Print images and manage colors with DxO OpticsPro 9
In collaboration with Gilles Théophile
DxO Optics Pro 9 offers a photo print module that allows you to manage the colors and the sharpness of the prints you make from your images. In this tutorial, we will introduce you to the print module, show you how to choose an ICC profile, and explain how the layout settings work.
To follow this tutorial, you will need:
- DxO Optics Pro Standard or Elite Edition, depending on your camera.
- An image in RAW, TIFF, or JPEG format.
1- The DxO Optics Pro print module
DxO Optics Pro’s print module lets you produce paper prints from all supported image formats: RAW, TIFF, and JPEG, and takes into account the settings and corrections you have made.
Differences between the Mac and PC versions
The DxO Optics Pro 9 print module interface works differently for PCs and Macs: For PCs, the File > Print selected images (or Ctrl+P) will open a floating window, whereas for Macs, the File > Print (or Cmd+P) command opens a menu that drops down from the upper command bar. The print commands are available for both PCs and Macs regardless of the tab you are working in.
The print module for PCs
The PC version of the print module is in the form of a window divided into two parts: on the left is the pane in which the image to be printed is displayed, and on the right are the palettes and layout tools. The Printer settings palette lets you select the printer and gives you access to the printer driver (by clicking on the Printer properties button). This is also where you choose the paper size, the page orientation, and the print resolution.
The higher the resolution, the more memory the printing process will require. If you are using a 32-bit system, we recommend that you avoid using very high resolutions (more than 300 dpi for an A3-size print, for example).
The print module for Macs
For Macs, the File > Print (or Cmd+P) command will open either the basic print menu or the detailed print menu. If necessary, Show details button in the lower left corner of the basic print menu. This will open a print window that is divided into three parts: the left displays image to be printed, and the right shows the print tools divided into two sections, upper and lower. The upper section is where you select the printer to use. The contents of the lower section changes depending on the feature selected in the drop-down menu that separates the upper and lower sections. The names of the commands and tools that are specific to DxO Optics Pro start with “DxO” and are located at the top of the drop-down menu.
Note that when you close the print module and then quit from DxO Optics Pro 8, your print settings are saved for the next session. If desired, you will need to reset the settings to zero yourself. (To do so, simply double-click on the sliders in the PC version, or manually set the sliders or erase the input fields in the Mac version.)
2.1 – Select your images
Select one or more images in the file browser and start the print module. If you choose to print multiple images at once, take care not to mix the image orientations, because the print module will apply the same layout settings to all the images you select. You can switch from one image to another by clicking on the arrows underneath the preview pane.
2.2 – Set the printer parameters
If several printers are linked to your computer, select the printer you want to use from the Printer settings palette (PC), then choose the paper size and the page orientation. On Macs, these settings are available by choosing Page Attributes in the drop-down menu.
2.3 – Choose your layout
When placing photos on the page, you can control the size of the margins by manipulating the sliders (PC: Margins palette ), or by entering the dimensions of each margin (Mac: DxO – Layout menu). You can also adjust the size of the image by using the Cell size sliders (PC), or by entering the cell dimensions (Mac: DxO – Layout menu).
• The Crop to fill button (PC: Layout palette / Mac: DxO – Image settings menu) lets you maximally fill the page within the margins, but at the expense of the image, which will be partially truncated due to scaling.
• The Rotate to fit button (PC: Layout palette / Mac: DxO – Image settings menu) lets you fill a horizontally-oriented page by rotating a vertical image, for example.
• The Mac version offers an automatic mode for using all available space (DxO – Layout > Cell Size > Auto). On a PC, you can achieve the same result by moving the cell size sliders all the way to the right.
2.4 – Add a caption
You can add a caption to your printed images (PC: Add a caption palette / Mac: DxO – Image settings menu > Add captionbutton). This can be the file name of the image, or its file name and metadata (shot parameters), or its file name and the date. You can place the caption above or below or on either side of the image by selecting the desired option from the Position drop-down menu. Finally, you can also change the caption font as well as its size, style, and color.
Note that the caption can encroach on the image size and decenter it. You can adjust the margins and the cell size to recenter the image if necessary.
3- Setting up a contact sheet
3.1 – Choose your images and orientation
Choose your images in the file browser and then follow steps 1 and 2 in the preceding section. As a general rule, it is better to choose portrait orientation for a contact sheet.
3.2 – Choose the layout
The appearance of the contact sheet will be affected by the number of rows and columns you specify by using the Rows and Columns sliders in the Layout palette (PC), or in the DxO – Layout > Layout menu (Mac). On a PC, you can specify a maximum of 12 rows and 8 columns ; on a Mac, you can choose up to 14 rows and 10 columns. To best see the images on an A4-size contact sheet, we recommend that you choose 4 rows and 5 columns.
3.3 – Adjust the size of the cells and the captions
To adjust the size of the cells and the spacing between them on a PC, use the Height and Width sliders in the Cell size palette; on a Mac, enter a value in the input fields in DxO – Layout > Cell Size > Specify cell size.
To caption each cell, choose Image name and date rather than displaying the shot metadata (which tends to be only of interest to you, and which you can find in the DxO Optics Pro EXIF palette).
4- Managing sharpness and colors
These settings are essential because they allow us to determine how color management will be handled and how sharp our prints will be. Here again, there are differences between the Mac and PC interfaces, but the results will be the same.
Managing printing sharpness
Printing sharpness adds to the sharpening already effectuated in DxO Optics Pro, whether by using the Lens softness correction in a DxO Optics Module, or by manually adjusting the sharpness in the Unsharp Mask tool in the Customize tab.
Color management by the printer
Using the printer to handle color means simply allowing the printer driver to automatically choose the colorimetric profile and renderings depending upon the paper used for printing. This very easy method generally provides very good results, with flattering color and contrast.
On a PC, all you need to do is keep the default setting on Manage by printer in the Color and sharpness > Color profile menu.
On a Mac, you set the color profile by choosing Vendor Matching after you have selected Color Matching in the drop-down menu in the print command window.
Color management using an ICC profile
This method allows you to use ICC profile of your choice, and is particularly suitable for experienced users who are printing with inket printers and on “graphic arts” paper.
It is important to deactivate color management in the printer driver to avoid double color management that can produce haphazard results.
4.1 – Use DxO Optics Pro to manage colors rather than the printer
On a PC, in the Color and sharpness palette > Color profile menu, select Managed by DxO Optics Pro, which will modify the palette content as well as open a system dialog box with the list of ICC profiles.
On a Mac, select Color Matching in the drop-down menu in the print command window, click on the ColorSync button, then select Other profiles from the Profiles drop-down menu, which will open a system dialog box showing you the ICC profiles available to choose.
4.2 – Choose the ICC profile
Select the profile that corresponds to the paper that you are going to use, then validate your choice by clicking on Open (PC) or on OK (Mac). You can search for other ICC profiles by selecting Import ICC profile from the menu.
4.3 – Adjust the printing sharpness
Printing sharpness automatically adapts to the size of print size of the document, but the intensity can also be adjusted by using the Sharpness slider, located in the Color and sharpness palette (PC) or in the DxO – Sharpness menu (Mac). The slider default value is 50 (for a medium level of sharpness), with 100 corresponding to very strong sharpness.
The effects will not be visible on the screen. We recommend that you do a test print using the default setting, then reduce or increase the sharpness according to your tastes.
4.4 – Print your photos!
Now all that is left is to start printing by clicking on the Print button, which will open a dialog box showing a progress bar and a cancel button. Once finished, the print module will automatically close.
Photo credits: Hector Martinez, Arnaud Pincemin