Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2
Color Management Progress
Q. I have a 3- to 4-year-old version of the Monaco system of color management that seems to cover everything from monitor calibration to printer calibration. Is this still a good enough system or is there something (within financial reason) more up-to-date? The less expensive Spyder system seems to just cover the monitor without addressing the printer itself.
A. Monaco Systems was bought out 2-3 years ago by X-Rite. If what you have is Monaco EZ Color it was in Versions 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0, if memory serves me well. I have the system and tried it some years ago. The colorimeter that was sold in conjunction with it was pretty basic and a bit crude, and as far as I know was never upgraded to work with LCD displays. The print calibration and profiling offered as part of Monaco EZ Color utilized a color flat-bed scanner. But not being able to control the scanner directly made it a hit or miss proposition in terms of reading a printer test chart accurately to produce an effective printer profile.
What was the ColorVision Spyder is now the Datacolor Spyder3 and is available as the Spyder3Studio. This includes a hardware-based Spyder3Print printer calibration and profiling system that is very accurate and advanced in performance. My report in Shutterbug on the Spyder3 products can be found on the Shutterbug website (www.shutterbug.com) by typing Spyder3 into the Search box on the homepage.
A much less costly printer calibration and profiling capability is now available as a part of the LaserSoft SilverFast Ai 6.6 IT8 driver software, available for most current models of flat-bed scanners. I am currently testing it and find it works quite accurately because it is a part of the driver that runs the scanner. It also includes calibration and profiling for the scanner in addition to printer calibration and profiling. You can read about this LaserSoft calibration and profiling capability at: www.silverfast.com.
However, using the LaserSoft Silverfast Ai 6.6 solution assumes you have a means to provide hardware display calibration and profiling.
Studio Electronic Flash Is The Same For Digital As Film
Q. Can I use studio strobes that I used for film with digital? My problem is the strobes keep blowing out the image. Or should I buy a new set of strobes for digital?
A. No, you don’t have to buy new studio electronic flashes for digital. If you are using a D-SLR just set it on manual and create a test subject in the studio and run some bracketed f/stop exposures with your camera, then calibrate your flash meter to an ISO setting that provides the right density. (The ISO speed “setting” provided with a D-SLR is often just an approximation, and should only be relied on as a benchmark that must be refined by testing).
The Problem Defined
In regard to your blog (available at www.shutterbug.com) on “prints too dark,” you are correct. I had no problems with my eMac (CRT). After I purchased my iMac (LCD), my prints were much darker than what I saw on the screen printing to the same Epson 2200 printer. The problem persisted even after calibration with Spyder3Elite and following your other ideas in regard to this matter. My solution after getting the print to look perfect on the screen using Elements 6 is to go back to the brightness control under Enhance and increase the brightness by 35 units. Now the print (image) will look a bit washed out on the screen but will print as you first saw it. Annoying, but it’s the best I can do for now.
Thank you for your e-mail. I agree that with an iMac and Adobe’s Photoshop Elements there is no easy workaround to the dark print problem. And to some extent your solution confirms what I have found to be the cause of the problem, a disparity between the brightness range (greater) of LCD displays and CRT monitors.
However, being the problem is so general and widespread I believe there may be better software solutions in the offing before too long. When this is realized, I will immediately make an announcement on my blog (http://blog.shutterbug.com/davidbrooks/).