directly from the Fuji Frontier manual:

When the images are sent to the Frontier for printing from the PIC Pro, the files can be converted to the Frontier output color space (using a color profile or Look Up Table) for that specific paper type, using a setup in the output spooler of PIC Pro. Therefore, when the image is resampled and a raw file is created in the PIC Pro software, it is also converted to the custom color space. If this feature is not utilized, then the images are sent to the Frontier printer in sRGB color space.

If you have interest in controlling the print process, soft proof and so forth, find another lab.

By: arne arne Wed, 16 Jan 2008 16:43:23 +0000 Martin, very interesting article! Maybe you have the answer for the following scenario:

I send my “mass production” photos to a lab which prints them out on a calibrated Fuji Frontier. The lab provided me with a profile which is supposed to work only for softproofing at home, not for converting. They expect sRGB images. For the profiled DP-mode they take a ridiculous amount of extra charge, which I am not willing to pay since this job is not color critical at all… but I want at least some decent shadow tones.

So I took the provided profile and converted my ProPhoto images to their profile with black point compensation. After that, I converted the image to sRGB without black point compensation. One sees that the black clipping point was moved from 0 to 17.

So my idea was to batch process my print images with a levels correction in luminosity mode with a output level black point of 17 as a first step for soft proofing after converting to sRGB.

Can you tell me if that workflow makes any sense or how one would normally set manually the black point to a proper value?

Thanks, Arne

By: Andrew Rodney Andrew Rodney Tue, 15 Jan 2008 14:43:25 +0000 LR uses BPC as it should (there’s NO reason not to use it). And only Adobe Color Engine (ACE) provides this useful functionality.

By: Martin Evening Martin Evening Tue, 15 Jan 2008 10:16:54 +0000 It could be that you have Black Point Compensation (BPC) disabled using a custom profile. With such profiles, disabling BPC will mean that the shadow tones get clipped in the printing (unless you set the Black output levels point to a higher value and disable BPC) and then you will get tonal separation.

Another way to look at this is to ask what is the color management meant to do if not to bring about more consistency when converting from one gamut space to another? A profile conversion from the document RGB space to the print destination space should be mapping all the colors from the source to the measured target space including the blacks. Which means we shouldn’t have to add any extra manual tweaks. If we do have to do this, that suggests we are using the wrong print settings or there is something not right with the profile or the calibration of the print device.

It is interesting to note that in the Lightroom Print module the only options you have are to select the print profile and the rendering intent. I have not asked this question of the Lightroom team, but I have always assumed that the print profile conversions default to using BPC since this is the recommended way to convert from the source space to a print profile. The reason there is no output levels adjustment in Lightroom is that you shouldn’t need one.

By: toddv toddv Mon, 14 Jan 2008 20:36:37 +0000 While this sounds logical in theory, I find in practice it is still necessary to adjust the black levels of the print. I have tested this conclusion with my particular printer (Epson 2200) using a stepped grayscale chart I created in Photoshop specifically for this purpose. I have tested this with CS2 and found that anything with a value under about 17 (RGB values 17,17,17) to 20 prints completely black with no detail. I would guess that this value would differ slightly from printer to printer, which would account for the differences of opinion mentioned at the outset of your article. The purpose of printer calibration is to account for these differences as well as variations in batches of ink/paper. If Photoshop is supposed to compensate for this I would suggest it is not doing so effectively. I would recommend users test their own paper/printer combination if they are concerned about getting the most detail in their shadows.