Choosing Your Digital Proofer

Not everyone has gone soft. At the recent IPG Conference, a panel of vendors and users discussed digital hard-copy proofing and how users can choose the right proofing technology for their requirements.

Nick Patrissi, Creo’s director of market relations and print media, advised attendees to consider the seven basic factors of color proofing and prioritize them before making a decision:

• Consistency (repeatability of the device)

• Resolution (how high do you need it?)

• Color fidelity (can the proofer match the press’s color space?)

• Tonal fidelity (can it simulate the press’s tonal characteristics?)

• Halftone fidelity (do you need proofs to show screening?)

• Paper (color, gloss and texture)

• Cost (what can you afford?)

Jennifer Bergin, print media manager with Kodak Polychrome Graphics, reminded attendees that proofs have several purposes: they preview the outcome, they check the integrity of the file or film, and they act as a production reference for vendors.

Bergin broke proofs down into four types:

• Concept proofs (used to check design)

• Intermediate proofs (to display content revisions and enable critical color evaluation)

• Imposition proofs (for internal quality assurance)

• Contract proofs (for accurate prediction of press results)

Different devices, Bergin said, were most appropriate for each. For example, electrophotography is an inexpensive way to proof design and content. She pointed out that the quality of color copiers has improved dramatically, and some devices are SWOP-certified and ICC-compliant.

Ink-jet, Bergin continued, offered a step up in quality, with very good color tools. Choices, she said, include thermal drop-on-demand, piezoelectric drop-on-demand and continuous-flow technologies.

For contract proofs she suggested halftone digital proofers, which reproduce halftone dots. These proofs let press operators check dot gain, ink densities and registration.

–By Bob Neubauer

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