Epson printer settings when printing from Lightroom

One of the most annoying things when it comes to workflow is managing all the dialog boxes when printing. Every time I print an image to my Epson printers, I have to tell it what paper type I’m using, roll or sheet, whether it’s borderless, what quality to use (1440 or 288), 16 bit or not … a bunch of stuff.  There are presets in the printer dialog boxes that can help with this, but they seem to be pretty finicky and sometimes don’t “stick”.  I just can’t trust them all the time.

Printing from Lightroom is a dream.  You have 3 different types of printing options.  Single images, a picture package so laying out multiple prints of a single image on a page (or even several pages) is a snap, or a custom package which lets you print different size prints from multiple files.  While it certainly isn’t as powerful as a RIP, for  layout work it’s pretty darn good. Even better, you can save your settings as a template, so if it’s something you do often the process can get as simple as a couple of clicks.  I have a pretty standard workflow where after I convert a file, I will open it in Photoshop as a smart object to do creative sharpening and anything else it needs, then save it.  It then shows up in Lightroom automatically (as long as you just hit the save command in Photoshop and don’t do a save as …) ready for output. (I should say sometimes, there are certainly many occasions where the conversion from the RAW in Lightroom is perfect and doesn’t need anything done in Photoshop).  I then have 3 standard sizes I print for my basic portfolio … 13×19, 17×22, and 24×30.  I’ll print out out a test print on 13×19 Luster to my 4900, then print the 3 final prints if everything looks good.  Sometimes I might see a couple of small tweaks but not enough to reprint the test print … things like a sensor spot I missed etc.

I now do 100% of my printing from Lightroom … I never print from Photoshop.  There are a couple of reasons.  One is output sharpening.  Output sharpening is best done by the numbers, not by looking at it. It’s really hard to see if you’ve sharpened it enough on screen, but Lightroom 3 adds output sharpening based on the work of Bruce Fraser (the master of sharpening) and the other guys who created Photokit sharpener, and Jeff Schewe who wrote the book on sharpening with Bruce Fraser consulted with Adobe in designing the output sharpening in Lilghtroom.  You pick from 3 choices of sharpening (low, standard, or high) based on the image itself, and then pick whether you are printing on a glossy type paper (normally those using photo black ink) or a matt paper (obviously the ones using matt black ink). Lightroom does a very nice job of applying the right amount of sharpening based on all of the numbers.

The other reason is templates.  Once you setup your page in the Print module including the paper size, borders, whether you want a watermark or identity plate, what paper profile to use, etc.  you can store that as a template.  The next time you want to print a 13×19 print with 1.5″ borders on Epson luster paper on the 4900 you just click the template and voila … you’re ready to go.  There may be a couple of things you need to tweak such as repositioning the identity plate or maybe a slightly different sharpening.  I also have a vertical and horizontal template for each paper size so I don’t have to rotate the identity plate (my signature),  just move it to the place I want it to be.

But as good as Lightroom is at printing, I’ve always struggled getting this to work “perfectly”.  There is a choice in the window that says “Print One” … which immediately sends the image to the printer without anymore dialog boxes.  I couldn’t trust it because the printer settings never seem to stick quite right.  You can setup all the printer settings and they are stored in the template so I would go in and pick a preset in the Printer Settings of the Epson dialog box … but I could never trust it … for some reason it just didn’t seem to get it right sometimes.  So I couldn’t use that “Print One” button, I had to click Print… so I could verify all my settings in the Printer dialog boxes.

Recently on a forum Andrew Rodney indicated you shouldn’t use a preset in the Epson Printer dialog box but should instead always leave this to “Default” (which is how it appears on Lion and the new 8.64 epson printer driver, I think with earlier version it is “Standard”).  Lightroom remembers all the settings you have applied to the printer when the template is created and so they are part of the template – but it’s better to not use presets in the Epson driver for that … instead leave it at Default and then choose all your settings.

The best way to create a perfect template is to go through every step of setting up a print, but instead of clicking print, add the preset. The steps are pretty simple.  First click the Page Setup … button and select your printer and your page size.  Then click the Print Settings … button.  This brings up the standard printer setup dialog box, but instead of a print button you will see a save button. Setup everything exactly like you want – paper type, paper path, resolution, make sure color management is off … basically just like you were going to print it  making sure to leave the presets menu to “Default” or “Standard”..

Next go down the right side of the screen and setup everything there … every setting you make there will be perfectly remembered.  Make sure you setup the print size, cell sizes, all the options such as Identity Plate, the profile to be used.

At this point you’ve setup everything and normally would print, but before that  create your template. I make them printer specific.  The easiest way to do this is create a folder by clicking on the + symbol next to the Template Browser title and then select New Folder from the Folder popup menu.  I create a folder for each printer I’m using.  Then click the + symbol again and add  your template. Make sure your name is detailed enough … for example I use Epson Luster paper as well as Epson Exhibition Fiber paper, so make sure your preset name contains all the information that you need to tell presets apart.

At this point your template will remain highlighted unless you make any changes to it.  If there is something you find you did wrong with the template, you can make any changes you would like to any of the settings (including clicking the Print Settings… button again) and after doing so right click on your template.  A popup  menu allows you to update the template with the current settings. (make sure you right click on the correct template … it is no longer highlighted so it isn’t obvious which one you are trying to update).

Once you get your template perfect, you can trust the Print One button and you know you will get exactly what you  saved in the template … so no printer dialog box from that template when you print in the future.

It takes a little time to setup, but there are a couple of shortcuts.  You can always use a template as a starting point, make changes to it, then save it as a new template. For example, if I wanted to create a preset for my 9900 to match my 4900 all I would do is select the preset I’ve made, click the page setup button to change my paper size and feed path as well as select my 9900 printer, then click the Print settings button and verify all of those settings are correct.  All of the other settings (border sizes, profiles etc.) are the same so now I can save this template in a 9900 template folder.  I can also start with a template and just set it up for a different size paper .. everything else would stay the same.

After setting it all up, it’s really nice to pop into the Print module in Lightroom, click on your image, click on your template, check that you don’t need to move your identify plate and you have the amount of sharpening you want applied to this particular image and then click the Print One button … a few seconds to get a print on its way to the printer!

Voila!

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