Printing naturally dim?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by manaheim, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm about as certain that I can be that my monitor is color correct and I view my pictures on a LOT of monitors out of curiosity to see how off they are... (I'm actually surprised by how close many are)

    I've printed a LOT of my images from a number of vendors and I can hold the images right up next to my screen and the colors are almost invariably dead-on or SO damned close that no one besides hyper-anal me would notice.

    The one thing that tends to be off, however, is brightness... or I would even say luminosity, if there is even a difference. Basically, the picture isn't illuminated from behind, so it's darker. Now if I stick the printed image under a picture lamp, it's pretty much identical to what I see on my screen.

    SO...

    The question is this...

    Is this just a matter of how my eyes perceived something that is actually illuminated by a steady even light source vs. something illuminated by whatever ambient light happens to be in the room?

    OR do I need to up the brightness on my images by X points before I print them?

    OR something else I haven't thought of?
     
  2. andrew99

    andrew99 TPF Noob!

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    I noticed this too.. every time I sent out photos for printing they look a bit darker than expected.

    When I finally calibrated my monitor, it did reduce the brightness of my screen a bit (making it closer to prints), but I still need to boost the brightness slightly before printing, I think this is probably normal.
     
  3. photogincollege

    photogincollege TPF Noob!

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    I think its normal, to boost brightness a bit. You have to figure, when your looking at it on your screen, you have some nice backlit light to see it with, on a print there is no such light, so its going to look darker.
     
  4. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    With LCDs, the luminosity of the screen is very, very, very high. They're actually, by comparison to say, a 60W incandescent bulb, or ambient light in a well-lit room, incredibly bright. We just don't notice because our eyes are very (at times annoyingly so, I find, particularly when judging exposure in different lighting conditions) good at compensating. If you're editing on an LCD, turning up the brightness on the photo itself is quite normal. The opposite is true on CRTs; they're very dark by comparison, and much of the time printed images would be too bright.

    I'm running into the same problem right now with some printing. I swear, I might just invest in a high-quality Epson and be done with it (so I can print myself)...but that just costs way too much money to maintain. >.< Photo printing labs (well, the average consumer level ones, anyway) I find tend to correct for this in-house, boosting brightness a little so that the image is more accurate when printed.
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A proper monitor calibrator starts of by setting luminocity before the colour calibration starts. Before calibration, I also was too dark, but afterwards, it was impressive how close the print and screen matched.

    Also, I do not think all systems measure ambient room and take that into consideration. The EyeOne that I have, does, and that makes a big difference in the "backlit" feel.
     
  6. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ok, this is good. This helps a LOT. Thank you, all. (I may run out of thankyous on this one post).

    Jerry- my calibration tool is a veeeeeeeeeeeeery old spider. It works well, but I've heard they have issues with the newer screens on some aspects. This may be one.

    I'll try boosting it before printing and see what that does... to be honest, I don't really WANT to knock down the LCD brightness. I like it where it gives me a nice even tan. :lol:
     
  7. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Generally speaking; the printing process has a considerable amount of dot gain. Your screen is backlit. The print is different. Light is bouncing of of it as opposed shining through it like a chrome. If you want to get silly you can create a colour profile that among other things compensates for said dot gain. Most offset and print houses can provide you with said profile to load into photoshop.

    Love & Bass
     
  8. farmerj

    farmerj TPF Noob!

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    How does this appear to you.
    Monitor Calibration

    I still need to get a decent monitor calibration system. I had one available to me through work, but after I got laid off......no longer available.

    So I use this kind of as a standard. Since I started to use it, my pictures are looking much better, even printed.
     
  9. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    All these colour calibration devices make me thankful that Apple at least built-in some form of colour calibration into their OS. Not to mention ICC profile management (called ColourSync). Sure it depends on ones eyes, which are fallible, but it has certainly saved me monies. I think I'll get my flash off-camera before I invest in these goodies because of it. Though, I could use a colour card...nah, I already have a grey card.
     
  10. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Huh? Windows has plenty of free option which do exactly the same thing, and even then installing photoshop CS or earlier gives you Adobe Gamma utility, or even as part of Nvidia drivers is a colour match utility which does these visual comparisons too. One thing though people typically say that the visual utilities are fine, until they use a hardware calibrator. Trust me the money is not worth saving if you print photos.

    Anyway:

    The problem here is not that the monitor is wrong, it's that the rest of the room is uncalibrated. To compare the screen directly to the print everything needs to be calibrated, and by everything I mean also viewing conditions.

    Firstly: The screen would have it's contrast ratio artificially reduced, and white balance set according to your paper and your viewing booth. And the maximum brightness set.
    Secondly: Ambient lighting should be set below a certain brightness, usually around 60lux otherwise known as pretty damn dark.
    Finally: You need a viewing booth, with a calibrated light source. If your screen is 6500k then the viewing booth should be around 5500k to counteract the very slight blue cast of photo paper. Also the brightness of this booth needs to be set appropriately.

    So it's a point of perception. A backlit picture with a controlled light source needs to be compared to another picture with a controlled light source to make any kind of sense of it all.
     
  11. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A monitor will never correctly show how a photo will print, end of story. The closest to accurate color screens are old crt screens, but because any monitor is light based versus pigment based it is near impossible to know until you print how exactly the photo will look.

    As of right now I just go ahead and crush my screen as much as possible, then adjust brightness of the photo from there. This works for me, and gets a lot closer then operating at the standard brightness.

    There is a good reason why before sending a file to a client we are required to print and make sure it looks good :)
     
  12. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    *grumbles* I don't like it when I have really compelling reasons to spend more money. :p

    Are we talking about Windows XP or Vista? I never saw any sort of colour calibration utility on XP before I jumped to Macs (and still haven't, not that I use XP all that often...). o_O

    Duly noted about the hardware calibration though. I suppose I'll just have to budget some money toward that. Hrm...

    shmne: The reason that colours won't match perfectly isn't just because monitors are additive and printers are subtractive. It's also that monitor technology is lagging far behind, and monitors are really still confined to the sRGB colour space, whereas we have printers now that can print within the ProPhoto colour space, and ProPhoto includes colours outside the visual spectrum. o_O
     

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