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Why does LRC send images to printer in a color space that printer cannot use?

Participant ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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I am trying to get a better understanding of what LRC does when I print an image. According to Adobe Help (https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/help/color-management.html), DRAFT printing is done using Adobe RGB, so I have to assume that for regular printing, ProPhoto RGB is used. However, my printer (Epson SC-P800) does NOT have ProPhoto RGB as an input color space option (in the "Mode" setting in the printer dialog). Given this discrepancy, how can printing using the setting "Profile - Managed by printer" ever be expected to give an accurate print?

FYI: I am using LRC: v 13.3 on Windows 11-23H2

Thanks, Adriaan Sachtler

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

The system will color manage in the driver by converting to a printer profile as defined by your paper and ink choice in the driver settings when this happens. This is done using the operating system color management system usually so it will understand whatever profile the data is in. If the driver is coded correctly and you're using a standard paper defined in the printer driver, managed by printer will work just fine therefore. You might be able to obtain slightly better results (potentially

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Community Expert ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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The system will color manage in the driver by converting to a printer profile as defined by your paper and ink choice in the driver settings when this happens. This is done using the operating system color management system usually so it will understand whatever profile the data is in. If the driver is coded correctly and you're using a standard paper defined in the printer driver, managed by printer will work just fine therefore. You might be able to obtain slightly better results (potentially less banding of colors) by converting to the printer profile in Lightroom but it is often not possible to actually see the difference.

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Participant ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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Thank you for your reply. However, I am still confused: if the image color space is handled automatically by the OS, why does the printer dialog have a "Mode" entry where I have to select "sRGB" or "Adobe RGB" (among others). If the OS can figure this out, I would expect there to be an "auto" option - which is not the case?

Thanks, Adriaan

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Community Expert ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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Lightroom is designed to do the color management, so even though there is an option to let the printer manage the colors, I would recommend not to use that for the reasons you outline: you'll never know if the printer driver is up to that task. If your printer driver expects you to define the input color space and does not allow you to choose ProPhotoRGB, then maybe it isn't. This is not Lightroom's fault, but seems a limitation of that driver. Let Lightroom manage the colors.

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Participant ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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Thank you for the reply. You seem to know a lot about the topic, I hope you don't mind if I expand on the background for my question. At this week's Lightroom Virtual Summit, one lecture was given where the author showed that printing an image on an Epson or Canon printer using OEM paper using PS/LRC with the printer managing color gave great results, but printing the same image on a 3rd party paper using PS as well as LRC (with PS, LRC managing color and using the color profile provided by the paper manufacturer) gave poor results (skin tones much too light, reds off - these were quite big, obvious differences). Same result for Epson and Canon printers on that paper. However, when he printed the same image using Epson Print Layout software on the Epson printer (or the corresponding Canon software on the Canon printer) using the SAME paper and color profile, the results were great again and matched the prints on the Epson/Canon papers closely. This discrepancy seems to vary with the paper, another author giving a presention about printing had good results printing from LRC (he used different papers). This leads to the question why for some papers, printing using PS/LRC for color matching gives such different (bad) results? Since the standalone printing software gave good results using the same paper and color profile, the profile would not seem to be the cause.

(Note: this author is a respected & experienced professional, he was doing this using an Apple computer, he calibrated his monitor and appeared to be knowing what he was doing. He separately investigated the effects of rendering intent, black point - the issue here is not due to these settings).

This issue is quite baffling, the author did not have an explanation for this. It would be great if you/someone in this community could shed some light on this.

Thanks, Adriaan

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Community Expert ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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What you describe is almost certainly a bad printer driver. Unfortunately it is extremely common for the printer manufacturers to botch their driver releases, even the major maufacturers. Also even if it is not the printer manufacturer botching it, sometimes Microsoft or Apple release an update that break color management in the printer drivers. It is pretty maddening how fickle it is. Needless to say, if the system works correctly, selecting Lightroom manages colors will give you the very best results. The results should be identical to other software that uses the same profiles. If not, it is another printer driver/software bad interaction/misconfiguration. Extremely common unfortunately.

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Community Expert ,
May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

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That sounds ike a badly designed printer driver. There should be a color management option that automatically converts. That said, as Johan (a real expert in this area by the way) says, the best results are obtained when you let Lightroom manage and completely turn off color management in the driver. The latter should happen automatically but in badly programmed drivers, it sometimes keeps managing anyway and assuming it is fed sRGB or adobeRGB images, which is when you get weird results.

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Participant ,
May 26, 2024 May 26, 2024

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I am disappointed to hear that the situation is this bad... Anyway, thanks for the update.

Adriaan

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Participant ,
Jun 02, 2024 Jun 02, 2024

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I was asked by email whether the answers solved my problem. I ran some test prints, both in LRC and PS, managing color using the sofware versus the printer. The results are the same. Thus I think that the first answer is correct (and I don't have to worry about not having a ProPhoto setting in the printer driver). I have marked it as such.

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