I am doing some design work which will be going to print ( I normally design for screen ) .... my printer is a Cannon MP280. I have been researching colour profile, managed color workflow, screen calibration etc. It seems it's impossible to get an ICC profile for a general purpose printer like mine. My question is this. Is my printer completely unsuitable for developing proofs ( ie a complete waste of time ) ... or will I just have some inaccuracies. The work in question is logo ( not photographic ) so probably only using one or 2 colours.

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There's really a lot here and this question is rather broad even though you may not be aware.

You most likely will never get a great, accurate color proof from any inkjet printer. You can get very close but much depends upon the printer itself and the nature of the artwork.

The Pixima printers (which the Cannon MP280 is) are designed for printing photos. I can't find any direct statement on what print technology they use (postscript, PCL, etc) so I can't say for certain what is in play. Most likely it's a PCL interface and postscript is not supported.

Postscript is often required to get accurate printing from some applications such as InDesign or Illustrator. Photoshop and PDFs are generally fine since Photoshop prints raster images, and PDFs are a software Raster Image Processor (RIP) which converts everything to raster before printing.

With this in mind, if you are using InDesign or Illustrator, always export/save to PDF then print the PDF. Don't print directly from Illustrator or InDesign.

Beyond the print technology, color mode may be a factor.

No inkjet is going to support spot colors. Inkjets have no clue what spot color is. If your artwork contains spot colors you'll need to convert those colors --- but to RGB not CMYK. Read on ....

For CMYK color files, you may be confusing the printer as well. Most lower end inkjets (without postscript support) don't understand CMYK color either. So, when you print a CMYK file it doesn't know what the color space is. The printer converts the CMYK to RGB so it understands the color, then converts again to CcMmYyK for printing. You get a double color conversion. This can, obviously, cause color shifts.

The long and short of it is, if using a less expensive inkjet printer it is always best to print RGB raster files. This is why printing photos works well with them. Most "mom & pop" people printing are just printing RGB photos... that's what the printers are set up to do. They just aren't designed for high-end color proofing.

There are higher quality inkjet printers that support Postscript Level 3 and have an onboard RIP. These inkjets often do a much better job at color matching more than just photos. However, the cost is much greater than anything in the Pixima line or any "all-in-one" inkjet printer.

Ultimately, if you want accurate color proofs you need to spend some money. Either by getting a color proof or Chromakey from a commercial printer/service bureau or by spending a great deal of money to get high-end equipment yourself. The Pixma is never going to be totally accurate. It should be close, but that's about as good as you'll get.

90% of Inkjets are good for "estimating". They shouldn't ever be seen as "accurate".

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