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BDD Sep 13, 2010 10:10 AM

Calibrating monitors & photo printers
If you can't also calibrate your camera (I'm not spending $1800.00 for a colorimeter/software that can...I know it's possible) then will the print not look slightly different from what you saw through the lens or on the back of the camera? Or would it look close to what you saw?

What if you calibrate a "limited gamut" new Apple 27" iMac and an Epson R2880 using a ColorMunki Photo? Would the print still look close to what you saw on the screen? Or would you need to have a standalone "wide gamut" monitor?

I'm wondering if I couldn't get away with buying an iMac and not have to buy a desktop + WG monitor. Plus I don't see myself doing that much color manipulation in PP.


TCav Sep 13, 2010 11:56 AM

First, the human perceives reflected color (as from a print) differently than it does transmitted color (as from a computer monitor.) Trying to match them is difficult and frustrating.

A very much simpler way is to use the ICC profiles for everything.

BDD Sep 13, 2010 2:27 PM

Thanks TCav. Guess I might just buy that 27" iMac after all and save some coin (vs. buying a Dell studio xps desktop outfitted to my liking and a 27" NEC multisync). I was wondering about that. Have heard that it can be a royal pain to try to match monitor to print. Even if you used a colorimeter.

Time to Google "ICC profiles"...

VTphotog Sep 13, 2010 9:27 PM

If you print straight from your camera to the printer, the Epson reads the Print Image Matching data (basically a color profile) to provide a corrected print. Using a print made this way will give you something to match your monitor to. A shot with a full range of color and brightness range is best. Often, your monitor settings, and those of the video card are enough. Sometimes, you may need to use a utility such as Adobe Gamma, but be careful in doing so, as following the instructions won't get you what you need. Set the sliders to get a match of the picture on screen to the print.
Usually, the biggest problem is that the monitor is way to bright.

I have had people tell me that this method is incorrect, but using it, I am able to take a picture, print it, and place it next to the object I shot, and have perfect color match.


peripatetic Sep 14, 2010 3:29 AM

Erm, except that Brian may be the only person in the world who can do that.

My advice is that the iMac monitors are almost useless for color accurate work. If you use an iMac then get yourself an extra monitor that is color accurate. Eizo, Lacie, NEC, etc. Add on a colorimeter and set up a profile. The Epson ICC profiles are usually very good, so the default ones should be fine for the printer output.

The real question is how close you need to get to a perfect match. As you approach perfection the amount you need to spend increases dramatically.

BDD Sep 14, 2010 8:55 AM

Yes, it does in the end depend on how accurate a match am I looking for. I've read in other threads how iMac owners defend that they can get a good match with the printed photo. Though that is subjective. The iMac monitors are not wide gamut. So they will have problems in some areas of the color spectrum.

Question for me is do I want to spend almost 2k on a NEC Multisync? Or I could spend $400.00 CAD less for a Dell U2711. Plus a Dell Studio XPS desktop. Which together would run me almost 5k CAD. YIKES!! :) I can afford no problem it's just the thought of... :) :) Add the cost of a good Epson printer (R1900 or R3880).

And of course a ColorMunki Photo. Epson scanner. Etc.

As for printing directly from the camera...if you're happy with the shot from what you can see on that little 3" LCD screen on the back of the camera...I usually at least do minor tweaks (e.g. highlight and/or shadows, straightening the lines in image so that it's "square", cropping maybe...etc.). As long as the printer is calibrated I guess.

TCav Sep 14, 2010 9:11 AM

A narrow color gamut doesn't mean you lose colors at the edges of the spectrum; it means you lose the ability to distinguish between colors that are very similar. If you'll be shooting JPEG, the difference won't be much, but if you shoot RAW, go for the better gear, or you'll lose a big reason for shooting RAW.

BDD Sep 14, 2010 9:25 AM

I know some good photographers who haven't spent any money on a wide gamut monitor, a hi-end printer or colorimeter. Seen their prints. Looks very good to me. And I know they don't try to color match their monitor to their printers.

I guess they aren't that concerned with an accurate monitor to print match. As long as it comes close.

I think it comes down to how vital is it to you as a hobbyist to get as close a match as possible (not sure if you can get an "exact" match). If you are a working photographer with clients (e.g. magazines publishers) then sure. If you're satisfied with a "near" match then I suppose buying an iMac would suffice. Whether you shoot mostly in JPG or RAW.

peripatetic Sep 14, 2010 9:34 AM

You shouldn't need to spend all that much on a monitor.

for around 1250 CAD


for around 800 CAD

Add in a decent Dell XPS7100 box and you are well below the price of the high-end iMacs.

VTphotog Sep 14, 2010 10:33 AM

Exact, calibrated colors, from both monitor and printer, are really only necessary if you are printing proofs and sending out the print job to an outside source.
Matching colors is complicated, and for the most part, unnecessary. A print, hanging on someone's wall, is only going to be compared to the image on a monitor when you are doing the editing and printing. If the print turns out looking good, it isn't going to matter whether it is 100% calibrated to a standard.
I doubt that I am the only person who can match up colors by eye - I was trained to do this some time ago in a dye shop. The hard part is figuring out just how much more of a color to add to a dye job to get that match.


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