Sudden Print Mismatch


Today’s Question: Is it possible that a video card would be going bad if all of a sudden the quality of prints changes? I have an XP-610 Epson small all-in-one printer and I am unable to get a screen matching print any longer. Usually I print small out of Lightroom CC using the Spyder 4 for Color Management and prints have been excellent, but no longer. I have tried all the different option for color management and only “Managed by Printer” comes close, but doesn’t hit it.

Tim’s Quick Answer: If your prints are suddenly no longer accurate, and nothing has changed with your overall workflow and print settings, then the most likely culprit is clogged ink nozzles. For example, if the magenta ink nozzles get clogged, your prints will suddenly take on a green color cast due to the relative lack of magenta ink in the print. Cleaning the nozzles for the printer should resolve this issue.

More Detail: If there was a problem with your display adapter (video card), that would not translate into immediate problems with the accuracy of your prints. The only reason a problematic display would affect your prints is that the inaccurate display would cause you to apply inaccurate adjustments to your photos. The prints would then reflect those inaccurate adjustments.

However, if you haven’t made changes to your images based on what you’re seeing on your monitor display, then the overall display configuration would not explain prints that suddenly don’t match what you see on your display.

In my experience, this type of mismatch is almost always caused by one of two things.

The first is clogged nozzles in the printer, as noted above. Perform a nozzle check with the utility included with your printer’s software to see if there are any clogged nozzles, and perform the cleaning process for your printer if there are any issues. As noted above, this will very often resolve the type of issue you describe.

The second cause of this type of problem is a change in the overall software settings for printing. Sometimes a new software update causes a reset in the overall settings, for example. In other cases something (such as the output profile) gets changed without the user realizing it. Whatever the cause, if prints are suddenly not accurate it makes sense to very carefully check every setting related to printing.

Soft proofing the image can also be helpful in troubleshooting these types of issues. By configuring soft proofing based on how the image will be printed, you can see a simulation on your monitor display of what the print should look like. In this case I don’t believe that soft proofing will reveal any issues, but it is always worth checking to be sure if none of the other recommendations here provide a solution.