Four color conversion technologies
for PDF

In my new seminar PDF Color Management I discuss four different color conversion technologies:

  • Pure ICC color conversion (ICC)
  • ICC color conversion with exceptions (ICC-Plus)
  • DeviceLink conversion (DVL)
  • Smart color conversion (Smart)

Which PDF tools do support these technologies can be seen in the following table:


The big disadvantage of the pure ICC color conversion (ICC) is the fact that the black separation is lost during a CMYK-CMYK conversion. This problem (and some others) are solved by some applications using additional conversion options (ICC-Plus). By using a DeviceLink conversion (DVL) one can get even more control over the color conversion since four dimensional tables are used internally which can be adopted to specific needs. However before the conversion a DeviceLink profile must first be created using a special (and expensive) profile creation software. A DeviceLink profile is only suitable for a specific pair of source and target color spaces. But very often PDF documents contain images with many different source color spaces. But during a DeviceLink conversion of a PDF document usualy only a single DeviceLink profile can be applied for all images in the PDF. This problem is solved by smart color conversion tools which can create on-the-fly dynamic DeviceLink profiles for each image in a PDF. Some tools can even perform a color space analysis to find the best fitting source color space for images without an embedded ICC source profile (which is case in most situations). This feature is also used in the Color Preflight of the PDFX-ready Online Tools.

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