color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900
I recently bought my first photographic-quality inkjet printer, an Epson 4900. As I was trying to make up my mind to buy the 4900, I appreciated reading the review by Ernesto Santos.
I love the 4900 and have made some very nice prints on a variety of papers (Epson photo, Hahnemuhle, Ilford, Red River, ...). I followed Martin Evening's book to manage the color from CS5 and always used the ICCs recommended by the paper manufacturer.
For the near term, I settled on using two Red River papers, Arctic Polar Satin and Aurora Fine Art White (with minimal OBAs). I have mostly printed on the Satin and like its surface texture and color, as they closely resemble those of Fuji Crystal Archive Matte photographic paper (from Aspen Creek Photo), which I have happily using for several years.
All was going well until I tried the two Epson Hot Press papers from a Signature Worthy Sample Pack sent to me by DTG (for free!). I first used an ICC I downloaded from Epson's UK site: EpsonStylusPro4900_4910Hot_Press_Bright_MK. The prints came out with a disappointing green color cast. I then tried the ICC that came with the 4900 driver: EpsonStylusPro4900_4910UltraSmoothFineArtPaper_MK. It also had a similar green cast, but not quite as strong. The image I am using in these tests is: Sandhill cranes at daybreak
To quantify how large the color cast is, I used the Hue/Saturation tool in CS5 to adjust my monitor image to match the prints; the required settings were Hue +10, Sat -10.
One last result, I printed on the RR Satin paper with the UltraSmoothFineArtPaper_MK ICC and the image had only a slight amount of green cast, but enough to be objectionable. This suggests the "color-cast problem" is caused by the papers, which the ICC should correct for, as I understand it.
(1) has anyone else seen this effect with Epson Hot Press papers?
(2) does anyone have suggestions for fixing this problem or finding my error?
Of course, I could try to adjust each image before printing it with Hue/Sat or Color Balance, but that negates the purpose of ICCs.
Let my say that the Hot Press papers have some very desirable properties: they seem to have extraordinary contrast (for matte) and produce a very dark black. I would like to resolve my color-cast problem so I add them to my repertoire in the future.
Some possibly relevant details: my monitor is an HP LP2475w with a wide-gamut IPS panel, which I calibrate with a Spyder 3 Pro.
#1. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 0esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Thu 05-Apr-12 01:17 AM | edited Thu 05-Apr-12 01:20 AM by esantos
The 4900 install CD comes with ICC paper profiles for all the hot and cold press papers. There should be no need to download those from the Epson UK site nor to have to use profiles made for other papers. Just make sure that you use the correct profile for the paper as these four papers are subtly different from one another. If you are still getting a green cast that indicates that you are not applying color management in your workflow. Double check your settings in both your editing program's print command and in the 4900 printer driver. I have used the Epson provided profiles for these papers with my 4900 and I always get great results.
EDITED TO ADD:
I just thought about whether you might not have the latest driver and profiles installed. Check the version of your printer driver and compare it to the latest available here:
Epson 4900 Downloads
esartprints.com Ernesto Santos Photography
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#2. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 0blw Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Fri 06-Apr-12 10:34 AM
I use Hot Press Natural on a 7900 and I don't have a green cast; in fact if anything it's toward red, but really it seems quite neutral to me. I definitely do not adjust the images before printing. I will add that most of what I print on HPN is B&W, with slightly warm tones in the shadows and completely neutral in the highlights. But I do print other stuff on HPN. I think that the HPN is pretty close to my other Epson papers in color rendition.
I'm calibrating with a Spyder3 Pro also.
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#3. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 0billg71 Nikonian since 14th Aug 2006Mon 09-Apr-12 12:35 AM | edited Mon 09-Apr-12 12:36 AM by billg71
No suggestions, I'm stuck with a 4800 for MK prints and Epson didn't see fit to offer profiles for new papers on my old printer.....
Just wanted to say that's a stunning shot, great work! I hope one day to be able to make a trip to the S. Platte to shoot the sandhills, your photo another reason to make it happen.
Thanks for sharing,
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#4. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 3Tue 10-Apr-12 02:10 PM
I agree - I am appalled that Epson doesn't provide profiles for all their papers on all their printers. You might try looking at Epson's UK website - it seems more profiles are available there.
Thanks for your comment about my sandhill photo. As we all know, getting a great shot often depends on luck; in this instance, the unusual humidity created the mist at daybreak, which makes the photo so mystical.
Good luck, Ken
#5. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 4Ken_Seals Registered since 14th Feb 2003Fri 20-Apr-12 02:46 AM
That's a beautiful image. I envy your being so close to Bosque.
I hope you don't take this as insulting, but did you turn off color management in the printer driver and turn it on in the software (PS/Lightroom)?
Mizzou PJ '66
US Army Photographer and Instructor '67-'69
#7. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 5Sun 22-Apr-12 08:48 PM
Ken Seals, yes I have done both of those. I am new to inkjet printing, but have paid close attention to the instructions in Martin Evening's CS5 book and believe I have followed them. I have printed several hundred prints on various papers to try to decide which to use routinely and have gotten reproducible results, that is until I tried the Hot Press Natural.
Thanks for asking, though.
#6. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 3
>I'm stuck with a 4800 for MK prints and Epson
>didn't see fit to offer profiles for new papers on my old
Same here with my Epson R2400. Not offering profiles for older printers for the new papers is a big part of what drove me away from Epson.
Anyway, I print Hot Press Natural on my 2400 using the Ultra Smooth Fine Art profile and it works great. Probably the easiest paper to profile of all that I work with.
Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery
#8. "RE: color cast in Epson Hot Press papers printed with Epson 4900" | In response to Reply # 0
Thanks to all for their comments. Pardon me for being remiss in responding for no better reason than I've been busy. I also wanted to finish a number of tests to see if I could figure out what is happening with prints on Epson's Hot Press papers.
First, let me show a comparison between prints made on Red River Aurora Fine Art White (AFAW) and Epson Hot Press Natural (HPN), both cotton rag papers. I printed these on my Epson 4900 with the manufacturer-recommended settings and profiles. I photographed the two prints, along with an X-Rite Color Checker grey scale with a Nikon D300, in direct sunlight. This sRGB image was created by Lightroom 3 with a linear tone curve (which is why the image appears so flat) and no adjustments.
Fig. 1: Red River Aurora Fine Art White (AFAW) on left and Epson Hot Press Natural (HPN) on right; photographed in sunlight. While white balance was set by camera, the print on the right is very close to being white blanced
The HPN print (right) clearly has a different color cast compared to the AFAW. Initially I judged this to be a green color cast, but now I believe it is more like a red cast. The HPN print also has a deeper tone than the AFAW, which further emphasizes the apparent color shift. The deeper tone is probably because the HPN paper can take more ink, which it one of its desirable features.
After I had carefully adjusted my digital image to get the effect I wanted with AFAW, I was quite upset to see such a different rendition on HPN. Hence, my original post to Nikonians in May.
Incidentally, the camera automatically chose the color temperature to be 4950 deg K with a tint of -2. At this setting, both the brightest swatch of the ColorChecker and the HPN have approximately equal RGB values; choosing them for the white balance hardly changes the image.
After a lot of double checking of my printer settings and more experience with other papers, I realized the main reason why prints on HPN look so different from on AFAW is the large difference in the color between these two papers; AFAW is a lot bluer than the yellowish HPN.
Since the white point of a print is its paper color, it is reasonable that all colors will be shifted toward the color of the paper.
To demonstrate the white-point effect, the following image is from the same NEF file as the preceding, but the white balance is taken from the border of the AFAW paper:
Fig. 2: Red River Aurora Fine Art White (AFAW) on left and Epson Hot Press Natural (HPN) on right; photographed in sunlight - Same as above but white balance taken from left-hand print
The AFAW print now looks much more similar to the HPN print in the preceding image, but still a bit lighter. The only difference between these images is the white balance. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that the perceived color shift between these prints is mostly caused by their different paper tints.
Although we have been taught that our eye-brain system can adapt to a change in paper color, there must be a limit to how much change can be accommodated. Furthermore, seeing the two prints side-by-side makes it easy to observe their differences.
Since the AFAW gets its bright appearance from Optical Brightening Agents (OBA), I wanted to see what would happen if the ultraviolet (UV) light was removed. So I took another photo with conservation glass covering the same two prints. From the following reflectance spectrum for AFAW from SpectrumViz, it is clear that the 90%+ absorption of UV light by the conservation glass will essentially eliminate the contribution of OBAs at 440 nm:
Fig. 3: Reflectance spectrum for RR Arctic Polar Satin – red, RR Aurora FA White – blue, Epson Hot Press Bright - green, Epson Hot Press Natural – yellow
Here is the photo of the two prints, covered by conservation glass:
Fig. 4: Red River Aurora Fine Art White (AFAW) on left and Epson Hot Press Natural (HPN) on right, covered with conservation glass; photographed in sun light
With the UV largely removed, the differences between the two prints are somewhat reduced. (For this image, the camera set the color temp to 5000 and tint to +1)
Because the Epson Hot Press papers are popular, I repeated the above tests to compare Hot Press Natural and Bright papers.
Fig. 5: Epson Hot Press Bright on left and Epson Hot Press Natural on right; photographed in sunlight
Here we can see a slight different between the Bright and Natural prints, but not as pronounced as above. (Camera temp = 5000, tint = +1)
The same test with UV-absorbing conservation glass yields the following image (As set temp = 4900, tint = +3):
Fig. 6: Epson Hot Press Bright on left and Epson Hot Press Natural on right, covered with conservation glass; photographed in sunlight
There is essentially no difference in appearance between the Bright and Natural prints when viewed under UV-absorbing glass. We conclude that the OBAs in the Bright paper do not enhance its brightness when no UV is present.
One last question is "What happens in the art gallery?" The following photo was taken in our local Art Gallery. A stack of papers was illuminated with light from GE bulbs (GE Q50MR15 C/CG40), commonly used in galleries; from top to bottom, the papers are Red River Arctic Polar Satin, Epson Hot Press Natural, Epson Hot Press Bright and Red River Aurora Fine Art White with X-Rite Color Checker at top. Conservation glass covers the right side of the stack.
Stack of print papers photographed in art gallery; conservation glass covers right side
The prints appear much warmer than when viewed in sunlight. The camera set the temp at 3850, tint at -8; when the image is white balanced on the ColorChecker white patch, the color temp is 2850, tint +5, which closely matches the nominal 2900 deg K color temperature of the GE bulb.
All of these papers are essentially unaffected by removing the UV, which is what is expected because halogen bulbs emit negligible UV light. We see that bottom three papers appear very similar to each other. Specifically, the difference between Epson Hot Press Bright and Natural papers is minimal in a gallery setting or when covered with UV-absorbing glass (as mentioned above).
Another observation is that the Red River Arctic Polar Satin appears slightly brighter than the other papers, even though its brightness is supposed enhanced by OBAs, which shouldn't have any influence on the perceived color in the absence of UV. This paper is therefore a good choice if you are looking for a paper that remains comparatively bright under UV glass.
I would like to mention another test I did comparing eight popular print papers, with and without UV glass, which was discussed in a blog on dpreview.