Canon Pixma Pro - Getting the red out

Hey everyone! I was a devoted Epson printer user in the past but moved away to Canon because I grew really weary of the printhead on the R printers jamming up when not used daily, turning a nice machine into a boat anchor. So, I switched to Canon Pixma Pro, choosing the 9000 in my case. I'm kind of like a lot of photogs I meet. Shoot a lot, print a little. Sometimes it's just a lot cheaper and less time-consuming to have my stuff printed commercially. But following the purchase of the Nik Software Complete Collection, I've been printing a lot to validate that what I am learning is actually resulting in better images.

I thought I was screwing up. I had all the right ICC profiles, I had current drivers, I had current versions of Aperture, Photoshop and LIghtroom. I had my screens calibrated with a Huey Pro. But my prints from everything looked a little bit red. So after wasting a lot of time and a lot of paper, I finally turned to the web to discover, hey, I'm not alone, lots of folks find the Canons print too red.

So I checked with Canon. Despite making great gear and passable software, let's just be polite and say that they weren't very helpful. So I started working through that bucket of software that comes with Canon DSLRs. My whole kit was stolen in April while I was in Barcelona so I had current SW as part of the replacements. I found a few things.

First is Canon Easy-Photoprint Pro. It's a plugin for Photoshop that allows you to leverage the Canon print engine, albeit through a goofy model. (HINT - don't look for it anywhere near Print). You can select non-Canon ICC profiles with the plugin, but the UI is lousy so you'll spend time looking. If the results had been good, I would do a screencast on using the plugin, but as you'll see there is no reason to do so. Some reviewers said it gave them exactly what they saw in Photoshop. Not so me. What I got was darker, greyer, flatter and generally looked like something the cat puked up. Trashcan that.

Then I looked to using ICC profiles from Aperture. Just like Photoshop, I did not get what I saw on screen, what I got was too red. Ok zero for two, or more accurately zero for four since I got the same output as Photoship CS 5.1 and Lightroom 3.4.1. Seriously ticked off

Then I came to Canon Easy-Photoprint EX. I launched the program as it is standalone and navigated to the folder on my Drobo where the images are stored. It found the Lightroom images without problem but if you use Aperture, well it doesn't even see the Aperture library so that sucks. I opened some images that I had done work in using the Nik tools into Easy-Photoprint EX and they looked right on the screen, unlike how the Easy-Photoprint Pro images had looked. I loaded some Ilford Classic Glossy 4x6 in the printer. I could not find any way to select any ICC profile in Easy-Photoprint EX, other than the default Canon ones so I picked the Canon Glossy profile and printed the images. Surprise! They came out looking fabulous, exactly the way they did on the screen. Doing side by side compares with direct prints from Aperture, Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop using the Canon plugin reinforced how lousy the other images were, either too red or grey and flat (Easy-Photoprint Pro plugin).

All is not perfect. The UI for Easy-Photoprint EX is not Mac-like. It's not even Windows like, more pencils and ugly-like. It's also dog slow to load and to get your images open, selected and to the print phase. Once you do get to the Print dialog, it moves along very nicely indeed, and I cannot complain at all about the image quality. So at this point I have an answer to my printing concerns, but it's not a good answer as it involves yet another app and yet another set of steps. Clearly it is possible to get colour accurate prints out of the Canon Pixma Pro printers, so why can Canon not make them print properly without using their proprietary app and only their ICC profiles? C'mon Canon, fix this!