Calibrate your computer display's color settings and see the difference
by Mark Kaelin | November 30, 2011, 12:36am PST | Image 20 of 26
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Calibration complete - Image 20 of 26
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Thank you, I agree.
Assuming a need for color tweaking, dccw.exe is the wrong approach for all users. The tool should not be used by anyone who cares about their display quality. Users who do not need or understand color correction should fiddle with their monitor's color settings "until it looks good" without using OS-level color manipulation. Users who do understand color correction but do not need it, also should fiddle with monitor settings. Users who do need color calibration will purchase a high bit-depth monitor and use a calibration device. Anyone who uses dccw.exe is reducing the quality of their display, though they may not notice in the images they have on hand at the moment.
But doesn't calibrate.
Also, actual calibration cannot be done without a calibration device. You can tweak all you want, but it's not calibration, so dccw.exe does not calibrate your screen. "Make the gray bars we're displaying look neutral to you" is not calibration. "Our device knows the exact voltages generated in its sensor which correspond to neutral gray" is calibration.
Also, most users shouldn't calibrate their screens using the software settings exposed by dccw.exe. In doing so you remove the 1-to-1 relationship between the finite set of digital values displayed by your computer and the set of digital values sent to your monitor, thus reducing the total number of colors your computer can display and creating banding problems in your images. All color tweaking should be done from in-the-monitor controls. True calibration requires a full high-bit-depth color process from video card to LCD panel. Anything else sacrifices image quality in favor of color correctness, for those colors that do display.
If you want to correct colors between screen and printer, spend some money and buy Spider or some other hardware/software solution.
And if you are using a laptop, just forget it and adjust you screen to the color profile you like. All the laptops I've used have insufficient resources to deal with this issue.
Doesn't seem to be applicable to all monitors...
As others have pointed out, if you're comfortable with how it looks, why mess with it? Also, you can always test print a photo to determine whether you get from the printer what you see on the monitor.
Personally, I would simply adjust the monitor color temperature settings and use any available controls on the mointor by using an image of the the standard color bar chart, which I'm sure is widely available. In fact, the nVidia Control Panel associated with my graphics card has the ability to adjust color, gamma, etc settings with refernce images, including the color bar chart.
Calibration has not really simplified
And yes, it is a really almost hopeless task with LCD monitors of average availability, one needs a dedicated IPS graphic arts monitor and a profiler such as the Gretag Macbeth sensor unit to gain accuracy in colour management. Even then there are problems because the profile that is created needs to be carried through the entire reproduction chain if prints are going to match monitor images.
This means profiling the monitor, the images themselves, the photo app you are using, the printer, and now that Microsoft have put their oar into all of this, the Windows Colour Management System. Quite a tricky procedure with decisions to be made prior to printing whether or not to allow the printer driver take complete control and undo all of this work. Can printer control even be turned off?
If this procedure is not followed you will find that there are most likely two profiles alternating in this chain - sRGB or Adobe RGB - depending on the manufacturer of the software or hardware. They can successfully fight each other and then your monitor image is rather unlike the print you produce.
To repeat what I said at the beginning, I didn't find it any more difficult using variable chemical systems and if I didn't have a great love for producing photographic art, I wouldn't bother.
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