Custodian of colour integrity

Our sister publication, The Photographer’s Mail, speaks with Epson Professional Print Product Manager Gordon Kerr about what Pantone certification means for Epson and its customers

As designers and photographers, we can invest hours of meticulous attention in our work. So, it’s no surprise that when printed material arrives as the end deliverable, we want to know that it will be a true representation of the concept and intent. For this reason, creatives demand precise colour reproduction; no compromises.

Known as ‘the standard language for colour communication’, Pantone is recognized as the authority on colour, facilitating accuracy in colour representation across various industries.

And now Epson is one of a very few printer manufacturers to offer Pantone certification, boasted by their flagship 64-inch roll-to-roll signage printer, the SureColor SC-S80600. It joins the industry-leading SureColor Prographics range with Pantone coverage exceeding 98 per cent.

Our sister publication, The Photographer's Mail, quizzed Epson professional print product manager Gordon Kerr about what this certification means for Epson and its products.

The Photographer’s Mail: There’s no doubt becoming Pantone certified is quite a rigorous process. What did this entail, and why does it offer your customers such peace of mind?

Gordon Kerr: We have a lot of experience with Pantone, and [have] built a leadership position in the photo and proofing markets around our excellence in this area. We knew that if we could offer a durable signage printer with imaging quality similar to what we already offered the pro-graphic field, it would give customers a significant advantage in terms of production quality and application flexibility. It took us almost six months to achieve certification, and, while it involved considerable investment, had it not been for the strength of the product, we would not have achieved success. When our engineers first conceived the S80600, they wanted it to be the best in its class and a flagship for the signage industry. Our engineers took particular care to ensure that we not only delivered a printer that could produce superior colour but [also] one that could do it with predictable and consistent output.

Being Pantone certified means that colour is analyzed — from preflight, file prep, and proofing to ink formulation and mixing, and, finally, to process control in print. What does this practically mean for the image — from lens, to screen, to paper?

The S80600 will produce accurate colour and reproduce the majority of the Pantone palette. It does this through the combination of superior UltraChrome GS3 ink and PrecisionCore printheads, advanced media management, and customized MicroWeave print patterns, precision LUT [look-up tables], and half-toning modules. While all of this Epson technology ensures consistent and dependable output, without proper colour management, you can’t guarantee that [the] output is actually what you intended. The days of visual comparison and checking are coming to a close. Photographers, designers, and printers who want to produce premium work with accurate colour need to start adopting a full colour-managed workflow; from lens, to screen, to print.

The Epson SureColor large-format range offers colour and black-and-white prints with an ultra-wide gamut — up to 99-per-cent Pantone coverage (with Violet ink). What does this mean for the user?

Epson’s high-colour SureColor Signage printer (SC-S80600) will produce up to 98 per cent of the Pantone range. Our flagship SureColor Prographics printers (SC-P7070 and P9070) will produce up to 98 per cent of the Pantone range when configured with Light Light Black (Llk) ink, or 99 per cent when configured with Violet (Vi) ink. The Vi configuration is recommend for proofing and graphic work where gamut maximization is most important. For photography work, where tonal balance tends to be more critical, we generally recommend the Llk configuration.

You’ve recently been at the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA), as well as Photokina. What trends have you have noticed lately in the arts and photographic industry that these developments would benefit?

The quality of photography, and, in particular, digital photography, continues to grow every year. I continue to be amazed and delighted at what I see being produced these days.

The demand for printing everyday photos seems to be on the decline, however I have noticed a corresponding increase in awareness of the artistic nature and value of photography. Whether this is due to increased exposure or interest I can’t say. What I can say is that the value of a quality photo, imaged well onto quality media, has never been as high as it is today.

What can be done [now] with photography and digital imaging is quite amazing. Where once I went to shows and would see images put onto a variety of standard board and paper stocks, today I am seeing more canvas and synthetic stocks. I am starting to see people print onto specialty stocks, onto film, onto metal, onto fabric, onto Perspex, even onto wood. I see people making their own fabrics and merchandise, custom wallpaper, and even furniture. The opportunities for digital photography continue to expand each year.

To find out more about the SureColor Prographics range, get in touch with Epson’s local contact, Avinash, on 09 366 6855.