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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Match-Making

Get your monitor to accurately portray the colors of your digital photos


For increased precision, manufacturers such as ColorVision, X-Rite and GretagMacbeth include a colorimeter with their software packages. When placed on the screen, the device measures brightness and color values that are produced by its color-calibration software. Rather than depending on the perceptions of the human eye, such a system delivers one of the most accurate means for calibrating virtually any monitor.

Calibration packages are available for every budget, with higher-priced products providing more control and customization. The ColorVision Spyder2 ($189) and Spyder2 Pro Studio ($299) are compatible with both Mac and Windows machines. Each offers the ability to adjust individual color channels (red, green, blue) using a customizable curve while the Studio version allows you to match different monitors to the same target. This process is all automated, making an advanced process easy.

With X-Rite's MonacoOPTIXXR ($249), you not only can calibrate monitors, but flatbed scanners and printers as well. The software includes a colorimeter and features a color target that can be scanned and reproduced by the printer. This helps in creating custom color profiles for the monitor, scanner and printer, and produces consistent results, especially when printing on different paper types.

The GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display 2 ($249) includes a precise colorimeter that delivers high repeatability and consistent profiling results, with higher sensitivity to dark areas for improved performance in shadow areas. The Eye-One Match 3.2 software features gray balance optimization for improved neutrals. It also includes several software tools to achieve improved color agreement across multiple monitors.

For photographers who earn a living with their work, the higher-end calibration systems are worthwhile, especially when providing accurate color to a client is crucial. If you're on a budget, however, or involved in less critical work, more affordable systems will provide more than sufficient accuracy.

Maintaining Color Accuracy

Once you've calibrated your monitor, it's important to regularly repeat the process. Monitors age and their brightness and color change over time. During their early life, the changes are fairly subtle, but become greater as time passes. For home use, calibrate your system monthly. For professionals, it's wise to calibrate your monitor every other week.

 

 


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