Color management retard needs help, please!


TPF Noob!
Nov 20, 2007
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Coney Island in Brooklyn, US
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hello, and thanks in advance for any insight you may have on color management.

Currently I own a Sony Vaio laptop and a Kodak ESP 7 printer. I would like to print photographs with color that closely matches what I see on my display. I am less interested in graphics and line art, however I would like to understand the differences in color profiles and how they are used so that I know what I'm doing.

As for what I "know" about color management, it isn't much. Sure, I've done a little reading but it's not sinking in and I'm not able to apply it just yet. What I think I know is that when I am working with images using Photoshop, that I should have the files in RGB mode for printing and SRGB if I want to simply use them for the web. I also think that the color profiles that my display and printer are using should be the same. That's about it, and hey even that could be wrong because I'm not really sure why those are supposedly the right things to do.

Well I am off to continue googling and youtubing answers, but again I sincerely appreciate any nudges in the right direction! Thank you!
Another great monitor calibration tool is by pantone huey pro. I've been using that for about a year now. It does seem to present a slight green color cast when you switch it on and off, but when i print to my canon pimxa 9500, it's practically identical to what I see on screen. The Huey pro is pretty reasonably priced also, under $150, so it was definitely well within my budget, as well as being very easy to use.
Here's a crash course of understanding colour profiles:

There are 3 kinds.
Input profiles - Profiles for scanners and cameras determine how XYZ chroma values get converted to RGB colours space.
Working profiles - The colour space of the image you are working with. The bigger the more colourful, but not necessarily the better.
Output profiles - Printers and display profiles. Determine how a certain colour is to be displayed.

What is important is that these profiles tell the colour managed application how each device displays / records colours. I.e. the exact chroma of the RGB(255,0,0) value, which may be very different from the camera, the screen, and the printer.

What you work in ultimately doesn't matter to a colour managed application. Take Photoshop for example. You import your camera's RAW file and the ACR4.4 profile or Adobe Standard profile will be applied to the file to convert it into either sRGB, AdobeRGB, or ProPhotoRGB, depending which you select.
Photoshop polls the windows display driver for the current colour profile which will nearly always be sRGB for an uncalibrated screen, or the calibration profile which will look damn close to sRGB anyway. It then converts the colours using this profile to display on your screen while you edit them. (This is the importance of calibration). When you go to print Photoshop will either hand over the actual file in it's original colour space to the printer driver, or will assume control itself and convert it to the printer profile before sending it it.

The three important parts here is that all of this happens transparently, one device must emulate another to match them, and that this all only applies to colour managed applications.

If an application is not colour managed (internet explorer, safari for windows, firefox's default install) then it simply assumes what it reads is sRGB. So if you save an ProPhotoRGB file and open it by assuming it is sRGB you end up with very desaturated and green colours. So any image that is destined for the internet should ALWAYS be saved in the sRGB space.

Now to make the perfect print does not require you to use any fancy colour spaces at all because a) the screen colour space will always be smaller than what the camera / scanner can capture, and b) the printer most often has an even smaller space than the screen. But what you do need to do is set standards for comparison. Firstly the screen must be calibrated, the printer must be calibrated, and finally the room must be calibrated against the screen (i.e. a viewing booth with controlled lighting). Then the colours on the screen must be soft-proofed to the printing profile, and you will end up with 100% identical print to what you see on the soft-proofed screen.

In practical terms no one every gets close to that level of complexity. Calibrate the screen since it varies and causes most of the problems. Trust the calibration of the printer since ink colour rarely varies, and compare the print viewed in sunlight against the screen viewed in the dark and you will get 95% of the way there.

Finally It doesn't matter what profile you select you will always be limited by your lowest common denominator, and in a colour managed application the working profile determines only the boundies of the colours that can be worked with and all conversions are handled by the software automagically.

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