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Color Proofing--Bantering Beyond The Black & White

June 1998

Color management systems, woven into digital proofing devices, are trying to deliver—and some argue are now delivering—effective, repeatable digital bluelines. Up-and-coming models for standardization, from commonly used International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles to new initiatives from the General Requirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography (GRACoL), are refining the color delivery potential of the digital proofer.

To better gain a proof positive perspective on the performance of color in today's digital proofing environment and what the market has and will soon have to offer, Printing Impressions polled a sampling of technology providers.

On a company by company basis, here's what a sampling of digital proofing providers have to say about one of the industry's hottest color topics...

The core frustration with digital proofing, in general, is that there is no real defined or accepted standard of what defines CMYK—there is no absolute, accepted default for any prepress manager to go to when in doubt as the digital proofer churns on.

"Color management—it is probably the single most important factor we, as an industry, need to get a handle on," states Mark Radogna, product manager for high-end ink-jet products at Epson. Epson just brought to the graphic arts marketplace a new digital proofing device, the Epson Stylus Pro 5000, positioned as an alternative to IRIS technology and dye-sublimation products traditionally used by graphic design professionals.

So, Epson, you really want to play in the color-controversial digital proofing marketplace? "Absolutely," Radogna enthuses.

"We support ColorSync with the Stylus Pro 5000, but we do not rely on ColorSync alone. We can adjust the hardware so that the printer can be fine-tuned. We actually give the user the power to control the color software, to select their own ICC profiles and their own vehicles for color accuracy."

How volatile a CMYK climate has Epson entered with its latest device? Fujifilm offers a perspective.

"We all have our own independent color space. Digital proofing encompasses an array of technology offerings—all trying to achieve the same color match that basically one core technology is delivering in the analog proofing world," Fujifilm's Richard Black, group manager of product development, explains. "It's like the industry is shooting aimlessly into the sky when it comes to perfecting color in digital proofing, with everyone trying to match the quality and continuity of the analog proof—which took us 20 years to perfect."

Black's argument is valid and all too familiar to both the digital proofing technology providers and the prepress managers struggling with digital proofing concerns.


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