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Old Jan 20, 2004, 12:10 AM   #1
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Default What I see on my monitor is NOT what is being printed

Hello everone,
I have a lot to learn in the digital photography world, but here is a question that I hope someone can answer.
I just bought a Minolta S414, and printed out my first 5x7 pic from the camera. This picture was taken off the flashcard, put on the computer (unedited) and then printed with my HP 3820 deskjet printer. I had the printer set at the "best" settings, with the appropriate photo paper selected. What printed is NOT what I see on my monitor. The pic looks hazy and bland.
I have printed several pics off this printer before, and never had a problem. It is a good printer for the most part. My monitor is set at default. Is it normal to have pics print out totally different than what I see on my monitor?

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Old Jan 20, 2004, 1:35 PM   #2
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Default Welcome to the world of digital photography . .

The question you have to ask yourself is "How closely does this print match reality?" Chances are, the punch you see in the colors on screen are the result of your monitor not being properly calibrated. Bear in mind though, that you'll never get a perfect match because the way color is produced on screen is different than the way it is produced on paper (monitors project light, paper reflects it, therefore color response will be different).

Not to get too technical but here's a brief explanation of what's happening; Every piece of hardware has it's own way of rendering color. Your monitor will display color in a particular way, your camera or scanner will record color in a particular way and your printer will print it in a particular way. The challenge is to get everything to match. The best way to do this is through color calibration packages which are costly (most popular and probably the best for prosumer types is the Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Photo suite, $1300 US, found here http://www.colormall.com/acb/stores/...Category_ID=73).

Packages such as this will first calibrate the monitor using a hardware color sensor so that what you see on screen matches reality as closely as possible. Then, known color targets are printed on the printer and scanned in so that the computer can make adjustments based on the color produced by the printer on paper.

Before you get sticker shock (you probably already have since you've seen the price before this part of my message hahaha!) there are things that people like us on a budget can do to help without dropping a load of cash on a system we'll only use occasionally. What you can do is purchase just the monitor calibration portion (Eye-One Display) for $240 and be assured that your monitor is displaying color properly. THEN you simply make sure that your printer drivers are printing based on the proper profile for whatever paper you are using. The best way to do that part is to pick your favorite paper and then head over to http://www.cathysprofiles.com or http://www.drycreekphoto.com/custom/customprofiles.htm and have a profile made professionally for your printer and paper combination. Doing both of these will ensure that what you see on your screen matches as closely as possible to what you'll see on that profiled paper.

The reason printer profiles are important is that every paper type will yield a different color response for a given amount of ink placed on it. To see this in action, take a few different paper types and use a plain highlighter on them. The resulting color and saturation you'll see as you stroke each of them will vary. The same applies to inkjet printing, and the printer driver must be adjusted using an ICC profile to account for this. The downside to this is that you'll have to print from a program that supports ICC profiles (such as Qimage, Photoshop, or others) so that you can use a paper/printer profile for your particular combination.

Hope I haven't lost you . . more importantly I hope this helps a bit.

I encourage you to check out the printing forums on www.dpreview.com . There's a wealth of help there.
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Old Jan 20, 2004, 2:34 PM   #3
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Pantone recently lowered the price of the Spyder monitor calibration system, it's now only $149 for the sensor and calibration software. Works on both CRT and LCD monitors. I use it on all of my monitors, it's great.


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Old Jan 20, 2004, 2:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: What I see on my monitor is NOT what is being printed

You didn't mention what kind of photo paper and which paper setting was used. There is a whole range of "photo" paper on the market which will give very different results. For example, I printed some 3.2 mp photos at 8x10 on some Kodak soft gloss photo paper which appeared very flat and lifeless, but the same photo on HP high gloss paper and the same printer had great color and detail.


Originally Posted by Mr. Ed
I had the printer set at the "best" settings, with the appropriate photo paper selected. What printed is NOT what I see on my monitor. The pic looks hazy and bland.
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Old Jan 20, 2004, 5:16 PM   #5
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Have to echo Steve's recommendation for the Spyder. It is a great tool to have if you do ANY photo editing. After calibrating your monitor, having the right color profiles (or the right settings through trial and error) is your next step. Color management can make all the difference in your results.
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Old Jan 22, 2004, 5:08 AM   #6
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Ditto on the Spyder recommendation. It's very easy to use and works great.
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Old Jan 22, 2004, 12:23 PM   #7
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To add to what KuoH said, the best paper to use is usually paper specifically made for your brand of printer. I have an Epson Photo 1270 and Epson glossy paper produces much better pictures than any other brand I have tried. I tried Kodak paper once and the results were horrible. Make sure the type of paper being used is selected in the printer driver before clicking the print button.
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Old Jan 22, 2004, 12:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: What I see on my monitor is NOT what is being printed

Originally Posted by Mr. Ed
My monitor is set at default.
It's likely that you can improve things without spending any money at all with a bit of judicious twiddling of your monitor. It's likely that the contrast is set too low, so turn it up a lot. Then do a quick Google search on 'monitor calibration', and you'll find helpful sites with jpeg brightness step wedge images.

Shrink the image on screen, and adjust the brightness so you can't see the difference between the unscanned surround and the black bits of the display ( to get black as black as possible). Turn the brightness on the monitor so you can discern as many steps on the brightness scales as possible.

I find I have to make my images look a little bit dark on my monitor to get a really good print, but otherwise it's a good representation. This was achieved mainly by twiddling the contrast higher and the brightness lower (currently set at 100% and 40% respectively on my Taxan monitor).

Don't forget that you can't assess the colour properly unless you're in a dimly lit room, or one lit with 'needlework' bulbs or whatever matches the lighting under which your prints will be seen.
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Old Jan 23, 2004, 1:04 AM   #9
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If the prints look “hazy and bland” compared to what is on the monitor I would think the monitor contrast is too high rather than too low.

Before you jump through too many hoops go to the advanced tab on your printer preferences and increase the saturation.

Usually monitor calibration is for color balance. It doesn’t sound like a calibration problem since you don’t mention color imbalance but washed out prints. Since it printed fine with other sources I would suspect something has just been changed in the printer preferences or the program you are using to print from. Or the paper and paper settings as has been mentioned.

If increasing the printer saturation and paper selection doesn’t work try downloading the freeware Irfanview and print from that. www.irfanview.com

If you have an image editor changing the color space to Adobe RGB gives richer color over sRGB, which is usually standard and probably what the camera is putting out.
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