Monitor/Printer calibration

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Dahlia Ambrose 9 months, 1 week ago.

  • Author
  • #331823

    Graham Hart

    I recently did a little restoration work on a very badly damaged B&W photo for a relative. It turned out quite well so I thought I'd print a new copy for him. When I did, the print looked markedly different to the on-screen version. It had a darker hue and a blueish tinge. Can anyone point me in the direction of how to do calibration so that the screen version better matches the print version? Are there any tricks involved? I tried using my monitor's inbuilt calibration settings and they say that my monitor is correctly calibrated so perhaps its my printer? Any ideas greatly appreciated.

  • #331860

    You will probably want to beg borrow or steele a proper callibration device. Best if you can split it between a few friends cos it's not something you really use all that often (every couple of months max).

    I use the Datacolour Spyder 5 Express.


  • #331861

    You can get better ones if you're really really serious about accurate colors.

    I am more of an “accuratish” guy.

  • #331930

    Rob Eyers

    Hi Graham. You have touched on a subject that is a personal obsession of mine. So much so that I'm a certified Imaging Science Foundation(ISF) Tech as well as a certified ISF calibration instructor. That organization is focused on colour accuracy for display devices for TV and movies but the issues are similar.

    Here is the issue. Your capture device uses one set of colour settings which are different from your display device, which differ from your printer, which is also affected by type of printer paper you use. How the settings are interpreted from one device to the next affects whether the colours and gray scale are accurate. All of this assumes that each device along the way is adhering to a colour and grey scale standard. In reality they are not…for various reasons I won't get into here.

    The important point here is that there's a standard in the industry for colour and grey scale accuracy and if all devices conform to that standard then results are entirely predictable, consistent and accurate.

    In the digital era we're lucky to have calibration devices that do very good jobs of measuring these transition steps. Each device creates a profile for each step along the way. These profiles guide the transition from one device/colour_space to the next keeping colour and grey scale transition as accurate as possible.

    1. For camera calibration X-rite has the “COLORchecker PASSPORT”. It's an accurate colour chart that you take a photo of and then run through their software to create a camera profile. Lightroom, Camera RAW and Photoshop can then use this profile to get the best colour accuracy from your camera.
    2. Monitors are notoriously out of wack when it comes to colour. If your camera is calibrated but your screen is too BLUE for instance you have no way of  making informed edits. Admin/Rob has suggested the Spyder. You could also use X-rite's i1 DISPLAY or their Color Munki to calibrate your display(colormunki can also create printer profiles too). Over the years any of these will pay you back by taking this major issue of colour accuracy off the table.
    3. The printer is the last issue. Accuracy of colour here is determined by how the colour is interpreted from the RGB to CYMK colour space. This is governed by an ICC profile. Paper manufacturers supply separate ICC profiles for each of their papers on a variety of different printers. These profiles are used by the software you're using to print with and are selected in the print driver for your printer. You simply tell the print driver not to control colour and that you want it to use the profile for the paper you are using instead.

    Being able to print your own images and have them come out just as you expected is a wonderful thing and it's not that hard really.

  • #331937


    Graham, Rob went into the real tech side of things so let me add my ‘street' version just for sake of clarity.

    Usually we create our shots in sRGB color space which is intended for screens. Printers use Adobe sRGB and/or CYMK color spaces which have many more colors than what computer screens can handle. If you thus use an image created in Adobe RGB on screen then your colors are going to look off. Same if you use sRGB on a printer. My guess is that the last mentioned option is what you've used.

    LR has an option where you can change your color scheme at the time of creating your .jpg for this reason.

    LR Export

  • #331953

    Rob Eyers

    There are a couple of things that I would like to clarify.

    If you are shooting RAW(and you should be) then you should also have your camera set to Adobe RGB (1998). It is a larger color space. Why limit yourself to the smallest colour space which is sRGB.

    Lightroom uses ProPhoto RGB which is an even larger colour space. There is nothing wrong with using this larger space. When you open an image in Photoshop you can stay in ProPhoto without any problems. Yes the monitor can't show you all of the additional colour palette but it will not look off. I use ProPhoto all the way through my post processing. Down the road we may have monitors and printers that can use more of the additional color space so why throw it away.

    If your monitor is calibrated to the Macbeth colour chart or the X-rite colorpassport(which is the same thing) your colors will look correct and not off.

    After you're done with your post processing you can export an sRGB .jpeg version for the web if you like. Uploaded files are converted by whatever service you use but doing the conversion with LR/PS will always give good results.

    As far as the printer is concerned you use CYMK but it is the print driver and the ICC profile that does the work. You do not have to export a separate CYMK version in order to print it. The color that a printer can print is limited to what a monitor can display so the proofing function in LR or PS will let you see what kind of colour changes there will be. Creating a virtual copy to proof and making adjustments to the colour of that copy can be helpful if you don't like the results you're seeing with the proof copy.

    The most important thing is to get everything calibrated first. If you are not starting from a solid calibrated starting point it is pointless to blindly fiddle with fine tuning.

    • #332127

      Dahlia Ambrose

      Wow a lot of useful information here Rob; things that I did not know. Thank you for sharing. Saving this as notes on my computer to refer to later 🙂

  • #331982

    Graham Hart

    Woah! Lot of stuff to absorb there Rob and Tobie. I feel like I now have all the information I need to start my calibration quest at least. I recently purchased a ‘grey card' in the belief that it would help me set my white balance in Photoshop. Its a start but I'm guessing a grey card won't help in calibrating colours.

    I think I need to dedicate a couple of hours to this task and try and get it right. Its not something to piddle around with by the sounds of it. Thanks gentlemen for the extremely detailed information and wish me luck.

  • #331986

    Rob Eyers

    After you have your full photo chain calibrated the “grey card” is useful for setting the white balance.

    Color calibration sets up your gear so that all colours are represented accurately. Calibration corrects for any hardware issues which of course are controlled by software.

    A grey card is useful when you want to correct for what the ambient light in your image is doing to the colour of that image….. i.e. The reflected light from a yellow wall is causing your bride's dress to look yellow not white. Just shoot the grey card with your bride and use the eye dropper in LR to correct for the cast….bingo the yellow cast is gone. You can then sync that correction to all of the images taken in that spot.

    When would you not use the grey card? Let's say you're shooting a sunset. Would you want to correct the warm cast that the sunset is creating? Of course not, that's one of the reasons you're shooting in that light.

    BUT if your gear isn't calibrated all of those beautiful colours will be shifted to a colour that isn't correct and not what you are seeing.

    Keep that grey card as there are times when you'll use it. Hang in there and “do it right” Graham. The results are worth it and once done the whole colour issue is a snap. PM me if you have any questions…happy to help.

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