Suggestions on precise computer color correction? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-26-2009, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I am looking to buy a new computer monitor for my dad, who is an amateur photographer who puts very high importance on color correction. I am unsure how to get his screen to match his color inkjet printer without spending gobs of money on the super high-end stuff.

He has used both the built-in color adjustments (basically just RGB sliders) in the monitor itself as well as the ATI video driver, and no amount of adjustments get close enough to his prints for his satisfaction.

In buying a new monitor, I want to make sure he has better color control. On his old monitor we used a Huey device, but it didn't seem to get any closer than what he had manually done. The Huey seemed flawed in that it was only ON or OFF. The ideal solution would be to use a device like the Huey to sample the actual colors and make adjustments, and THEN allow you to fine-tune it from that point to match the prints. But, it is either 100% automatic, or 100% disabled.

It occurs to me that the main challenge in color correction is that the color components are probably not shifted linearly. If you need to do correction on a curve, for example, the controls in ATI's driver as well as most monitors are inadequate, since they only control the overall color, rather than adjusting it so that, for example, you give more adjustment to the Red in the lighter part of the spectrum than the darker, etc.

Any ideas on how to proceed? I could get an LED-backlit screen, which I understand has better color reproduction, but I'll likely still need some way to fine-tune it in a non-linear way to correct it. Even with a calibration device (like a more powerful version of the Huey), I'd still want a lot of control. Finally, maybe there is a piece of software that will allow more precise color correction than what you get with most ATI/NVIDIA drivers.

No matter what, we need to stay on the cheaper end of the spectrum, and are willing to save money by getting something that requires a lot of manual control over something that is really expensive and is intended to do everything "automagically".

Thanks for any help!
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-27-2009, 04:21 PM
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Unfortunately, staying on the cheaper end of the pricing spectrum is going to guarantee you never get what you want. One of the problems you are dealing with is that the video display has one color reproduction characteristic (which includes color gamut, gamma, & grayscale at a minimum). The camera has a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT color reproduction characteristic and the printer has a THIRD completely different color reproduction characteristic. The ONLY PRAYER you have of getting anything remotely "matching" is to have software/hardware tools that will produce color correction files for each device so they all zero in on a common reproduction model. This undertaking is NOT inexpensive to do right and any low-cost short cut is going to result in the sorts of failures your father has already encountered.

That said, the quality of match even using good tools (which won't be inexpensive), could very well be compromized by the capabilities of one of the devices in the imaging path (camera, monitor, printer). This limitation is one reason high-end amateur and even many pro photographers use pro photo labs. These labs DO have full matching of their displays and printers using seriously expensive pro solutions that just can't be duplicated on a budget. Advanced amateurs and many pros find it is simply less frustrating and far less time consuming to establish a relationship with a local professional photo lab (these are very very very different than the photo department in Walgreens or Costco).

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post #3 of 5 Old 11-27-2009, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I appreciate what you are saying and I'm sure you are right! But, if I am able to make some progress towards an "improvement", that might be enough to satisfy my dad (although he does seem to have unreasonable expectations).

Since my message, I have done some research and discovered two possibilities that may help, perhaps you can comment on them?

1. We can try using the program Powerstrip, which appears to have far more color control compared to the ATI/NVIDIA control panels, which seem to have mostly linear adjustments to the RGB. Powerstrip might provide enough control to manually tweak the screen to match the print-outs more closely. Like I said, we don't need a magical solution, just a means to get more control and get "closer" to what he wants.

2. I have discovered that there are TN LCD panels, and IPS LCD panels. TN panels are the cheap ones and are the only ones my dad has used. IPS is apparently the best you can get in terms of color accuracy. These monitors are more expensive but can fall in our price range. A good IPS monitor may cost 3x as much as a TN display, but we're still talking much less than $1000. Here's a page I was reading: http://www.pchardwarehelp.com/guides...anel-types.php

Any thoughts on these two points? Thanks very much!
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-27-2009, 05:17 PM
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any meter is going to come with some software.

What you need is software that generates and loads a Look up table to the video card and adds real ICM profile for your monitor.

Probalby the best inexpensive probe is going to be a display2. As far as something that comes with software, There really isn't anything that's much better until you get to an i1 Pro.

The difference between IPS and TN panels effects how fast the color changes when you aren't viewing the screen perfrectly perpendicular.
There are also PVA and MVA panels that are a bit of a compromise.
IPS panel: http://accessories.dell.com/sna/prod...1&sku=320-8277
PVA panel: http://accessories.dell.com/sna/prod...1&sku=223-9379

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post #5 of 5 Old 11-28-2009, 01:57 PM
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Again, there are no easy solutions or quick fixes. Printers and video displays do NOT have the same color gamut. Without ICC profiles to match the camera, video display and printer, you are doomed to never having a reasonable match. And creating ICC profiles relies on being able to MEASURE the color gamut of the printer which requires a very different instrument than the instrument that you would use to measure the video display (unless you have a very high-end instrument costing in 5 figures).

You should begin by researching ICC profiles and what your options are for creating and using them. You MAY find that there are some sources out there that have "pre-characterized" some products like displays and printers and perhaps even cameras. If you can find "generic" ICC profiles for a camera, display, and printer within the budget you have in mind, you have half a chance of getting output that's reasonably close. But because you would be using "generic" ICC profiles rather than custom profiles, there may (or may not) still be enough difference to be noticeable.

"Movies is magic..." Van Dyke Parks
THX Certified Professional Video Calibration
ISF -- HAA -- www.dBtheatrical.com
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