Losing Details in Dark Areas

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So, I am using an Officejet to make prints. To be honest, these prints are pretty much higher quality than any I have ever received from a drugstore and even some local photogarphy shops. Technology is that good these days. Here is the odd part. I have been using an ols stack of HP Premium Plus Photo paper. It seems to be the super matte version or even the satin version. Very rough tot he touch before ink is laid down. Printing at 8.5x11 and detail is pretty incredible so I know thie HP Officejet printer + this old photo paper kicks butt. Bought the latest version of this HP Premium Plus photo paper and results are poor. Looks like HP underwent a formulation and they only offer Semi Glossy and Glossy. The HP forum seem to point out that Matte and Satin are no longer available so I got the Semi Glossy. Printing from the same file and using the Printer to manage colour management, I am losing a ton of details in the dark area. Messed around with using Photoshop to manage color and details got better but saturation decreased. Relative and Perceptual profiles tend to do that.

So, has anyone run into losing details in the dark areas for prints? I now have to spend a lengthy amount of time to post process certain parts of the image to get the printer to do what I want. This was not the case with the old HP photo paper I had. It was literally post process to what looks good on the screen, click print and let the printer manage all colours. With this new HP paper, it lowered the quality of my prints quite a bit. Even with excessive post processing, I cannot get the great results from the old school matte / satin HP photo paper. I am surprised that paper type would result in losing details.
 

Growltiger

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I think you are saying that you are printing from Photoshop and are using the colour management in Photoshop rather than the colour management in the printer. Is that right? Are you sure you are not using the colour management in both (which would be bad) or neither (which would be bad).

If you are using the colour management in Photoshop then you probably need to get the correct profile for that paper in that printer. I don't know if HP provide the profiles? Otherwise your choices are:
1. Let the printer do the colour management. Be sure the print driver knows which paper you are printing to. Tell Photoshop not to do the colour management.
2. Create a profile yourself. This will mean in investing in a suitable device and the considerable cost and effort to do it. (e.g. ColorMunki Photo)
3. Buy third party paper from a supplier that provides a profile for their paper with that exact printer (may not be possible).
4. Buy a mainstream photo printer (Canon or Epson).
 
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Hi @Growltiger, I have done a ton of testing on 8.5x11 and found this. Using Photoshop to do color management is tedious and great results are hard to come by. Letting the Printer do ithe color management was FANTASTIC when I am using the old pack pf HP Premium Plus photo paper. Their newer versions result in less details in dark areas and colors are much warmer. When using the printer to do color management, printing the exact same file, the old HP photo paper looks like a professional print. The new HP paper sucks to say the least.

I am using an Officejet so not a real photo printer but again, with the old paper, the prints look super nice so I know this machine is capable of printing very high resolution photos. I already went with the most expensive HP photo paper and results are not as good as I had hoped. Still testing and pulling my hair out trying to get this new paper to give better results.

And HP does not provide a profile, as it's just an Officejet and not a true photo printer.

Any other thoughts?
 

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Any other thoughts?
That has disposed of my suggestions 1 and 2, so that only leaves 3 and 4. I think you have to accept that 4 is best. Printers don't cost all that much, for that size paper.

By the way I had some HP paper and for a reason I could never work out, it jammed very time when used with my Canon printer. Both Canon paper and other paper all work fine with it.
 
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That has disposed of my suggestions 1 and 2, so that only leaves 3 and 4. I think you have to accept that 4 is best. Printers don't cost all that much, for that size paper.

By the way I had some HP paper and for a reason I could never work out, it jammed very time when used with my Canon printer. Both Canon paper and other paper all work fine with it.
At this point, I am still wondering why the old school HP Premium Plus paper gives so much detail while the new ones pretty much suck. I am not exploring Canon papers, kind of interested in the Photo Paper Pro Luster and the Pro Premium Matte.

Printers are lower costs these days and ink is the highest cost of all.
 

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Just to check - since you are using the printer's colour managemenet, are you remembering to configure the print driver with the type of paper you are using?

One more idea. You could try lying to the print driver and telling it you are using the old type paper that worked well, even though you are not.
 
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Great questions. I have tripled checked color management and printed multiples images from the same file using various settings. Even found a function deep inside the printer functions that there is something called HP Real Life Technologies which tries to "enhance" photos. Disabling that made prints much better in quality but still not the same as using the old school HP paper. Every review I have read says the HP Premium Plus Paper is good enough. Then I stumbled onto old reviews on HP's website from many users complaining about the same thing as I am experiencing. Looks like HP changed formulas and their latest paper is NOT as good as their old photo paper.

As for lying to the printer, unfortunately, this printer is not meant for photos and only has HP Photo Paper or Other Photo Papers. Depressing right?

Now I am looking at the Canon Luster Pro paper. What is this buy 1 get 9 free Canon offer from Canon that comes around every few months. Many other photographers have mentioned this and I am wondering if you or anyone else knows about these amazing offers directly from Canon.
 
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I can see what will happen. You will get the lovely bargain paper, find it isn't much good with the HP printer, and buy a Canon printer.
I can only hope right? lol. Who knows what will happen but instead of Canon now, I am leaning towards Red River UltaraPro Satin Luster 4.0. Have you any experience with this?
 

Growltiger

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I can only hope right? lol. Who knows what will happen but instead of Canon now, I am leaning towards Red River UltaraPro Satin Luster 4.0. Have you any experience with this?
No, but I have read many comments over the years about Red River papers, all positive.
I remember they provide profiles for the main photo printers.
 
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.... I have been using an ols stack of HP Premium Plus Photo paper. It seems to be the super matte version or even the satin version. Very rough tot he touch before ink is laid down. Printing at 8.5x11 and detail is pretty incredible so I know thie HP Officejet printer + this old photo paper kicks butt. Bought the latest version of this HP Premium Plus photo paper and results are poor. Looks like HP underwent a formulation and they only offer Semi Glossy and Glossy. The HP forum seem to point out that Matte and Satin are no longer available so I got the Semi Glossy. Printing from the same file and using the Printer to manage colour management, I am losing a ton of details in the dark area. Messed around with using Photoshop to manage color and details got better but saturation decreased. Relative and Perceptual profiles tend to do that.

So, has anyone run into losing details in the dark areas for prints? I now have to spend a lengthy amount of time to post process certain parts of the image to get the printer to do what I want. This was not the case with the old HP photo paper I had. It was literally post process to what looks good on the screen, click print and let the printer manage all colours. With this new HP paper, it lowered the quality of my prints quite a bit. Even with excessive post processing, I cannot get the great results from the old school matte / satin HP photo paper. I am surprised that paper type would result in losing details.
Interesting I was not aware that HP produced a Premium Photo paper in Matte in the past (ex HP Photosmart user). Current papers I believe are HP Premium Plus Photo Paper High Gloss and HP Premium Plus Photo Paper Soft Gloss/Satin Matte. I am also surprised with the description of very rough to the touch, while it is to be expected that matt type paper will feel quite different to normal I would not describe them as very rough generally.

Without further detail I can only guess at potential problem areas. But first let me say that you should actually get brighter prints with more detail with the HP semi gloss photo papers than you will ever get with any matt paper.

1. In matching print to screen, have you calibrated your monitor and to what standards, White Point and luminance?

2. Have you selected the correct paper profile?
It seems to me that you have not or you are limited on the profile for this paper for this printer.

3. Printer manages colour is generally not the optimal setting although it is the easy setting and should give good results (with the correct profile) better more accurate results will be had using PS with soft proofing on and the correct profile applied. If the wrong profile applied e.g. for matt paper then changes to saturation and colour could be explained .

4. It is not clear what you mean by Relative and Perceptual profiles. These are just rendering intents and will change the way that the image data is interpreted to send to the printer. The correct rendering intent is the one that looks right to you (only applies to a correctly calibrated system where a print will match closely to the screen.

5. Not sure if HP mark the reverse of the paper but double check that you have been printing on the correct side

EDIT:
If you cannot get hold of the HP ICC profiles then you will need to experiment with those generic profiles in the printer driver dialogue and select the nearest to your paper type e.g. Photo, Glossy, Semi Gloss etc.

Changing brands and general paper hunting will tend to lead to the gnashing of teeth, the rending of garments and hair and tears - not to mention costs in time and materials. Best advice is first to find a paper that gives satisfactory results which should be HP own brand.
Check if your printer compatible here
HP Premium Plus Semi-gloss Photo Paper-20 sht/A4/210 x 297 mm - HP Store UK
 
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Hey @TonyW , thanks for taking the time to chime in.

Yes, HP does indeed have an old school matte type paper. I have found some info so will share here and hope it helps someone.

1. I know this printer, although only an Officejet, is capable of printing decent photos. Using Printer Colour Management, old style HP Premium Plus Paper, prints are wonderful. Does not match my screen 100%, comes close, but that's not important. I am not trying to match colours. I just want great prints. Every photo that I have printed on this old paper and given out as a gift recently have gotten high feedback... ie. I cannot believe this came out of your entry level printer.

2. I discovered a setting called HP Real Life Technologies and this was selected by default DEEP inside the Advanced Section of Printer Preferences. Note, this was still selected when getting great prints from the old HP paper. I have since disabled it and prints got better with the new HP paper. I read somewhere that the back of some photo papers from HP has something marked so that Printers never choose the wrong paper type. I wonder if this has anything to do with it. Based on my tests, it may be the the old HP paper does not have this flag on the back of the paper so the printer cannot detect what kind of paper it is. Although I do choose HP Photo Paper when I make prints. It may be that if it is not recognized as such, the printer may overide settings to "Other Photo Paper" since it may not detect and confirm it's really HP paper (since the stock is so old and may not have this marking).

3. I found out MANY users complaining about this issue on an old HP support thread. New customers say they love this new HP paper. Old customers who have been using previous HP paper in the past ALL complained of poor prints after buying the newer paper. Based on what I can gather, HP changed their formula in the summer of 2011 and coated it differently and launched something call "Instant Dry" so their paper is more compatible with non-HP printers. This is exactly what I am seeing. Going from old stock to new stock, it's literally night and day. I printed from the same file, the old stock gives a VERY wow factor. The new stock, just bland photo with oversaturated dark areas and an overly warm image.

4. It may be a fluke that using the old HP paper, the print just happens to closely match what I see on my monitor. I do not use a monitor calibrator, just doing things by eye and have been successfully developing websites and shooting and printing photos for many years. Even without any monitor calibration, this printer IS capable of getting good prints. Just not with this new HP paper. So it's not just the printer. I am now waiting for RedRiver to send me samples of the UltraPro Satin 4.0 to try.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me that this paper works well for my environment so I can get back to happy printing. :)
 
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