In my recent review of Canon’s Pixma Pro9500 photo printer, I noted that the ICC color profiles that Canon included with the printer were at best mediocre. This was surprising to me, given how important profiles can be for getting the best-looking images out of your system, but I’ve found that many of the printer companies don’t really think through this part of the process. They’re getting better—Epson and HP seem to get it with their pro-level printers—but it’s still not where I think it should be.
I knew that the Pro9500 had potential, so I fired up ColorVision’s PrintFix Pro 2.0 to build custom profiles, not only for Canon’s papers, but also for many third-party papers as well.
With PrintFix Pro, you print out a color target on the paper you want to profile, and, after letting the target dry properly, you use the included spectrophotometer to measure the color patches on the target. The process is quick and easy, and I’ve been able to build a set of profiles for a printer in an afternoon. The
While there are other options for building ICC profiles—including the excellent i1 system from X-Rite, which I have also used—PrintFix Pro has a unique feature for building an “extended gray” profile for black-and-white images. This capability is designed specifically to take advantage of pigment-ink printers with multiple black and gray inks. In the past year, I’ve found that this really does help eke better prints out of some recalcitrant monochrome photos.
The PrintFix Pro suite is priced at $549, but I’ve been able to find it at a number of online stores for under $400. If you’re printing a lot on a pricey photo inkjet, you should be using the best ICC profiles you can. If you’re lucky, the paper manufacturers or the printer companies are producing top-quality profiles for your paper-printer combination, but I also think there’s something to be said for building your own.