The new Fogra 51 and 52 profiles

If you’re involved in commercial, digital and large format printing it’s more than likely that you’ll be aware of Fogra 39 for coated and Fogra 47 for uncoated work.

Fogra is a German-based research institute for the graphic arts. They are very actively involved in maintaining several ISO standards concerning colour management and printing. Based on ISO standards, they developed a system of certifications for print providers. proofing systems and proof providers known as FograCert. www.fogra.org

On a printing press running to ISO standards a test chart was printed and measured on different paper types by Fogra to produce sets of data that could then be used to set up other devices to match this press. The data-set produced on coated paper was called Fogra 39 and on uncoated called Fogra 47. You may sometimes have seen an ‘L’ suffix ie. ‘39L’ – this just means an extended data-set created by using a larger test chart on press.

These data sets are then used in proofing systems so that we can make our proofs match the standard. If our press is set up and run to ISO standards then we should then get a good match between proof and press sheet.

The data sets can also be used to create ICC profiles which can then be used in desktop publishing programs and the like. The European Colour Initiative (ECI) publishes profiles created from this data who’s names have become synonymous with the Fogra data;

Fogra 39 data is made into an ICC profile called ‘ISO Coated v2’

Fogra 47 data is made into an ICC profile called ‘PSO Uncoated ISO12647’

The European Color Initiative (ECI) is a group of experts working on device independent processing of colour data in digital publication systems. www.eci.org

And here’s where it all goes wrong…

The papers used on press by Fogra contained very little Optical Brightening Agents (OBA’s). One of the greatest problems in colour management is that of optical brighteners, which are used to make inexpensive papers appear as bright white as possible. These are additives in the paper that convert the invisible ultraviolet into the visible bluish portion of light. The effect is that the paper appears to give off more light than is illuminating it, making it appear bright. Our vision adjusts and sees this as white, whereas measurement shows a blue colour.

Bright-white papers such as Heaven 42 have become increasingly popular in the industry recently but any Fogra certified proofing paper still needs to have low OBA’s to adhere to the standard. We are left with a situation where proof and press papers are very visually different. Also, proofing on matt inkjet paper gives problematic results because we may be using a proofing paper that has high OBA’s and visually matches the press paper (which also has high OBA’s), but the Fogra data used doesn’t. This makes the profiling process compensate for the blueness of the paper by adding yellow (Opposite to blue on the colour wheel) to try and neutralise it. We end up with a result that may measure correctly to the standard but has a visually yellow cast.

So to address these issues, replacements for the current Fogra standards are being developed  with optical brighteners in mind to reflect current practise in the industry.

Fogra 39 for coated printing is to be replaced with Fogra 51

Fogra 47 for uncoated printing is to be replaced with Fogra 52

These are currently in beta testing stage and will probably not arrive until the second half of 2015. Interestingly titled the ‘Fred15’ project, the data and profiles are available at www.eci.org/en/projects/fred15

What you will see is that there are two sets of data available for each that have the suffix ‘M0’ or ‘M1’. Here’s where it gets even more complicated…

If you currently have a spectrophotometer such as an i1 Pro, it has a tungsten lamp in it which, in theory, emits light with a standard colour temperature. There is a bit of UV light in there too which will stimulate any OBA’s present in the material you are measuring. This is what is called ‘M0’ and the problem with this is that the amount of UV emitted is undefined. So, to address the OBA problem in the industry we could end up with more problems because people using spectrophotometers from different manufacturers could end up with different results. To address this we now have ‘M1’ a new mode based on D50 lighting, ISO 3664-2009, as the illuminant to accurately measure printed results on papers with high OBAs.

There’s also a couple of other measurement modes which aren’t applicable to proofing – ‘M2’ which is effectively ‘UV Cut’ i.e.. there is a filter to block all UV content from the lamp. ‘M3’ is a polarised light mode which blocks reflections from wet ink when measuring press sheets.

So to use the M0 profiles from ECI you can use your current spectrophotometer, but to use the M1 profiles you will need a new M1 capable device such as an i1 Pro v2.

The ‘Spectroproofer’ in-line spectrophotometer available on the Epson Stylus Pro range of large format inkjets now has an M1 version available. The measurement head is swappable so that the whole unit doesn’t need replacing.

You will also need to check that your version of proofing software is up to date so that it supports the new devices.

The biggest change for proofing will be the need to use new proofing medias that have increased OBA’s to match the standard. We have been developing our new media range alongside the developments from Fogra and have had excellent results so far with both M0 and M1 measurements. The results on our new semimatt media for coated proofing to Fogra 51 give a result that is a far closer match to press than previously achieved with Fogra 39. Our new matt proofing paper has a perfectly neutral result with none of the colour casts described previously.

This post was first published on 1st December 2014