Print an A4 image as large as possible on A4 paper without clipping, (overspraying or bleeding).
These notes relate to HP Photosmart printers 8230 and the newer D7160 & D7360.
I have a variety of A4 images that lose their effectiveness if part of the image is missing or oversprayed off one or more edges. Neither do I want images that have been shrunk unnecessarily â€“ say by 5 or 6mm or more. Ideally, they should print with an unprinted strip of less than a millimetre and they need to be able to do that in a completely dependable fashion.
The initial advice from HP was that I was in uncharted waters and the printers were designed to always either overspray or leave a 6mm margin (as in a Word document).
I had a long and exasperating battle getting to grips with the issues, but was eventually successful - I hope these notes are of use to you. I sure wish I had read them somewhere first. Thanks to HP for the loan of the two current model printers and for some replacement ink and paper.
My images now come out without any skew and with a very thin, equal unprinted strip, left and right of about 1/2mm and a slightly larger unprinted strip top and bottom. The bottom strip is always slightly wider than the top.
These unprinted strips are easily rotary trimmed away several days later when the ink has dried. I found that the Meopta brand is quite capable of accurately trimming off even a tapering whisker of paper without buckling, bending, kinking or refusal issues.
I now consider the end result pretty much perfect and can be achieved 100% consistently.
As an aside, I tried some HP Advanced Photo Paper in these printers. However, my personal preference is for the HP Premium Pro Photo paper for the sheer impact of the images. The colours simply pop off the page and make the same image on the Advanced Paper appear quite muted and drab by comparison. Reds, whites, greens and especially blues are noticeably brighter and cleaner and happen to suit my images. The extra longevity is also very important to me. Printing speed and drying time is totally irrelevant after spending hours on each image. However, being less susceptible to water damage (i.e. spit) would be nice.
However, some might prefer the more muted tones of the HP Advanced Paper.
Idiosyncrasies and required settings:
1. Start by running the Configure Printer option. It is unclear exactly what this does, but at one stage the 8230 got quite out of kilter and despite large offsets to the left margin (5, 6, 7mm) being fed in, it would always pull the image back the other way (towards the fixed guide) and overspray it. These shenanigans stopped after running this routine.
2. Then define borderless A4 in the hoppers using >start>printers & faxes> printing preferences. If you define it directly in the HP printer dialog preferences, the settings (especially the auto-overspray) will NOT be retained from photo to photo, let alone session to session.
3. Now reduce the Auto Overspray setting from Auto to Least. Unfortunately, there is no off function, but this comes close. Again, you will need to set this using > start> printers & faxes > printing preferences or the setting will not even be retained from photo to photo.
If you leave auto-overspray on Auto, the results are quite unpredictable and even the HP print preview does not give a correct preview of image placement. (With auto-spray on the default auto, and using the suggested settings below, you will see a preview image with an unprinted strip on all four sides, that when printed is actually over-sprayed on all four sides). That is very misleading.
4. Create a demo image to save ink. Stroke an A4 portrait image with 10 pixels in black and use cheap photo paper and print on both sides until you start to close in on the required settings. Put a minimum of 4 sheets in the hopper if using a lightweight paper.
5. All these HP Photosmart printers will put a small amount of skew on the paper when using A4. Fortunately, the amount is consistent and can be rotated out by using Adobe > rotate > custom amount. Try the initial settings below.
6. The amount of skew can vary per paper type. On my HP8230, single or double sheets of a lightweight generic everyday photo paper came out without any skew whatsoever, but a single sheet of Photo Premium Plus would consistently skew about 1mm (.04 degrees) on a portrait setting.
With, say, four or more pages of the thinner paper in the hopper, the skew was the same as that on a single (or multiple sheets) of HP Premium Plus.
I was uncertain just why this was happening, perhaps the thinner paper was sneaking under the edge guide, flexing in the tray or simply being picked up by the rollers unevenly. I had no luck in trying to remove the skew mechanically. My money is on a flexing issue.
I didnâ€™t notice any skew on the 6x4 paper.
7. Initially, try introducing a border of 1.2mm and leaving the image centred. HP appears to interpret the centre image command in a completely different fashion to their interpretation of offsetting the top and left margins by fed in values (even when the values fed in are those reported on by the default centre image command). Rotate the image as below to counteract the inherent skew.
These settings proved perfect on the 8230 and almost so on the D7360 and the D7160 was (but only just) still all on the paper. However, these variations might prove to be the result of manufacturing tolerances on each printer rather than the actual model itself.
8. If you have to define the top and left side offsets, be aware that HP does not respond in a linear fashion. Try these initial settings:
Border Left Top Rotate
8230 1.2mm 5pts 6pts .04 degrees left
D7160 2.1mm 7pts 11pts .08 degrees left
D7360 1.2mm 4pts 11pts .03 degrees left
However, you will find that many offsets will not move the image at all â€“ at least until a trigger point is reached.
Use very small amounts. I use points not mms (in the hope of avoiding fractions) but many amounts do not make any difference whatsoever, until that trigger point is reached. For example, you might find a number of settings are having no effect whatsoever, until, for example, you alter the offset from 1.1 points to 1.2 points and then, whamo! HP then decide to completely rethink where they will place the image.
9. Top and left margin offsets are linked by HP in an unpredictable fashion. You will also find that despite adjusting, say, ONLY the top margin (because you are already happy with the left and right margins), that HP take it upon themselves to adjust the actual placement of BOTH the top AND the left margins. Really frustrating and impossible to predict!
You MUST turn the HP print preview on and see just what HP makes of your requested placement and just where they have decided to place the image. If auto-overspray is adjusted to its least setting, this preview will be reasonably accurate. (The Adobe preview will NEVER be accurate).
10. Ignore any warnings by Adobe that your image will be clipped and also ignore what the Adobe printer dialog preview displays. These will be overridden by HPâ€™s interpretation and are quite misleading.
Adobe WILL still send the entire image to the printer and it is what HP will do with the size and placement settings that really matters. If you are lucky, you may end up settling on settings that just sneak in under this Adobe warning, which saves you giving a response. (Do NOT scale to fit media).
11. The option â€œBorderless Photosâ€ in the 8230 driver is optional, but turns on automatically in the D7160 & D7360 drivers after selecting a borderless photo paper. The option does not appear to do anything and appears to be superfluous, at least on the 8230. Leave it off on the 8230.
12. Introducing a border of say, 1.2mm in the printer dialog, does not mean that HP will actually give you a border of 1.2mm all around your image. Nevertheless, the 8230 gave a consistent margin left and right, which because of auto-overspray still being set to Least, will be well under a millimetre- (perfect!). You will find that the top and bottom margins are both larger and unequal in size.
You will have to live with that; however, this appears to be a percentage issue, so that the closer your actual printed image is to 210mm across, the closer you will be to 297mm on the other axis.
13. I also found that the 8230 model had a lot of side pressure introduced by the left hand guide and could become slack or skew the paper. (It is manufactured to initially be off-square and straighten and put side pressure on the paper as you move the guide in). You will always need to check that no skew or slack has been introduced here. Be fastidious about this.
In fact, I glued a small strip of 5mm, 90degree angle, aluminium here to prevent the guide ever drifting beyond A4.
A tip: Allow for flexibility by inserting a cardboard shim to take up any fine tuning adjustment subsequently required. The 8230 left guide has a recess near its front and a vertical surface that is perfect to hold a shim. Ensure this permanent A4 setting is done with a heavy photo paper that will not flex. Carefully feel for even alignment on the rear pick up teeth. Check everything is feeding square by removing the rear panel and using a torch. Again, be meticulous in this alignment before committing to gluing.
14. I also found that the 8230 rear paper guide not only had a lot of, er, manufacturing tolerance or slop, and would also close up on the paper noticeably out of square â€“ giving the paper a tendency to skew (at least while the tray was pulled out).
The solution was to wedge a small shim of brass in the left hand side of its guide. This took out the slop and twisted the rear paper guide face so that it closed up on the paper nice and true.
The paper trays on the subsequent models, D7160 and D7360 have both been extensively redesigned. There is less sideways pressure and therefore less tendency to skew the paper and the rear guide, although still somewhat sloppy, at least closed up on the paper nice and true.
I also noticed that the 8230 had a tendency to wear in the rear opening panel, where two thin plastic ridges met at right angles to each other. I intend reinforcing mine with some small pieces of glued aluminium. The later models D7160 and D7360 have both been redesigned slightly to have large bearing surfaces and will not have this issue.
The 8230 also had three small ridges on the output tray as a finger grip and unfortunately, the paper would always catch on these and kick back unless the tray extension was pulled right out. I have sanded these off on a belt & disk sanding unit and polished the plastic with stainless steel polish.
The result is a smooth out-feed and the modification is undetectable. The D7160 & D7360 have been completely redesigned in this area, eliminating the issue.
15. Printing 6x4 images without clipping â€“ Start with introducing a border of 2.1mm and a centred image. You will find that the image is not actually printed centred and you will have to experiment with left and top offsets. Skew was not an issue on this size.
16. Be absolutely consistent in your printing procedures. Although I work in Photoshop CS2, I use Photoshop Elements V3 just to print - purely because I started calibrating there and it has an option to introduce a border in the printer dialog rather than just a percentage reduction.
Introducing a border in the printer dialog appears to give a different image placement compared to a percentage reduction, even if the latterâ€™s percentage is the same as that reported in the border option. Nothing is ever straight forward.
At some stage, now that things have settled down, I will work out the settings for CS2 and drop Elements.
I always ensure that every photo has its visible layers merged before rotating it to a portrait orientation and then a further custom amount of rotation is introduced to offset the printerâ€™s inherent skew.
I always compress the layers immediately before printing because I noticed that:
o Adobe (or HP) would occasionally expand JUST the bottom layer in an attempt to overspray the image (especially if it was a gradient and the like and not the original background) and
o Adobe would not always rotate the bottom layer if it was a gradient.
Reverse these temporary printer actions or alternatively, do not save your altered image.
What the HP Engineers really need to do:
1. Offer a Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Elements to replace the Adobe printer driver. This should also confine itself to JUST being a printer dialog and not follow Canonâ€™s approach with the 9500 driver and its extensive repeat of Adobeâ€™s other functionality.
This will reduce the number of printer dialog pages; avoid repeated settings and the clashes between these settings and the resultant user confusion. It will give only one preview â€“ which should also be fine-tuned to be precisely correct.
2. Offer the following User software settings per each paper type and size:
â€¢ Allow us to completely turn auto-overspray off
â€¢ Rotate an image (to offset skew) by (X) degrees - allow for hundredthsâ€™ of a degree, e.g. .03.
Offer a Yes/No option as to whether to show this in the print preview. The default should be â€œNoâ€ as we are really just offsetting a mechanical skew and do not really want to print the image at an angle.
For that reason HP should also offer an option as to whether they should take the rotation into their calculation of just where they are going to place the image. These two things are not really causing an issue at the moment â€“ at least up to A4 size.
â€¢ Allow the users to fine tune exactly what the â€œCentre Imageâ€ location really means to the printer. Semi-hidden settings for:
o Offset â€œCentre-imageâ€ TOP by:
o Offset â€œCentre-imageâ€ LEFT by:
This means that the user can simply opt for the convenient â€œCentre Imageâ€ and the fine tuning values will be automatically applied to that choice.
This will also allow us to fine-tune what centre-image is to each of the paper trays. Their image placement currently varies.
â€¢ Shrink image by
o Or Add Border of: (inch, mm, points)
â€¢ Retain all these settings from photo to photo and also session to session. Also ensure that if the user sets these preferences through the HP printer Dialog (rather than >Start > Printers & Faxes > Preferences) that they are actually saved photo to photo and session to session.
It actually took while before I noticed this trick and I am not alone - I see other reviewers on the Web have complained about the settings not being retained.
â€¢ Allow the users to punch in say 1.2mm without the cursor jumping out of the box immediately after the digit one is entered.
â€¢ Remember the units last used, e.g. points or millimetres and do NOT always revert back to centimetres.
â€¢ Reduce the moulding tolerances on the paper trays so that the guides do not have so much slop in them and also provide some method of rigidly locking guides at certain sizes. Allow the user to fine tune the location of these locks.
Other possible improvements:
3. Factor in the effect of the Auto-overspray settings in their print preview.
4. Amend their driver so that Top and Left margins are not semi-linked and ensure that every request to offset top and left margins is acted upon and in a linear fashion. If this canâ€™t be done, then at least publish the logic used on the Web.
5. Amend their driver so that top and bottom margins can be made equal and can be made the same size as the left and right margins. I do not see why HP should pull the image away from the top and bottom edges in an uneven fashion and indeed just why the amount is also more than it is on the left and right sides. To do so, means that they are distorting the image in some fashion.
Once the user has fine-tuned their image (to avoid any clipping) then they can from time to time, introduce a touch more overspray and get adequate and absolutely minimal overspray on all four edges and avoid any trimming on those images that can afford to lose, say half a millimetre all around. Ideally this would be totally variable rather than the existing four steps only control.
That is also way better than losing say, 4or 5mm on one side and 1mm on the opposite side and other varying amounts on the other two sides.
I briefly tried experimenting with a custom paper size by adding a few millimetres to the length of an A4 page in the hope that HP could be coaxed into drawing out the image closer to the true A4 length of 297mm. However, the way that HP link the left and right margins meant that this was not going to be straightforward and mean further days of experimenting.