DATELINE: January 1999 Issue
Low-Cost Profiling Tool Delivers
By Bruce Fraser
One of the main roadblocks to the widespread adoption of ColorSync and other ICC (International Color Consortium)compatible color-management systems is the difficulty and expense of building profiles for output devices. Delta E’s affordable Profiler 1.1 may help break that logjam. Other low-cost tools exist, but they require you to measure hundreds or thousands of color patches in order to build a profile. Profiler is special in that the program requires only 18 measurements, making it usable with relatively inexpensive handheld instruments.
The profiling process is quite simple: with all color management turned off, print the calibration target containing the 18 patches. Then measure the patchesthe software provides audible feedback when each measurement is complete and automatically advances to the next patch for measurement. Once the measurements are complete, Profiler prompts you to save a Delta E profile, which the program uses as the basis for creating ColorSync profiles and Adobe Photoshop separation tables. To build the full set of profiles, simply click on the Build Profiles buttonthe rest is automatic. On a 300MHz Power Mac G3, Profiler takes around 4 minutes to build all the profiles. So the entire process, from printing the target to producing the profiles, can be accomplished in around 15 minutes.
When we printed to a Minolta CF-900 color laser copier and a Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 697C ink-jet printerwhich use halftone dotsthe profiles produced good results. But the results were subpar when we tested profiles on two continuous-tone printers, the NewGen Chromax Pro and the Fuji Pictrography 4000. This isn’t a crippling constraint, by any means, since most printers used in graphic arts are based on halftone processes.
Profiler lets you open images and view printer simulations. The Blend control lets you view the different rendering intents built into the profiles. But although you can view intermediate stages among the intents, you can’t change what gets built into the profile.
The Gray Adjustment feature lets you shift the hue of your neutral tints by a variable amount. It’s hard to use, because you can’t preview the effect on screenit shows up only in the final print. We recommend using this sparingly, if at all.
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