Tweak the Quality

Once you're satisfied with your ink and paper, you can still make adjustments within the driver of your printer to improve the colour accuracy of your photos. The most important of these adjustments is via an ICC profile. ICC stands for International Colour Consortium and is just the name of the body that developed colour profiles.

A colour profile is basically a look-up table, which specifies the range of colours a device can produce. A camera can capture a different range of colours, called its colour gamut, from those a scanner can scan, a monitor can display or a printer can print. If you calibrate all these peripherals using their ICC profiles, the colours you print on paper will be much closer to those you see on the screen and to the ones your camera captured in the first place.

If your printer doesn't have an ICC profile from its manufacturer - you may have to ask a support desk, as they're not always included on the printer's driver CD - you can get a custom one created for you. One source of these is , where a profile for your particular printer and your chosen paper will cost £17.50. You send sample print outs, the company measures them with a heavyweight colourimeter and returns you the profile, which you can then load into your graphics application, such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. If you change printer or paper, you'll need a new profile.

Some printer drivers include their own settings, like ‘natural' or ‘vivid', to change the way colour is rendered. Experiment with these and see if you prefer one setting to another. You may want to choose different settings for different types of photo. Indoor shots with brightly coloured clothes may benefit from a different colour setting from landscapes of green fields.

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