Display callibration 101

Tea

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Does anyone here know much about monitor callibration and colour spaces and associated topics?

Tannin just bought a fancy callibration device and associated software and, typically, expects me to figure out the best way to use it. I've done a little reading up, but have some questions. No doubt I'll have more later on.

For example:

What is the relationship between creating a callibration profile and the various layers of software on a system? There seem to be several categories:

1: Colour management-aware software. (Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, various others.) Just tell it where your monitor calibration file is and say "use this". Easy.

2: Windows. Windows XP is colour management-aware. So, assuming you have told Windows to use a given callibration file, what does this apply to? Just the desktop and the built-in Windows applets? I'm pretty sure it also applies to most of the major Microsoft apps (Word, Powerpoint, etc., not that this is relevant to us as we don't even own them, let alone use them). But not (I think) other, 3rd-party applications.

3: Other applications that do not have a colour engine and are not colour management enabled. My reading seems to indicate that callibrating your display with a profile will have no effect at all on these programs - i.e., that they will simply continue to display the same old colour balance that they did before you callibrated your screen. Seeing as the vast majority of the time Tannin and I use nice, fast, efficient little programs like the peerless PMView for 99% of our photographic work, why did we buy a colorimeter? (Although we note with pleasure that PMView V 4.0 has promised to add this feature and will upgrade to it when it becomes available.)

4: Video driver software. Many video cards, including both the Intel chippie in my laptop and whatever is in my home desktop at present (a Gforce 4MX, I think) have driver software that allows you to load a monitor profile. Does this mean that the colour corrections are thus extended to everything you run on the system? If so, what about colour-aware applications like Photoshop - does that read the colour profile and attemt to correct the output twice?

I can see I have a lot of reading to do.

One thing that doesn't help is that a great deal of the colour management information on the web is focussed almost entirely on producing appropriately coloured prints - which is completely useless to me, as the only two printers we own are both strictly black and white laser jobbies. Even when prople do talk about screens, it's mostly in the context of getting your screen balanced so that you can accurately prepare stuff for printing.

Me, at this stage I just want to have things look nice on screen. Our aim with the colorimeter is to avoid wasting thousands of hours of work producing a portfolio only to discover that everything is (e.g.) too dark and has a blue tint.

Anyone else here worked through these issues? I'd be pleased to compare notes.
 

mubs

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I've just bought a cheapo colorimeter too (ColorVision Spyder2 Express), but haven't used it yet.

We'll have to wait for Guru Lunarmist to dispel the darkness on this subject.
 

P5-133XL

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Me, at this stage I just want to have things look nice on screen. Our aim with the colorimeter is to avoid wasting thousands of hours of work producing a portfolio only to discover that everything is (e.g.) too dark and has a blue tint.

Surely, you can look at the screen and determine what looks good and what doesn't without a colorimeter. If you are just looking at the screen, then you can see if it has a blue tint and is too dark ...

One thing that doesn't help is that a great deal of the colour management information on the web is focussed almost entirely on producing appropriately coloured prints - which is completely useless to me, as the only two printers we own are both strictly black and white laser jobbies. Even when prople do talk about screens, it's mostly in the context of getting your screen balanced so that you can accurately prepare stuff for printing.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but as I understand it the whole point of calibrating a display is so that what you see on the screen is what you get when you print it. Here's where people want prevent large wastes of time because, without calibration, what the screen looks like means nothing to the printer when the page is output. It is when you output to the printer, that that too dark with a blue tint will show up when the display isn't calibrated: On the screen, you won't see that the printer and display color spaces are totally different -- On the screen, it just looks exactly as you wanted and totally great and then you print it and it's just plain wrong.
 

Tea

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If it was only for my own screen, Mark, that would be so. But there are several difficulties with that simple theory. First, I frequently use 6 different screens (two of them identical, but the other four all different) and sometimes a couple of others. I doubt my ability to adjust them all to be the same with the naked eye. (I'm not very good at colour, more attuned to line and form.) But I can look at a couple of them and say "that looks like crap", meanwhile not really knowing why it looks bad. (6 screens? Two 21 inch Samsung 214t LCDs for use with my laptop, one at home, one at work. The 21 inch Mitsubishi CRT on the main server at the office. Front showroom desk machine (gets used daily), and then there is the internal screen on the laptop, which I use when travelling. Another machine in the workshop, which doesn't do any serious photographic work but I hate the way my wallpaper pictures look on it, and Belinda's 19 inch Acer TFT which I often borrow for an hour or two on weekends if I'm visiting. Oh and I forgot the 19 inch Mitsubishi TFT I sometimes take away on trips with me to plug into the laptop whenever I can be bothered unpacking it and running power cables from the car.)

Second, I give my pictures to other people to look at, and sell a few of them now and then. I can't control what their monitor is like, but at least I can deliver a picture that looks good on a properly calibrated monitor. After that, it's out of my control.

And third, I probably will want to start doing prints before too long. I actually ordered a fancy large format photo printer six months ago but the supplier buggered the order up and it didn't arrive, and by then I was too busy with other things so I let it go. But at some stage I'll figure out what I'm going to do about framing, and then find some time to buy a quality printer and start putting images on paper. I'd like to think, at that stage, that the hundreds of images I have already prepared are somewhere in the ballpark. It would take a ridiculous amount of time to post-process them all again.

In a perfect world, we would have a case of what I see on the screen is what you see on the screen. As things stand, it is anything but. However, colour management is gradually moving into the mainstream. Lots of people have some sort of management software running now (typically Adobe Gamma Loader) which, one assumes, pushes them somewhere closer to correctly adjusted screens. Microsoft are becoming colour-aware: XP has some built-in colour management functions (which I don't understand, as yet) and all except one of the major Microsoft applications are colour space aware. (The exception is, you guessed it, Internet Explorer.) It seems reasonable to suppose that the major web browsers will start heading down that parth before too long. And so on.

And if those three reasons aren't good enough, well, I've spent the money now, so I might as well try to get some value for it!
 

Tea

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Similar to mine, Mubs. I got the Spyder 2 Pro.

First impressions are very good. It's professionally packaged, has a very sensible, practical licence agreement that doesn't cripple your ability to use it on several machines at the same site, installs without fuss, and has a well thought-out interface that walks you through in a painless manner, even if you don't really know what you are doing.

One nice touch, by way of example, is the help file. Most questions have two answers: a short one that tells you what to do and (in brief and general terms) why, then a longer, more detailed and technical explanation. Refreshingly, these are titled "the short answer" and "the long answer". I like a company that has sufficent confidence in its own expertise to allow it to write documentation using simple, practical language, neither talking down to you, nor filling it with bueurocratese (sp!) and meaningless jargon.
 

LunarMist

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I have both the Spyder 2 Pro and the Eye-One Display 2. I prefer the latter as it offers more control and more accurate profiles IMO. One can see the difference in display calibration strategy by watching the process. The Eye-One measures not only an ascending R, G, B then grey patches, but some color patches, probably representing parts of the GretagMacbeth pallette. You old-timers probably remember photographing the Macbeth tiles endlessly in the film era. ;)

Additional Eye-One software (not free of course) allows for a wide variety of profile tweaks and color matching of all sorts of devices. The basic software is good enough for most users and does include profile editing. Eye-One software installs without any key code, but is somewhat larger than the Spyder 2 Pro software. I would have sold the Syper 2 Pro, but for laziness.
 

mubs

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LM, Could you please address the other issues Tea raised in the original (first) post? Thanks.

Tea, thanks for the additional info and the link! I'll check it out right after finishing this post.

Pantone makes the "Huey" (pun intended) that calibrates the display and is meant to be left plugged in. It then changes the display dynamically depending on ambient light conditions. ~ USD 75.

I needed a calibration device really bad because my preference is for a bluish cast for general use; I find the "correct" settings too yellowish/orangeish for my taste. This was discussed in another thread that I had started on the same topic, monitor calibration. Too lazy to find it. While most of my pics are ok, the few where color is off get messed up even more when I try to fix them.

I'll know once I try this thing out. I'm mulling buying a Dell 2007WFP so I'd rather go through the calibration once (on the new monitor) than do it now and then again on another display. They go for $800 here, with a generous $200 "discount". $600 is still pretty steep for something you Americans get for ~ $280. :frusty:
 

LunarMist

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Of course not. ;) If you want accurate color the display must be calibrated. Uncalibrated monitors range from "sorta OK" to downright awful.
 

ddrueding

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Merc,

I think with the combination of DVI and make/model profiles you can get pretty close. But sample variance in the backlight itself probably is responsible for a "significant" amount of shift. Not that I notice or particularly care.
 

Tea

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I don't actually have the option of DVI. My two primary monitors both connect to my laptop via a Thinkpad docking station that does have DVI (whch I used to use with my old Pentium M 1.6) but it doesn't function at all with the current Pentium M 1.8. My assumption is that the on-board Intel video (which in every other respect performs exactly like the ATI card in the old machine, except that the Intel graphics card never had the annoying bug in the driver software the ATI suffered from) doesn't do DVI.
 

Pradeep

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We used one of the Spyder's at my last job. Worked out a global setting of Gamma 2.2/6500K. Definitely looks very "reddish" when compared to a normal, out of the box setting, but once all the monitors are similarly calibrated it wasn't an issue. Also helped us get all the screens to a similar luminosity, for example my 2405FPW is extremely bright out of the box, and needed to be toned down quite a bit to match the 17" and 20" Dells screens.
 

LunarMist

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6500K is the usual standard but it does not work well for me. However, I find 6500K too blue. Something around 5200K looks best to my eyes.
 

LOST6200

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Any cahnce you have the caratcts? Some victinms mention that colrs are better and different (bluer) after tyhe surgery.
 

Tannin

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2.2, 6500 for me too. It is apparently the closest thing to a universal standard we have got, and I like the way it looks. Predicatably, my wonderful Samsung 214Ts were not a huge distance off it anyway, most of my other, older screens are much further away. (I haven't done them all yet.)

Also predictably, just about everything is too blue out of the box. Manufaturers do it to make things look sharper in the shop.
 

mubs

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Eric, thankfully I ain't old enough to have cataracts. I've had the monitor set this way for years. I guess once I do calibrate it will turn to "normal" (i.e. too yellow for me) :puke-r:
 

e_dawg

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Just got the eye-one display 2. One review I've read on the net tested the ColorVision Spyder 2 to be less accurate for highlights, but otherwise comparable, and that for the money, the CV Spyder 2 Express is a great value if you don't mind the highlights. Another review I've read said the Pantone Huey device was slightly lacking in accuracy.

Certainly there are several layers to colour management. I certainly have a lot to learn when it comes to colour management, but my understanding at this point is that everything has to be colour managed to ensure accuracy against a common standard (like sRGB @ 2.2/6500) along the chain from input to software to output.

Here is a good book on the subject if you haven't already figured it out:

Real World Color Management by Bruce Fraser
http://www.amazon.com/Real-World-Co...3713416?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185953739&sr=8-1
 

e_dawg

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Surely, you can look at the screen and determine what looks good and what doesn't without a colorimeter. If you are just looking at the screen, then you can see if it has a blue tint and is too dark ...

To an extent, yes you can. However, monitors are rarely designed to faithfully track the 2.2/6500 K gamma curves for each colour channel through the entire luminosity range. And it's not just because of some misguided desire to match a standard. If you have poor luminosity/colour/gamma tracking, you could be missing quite a lot of details in your photos. For example, you could lose a lot of shadow detail if the tone curve is too steep in that region. You wouldn't see foliage very well, castles, dark buildings, etc. Or, you'll wonder why your midtones have this greenish cast when your whites look fine. Or to correct your greenish midtones, you find that your whites now have this magenta tint!

As well, there are image quality improvements (like bringing out missing shadow details and getting rid of the slight green tint in the midtones) that you can only make by adjusting the gamma curves for each colour channel. This is not a common feature for most video drivers, nor is cheap monitor profile / curve editing software readily available. Sure, you can set the white point within a few hundred Kelvin, but try doing that throughout the entire luminosity range.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but as I understand it the whole point of calibrating a display is so that what you see on the screen is what you get when you print it. Here's where people want prevent large wastes of time because, without calibration, what the screen looks like means nothing to the printer when the page is output. It is when you output to the printer, that that too dark with a blue tint will show up when the display isn't calibrated: On the screen, you won't see that the printer and display color spaces are totally different -- On the screen, it just looks exactly as you wanted and totally great and then you print it and it's just plain wrong.

That's certainly the most challenging and important aspect of colour management, but you can't take the part about "the monitor looking exactly as you wanted" for granted. And this applies moreso to LCD monitors, which have often had a more difficult time than CRT's wrt proper gamma tracking throughout the luminosity range for each colour.
 

e_dawg

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Just got an Epson Stylus Photo R1800 (henceforth referred to as the SPR 1800). Even using the premium profiles supplied by Epson on their website (they realized the basic profiles on the driver CD were inadequate for all their papers and quality settings), the SPR1800 produces some great photos.

The colour balance does lean slightly warm relative to what I see on the screen, but the screen was calibrated to a 6500 K WP with compensation for my room's 3200 K (halogen + "daylight" incandescent) ambient lighting. What I am thinking is that Epson's profiles may have been calibrated for 5000-5200 K ambient. Looking at the pics under the 5000 K "sunlight full-spectrum" flourescent bulb I have in another room and in daylight from the window, the pics look fairly similar to on-screen.

I am tempted to create custom profiles for the SPR 1800 that are designed to be neutral when viewed at a lower ambient colour temp (3200 K or possibly something in between like 4100 K) since the pics will be viewed more than half of the time under halogen or flourescent lighting. As the summer fades, the pics will increasingly be viewed under artificial lighting.

Having said that, my questions are: (1) has anyone used or have an opinion on the ColorVision Print FIX Pro suite for printer profiling relative to competing products, and (2) can I just use the printer profiling function from ColorVision and keep using my monitor profiling from the eye One display 2.

The reason I ask #2 is that the guy at the shop said it would be "better" to just use the ColorVision suite to do both and said he wouldn't recommend doing what I suggested. I don't understand the logic behind that other than he's probably comfortable with that solution himself and isn't sure about recommending the "eye One for the monitor and ColorVision for the printer" setup.

Comments?
 
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