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COLORSOURCE engineering

Reliable information and color quality software solutions for Print Industries.

Press-setting frequently asked questions

 PLATE application icon
 SPOT_Color_Manager application icon
 MagicPrepress application icon

All press-setting applications:
Which spectrophotometer model should I use?

You can use many 45/0° models with Colorsource press-setting applications, thanks to using standard CGATS spectral measurement files you can easily produce with a wide range of instruments and applications.

Originally, we designed our applications for use with X-Rite i1Pro family (or the equivalent EFI ES-x O.E.M. models), for taking advantage of their fast-scanning mode and their excellent price/performance ratio. Today, the affordable 45/0° spectrophotometers such as i1Pro, i1Pro 2i1Pro 3 or MYIRO replace quite advantageously the best and most expensive proprietary pressroom spectrophotometers such as eXact, eXact 2 or FD7: Much more productive AND much cheaper.

Colorsource applications for pressroom can process the spectral (and non-spectral) measurement files of one to ten colors charts, measured with classic spectral ranges such as 380-730, or 400-700 nm or else.

With Colorsource, you can use your spectrophotometers in M0 or M1 measurement conditions: i.e., with the spectrophotometer internal light source matching C.I.E. A illuminant or C.I.E. D50, with no UV-cut filter. The applications may work when using a UV filter but mind ISO12647-x and G7/IDEAlliance standards target colors have been measured with no UV filter, so that small differences may occur.

With or without UV filter, differences in paper tints may still occur when using uncoated papers because of ISO12647-x paper tints specifications. For more details on these issues, please refer to our regularly updated paper about color printing and proofing standards and to the applications user's guides.

We think it is not worth using any more expensive spectrophotometer model, for 95% of publishing and packaging commercial print applications. Hand-held 45/0° proprietary pressroom spectrophotometers with useless built-in functions are obsolete equipment, because they are very expensive without bringing any significant advantage in real life in terms of accuracy. And using them efficiently in the Print House would anyhow require connecting them to a PC running dedicated software!

Moreover, for optimal safety at lowest cost, we advise you owning and using TWO spectrophotometers:

For example, when producing color proofs, you should use one spectrophotometer for calibrating and characterizing your color proofing system, and a second spectrophotometer for checking your proofs control bars. Because if using only one spectrophotometer and it becomes faulty, you will make mistakes when characterizing your color proofing system, and then the same mistakes when controlling your proofs. So that you will happily certify bad proofs!

By the way, this is showing - once more - that all the so-called "ISO 12647 Color certifications" as they stand, are a pure joke: it will always belong to professional Proofs Users and Print Buyers doing their job by controlling all color proofs and prints by themselves.

All press-setting applications: Where should I buy my spectrophotometer?

We still see nowadays some Vendors explaining our French customers that Eye-One Pro CANNOT measure lithographic offset plates, because it is a spectrophotometer! In addition, they often explain their Prospects, depending on their budget, that Eye-One Pro is NOT accurate enough for doing a professional print job and they should spend MUCH more money!

Actually, our 40 years' experience on many different professional digital imaging markets, including 29 years shared on the Graphic Arts market, shows us that Graphic Industries is the market where the more lies are told to customers, and where ALAS the larger numbers of customers are still found trusting lies!

We still see far too many lies told to Print Buyers as well. Because when smart qualified Graphic Industries Professionals duly refuse buying bad or uselessly expensive equipment, some Vendors try - and often succeed! - convincing some incompetent Print Buyers that they should impose these bad tools to their Supply Chain!

This is how so many bad and uselessly expensive color-proofing systems, and so many other products, have been successfully marketed, even when cleaver and qualified Print Producers duly refused them. Of course, ALL Print Buyers and Printer Producers are paying for the bill of this persistent marketing bullshit that is quite specific to Graphic Industries.

Some people believe that anyhow, wasting a few dozen thousand dollars by making some non-optimized investments on small equipment has no importance, when compared with the million dollars investments required for big printing machinery. However, we believe this may be the tree hiding the forest: because there are no reason why heavy-investment tools would be optimized and properly used, when some Vendors can still rely for marketing their products on customers technical approximations and deep misunderstanding of modern print technologies.

We consider persistent lies from some Vendors to Graphic Industries, and so much bad information, are killing Graphic Industries. Therefore, Graphic Industries Professionals should train properly in order to protect themselves from lies that cost them a lot of money. They are the color quality Experts or they should be.

Professional Print Buyers should train properly as well, in order to optimize their Supply Chain, install the appropriate color quality processes, and advise properly they Supply Chain, rather than putting them in trouble with bad advises and uselessly expensive investments.

Most of Graphic Industries professional organizations are not doing their job for protecting their own interests. Otherwise, marketing bullshit would have stopped many years ago.

So that as a conclusion, we can only strongly advise you training properly with experienced Professionals completely independent from market Vendors, and buying your instruments at lowest possible price on Internet. (Of course, if prices look too good, do not pay cash in advance ;-))

 MagicPrepress application icon

Press-setting applications: Should I afford a pressroom scanning spectrophotometer for setting my offset press ink keys color bars?

Pressroom scanning spectrophotometers are good tools for getting more productivity at press-setting stage, but we find in the field most of installed systems are hardly used, because they are badly installed and parameterized, and Staff is not trained properly. Apparently, many Print Houses find they are a kind of decorative element on their presses.

Colorsource press-setting applications are an excellent tool for programming properly all Market pressrooms scanning systems. Moreover, our experience proves that if a Print House is not able to set perfectly all their printing presses by using Colorsource applications, there is no chance they will manage it with their expensive scanning systems, which sometimes do not even guide them for setting the optimal solid inks densities! So that an excellent and quite affordable learning curve for any Print House consists into mastering their presses with Colorsource press-setting applications first.

Moreover, Colorsource press-setting applications allow you specifying, recording and communicating all your one to ten colors print standards, and managing all the associated print form correction curves for each ink on each press.


Free Magic_Proof_&_Print_Control: What control bar should I use?

Our free Magic_Proof_&_Print_Control software allows you to check all the classic CMYK control bars that you will find on the proofs, such as the UGRA/FOGRA Media Wedge 2 & 3, G7/IDEAlliance 2009 or 2013 and Colorsource ISO12647-7 bars.

G7/IDEAlliance bars are royalty-free. You can therefore freely incorporate them into the proofs you produce. You can find details about this American standard in our ISO12647 standards document on the ISO12647-2-3-4-6-7 standards page.

Please note that the UGRA/FOGRA Media Wedge 2 & 3 control bars are not royalty-free, so you should pay a license if you want to incorporate these control bars into your own color proofs.

Colorsource ISO12647-7 control bar is a royalty-free control bar optimized for proof and print control. So, you can freely incorporate it into your proofs. You and your Partners will then be able to control these events free of charge with Magic_Proof_&_Print_Control.

Magic_Proof_&_Print_Control software also allows you to use your own control bars and specify your own aim colors, by using a reference measurement file (Fingerprint), or using a specified and saved print standard using the MagicPrepress software. In this case you can control all digital and traditional printing configurations using one to ten inks, and not only CMYK prints and proofs.

 PLATE application icon

PLATE application: What is the difference with using a dedicated Plate Reader?

Historically, the offset plates were controlled by using a specific "Plate measurement option" on CMYK densitometers. This always produced good results, although densitometer's plate measurement option did not take into account the plate model for optimizing its optical filtering wavelength.

Using a spectrophotometer with PLATE application is a quite a better (and cheaper!) solution, because PLATE application analyses the color of your plate model and optimizes its optical filtering process, in order to produce even more accurate results than optical densitometers. Moreover, PLATE application allows you averaging your measures on various plates with different screen angles, for even better accuracy.

Nevertheless, it is true that (good) plate readers may bring you some advantages, for following reasons:

1) Plate readers working process is quite different: The instrument makes plate digital microphotography's, and then uses image analysis in order to directly assess your plate dot geometrical areas, so that you do not need calibrating first the N-Factor of your plate model.

While computing accurate geometrical dot areas from the optical densities' measurements produced with densitometers or spectrophotometers, first requires measuring the N-Factor of the plate model you are using: We believe this operation is fast and easy with PLATE application. For more details about N-Factor and how to measure it with PLATE application, you can download and read the application user's guide.

2) Your plate model N-Factor can slightly vary depending on the location where you measure it on a plate. So that you may find 0 to 0.5 % differences between a (good) plate reader and PLATE application results.

Of course, these potential very small differences between the results of a plate reader and PLATE application will have no consequence at all on the final print quality, because in the end MagicPrepress application will produce perfect prints meeting the TVI curves you expect.

As a conclusion, we have often advised big Print Houses owning all the other necessary control tools to invest into a good plate reader, but we consider this investment is NOT a priority for any Print House that does not own all priority equipment such as Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer.

If you are a Company where buying a plate reader can reasonably be envisaged, we advise you investing into a plate reader able to measure your geometrical dot areas, not only on your offset lithographic plates, but also on your color prints. Because coupled with using your spectrophotometer, this will allow you measuring both the optical and mechanical parts of your press dot gains: No use at all for your day-to-day work, but quite useful as a press diagnostic tool, if your print process shows abnormally high dot gain curves.

Because MagicPrepress application allow you compensating very high dot gains with very good accuracy, but abnormally high mechanical dot gains mean that your press is in bad conditions and you should consider solving this problem for optimal results and print stability.

According to our own experience and our expert customers, offset plate readers models such as X-Rite iCPlate or Techkon SpectroPlate are quite good instruments. If you buy iCPlate, we advise you buying the version including geometrical dot area measurement on prints.

Of course, they may be other good models on the market that we do not know, but in all case, we think buying more expensive models than iCPlate or SpectroPlate is a pure waste of money. For example, you should rather not buy a 4000+US$ plate reader model that makes 4 to 5% measurement errors when unplugged from mains and working on its internal battery ;-)

 SPOT_Color_Manager application icon

Inks Color Quality control: How should I specify and communicate a spot color?

Any properly designed swatch book should specify each spot color not by a mere Lab D50 2° (or else) apparent color, but as full visible reflectance spectrum: This is the only way for fully specifying the color, as you will perceive in any lighting and viewing conditions.

The colors you perceive on a physical swatch book, in your appropriate viewing conditions, are always printed with errors. Because it is impossible to formulate perfectly hundreds of different inks, and then print each of them with perfect appropriate ink thickness.

The real swatch book errors will be acceptable or not, depending on each tint and on your tolerances. However, no tint on a swatch book should be considered reliable, unless you have measured this tint on your swatch book and compared it with its specifications in your digital spectral inks' library.

All Print Buyers and Print Producers on any Supply Chain must refer to the same spectral data for spot colors communication and reproduction, without dumb and inappropriate marketing changes of these swatch books specifications that oblige all market Actors to update all their software applications, and create many ambiguities and mistakes.

GretagMacbeth initiative for promoting the royalty-free spectral library CxF file format (Color eXchange Format acronym), where all PANTONE tints official reflectance spectra were published for a low-cost license (~ 53 US$) and accessible with using free "CxF reader" i1Share application was an excellent initiative. However, apparently these market transparency efforts have been dropped since X-Rite acquired GretagMacbeth... and PANTONE.

Any marketed swatch book claimed as being standard should have its full technical specifications published and accessible to all involved Professionals on the Supply Chain.

Print Buyers and Print Producers should refuse using any swatch book that is not clearly specified by a spectral data library, and we think Print Industries professional organization should have asked a long time ago these standard spectral data libraries be published as ISO standards with their full specifications!

 CxF3_to_CGATS application icon

How can you get the PANTONE up-to-date spectral data for controlling them before you install them on a press, and for controlling all printed PANTONE inks?

For controlling your PANTONE inks prior to installing them on your printing press, and for controlling your printed PANTONE inks, including the ones printed on your PANTONE swatch books, you need knowing the official up-to-date spectral reflectance' data that are published by PANTONE.

MagicPress, MagicPrepress and free Magic_Proof_&_Print_Control can use native CGATS and CxFv3 formats for importing their spot colors and special process inks libraries. And they can re-export CxFv3 as CGATS text files as well.

You can download and use our free All_you_should_know_about_PANTONE_and_else_spot_colors.pdf document that allows you making a much better use of all PANTONE CxFv3 digital libraries.

CGATS format advantage is that it allows you using your modern PANTONE digital swatch books with the best applications, including MeasureTool, i1Share, ProfileMaker ColorPicker module and Colorsource SPOT_Color_Manager.

You will find more details by downloading:

Controlling various ISO12647-x color proofs with Eye-One Pro

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