A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

When Adobe launched Lightroom 2 a few additional features and improvements were added to the Print module. Needless to say an update my earlier printing tutorial for macOS users is necessary.

Compatible with Lightroom 2 and higher.


Lightroom and compatibility with the macOS Print System

Before discussing the procedure for configuring Lightroom and the various printer driver settings for application color management it's important that we understand what is meant by Leopard compatible. However, rather than me trying to put my slant on things I'll leave it to the Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty. Tom has put together an excellent article that describes why Lightroom and printer drivers needed to be updated for Leopard. His article can be found at the Lightroom Journal.

The key point to take from Tom's article and associated user feedback is that even though Leopard and subsequently Snow Leopard may have shipped with drivers for a range of printers they may not be "fully" compatible with the new operating system and/or some applications. That said, most of the printer vendors have began the process of updating drivers for their more recent models. Therefore, they should be fully compatible. Focusing on Epson, it seems that many of the new series 6.x drivers are working well with Lightroom, Leopard and Snow Leopard.

Note: The printer driver screen shots used throughout this tutorial are for the Epson Stylus PRO 3800. However, most recent Epson models will use similar driver settings.

Print Setup Step-by-Step

This tutorial will concentrate on what is known as application color management, which basically means that the ICC profile associated with a particular paper/ink combination must be selected in Lightroom rather than the print driver itself. Also, since the tutorial is intended to be useful to new and existing Lightroom users I will also include some of the basics associated with Page Setup and saving Print Templates. With print templates (sometimes referred to as presets) you can avoid having to configure the driver every time you want to make a print.


Figure 1 - click image for larger view

Step 1 - Page Setup

Regardless of printer, paper, ink etc the first thing you should do before attempting to make a print is to decide on the paper size and orientation that will be used.


Figure 2 - Page Setup

  • In the Print module click on Page Setup button (figure 2, shown above will appear).

  • Ensure that the correct printer is selected.

  • Select the Paper Size that you intend to print on.

  • Select the correct orientation (example shows landscape to match with image in figure 1).

  • Ensure that Scale is set to 100% (for best quality do not scale images in page setup).

  • Click OK button when satisfied that everything is correctly set.

Step 2 - Print Job Setup

Figure 3 below shows how the Print Job panel looks before a profile has been selected (i.e. color management is handled by the printer). This is the step where you configure Lightroom so that it handles the image to print color management. As noted above this is more commonly referred to as application color management and requires the user to select an ICC media Profile and Rendering Intent.

Note: For the purposes of this tutorial I will assume that your Print Job panel is configured as shown in figure 3 below.


Figure 3 - Color Managed by Printer


Figure 4 - Available ICC Profiles

  • Click the pop-up labelled Profile: Managed by Printer. The drop-down menu will either contain multiple ICC profiles or just Managed by Printer and Other. If no profiles are listed you will need to select Other, then choose from those available in the ColorSync folder (figure 4 shows an example of the profiles available to me). You MUST tick the profiles before they become available in Lightroom then click OK to close the list.

Next you configure the output settings to match your particular requirements (see figure 5 below).


Figure 5 - Choosing the output settings

  • Set the Print Resolution to On or Off. Typically, the default value is 240 ppi, but you can type in any value you like. For example, with the Epson 3800 a value of 360 ppi tends to be preferred as it's the native resolution of this particular printer. When the Print Resolution is Off Lightroom will vary the resolution of the original photo and scale the print to the correct size without up/down sampling. When set to On Lightroom will maintain the print resolution at the setting shown (e.g. 240 ppi) and  scale the print by up/down sampling the print. In general it is best left off.

(Update: Lightroom 3 and higher supports print resolutions up to 720 ppi. Unless your printing images from very high resolution medium format cameras it's unlikely that you'll ever need to use values this high.)

  • Set the Print Sharpening to your preferred setting (i.e. Off, Low, Standard or High). The actual amount of output or sharpening applied to the print will be determined automatically by Lightroom, and will depend upon the media type and print resolution.

  • Select the Media Type (i.e. Glossy or Matte). Glossy is best suited to: glossy, semi-gloss, lustre or Baryta type papers. Matte is best suited to matte, rag and other rough surface papers.

  • If your printer driver supports 16 Bit Output then it's usually worth switching this mode to On.

  • Select the Profile that you wish to print with.

  • Set the rendering intent to Relative or Perceptual. For most situations Relative is likely to produce the best results, but it's always worth making a print with Perceptual to see if it improves anything.

Step 3 - Print Settings

Next up, the part of the process that appears to cause the most confusion. Why? Because the Epson series 6.x drivers look and behave differently to any previous Epson drivers. Clicking on the Lightroom Print Settings button (figure 6)  will open the new print driver (figure 7).


Figure 6 - Print settings


Figure 7 - Print Settings Options

As can be seen from figure 7 it's different, from the series 3.x drivers that many Mac OS X users will be familiar with. Even so, there's really no reason why it should have caused the degree of confusion reported on just about every web site with even a passing interest in Lightroom and macOS 10.5 and higher. So, the question still remains - why do Lightroom users of all skill levels find the macOS compatible drivers from Epson so confusing?

Answer - Color Matching!

Unfortunately, the Epson driver color matching panel in newer drivers is giving users access to a feature set that isn't really appropriate when using application color management  Further confusion arises when they revisit the panel and find that it's greyed out and doesn't match with the settings they had previously applied. So, what's the workaround?

Answer - Ignore Color Matching!

Yes, you read right - ignore Color Matching. You may well ask why I recommend ignoring this particular panel. Unfortunately, I can't give a definitive answer, but will point out that the same panel is greyed out when the driver is accessed via the Lightroom Print button and when application color management is used with Photoshop. Some might argue that this behavioural discrepancy is a Lightroom bug, but others, myself included don't agree. In fact, if all is working well with the driver  the settings chosen in Lightroom at step 2 above should and do override the printers internal color matching.

OK, so now I get back to the only panel within the Epson Print dialog that does need to be configured i.e. Print Settings

  • Select Print Settings from the pop-up menu that normally displays Layout (figure 8 below should open).

  • Choose the Media Type that matches with the profile selected in step 2 above.

  • Color Settings should be switched to Off (No Color Adjustment). This option is critical in so far as Off will prevent the print driver carrying out any color matching, instead leaving it to Lightroom.

  • Print Quality and any other model specific options (e.g. speed, detail, etc) can be set to match whatever you normally use. For best quality it's usually better that the highest print resolution is selected whilst leaving High Speed off. Depending on the media type selected earlier Finest Detail may be set to On and greyed out.

  • Click the Save button when all the options are set correctly. This will ensure that the settings are stored and ready for creating a Print Template.


Figure 8 - Final Print Settings

Step 4 - Print Templates

For many Print Templates are a real boon, but for others their behaviour is a complete mystery that often leads to frustration. This section of the tutorial is therefore intended to help clear up the mystery. and may be some of the frustration.

Print templates can be used store the: page size and layout design, print resolution and sharpening settings, Lightroom color management settings, and printer driver settings.


Figure 9 - New Template

  • Having clicked the Save button in step 4 above you should now press Cmd+N keys to create a new print template (you can also find this as an option on the Lightroom Print menu at the top of your screen).

  • When the New Template dialog appears insert a descriptive name (e.g. Pro3800 - A4 Epson Prem-Gloss Landscape).  This example includes the printer model, page size, media and orientation. Also, note that you should leave the template location (i.e. Folder) at the default, which is User Templates.

  • Click the Create button and the new template should appear within the User Templates section of the Template Browser on the left side of Print module window as shown in figure 10 below.


Figure 10 - Lightroom Print Templates

Warning - any changes (inadvertent or deliberate) that you subsequently make on the right side panels will override the active print template. Fortunately, you can easily determine which, if any, print template is active because it will be highlighted in the Template Browser. If none are highlighted make sure that you select the appropriate template before making a print.

Tip: To update an existing print template with new settings you should Ctrl+click the name in the Template Browser, then choose Update with current settings from the context menu.

If everything has been setup correctly you should find making a print should now be a relatively straight forward process:

  1. Select the photo or batch of photos that you wish to print.

  2. Switch to Print module.

  3. Select a print template from Template Browser, this will automatically configure the page size and layout, profile, rendering intent, sharpening and driver settings for you.

  4. Click the Lightroom Print One button. This button by-passes the main print dialog and will print only one copy of each select photo.

Remember Rule 5 - Enjoy!

Adobe Community Professional

Contents on this site: Ian Lyons 1999 - 2019. All Rights Reserved