On printing a PDF folio, Part 2

Chickens Eat Sushi

Key: R20090620-094747

Well, my first three attempts to print my folio using another application were not entirely successful.

Perhaps, like me, you might think that Adobe Reader might be the first reasonable application to try.  After all, Adobe also makes Photoshop (which I use to print my photos), and they are the designers of the PDF standard, so Adobe Reader ought to be pretty good at printing out a PDF, right?

I loaded up the 300 dpi folio PDF into Adobe Reader and proceeded to print a single page from the portfolio.  If one page would print ok, then I could just print all pages and have the printer spit out a folio for me. I verified that Adobe Reader was using the same HP printer driver, and as nearly as possible, I set the same options in the driver as I had in Photoshop: “best” quality setting, color managed, chose the correct paper profile, etc.

The result for three different attempts (with slightly different settings for each) was that not one was as good as the one printed via Photoshop. Superficially, all the prints were similar, but I found three differences:

  1. color was not as rich and spot-on as in the Photoshop-printed version
  2. under the loupe, the dithering pattern for the Adobe Reader printed copies was noticeably worse
  3. under the loupe, the text rendering for the Adobe Reader printed copies was noticeably worse–the diagonal strokes on V’s and W’s (for example) were much more jagged.

Since both applications are using the same HP driver, the differences must be in the rendering of the data. As for #1, Photoshop is using Photoshop color engine, while the Adobe Reader seemed to be using Apple’s ColorSync CM.  As for #3, the Photoshop rasterization of the PDF page had an option to antialias the text; I would assume that Adobe Reader would do this automatically, but there was no option to do so that I could see.

As for #2, I’m not sure what to make of it.  Both applications are using the HP printer driver.  But the HP Photoshop plug in seems to have some deep hooks both into Photoshop and into the driver, so it is possible that the driver takes advantage of the Photoshop environment to handle the dithering.  Seems unlikely, but I don’t know any other way to explain it.

The bottom line is that I am still looking for an application that will let me print the entire PDF with the quality that I’m getting from the Photoshop plug in.  Perhaps I’ll end up simply writing a Photoshop automation to rasterize each page of the PDF and print it.  That sounds like more work than I should have to do, but I might end up having to go that route.  I want my folios to be printed to the highest standard that I can achieve myself.

If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

5 thoughts on “On printing a PDF folio, Part 2

  1. I like the folio concept. I’m going to start looking into it more.
    Will you be publishing the latex files you used for the folio?

    -Kevin

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