Jo Avila

The Biggest Misconception About Calibrating Your Dekstop Inkjet Printer

How do I calibrate my desktop inkjet printer to match what I see on my monitor?

There is a short answer and a long answer.

Let’s tackle the short answer first.

You cannot calibrate your desktop inkjet printer to match what you see on your monitor.

What’s the long answer?

You cannot calibrate your desktop inkjet printer to match what you see on your monitor.

The biggest misconception about calibrating a desktop inkjet printer is that you have to calibrate it to match your monitor.

A device needs to be calibrated if its performance drifts because of time and usage. This is why we regularly calibrate and profile our monitors.

Desktop inkjet printers are well-behaved devices. They leave the factory calibrated and should need no further “calibration”.

What you need to do is to use the color profiles that came bundled with your desktop inkjet printer.

Calibration and profiling are not the same.

Calibration is defined as modifying a device to put it into a known and repeatable state of behavior.

Profiling or characterization is creating a description of the color behavior of a device.

A desktop inkjet printer comes bundled with a CD that contains the software driver package. You have to install the software driver package into your computer so that you can use it with your desktop inkjet printer.

The color profiles for your inkjet printer are automatically installed into your computer when you install the software driver package.

Why color profiles and not color profile? Color profiles are device dependent. You can use a variety of inkjet paper on your desktop inkjet printer. Any digital image printed on a single desktop inkjet printer will look different depending on your choice of paper.

That is why there is a unique color profile for every combination of printer and paper that you will use.

The color profiles that come bundled with your inkjet printer are referred to as stock, canned or generic profiles. These color profiles assume that you using the branded ink meant for your inkjet printer and are using inkjet paper of the same brand as your printer.

What if I want to use quality inkjet paper other than what is offered by the manufacturer of my printer?

Ilford is one company that makes quality inkjet paper that is compatible all major inkjet printer brands. You can download from their website the color profiles for their paper to use on your inkjet printer. Please take note that these color profiles still assume that you are using original inks on your inkjet printer.

What if I don’t want to use the color profile from the paper manufacturer?

You have the option of either creating a custom color profile by using a product like the Datacolor SpyderPrint or avail of the services of a company who offers custom printer profiling.

What if I don’t want to use original branded inks with my inkjet printer?

You will need to create a custom color profile for your printer using your choice of 3rd party inks.

You don’t have to “calibrate” your desktop inkjet printer to match your monitor.

You need to know how to use the color profiles for your printer (and learn the basics of color management) if you want a print that is a close match to what you see on your monitor.

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