This problem, when it occurs, is most noticeable as banding or posterisation within a
very small range of tones/colours, which typically include skin tones,
the transition between yellow/orange, and some reds. It's further
complicated by the fact that the effected colours seem to differ by
printer model and media type. The following scanned prints are from my
Epson R2400, and are based
on a section of Andrew Rodney's
RGB Test Print. They are presented to demonstrate the most obvious
outworking of the problem on Epson Premium Glossy Paper.
Epson R2400 - Good Print
Epson R2400 - Bad Print
At time of writing the exact cause of the problem is unclear, however, I have
no doubt Adobe will wish to establish the cause, and quickly affect a fix. In the
meantime, users can either downgrade to Photoshop 9.0 or use the
workaround described below. This workaround works on all of my Mac
systems (i.e. Dual G5, Dual G4 and G4 PowerBook) and Epson printers (i.e.
Stylus Photo 1200, 1290S and R2400); it's also been checked by a small
sample of users who have also experienced the problem.
28 May 2006
The actual cause of the problem described above is apparently due to a
bug within Mac OSX 10.4.x that had been hot-fixed by Apple for Photoshop 9.0 (AKA
CS2). Unfortunately, the hot-fix was version specific and slipped through
the 9.01 testing net. You can read more about the bug
28 June 2006
If you're using a PowerPC (i.e. G4 or G5) based Mac, then you'll be
pleased to know that Apple have just released
OSX 10.4.7 update, which includes a fix for the problem described
in this article. I recommend that you download and install a copy
ASAP. However, as of posting this update it appears that the fix
may well not have been implemented in the Intel version of 10.4.7.
The first step of the workaround is to create a custom Proof Profile (Customize
Proof Condition) for all the media types that you currently use. The
example shown below is one I created to simulate my Epson R2400
printer when using a customised profile for Epson Premium Glossy paper (1).
With this particular media I find that setting the Rendering Intent
(2) to Relative Colorimetric is better, but other media types will
work best with Perceptual. Likewise, I find leaving Black Point
Compensation (3) "On" is the best option. When satisfied that
the dialog is configured correctly, save the settings. Ideally, you
should use a naming convention that reflects both media type and
This next step is where things get interesting, and to
some extent confusing. Through various tests I've found that the problem
described above only manifests itself when the Print with Preview Color Handing
option is set to No Color Management or Let Photoshop Determine
Colors. If Let Printer Determine Colors is chosen
the problem doesn't occur. However, this latter option is more usually
associated with a print workflow that more serious Photoshop users
dislike using, and it's unlikely that they'll willingly adopt it now.
Fortunately, Photoshop is designed to be a lot more flexible than most
applications, and the to this end you'll find that the Color Handling
option has a number of alternative codepaths. Onto the next step...
Now, select the Proof (1) option. If you haven't used
this option before it will show your CMYK Working Space profile, but
don't worry about that yet. Once Proof is activated you'll see
that the Proof Setup Preset (2) popup menu is also active -
choose your customised Proof Profile from the available options. The
final configuration of the Print with Profile dialog should be as
shown below, although the names of your profiles will be different.
Remember, Color Handling must be set to Let Printer Determine
Colors. OK, so I accept that this option will be an anathema to many
users, but it really is key to the success of the workaround.
Finally on to the Print driver dialog. I've only shown
the Color Management panel, but you should remember to first set the
proper media type, print speed, etc. The remaining steps are the same as you would normally
use when printing with media profiles and NOT those setting that you
would normally expect to use when allowing the printer to manage colour
matching. In other words, remember to set Color Management to OFF
(No Color Adjustment) in the print driver.