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When and How to Use Chroma Optimizer

October 19, 2016

Rachel Halford

What is Chroma Optimizer?

Chroma optimizer is a clear coat finish that is applied into your prints with selected Canon printers, when you have selected a paper type with glossy, semigloss, or luster finish. This product helps you to achieve better perceived color density and saturation when printing on glossy materials, and can be an extremely valuable tool in achieving the look you want for your photographic prints.

Why is Chroma Optimizer Needed?

The 11-Ink Lucia Pro System that is compatible with the Canon iPF Pro-1000 consists of pigments of color (photo cyan, cyan, blue, photo magenta, magenta, red, yellow, photo gray, gray, matte black, or photo black) coated in resin and suspended in a water-based solution. When you print, very small droplets of this color and water solution are placed on the surface of the paper in a precise pattern. The water solution then evaporates, leaving the resin-coated pigments to form your image.

In areas with heavy ink coverage, the buildup of pigments on the surface of your paper can create a light scattering effect. Instead of the light hitting the flat surface of the paper and bouncing back to the viewer’s eye, the light bounces off of the uneven pigment surface in multiple directions. This results in a visible loss of density, saturation, and glossiness in inked areas. Adding a clear coat of chroma optimizer in addition to the denser droplet placement of the Lucia Pro Inks provides a smooth visual surface and a glossy finish that matches the appearance of your paper.

Chroma Optimizer Settings

When you select a paper type with a glossy finish, chroma optimizer is automatically activated. You will see two basic options under Clear Coating Area in the printer driver: Auto, and Overall. The Auto setting will apply chroma optimizer in any inked area of your image, but will not apply the optimizer to the un-inked areas. The Overall setting will apply chroma optimizer to the entire printable area of your image. Similarly, in Canon Print Studio Pro, you will see an option to “Clear coat the entire page.” If this option is unchecked, Print Studio Pro will default to applying chroma optimizer only in the inked areas. If you select a paper type that has a matte finish, you will see that the chroma optimizer options are grayed out and may not be selected.

For most standard photographs, there will be little or no un-inked area in your image, so the Auto setting will give you the coverage you need. However, if you are working with images that contain a lot of negative space, such as products photographed on a white background, you may want to consider the pros and cons of full chroma optimizer coverage.

First, you may want to try a small test print of a sample image using the Auto setting, and another print using the Overall setting. Check the appearance of the images from all angles and see if there is a noticeable difference in gloss (gloss differential) between the paper and the inked area of the image.

Consider how the image will be finished. Will it be framed, laminated, mounted, or finished in some other way? Some finishes, like lamination, will cover over any gloss differential, whereas other types of finishes, like mounting, might show a visible difference between the inked area and the paper. Based on these assessments, you will be able to determine which chroma optimizer settings will be ideal for your finished image.

Chroma optimizer can greatly enhance the final appearance of your prints on glossy papers, adding depth, saturation, and an overall more pleasing effect to your prints. This valuable feature will help you to create true-to-life, vibrant prints on a variety of glossy materials.

Rachel Halford
Rachel Halford

Rachel has over 15 years of experience in product development, training, and support in color management and inkjet printing at Canon, X-Rite, and the Graphic Intelligence Agency.

Rachel Halford

Rachel has over 15 years of experience in product development, training, and support in color management and inkjet printing at Canon, X-Rite, and the Graphic Intelligence Agency. When she isn’t lending her expertise in writing and training on graphic technology, Rachel enjoys photography, cooking, and exploring the Michigan beaches with her family.

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