Prints turned out dark, is it my monitor? How do I set my monitor for printing? Thx


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Jan 31, 2011
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So, I spent the time in PS to get the images right..I print and some turn out dark and a bit red? Some purple scan marks too. I calibrated on Windows I may need to adjust my monitor? Do I have too blue of settings if my prints are red? Too bright if they turn out dark? I have no idea. Is it the gamma settings? I did take them to Walmart though, for printing. Which I think played a part. I had some sepia and black and whites that just looked like crap. I switched them to sepia with PS as I am going digital with my d7100. Some prints are dark, even the color ones, and reddish. The color ones looked better than the b&w but were darker than the images on my screen. Maybe part of it's my monitor? Maybe part of it is that I took it to Walmart?! Lol. Do digital prints just suck compared to film? Do I need an expensive calibrator I have been reading about online? I'm thinking to take my images somewhere else and see if the same problem happens again. I do think Walmart scanner probably suck though. I am a noob to this whole digital printing thing.:confused: Can you pros help me?

Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Well, first things first. You should calibrate your monitor anyway, so do that first. Then you can take the same files to different printers to evaluate the printers. If you find one that produces accurate prints, then you've got it.
Yes, the first thing is that you need to calibrate your monitor. If you don't do that, then you really don't know if the edits you're making things better or worse.
To calibrate your monitor, you really need to use a calibration device.
Datacolor Spyder4EXPRESS - The Affordable Color Calibration Solution - Datacolor Imaging Solutions
ColorMunki Display | X-Rite

Once you know that things are OK on your end, then you can really start to figure out where the problem is.

And yes, I wouldn't suggest using Walmart photo lab...certainly not for anything that you expect to be accurate to your edits.
Hey thanks guys. Edmonton, Alberta eh? Married to a Canadian here, a Quebecois. Go Oilers, eh?
Sorry about? Being married to a Quebecois? You are practically in Quebec yourself, lol. Never had real maple syrup before I met my spouse. Now, I don't know how I ate that horrible Log Cabin crap!!! I am addicted to maple syrup now. Off topic but maple syrup is good. I will have to check out those calibrators.
Go Oilers, eh?
Season ticket holder since 1996.
This was my avatar for many years.
Making prints yourself, or having prints made, is just about as complex as doing high quality photography.

If you only need to calibrate a display, a colorimeter and it's associated software will be sufficient.
Most online labs that recommend a display calibration tool recommend X-Rite - X-Rite CMUNDIS ColorMunki Display

If you make your own prints, you may also want to profile your printer and that requires a spectophotometer, which cost more.
X-Rite CMUNPH ColorMunki Photo

There is an entire subset of technical information you will need to understand.

You might start here, particularly the tutorial about soft-proofing using your image editing software - Tutorials on Color Management & Printing

If you want high quality prints, I also recommend the following 3 books:
Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom (2nd Edition)
The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop
The Digital Print: Preparing Images in Lightroom and Photoshop for Printing
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Hey, should I get a pricier callibration device? I just want quality. What are some pricier ones you would recommend? Or does it matter how much one spends on one? Thanks. Should I upgrade my monitor too or does it matter? My monitor is a good one but from 2005. Thanks.

This makes film look like a piece of cake. What the heck, there's a lot to this digital stuff. Makes me want to go back to film.
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The type of monitor can certainly make a difference. For example, a typical 'cheap' flat panel display uses a technology called TN (twisted nematic). They are cheap but they look significantly different when you change your viewing angle...which can lead to inconsistent editing.
Most monitors can't even display all the colors in the sRGB color space...which is one of the smaller color spaces that we would want to work in.

A better flat panel technology is IPS (in plane switching). These monitors will give you a much wider viewing angle while maintaining a more accurate display. They are, of course, more expensive but they prices have come down lately. $300 would probably get you an IPS display.

To take it a step further, there are 'wide gamut' monitors. These are designed for photographers and graphic artists etc. They can display a wider range of color, maybe up to the level of AdobeRGB.

High end monitors may also have a built-in 'LUT' Look Up Table. This means that the monitor itself can be calibrated. This is opposed to the 'cheaper' systems where the calibration device created a profile that is loaded into the computers graphics card. These monitors may often come with a calibration device.

As Keith points out...this is an iceberg issue...there is a lot more under the surface.
Hey, should I get a pricier callibration device?
Check out the list of features and compare them.

Some calibration devices will also calibrate projectors. Some will also calibrate your printer. Some will read the ambient light in the room, and apply adjustments to the display calibration based on the ambient light.
Omgosh, this is a lot of stuff to absorb and I admit, none has yet, lol! Film is lookin better all the time, makes me miss the darkroom. Thanks for your help!

Are there any specific monitors you would recommend in particular? Thanks.
There are many previous threads with lots of recommendations.

I believe that a common recommendation is one of the Dell Ultrasharp IPS screens.
I bought a Viewsonic 27" IPS display for around $325 CDN.
Thanks. Crap, 379 dollars for a calibrator?? I could get another lens with that!! That's a little too expensive. One has to be loaded or have a lot of credit debt for this hobby, I tell ya!

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