Understanding Image Quality

Photocopiers and “multi-function” printers stand or fall by their ability to produce paper output with true image quality.

At its simplest this means:

  • No spots
  • No lines
  • No splodges

When colour printers became a standard office resource (rather than being the preserve of specialist print shop), the much thornier question of print quality for colour reproduction came into play. It’s not only beauty that’s in the eye of the beholder.  So is the integrity of colour. We have customers who proof marketing copy using a magnifying eyepiece to scrutinise the print on the paper. In general, though colour satisfaction, and colour accuracy is extremely subjective, and assessment of colour will depend on a whole range of factors including

  • How tired you are
  • Whether its artificial or natural light
  • Where you are sitting in relation to the main light source
  • The colour and texture of the paper being printed on

Then there’s the question of technology.  Have you ever encountered the RGB vs CYMK debate?

Computer screens (the source of most printed pages) represent the colour gamut as variations of RED, GREEN, and BLUE.
On the printed page, conversely, the range of colour is produced using CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW, and BLACK.
The scope for variation, and for argument is massive! It’s amazing that there aren’t more issues arising when you consider that the computer source input and the printer output devices are operating under different conditions.

Our sales team asked the PBS colour technical guru, Paul Cooke, for some further pointers…

Q. What is at the root of the RGB/CYMK cross over.
PC:
Screens and monitors are producing “transmitted” colour.  An object colour is properly described as “luminous”, while the image on a page is “reflected”.

Q. Is there any definitive measurement of “correct” colour?
PC:
The primary industry standard for printed output (especially important for company logos, and corporate identity) is by reference to the “Pantone” colour scheme. There are 942 colours in the Pantone Process Colour Imaging Guide

Q. Do colour printers come advertised as “Pantone ready”?
PC:
That’s a two-level question!! A number of printers are Pantone capable, if they have an additional processor (the most commonly known being EFI’s “Fiery”) attached.  The defined Pantone colour will be accurately produced in such circumstances.  The first question is to establish whether the Fiery (and other external “RIPs”) have enough colour manipulation in the host machine to work properly.

Q. If so, (Fiery compatibility) is straightforward?
PC:
We haven’t spoken about calibration yet. That’s a whole subject of its own.

At which point, for those wanting a more in-depth conversation or meeting on the subject, please come visit us or ask Paul to visit your offices for a free consultation

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