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Colorburst RIP


in Product reviews , Sunday, May 29, 2011

Intrigued by a blog post by Bruce Percy about Colorburst RIP, which triggered quite a discussion, I decided to give it a try, since a fully featured 15 day demo is available.

I used to be a happy user of ColorByte’s Imageprint RIP - and what qualifies to be called a “RIP” or not, quite honestly I couldn’t care less. Imageprint basically gives you high quality print output, with minimal fuss (albeit with a somewhat clunky UI), and no wasted time or materials. It is fairly expensive, on the face of it, but when you consider the cost of the alternative DIY profiling route, it’s a bargain. Even for hobbyists. However, at present I don’t use it. I use the much improved Epson driver, with my own profiles built using XRite’s ColorMunki. Also, I have ImagePrint 6 licensed for the Epson 2100, and these days I use an Epson 3800. As and when I can afford to upgrade, I still might, but since I’m pretty settled on a couple of paper types, and having tried the demo I couldn’t see a huge benefit over the modern Epson driver, it’s not a priority.

Back to Colorburst. So, I downloaded it and installed it. First off, it’s quite a different beast to ImagePrint. There’s no layout facility, but the UI is a little more polished. However, Colorburst’s UI offers little more than ImagePrint’s Job Manager. Colorburst provides packaged “environments” for printer / paper / ink combinations. They offer a fairly wide range, but significantly smaller, and much less up to date, than ImagePrint’s. For example, my favorite paper, Hahnemuehle Photo Rag Baryta, didn’t make the cut. However I did have a few sheets of Epson Traditional Photo Paper (aka Exhibition Fibre) lying around, so I tried that.

And I got exactly what I expected: a relatively desaturated print representing a CMYK press proof, which as I understand is what Colorburst RIP is supposed to do - but it does seem that it’s being represented as a full gamut inkjet replacement driver for photographic final prints. Well, maybe there are some settings somewhere, or environments, or other proprietary stuff you can twiddle to fix that, but then one has to ask what the point is ? You may as well invest the time in learning mainstream color management. And it isn’t all the difficult.

Colorburst offers no preview, so for example you can’t know that the option you selected to “auto rotate” doesn’t always work - so you’re wasting paper.

As far as I can tell, Colorburst RIP is a great tool for DTP specialists need to get accurate, contract-rated offset proofs. If you’re working with a printing house on publishing a book, it’s fantastic. And back in the day I used to do that sort of work, I wish I’d had it. But it is absolutely not going to deliver anything approaching the best Adobe RGB color space screen to paper output you can get. And neither is it supposed to.

Posted in Product reviews on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 10:54 PM • PermalinkComments (1)