Monitor too bright or printer too dark?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by exercion, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. exercion
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    exercion New Member

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    First off, equipment in question: I have a Pixma Pro 9000, and the Dell 209WA monitor. Calibrate using the Spyder 2. Even with the brightness on the monitor turned down all the way, I find that when I print photos I have to increase the brightness in the images to a point they look hideous on the monitor to get them to print correctly. Is there a cure for this? Am I doing something wrong here?

    Eric
  2. Garbz
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    Garbz New Member

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    Yes. You are not colour managing your workflow.

    - First thing you need to know is what is right? Your monitor? Your printer? What about the room lighting lighting up your print? Your spyder will only calibrate the colour and tone curve. It's up to you to set up conditions to compare your monitor to your print.
    - The second thing is that mappings aren't straightforward. Your typical photo quality monitor has a contrast ratio of 600:1, your typical gamer monitor closer to 1000:1, your typical print around 250:1, so already either your blacks or your whites are going to give.

    I don't compare directly to prints, but the last time I have seen someone compare the monitor to a print the monitor was set with a contrast ratio of around 290:1, a brightness of around 160cd/m^2 and a white balance of 6500k. Compared the print which was sitting in a light box that was lighting at 5000k (difference to take into account the cold tint of photo paper), can't remember the lightbox lighting but it was very bright.

    That looked very close, but the point is how are you lighting your print?
  3. exercion
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    exercion New Member

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    Thanks Garbz, I was hoping you'd have some input. Also, I typoed, I have the Dell 2209WA monitor you told me about awhile back.

    I am looking to print for typical wall display of photos in an office, so a normal ambient light, not spotlight, or light box type stuff. My workflow is this: I shoot in RAW, transfer to computer and use ACR to do preliminary work (white balance, saturation, etc.) Save as TIFF and then work as needed in CS2. The one thing in this process I was less certain about is that CS2 always asks what color space I want to use, and I leave it as shot instead of changing it.

    Current Monitor setting is brightness 0, contrast 75.

    Eric
  4. Garbz
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    Garbz New Member

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    By workflow I meant from CS2 to printer.

    Do you let photoshop handle the colour conversion?
    Do you let the printer manage the colour conversion?
    If you let the printer manage the colours do you do anything special in the print dialogue?

    The printer is a profiled device just as much as the monitor is. In addition you need the printer profile to "soft-proof" the monitor. This means the monitor displays colours with the reduced gamut of the printer.

    Have a look at this link for info on how the process works: Matching Your Printer to Your Monitor

    And here's a quick FAQ on matching prints: Comparing Your Prints To Your Screen Take good note on what he says about the importance of matching the prints. I've had this argument with someone doing wedding photos. He insisted that his clients needed perfect photos exactly as they appeared on his screen. I insisted that the clients won't actually ever see his screen and thus have nothing to compare the prints to and he's wasting his time.

    Unless someone is working in the colour industry, getting all the gear to accurately match a print to the screen is very expensive. For everyone else (myself included) near enough is good enough unless your print is hanging on the wall next to your computer, and is also your desktop wallpaper :D
  5. exercion
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    exercion New Member

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    Thanks for the pointers Garbz. I do let Photoshop manage colors rather than the printer. My issue is purely one of too dark prints, colors are fine. If I jack up the brightness in a file by 20 or so, then I wind up with a hangable print, but it doesn't look good on the monitor. Plus it's kinda trial and error, so I print several test prints while I make adjustments, burning up ink and paper all the time. I guess I need to play more with monitor settings.

    Eric
  6. Garbz
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    Garbz New Member

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    So the tone curve on either the screen or the printer isn't right.

    When you let photoshop manage the colours do you take care and completely disable the colour management in the printer driver?
  7. exercion
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    exercion New Member

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    As far as I know, yes, I have all color management disabled in the printer.

    Color Correction set to None
    All of the controls that would allow the printer to manage output are disabled.

    I did just change the brightness from standard to light and will run a couple checks like that.

    Eric
  8. Garbz
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    Garbz New Member

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    OK now I'm sorta out of answers. The only time I've had something similar happen is when taking the photos to a cheap lab. Their "colour correction" seemed to think my photos were too bright.

    Here's a quick an easy test. Print out a smooth gradient from black to white and compare it to the screen. Does it change in the same smooth linear fashion? If no then something somewhere is messing with the output.
  9. exercion
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    exercion New Member

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    I played with the contrast setting which seems to have brought it more into line, monitor output vs printer output, so I can more accurately predict my output. I may take it a whisker further, I'm at 53 now, and am wondering if a 50 setting wouldn't be a better balance of light to dark contrast. Thanks for the help, Garbz.

    Eric
  10. Garbz
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    Garbz New Member

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    Well doesn't your calibrator make sure your screen follows a gamma 2.2 curve regardless of contrast setting?
  11. exercion
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    exercion New Member

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    I had to take a minute and read up on gamma curves and the like. Yes, checking my Spyder2 Express software, it does calibrate to the 2.2 gamma. So I assume that it does it regardless, but cannot tell you for sure. The only thing I did note while checking the settings was that it said too that the ambient light compensation was off, and I have never seen anywhere that asks about turning it on or off.

    Eric

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