Digital Beginner: Digital Print Color Problem

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by RegRoy, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. RegRoy

    RegRoy TPF Noob!

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    Hi,
    I'm a hobbyist photographer and I'm having problems being able to reproduce the colors on my screen to the colors in my digital prints.

    I am capable of doing minor editing in picasa and some touch ups in photoshop, but no matter what I do I can never get the digital image on the screen to match the image that's printed (levels, exposure -- you name it)

    I have a dual monitor setup (one is an LCD and the other is a CRT) and I've been using print processors like CVS and Walgreens (and I've been trying with both screens since I know there is some difference). I didn't want to try other online services like Snapfish yet beacuse I figure that there's something that I"m doing wrong on my end - so I don't want to waste time and money until I figure it out.

    Lastly, I did go in to Walgreens photo and I asked them if they have some kind of color guide that I can use to match my screen colors to their printer colors -- but they said no. Their only advice was to bring in a USB key and check the images on their kiosk prior to printing because this they said was a more accurate representation of the end product. I tried that and had no luck.

    Anyway, any advice you have on how I can make the real prints look more like the images on the screen will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance.
    R
     
  2. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Have you hardware calibrated you monitor? If not then the likely hood is that YOU are not seeing the correct colors. Google monitor calibration tools. You will find things like the Spyder 3. That would be the first place to start. There are several makers, Huey, Panatone, Datacolor to name a few.
     
  3. RegRoy

    RegRoy TPF Noob!

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    I did some digging and I found MonacoEZ Color 2 -- it came with a scanner I bought a few years back. Will this work?
     
  4. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It might, you will have to give it a try and see if it lets you calibrate a monitor.
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    MonacoEZ Color is a piece of software. What you need is a piece of hardware that will analyse the output of the software.

    If you're trying to match prints to the screen there's a LOT you need to do.

    1. You need a hardware calibrated screen.
    2. You need the printing profiles used by the printing company.
    3. You need to softproof the printing profile to the screen so the screen will display the colours according to the printing profile. (i.e. printers can't achieve the same contrast level as a good screen)
    4. You need a competent printer who won't mess with your files (easy enough to find)
    5. You need a calibrated viewing environment. i.e. there's no point in looking at a print under a energy saving bulb with your fancy calibrated screen sitting there at 6500k perfectly calibrated. If you want the print to match the screen you'll need to light the print with calibrated lighting and the correct brightness too. This is hard to achieve since your screen is backlit and your print is incidence lit.

    Ultimately though one thing you should do is try not looking at the screen. Is your print really that far off, or do you only think it is because you're directly trying to compare it side by side with the screen. Put it aside, get a drink, relax, then pickup the print and take it outside and critique it separately. Does it still look wrong now, or is that quite obvious colour cast now not that plainly obvious anymore?
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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  7. RegRoy

    RegRoy TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for your advice -- as I said -- I'm an amateur and basically all I want to do is be able to make what I see on the screen close to what I see when I'm priniting -- as I said 'm going to be using on of the big commercial printing services (Walgreens, CVS, Kodak, Snapfish, etc) -- so I'm not ready to invest hundreds of dollars in hardware.

    As I mentioned in the original post -- I did ask Walgreens for some kind of color calibration reference and they looked at me with a blank stare.

    What do other amateur people do to fix this problem? Is it Walgreens? I mean I can't imagine that most people who use consumer-level photo processing (like above) are doing monitor calibration. If I take a dark photo and change the levels to make it a little better -- shouldn't this be something that can be easily translated into a printed photo? Or do people who use these services just deal with having not so great photos?
     
  8. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That is the issue if your monitor is not calibrated. How do you know it is a dark photo? It might be a dark monitor. So how can you correct it if you are not seeing the true picture?

    If you have a bit of a technical bend at all, a good hardware monitor calibration device can be very useful. As well as my computer monitor I have used mine to calibrate both of my big screen LCD HDTV's. Saved me lots of money over having someone come out and calibrate them.

    I also do a lot of presentations for the public where I work, so I have used it to create a profile on my laptop for my projector. But that is me. I have multiple uses for mine beyond editing photographs.
     
  9. RegRoy

    RegRoy TPF Noob!

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    Ok. I'm doing it now.....it seems that MonacoEZ color is made by the company that the person recommended above.

    Would you advise me using my LCD or my CRT?
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Depends on the make and model of the LCD and the CRT.
     
  11. RegRoy

    RegRoy TPF Noob!

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    Acutally I found the LCD driver disk and it had a profile on it. I will update the drivers for the monitor and use this profile (use it with [control panel->display settings] for people like me who didn't know about color profiles until today) and see how it goes.

    Thank you again.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the digital age.

    Overview of Color Management

    The only way you will be able to realize, "what I see on the screen close to what I see when I'm priniting" is if you profile your monitor, and you have available the ICC printer profile for the machine that will be making the prints.

    With that, in an image editing application that has the capability, you can 'soft proof' to see a close approximation of the print on your computer monitor.

    Anything less is a crap shoot.

    A good consumer lab, like Mpix, guarantee their prints if you let them color correct the image you upload. They also provide their printer ICC profiles on their web sites for download.

    Mpix is the consumer outlet of the largest professional lab in the US: Millers Professional Imaging.

    You might find it intersting to read Mpixes support page "How To Prepare Your Images":

    Mpix.com - Help

    It may hold some answers for you.

    The big commercial printing places you mentioned, obviously could care less if you're having issues, since they provide so little information.

    You may also want to note that the type of monitor display you are using can have a bearing on the issue.

    Most people today have an LCD display though some are still using CRT displays.

    There are different types of LCD displays.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFT_LCD

    The least expensive and most commonly used is a Twisted Nematic (TN) display. TN displays have the narrowest reliable viewing angles and the least adjustments. Most laptops have a TN type display.

    For image editing, profileablity, and the widest range of viewing angles an In-Plane Switching (IPS) type display is desirable.
     

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