From September 2012:
With a prompt from Taz Tally on lynda dot com I created this file to check the printers I use to find their value range. If you retouch images and try to print them, you might find that regardless of your Photoshop skills, the images always seem to print dark or blow out highlights. Printing the TIFF that’s linked to this web image will show you where your light grays are dropping their spots and blowing out and where the spots are filling in to make black. You can set your curves or levels to span that range when you print to that specific printer and get better results.
In our office we have four primary printers: Rider 2 and Rider 3 are the same make and model color printers, while Rider 1 is grayscale. RiderPlot is a color wide format printer. Of the four, the plotter has the widest value gamut. What that means is that the plotter will have more detail in the darks and lights of an image. The plotter is followed closely by Rider 1, a grayscale printer that shows dots, but also spans a decent gamut. Our two clor printers generally do a very good job, but images from them will tend to have darks that fill in and lights that blow out compared to the same images printed on the plotter.
If you’re curious, grab the TIFF linked to the web image and print it to your own printer.
Another use might be getting a sense of your monitor’s range. The light swatches are on white and the dark swatches on black. If you can’t discern the separating line between two swatches that’s the point where your monitor turns things to black. Or white on the light side. On my large display, I can just make out the separated between 96% and 97%, and on the light side, between 2% and 3%. I’d be curious what the Dell displays do with the image.