Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Windows Printer Drivers

In Windows, you can access your printer driver in two ways: Either select Start > Printers and Faxes, or open the printer's Properties dialog box from within your application. This chapter uses the Printers and Faxes approach. In Chapter 7, "Printing Your Files," I'll show you how to access these settings from within Photoshop.

To get started, select Start > Printers and Faxes. Next, right-click on the printer you want to work with and choose Properties from the context menu. You'll see the default dialog box with basic printer information (Figure 4.2) and tabs for specific features, such as Sharing, Color Management, and Maintenance.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Windows users can select Printers and Faxes in the Control Panel, then right-click on the printer and select Properties to see the default Preferences dialog box. Here you have access to system- and printer-specific settings.

From here on out, it gets specific, because every printer manufacturer has different options for their printers. To make it simpler for you, I've separated the details by printer type. Feel free to jump straight to the appropriate section—Canon, Epson, or HP.

Canon printers

To illustrate Canon printer settings, I'll use the Pixma iP8500; most current Canon photo printers have the same options available, however. To get started, click the Printing Preferences button in the Properties dialog box to open the Printing Preferences dialog box, which is the main control center for the printer driver.

To give you an idea of the available options and how to use them for the best results when printing different types of images, I'll cover each tab in the dialog box.

Main tab

First up is the Main tab (Figure 4.3). Here you specify the Media Type and Paper Source settings (if available). Media Type is one of the most important settings you'll make in the printer driver. A wrong selection here most likely will result in a print that needs to be redone—even when everything else is set properly. This is because the printer driver decides how much ink to use based on the type of paper chosen. Selecting Photo Paper Plus Glossy when you have plain paper inserted will give you a nice, soggy print.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 The Main tab for the Canon printer driver provides the same options for most models.

Next in the dialog box are the Print Quality settings. Unless you're printing on plain paper, your choices are High, Standard, and Custom. For most prints, Standard works fine and uses less ink while printing faster than High. For critical prints, the High setting is your best choice. Custom enables the Set button, which opens the Set Print Quality dialog box (Figure 4.4), where you can set the quality level and type of halftoning used. For photos, Fine quality and Diffusion halftoning will give you the best results (which, coincidentally, is the same setting you'll get by selecting High for the Print Quality setting). Why use Custom then? You probably won't need to, but the best use for Custom is to change the halftoning method to something other than the default. Dither can produce some interesting effects, especially when used with black-and-white prints, giving the print a harder look, similar to a newspaper photo. Clicking OK returns you to the Printing Properties dialog box.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 You can create your own quality settings using the Set Print Quality dialog box, which contains settings for the print quality and type of halftoning used.

Along with the proper media type, the Color Adjustment setting in the Printing Properties dialog box has a major impact on the quality of your prints. The Auto setting works well when you just want a quick print and don't care about fine-tuning. For the best results and full control, select Manual and click the Set button to open the Manual Color Adjustment dialog box (Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 The options in the Manual Color Adjustment dialog box have more impact on the accuracy of your prints than any other settings. These options control how color is managed by the printer.

The first settings in this dialog box are the Color Balance and Intensity sliders. If your image-editing application doesn't offer color management control, these sliders can be used to adjust any color tint and brightness problems. Sadly, this is a trial-and-error method that requires printing, adjusting, and reprinting until you get the results you're looking for. You'll be much better off skipping these and going straight to the next set of options.

The Enable ICM (Image Color Management) check box controls whether the printer or the application handles the translation from screen colors to printer colors. It might seem to make sense to select this option; after all, you're probably thinking "Well, of course I want to manage color!" And, if your application doesn't support color management options, then you will be best served by checking this box. If, however, you use Photoshop, do not check this box. Enabling ICM in the printer driver and in Photoshop will result in applying color profiles twice—something your mother may not have warned you about but that's a bad idea nonetheless.

The Canon driver also includes settings for typical style prints, which you select by choosing the appropriate option from the Print Type drop-down list. The thumbnail in the upper-left corner shows a preview your choice. When using Photoshop, be sure to pick None. Again, this is because you want Photoshop to control all aspects of the printing process.

Back in the Main tab of the Printing Preferences dialog box, the next option is Grayscale Printing. Checking this box forces the printer to use only black ink, which removes any color cast from your black-and-white prints. The tonal range is also more restricted, and prints will have a grainy look to them. Because of this, I recommend not enabling the Grayscale or Black Only settings for most prints.

You can also select Preview Before Printing, which when checked opens a window showing you what paper size, type, and source you selected along with a preview of how the print will look before you commit it to real paper.

Finally, you can click the Print Advisor button, which gives you the opportunity to learn how to select options with the help of a goofy bird. But, when you've got me, do you really need a goofy bird too?

Page Setup tab

The Page Setup tab is where you set the paper size and orientation (Figure 4.6). You can also choose borderless printing and such page layout options as poster prints of up to 16 pages, as well as other specialty layouts that likely won't be of much interest to photographers.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 The Page Setup tab has options for paper size, layout, borderless printing, and special projects such as multipage posters.

Stamp/Background tab

The Stamp/Background tab contains options to print watermarks on your documents, which can be useful when you're printing proof sheets for customers. You can use one of the several predefined stamps, or click the Define Stamp button to create your own with either text or graphics and choose the placement on the page (Figures 4.7a and b). Background is useful for text documents, but I can't imagine using this with a photo print.

Figures 4.7a and b

Figures 4.7a and b The Stamp/Background tab probably won't see much use in your photo printing but can be useful for creating watermarks on prints sent out as samples. By clicking Define Stamp, you can create your own text and position it on the page wherever you like.

Effects tab

In the Effects tab you'll find options to create toning effects, such as Sepia (Figure 4.8), or make auto-adjustments to image files, which can be useful when you're printing directly from a camera or memory card. When printing with Photoshop and color management, you won't be using any of these settings. When printing enlargements of low-resolution files, however, you may want to check the Image Optimizer check box to reduce jagged lines in your images. The next check box, Photo Optimizer PRO, compensates for color casts and exposure problems, and Photo Noise Reduction is useful for cleaning up images shot at high ISO settings on your digital camera where noise is obvious. Checking this box results in softer images, however, so use with caution.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 The Effects tab offers a number of options that are useful for printing from applications that don't support color management, or for just making quick prints that need a little improvement such as noise reduction, color correction, or toning.

Profiles tab

The Profiles tab (Figure 4.9) has a somewhat misleading name. A better title would be Saved Settings, because that's what you really do here. After making a series of changes to options in the Printing Properties dialog box, you can save them here by clicking Add to Profiles. Once these settings are saved, you can recall them for future use.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 The Profiles tab doesn't actually have anything to do with profiles. You can save and restore settings for different print tasks from this tab.

Maintenance tab

In the final tab, Maintenance, you'll find head cleaning and nozzle check functions along with printhead alignment controls and other settings (Figure 4.10). If you notice problems in your prints, such as streaks, banding, or missing colors, a quick stop here for cleaning and a nozzle check will often fix you right up.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 Hopefully you won't be visiting the Maintenance tab often. If you do see problems in your prints, a nozzle check and head cleaning will probably get you back up and running.

Epson printers

Because the dialog boxes for various Epson models are very different, I'm going to show you the options for both the Epson 4000 and R2400. I'll start with the Epson 4000.

Epson 4000

To begin, click on Printing Preferences to open the main printer dialog box (Figure 4.11). In the Printing Preferences dialog box, Epson places most of the important and frequently used options directly on the Main tab, including quality settings, paper type, and access to color management options. Again, one of the most important settings is Media Type. This setting determines how much ink is placed on the paper, and a wrong choice here almost always means a reprint, translating into lost time, paper, and ink. The Ink settings determine whether your print will use all colors or only black ink. Although selecting Black when doing a black-and-white photo is tempting, doing so greatly reduces the tonal range available and gives you a lower-quality print.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 The Main tab for the Epson 4000 includes common printer options, as well as access to some of the more advanced features of the printer.

In the dialog box's Mode area, you set the color management options. Automatic lets the printer driver decide what is needed and is the best choice for quick prints or for applications that don't support color management. PhotoEnhance attempts to optimize your images for color and exposure, and includes preset options for several common types of photographs, such as Nature, People, and automatic Sepia conversion. The most important option here when you want full control over the quality of your print is Custom. Selecting Custom activates the Advanced button. Clicking Advanced opens a new dialog box with a number of settings, the most important of these being the Printer Color Management options (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 Clicking Advanced in the Main tab of Epson's Printing Preferences dialog opens a new window with several options, the most important of which control how color management options are handled.

Along with repeating the Media Type and Ink options from the Main tab, this dialog box gives you a Print Quality drop-down list with Fine and SuperFine choices. For draft prints and quick checks on your printing options, Fine, with a printer resolution of 720 dpi, is a good choice. For final prints I recommend choosing SuperFine, with its 1440 dpi printer resolution, for the best possible output.

Other options in this portion of the dialog box control how the ink is laid down on the paper. MicroWeave moves the printheads in finer increments and reduces banding. High Speed enables bidirectional printing, which will speed up the prints at the risk of lower quality. If you're having problems with print quality, particularly fine vertical lines showing up in your prints, turn off High Speed. Flip Horizontal is useful when you need to print in reverse for projects such as iron-on transfers and your application doesn't support reversing the image. Finest Detail is useful when you're printing line art and vector graphics but it isn't needed for photo printing. Edge Smoothing can help reduce jagged edges when you're printing low-resolution images.

Printer Color Management options include Color Controls (Figure 4.13) for manually adjusting colors in your prints for brightness, contrast, saturation, and individual color channels. The Mode drop-down list has several preset options.

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13 The Color Controls option has sliders to adjust each color as well as brightness, contrast, and saturation. If your image-editing application has no color management options, this setting will give you the ability to fine-tune your prints for accuracy.

PhotoEnhance (Figure 4.14) is for quick correction of such common digital image problems as exposure and color balance, and includes a sharpening function. Off (No Color Adjustment) is the correct choice when you're printing from Photoshop or any other application that gives you full control over color management. Selecting Off ensures that your printer receives only one set of color instructions. sRGB works well when you're printing JPEG files directly from a digital camera and no correction is needed. Because sRGB is a smaller color space than Adobe RGB, it isn't the optimal setting for photographs but does ensure that the printer and the camera are using the same set of color values when printing with no other color management support.

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14 PhotoEnhance works best with photos that just need a quick correction or conversion to black and white or sepia. If you're printing JPEG images directly from the camera, PhotoEnhance is a good option.

ICM is the best choice to make when your application doesn't support color management (Figure 4.15). ICM gives you most of the control that printing from Photoshop does, including profile selection and rendering intents. Selecting ICM tells the printer which profile to use based on your Media Type setting. When more than one profile for the media exists, you can select which one to use from the ICC/ICM Profile drop-down list. (I'll cover rendering intents in Chapter 7).

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15 The ICM option is the best choice to make when your imaging application doesn't support color management but you still want to have the most control possible over your output.

The Paper tab (Figure 4.16) options include setting Paper Source, such as tray, roll, or manual; whether to use borderless printing; Paper Size; Orientation; and Printable Area.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 The Paper tab includes settings to control paper source, size, and orientation.

The remaining tabs in the Printing Preferences dialog box are Layout (Figure 4.17), which has settings for selecting whether to print double-sided or multiple images per page and whether to reduce or enlarge prints, and Utility (Figure 4.18). Utility is where you'll head if you see problems such as missing colors or lines in your prints. Nozzle Check and Head Cleaning are normally all it takes to get your printer back in working order.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 The Layout tab contains the settings for number of copies and page size.

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 If your print quality starts to suffer, the Utility tab has options to clean printheads and check nozzles.

Epson R2400

In the R2400 Main tab of the Printing Preferences dialog box (Figure 4.19), the Quality Option controls how your image is printed. For most photographs, I recommend using Best Photo. Photo is a good option when you want a lower-quality draft, or proof, print. Under Paper Options you'll find the Borderless print setting and the Source, Type, and Size drop-down lists. Size includes both preset paper sizes and a user-defined option for creating specific paper settings. When you use roll paper, the Custom setting lets you set both the width and length to conserve paper use. The Print Options section includes PhotoEnhance and a toggle for Print Preview, to verify your settings are correct before committing them to paper. The big feature in the R2400 (and all of the new Epsons with K3 inks) is hidden behind the Advanced button.

Figure 4.19

Figure 4.19 The Main tab of Printing Preferences for the R2400 and similar printers has most of the controls needed to set print quality and other options. Clicking the Advanced button takes you to the color management controls.

When you click Advanced, you get four main choices: Color Controls, PhotoEnhance, Advanced B&W Photo, and ICM (or Image Color Management). With Color Controls, you can set individual color sliders (Figure 4.20a). PhotoEnhance (Figure 4.20b) performs common image corrections, Advanced B&W Photo gives you total control over your black and white prints, and ICM (Figure 4.20c) controls how color is translated from screen to printer. The most important of these settings is ICM. If you print from Photoshop, you'll absolutely want to select ICM and then choose Off (No Color Adjustment) to avoid having two profiles applied to your prints (always interesting but seldom what you'd expect!). If your application doesn't support color management, then select Applied by Printer Software to let the printer driver handle color translation.

Figure 4.20c

Figure 4.20c

Figures 4.20a, b, and c You can edit individual colors, brightness, contrast, and saturation by selecting Color Controls (a). For automatic adjustment of images, choose PhotoEnhance (b), or pick ICM (c) for complete control over how your printer and applications handle color translation.

The exciting feature in the R2400 and other new Epson printers that use the UltraChrome II K3 inks is the Advance B&W Photo option (Figure 4.21). This features gives you control over monochrome prints in a way that used be available only in a RIP (Raster Image Processor) that cost hundreds of dollars extra. Along with choosing such presets as Neutral, Cool, and Warm, you can completely control color, shadow and highlight tonality as well as Optical Destiny. The color wheel lets you select a custom color tone to use, making it possible to simulate such traditional darkroom printing techniques as platinum and selenium toned prints. As you make adjustments to the pointer within the color wheel, the preview window updates to show you what the tone will look like.

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21 Selecting Advanced B&W Photo opens up a new world for printing black-and-white images. You can apply one of the preset tones of Cool, Neutral, or Warm, or you can set your own custom values with total control over image tones, contrast, shadows and highlights, and density of blacks. Dragging the pointer around the color wheel shows you a preview of how your color toning looks.

The remaining tabs in the Epson R2400 Printing Preferences dialog are Page Layout (Figure 4.22), which has options to control the number of copies, add watermarks, and scale images, and Maintenance (Figure 4.23). If you see problems such as missing colors, or lines in your prints, a stop here can clear up many problems. Nozzle Check and Head Cleaning are normally all it takes to get your printer back in working order.

Figure 4.22

Figure 4.22 The Page Layout tab has options that let you adjust page size, specify the number of copies, reduce and enlarge your prints, or add watermarks.

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23 If you're having any trouble with print quality, running a nozzle check and head cleaning from the Maintenance tab will normally correct the problem.

HP printers

To get started fine-tuning your HP printer's settings, click Printing Preferences to open the main printer driver dialog box. You'll start off in the Printing Shortcuts tab.

Printing Shortcuts tab

Most of the features of the HP driver are available from the Printing Shortcuts tab (Figure 4.24), with the options changing based on the type of print job you want to perform.

Figure 4.24

Figure 4.24 The HP starts out with the rather austere Printing Shortcuts tab.

Select either Photo Printing-Borderless or Photo Printing-with White Borders to display the photo options for the printer as a series of drop-down list boxes. For Print Quality, I recommend either Best for general photo printing or Maximum dpi for those prints where quality is critical, such as submissions for galleries or contests.

Paper Type is one of the critical choices for accurate prints. By selecting the proper paper type, you'll ensure that the printer uses the correct amount of ink for your prints. The HP 8250 shown here uses a new setting, HP Advanced Paper, which includes special coding information on the back of the paper. When this paper and setting is used, the printer automatically sets the proper type for you to prevent accidental errors.

Paper Size provides all the possible paper choices supported by the printer, including common photo sizes and several options for panorama prints. Paper Source lets you select between the various options supported on your printer, such as tray or manual feed.

Orientation has options for Landscape or Portrait layouts.

Clicking the Real Life Digital Photography button opens a new dialog box (Figure 4.25) with quick fix options for many common digital photo problems. One very cool feature with the HP implementation of quick fixes is the Off to High slider, which gives you the ability to control how strong the effect is applied to your image. As you make adjustments to slides or radio buttons, the small preview image above the control is updated to give you an idea of how the effect will look.

Figure 4.25

Figure 4.25 HP's Real Life Digital Photography options give you a great deal of control over common image problems.

Paper/Quality tab

The Paper/Quality tab (Figure 4.26) repeats some of the options available on the Printing Shortcuts tab but offers the additional benefit of allowing you to create custom page sizes and use the Borderless Auto Fit feature. You can also save custom settings here for quick access in the future by using the Print Task Quick Sets list.

Figure 4.26

Figure 4.26 The main benefits to the Paper/Quality tab are the ability to set custom page sizes, auto-fit borderless prints, and save settings for future use as a Quick Set.

Effects tab

The Effects tab (Figure 4.27) has settings for resizing, centering on the page, and adding watermarks. As an added bonus, you can add a Quick Set on this tab if you forgot to do it in the Paper/Quality tab.

Figure 4.27

Figure 4.27 The Effects tab has options for resizing and watermarks.

Finishing tab

The Finishing tab (Figure 4.28) options let you use duplex, or double-sided printing, along with specifying how the pages will print, which is useful for scrapbooks or other double-sided jobs and settings for multiple pages per sheet of paper or multiple page posters. And, in a recurring theme, you can save your settings as a Quick Set here too. Although I don't personally use Print Preview, it is available here and when checked will show you a rough estimate of how your photo will look on the page before you commit to actually printing it.

Figure 4.28

Figure 4.28 The Finishing tab options include duplex, poster, and page orientation settings, along with Print Preview.

Color tab

The Color tab (Figure 4.29) is where you set color management options, which determine whether your application or the printer driver controls color translation. These, along with the paper settings, are the most important choices you'll make with the HP printers. A wrong choice in the Color tab will likely result in having to reprint a photo with new settings. Choosing Print in Grayscale forces the printer to use only the different shades of gray inks on printers that use multiple grays, such as the nine-color Photosmart 8750. Selecting Black Only forces the printer to use only the black ink on other printers, resulting in a neutral print but one with less tonal range than a regular print will provide.

Figure 4.29

Figure 4.29 The Color tab is where you'll set the all-important color management options for your prints.

For complete control over individual colors, Brightness, Saturation, and Color Tone, click the Advanced Color Settings button. This opens a new dialog box (Figure 4.30), which features slider controls for each setting. A before and after preview shows you what your changes will look like. This is an effective way to create special effect monochrome images such as sepia toning.

Figure 4.30

Figure 4.30 In the Advanced Color Settings dialog box, you can adjust Brightness, Saturation, Color Tone, and individual color channels for special needs such as sepia or color balance correction.

Back in the Color tab, look in the Color Management drop-down list to find options that control whether the printer or the application handles color translation tasks. If you're printing from Photoshop, you'll want to select Managed by Application for best results. ICM lets your printer handle color, while ColorSmart/sRGB and AdobeRGB are appropriate choices when you know what color space your images are in and no color management is available in your application. And, surprise, there's another chance to save your settings in the Quick Sets list!

Services tab

The final tab in the HP Printing Preferences dialog is Services, which contains one button. Click it to open the Toolbox for maintenance options, including printhead alignment, cleaning, and color calibration (Figure 4.31). Why HP chose to put this into a separate dialog box is beyond me, but they did.

Figure 4.31

Figure 4.31 The Toolbox has options for cleaning and adjusting printheads, calibrating color, and setting printer-specific options such as Bluetooth wireless settings.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account