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Old Dec 8, 2005, 1:47 PM   #1
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I was curious about the world of monitor calibration and was wondering what the various options were. What should an aggressive amateur be looking at to solve this problem? Also, how do you know that what standard you are "normalizing" your monitor to is the same "normalization" that the printer is using. Is there some standard?

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Old Dec 9, 2005, 12:09 AM   #2
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If I understand you correctly I think you're thinking about it wrong.

The goal is to get your monitor to a point where when the computer thinks its putting out a specific color that you're actually seeing that color. That is all that the monitor profiling does. (well, it makes sure the brightness is right too.)

Now, if you have profiles for your printer and your paper then when the printer is told to print color X it will produce color X.

It you combine those two descriptions you get this:
You adjust your image in an editor so that you see a specific green for the apple. You know the computer and you agree on the color green it is because your monitor is profiled. You set it up so that your computer is telling it what color to produce (instead of having the printer pick the color) and then the computer tells it what green to make the apple, and the printer makes the apple that green.

Therefor the print coming out of the printer is the same green as you see on the monitor. So you can edit your image to your liking and then print it and the results will be "the same" (I put that in quotes because a print reflects light and a monitor produces light... they are not actually the same and the print can look different because of that difference. Some things will look good on the monitor but "wrong" on the print, but the color and brightness will be the same. It's just that as a print it doesn't work, but on your monitor it does. Does that make sense?)

The other reason to calibrate your monitor is so that if you sent me an image and I viewed it on my profiled monitor, it would look the same to me on my system as it did on yours with you system. Because they are both calibrated the same.

So calibration is solving two problems:
1- That your prints look like the image on the monitor.
2- That the image will look the same on two separate monitor.

If you set up your system so that you the printer is controling the definition of the colors then you need to "soft proof" your images. This means display it on your monitor the same way it will look as a print. This is effectively "normalizing" your image to the printer's definition of normal. This as the advantage of leveraging all the colors the printer can produce (a good printer can produces more colors and different shades of colors than your monitor can potentially display without shifting color spaces.) For example, if you edit in the sRGB color psace a good printer can display more than that. So having your computer pick the definitions of the colors will actually cause you to not leverage all the colors your printer can produce.

Does that help?

Eric
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Old Dec 9, 2005, 6:14 PM   #3
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A bit. How does one go through this process? I have seen hardware calibration tools for sale which I would be interested in buying, but can't seem to find good reviews or recommendations.

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Old Dec 9, 2005, 7:26 PM   #4
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It depends on how much money you're willing to spend and what your standards are. Some people require the absolute best match of their monitor to their prints. If you care that much, then you need to be willing to buy the better profiling devices.

I recommend one of two brands (based on cost.)

Spyder makes the cheapest one. Some people find it works well for them. Some versions have been bashed badly in reviews. Considering that some of what makes them good/acceptable is subjective I don't know how to really "rate it". But too many people say that it works for them that I don't just ignore it out of hand.

I have the Monaco XR Pro. It profiles both LCDs and CRTs. I find the software easy to use and the results are good. I have a printer with profiles for it on the paper I use. The results are very good.

Try searching for specific product names and the words "review profile" on google. I'm sure you can find reviews. I did.

As to how they work. Quite easily. You connect the hardware device via USB, you run the software that comes with the device and follow the instructions. In my case it tells you where to put the device and it shows specific colors under it that the device samples.

Eric
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Old Dec 12, 2005, 3:11 PM   #5
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Hi Dejas,

I've done a fair amount of research on this subject, and used the spyder for a couple of years. It really does come down to money on this... First off, it is nearly impossible to get a "perfect" match between what you see on the monitor to what the print looks like. If I could offer a couple of suggestions:

1. Pick up the book Real World Color Mgmt. (this is a great start) on this subject.
(I work at a college here in MA and we have a digital lab. I've spoken with
several folks on this subject that manage the lab and have found that
mostcolleges don't even teach "color management" as addressed in the
book I listed. The subject matter can't really be covered in 15 weeks.

2. I think your first priority would be to get the monitor profiled. IMHO the spyder
will do this just fine for a very good price. Also, don't forget about the color of
the light in the room where you are looking at the CRT. You'd be surprised at
how much of a change good lighting can make. I do much of my work at night
and have a 6000K light bulb that is "dimable".

3. If you want to try and match your prints to what you see on the profiled CRT/LCD.
I have not heard too many good things about the less expensive solutions like
the Spyder FX (I think that's what it's called). The other options are to use the
the profiles if available from the paper manufacturer or you can pay to have a
particular paper profiled for you. There are services that do this for around $100
per paper www.chromix.com comes to mind. If you will use just a few papers,
this isn't bad for 300.00. If you might use more than three in say different finishes
than you could spend quite a bit more for the service. At that point it might be
worth looking into a Spectrophotometer so that you cancreate your own profiles
for any paper.

4. I've been using the GretagmacbethEye-one Photo SG system and I'm getting
fantastice results. This system will profile your CRT/LCD, do an ambient light
reading to help you calibrate the lighting in your space, and do reflective readings
to profile different papers. The problem is the cost around 1500.00.

I hope this helps,
Joe





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Old Dec 12, 2005, 7:24 PM   #6
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Very good advice above. I had Chromix recommended to me multiple times as people who will make a very good profile for you.

Making a profile for your printer/paper is not easy. The general comment I've heard is that while profiling your monitor isn't that hard (with a good hardware/software package) profiling printers is hard to do well. My solution to that problem is to buy a printer with good support for paper profiles. This lead me to Epson... my experience has been that they have the broadest support for profiles from companies other than Epson (and Epson makes a good number of papers themselves that have profiles for their printers. Either the printer comes with them or you can download them from their site.)

And that book is supposed to be great. It is the book that I see recommended all over the place. If you want to take color management seriously, it is the book to get.

Eric
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