Epson has developed an application for the Stylus Photo R2400 and Stylus Pro 4800/7800/9800 printers that enables their colour output to be calibrated to match that of Epson's reference printer for each model. Called ColorBase and currently at v1.1, the Mac and Windows software is a free download from various Epson web sites.
The potential benefits of ColorBase calibration include:
- Get better results from the ICC profiles included with the printer. Since the goal of ColorBase is to make the colour of your printer match that of the printer Epson used to create the bundled profiles, prints made through those profiles should have more accurate colour. Or at least colour that's much closer to what Epson was intending when the profiles were created.
- By being able to return a printer's colour output to a known state, even when swapping in new ink cartridges or paper (of the same type but from a different media lot), it may not be necessary to generate a new custom profile as frequently. Instead, ColorBase can be used to bring the printer back to a state that closely resembles when the custom profile was made, by accounting for colour differences resulting from the new ink or media lot, changes in temperature and humidity, a shift in printer output after it has been transported and more.
- More closely matching the colour output of multiple units of the same printer model (i.e. several R2400's), or even different printer models (i.e. an R2400 and a 4800).
- Use custom profiles generated for a given printer model with other units of the same printer model.
These benefits are all predicated on ColorBase actually working effectively and, as we learned of the utility's existence only yesterday (thanks to a helpful post by Kamil Tresnak on the Colorsync-users mailing list), we can't say if that's the case quite yet.
Epson ColorBase v1.1
To make use of ColorBase, you'll need both a compatible printer and supported spectrophotometer for measuring the 264-colour ColorBase target (if you don't have a spectrophotometer, or access to one, then ColorBase isn't for you). Version 1.1 of ColorBase will drive GretagMacbeth's Eye-One Pro and iCColor 210/211 as well as X-Rite's DTP20 (the device that's part of the Pulse ColorElite package) and DTP70. GretagMacbeth's Spectrolino, SpectroScanT and SpectroScan can also be used, though apparently the ColorBase target data must be generated through ProfileMaker's Measure Tool application.
From what we've been able to determine, ColorBase 1.1 isn't available from Epson web sites in North America or Latin America. It is, however, downloadable from a number of Epson sites outside of these regions, including the software downloads section of Epson UK, which is where we found it. And it seems to work just fine with our Canadian-market Epson Stylus Pro 4800. A number of FAQ entries, also on the Epson UK site, provide additional information about what ColorBase is for and how to use it.