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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos RAW, Post Processing & Printing 
Thread started 02 Sep 2010 (Thursday) 11:53
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Still having problems matching prints to monitor

 
ncjohn
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Sep 02, 2010 11:53 |  #1

Well folks, every time I think I've got things figured out, I find out my prints just aren't matching the monitor. And I can't quite figure out if the problem is color cast, brightness, or contrast. (I'm working with nature shots, so there isn't really a neutral anywhere that I can use for white balance matching.)

I'm using Canon inks in a Canon printer with Canon paper and the correct (not "equivalent":)) paper profile, so I figure the printer end of my equation has to be correct, right?

So, if my printing is all set up right and the monitor is calibrated for color, that only leaves monitor brightness or contrast as the problem. So I decided to try and find a monitor setting that would make it look like the print. I sized the image on the screen to match the print in question, held the print up to the screen, and ran through the range of contrast and brightness in the monitor controls, trying to find some setting that would look like the print. Couldn't find it. (By the way, at this time of day the light here is great: bright and indirect without glare.)

Frankly, when I look at my recent prints, the problem really looks like a color problem. But I'm using the Spyder3Express for calibrating. So I'm wondering if it's possible that there's actually something wrong with the monitor? It's about 2 years old, a Hannspree HF199H monitor with a Nvidia Geforce video adapter.

Any thoughts about that?
Thanks a lot for all the help.




  
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ChasP505
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Sep 02, 2010 12:23 |  #2

Frankly John, you're using a monitor designed for bright, contrasty multimedia and gaming use, not color accurate work. Reasonably accurate, entry level IPS paneled monitors begin at about $225, offered by Dell, NEC, ViewSonic, and HP.

I don't agree with your tactic of adjusting the displayed image to print size and comparing it with a print. Display your images at 25, 50, or 100%. So, you've printed some of the standard test images? And your monitor still looks brighter than the the printed test image?

Before calibrating with that Spyder3 Express, you should reset all your monitor settings to factory default levels. There is a menu selection n the OSD to do this. Then, lower your Brightness down to 10%. Reset your video card settings to factory defaults too. Then run the Spyder3 Express software and do not touch any monitor controls from there on. Now, the only lighting adjustment you'll make is to your ambient lighting.

My rule of thumb, is to have the monitor display as the brightest light source in the room, by an ever so slight margin.

Now, if you printed some of the recommended standardized test images, check the skin tones. Are they realistic or or they too yellow or magenta? How about the step ramps? Can you distinguish between the the two darkest steps or between the two lightest steps?

Here's a good image to gauge your display: (external link)

Here's the version for printing: (external link)


Chas P
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René ­ Damkot
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Sep 02, 2010 12:38 |  #3

ncjohn wrote in post #10837134 (external link)
held the print up to the screen

View your prints in decent light ;)


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Sdiver2489
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Sep 02, 2010 12:48 |  #4

René Damkot wrote in post #10837455 (external link)
View your prints in decent light ;)

Exactly...I find good shady light outdoors/through window is the best for color representation. Other lighting types introduce color casts or make the image look darker than it is.


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ChasP505
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Sep 02, 2010 13:01 |  #5

René Damkot wrote in post #10837455 (external link)
View your prints in decent light ;)


Ditto this.... And give them at least 12 hours to dry before judging in good light.


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Lowner
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Sep 02, 2010 16:28 |  #6

"I'm using Canon inks in a Canon printer with Canon paper and the correct (not "equivalent") paper profile, so I figure the printer end of my equation has to be correct, right"?

Not necessarily true. I had to have a custom profile made for Epson paper on an Epson printer. However the problem is more likely to be the monitor. But to me you are going about tracking the problem in the wrong way. I'd find myself some "standard" images and use them as a test. Photo-i has a few good ones, as do others. You need images that you know should look and print a certain way.

But I'm curious. Why are you trying to match the image "size"? Your issue is not size related, so the efforts you are making are just wasted.


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ncjohn
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Sep 03, 2010 13:48 as a reply to  @ Lowner's post |  #7

The light at my monitor location is perfect for just a few hours every afternoon. Sitting at my monitor, I'm facing east; about 8 feet to my left and a little behind me is a huge north-facing window. About 20 feet to my right is another huge south-facing window that allows only indirect light into my desk area. There are no windows behind me and none in front. Holding a print up to the screen, I can see both the print and the screen very clearly at that time of day. Any other time, and it's snapshots only, and only if they're not important ones.;)

Printing standardized test images: All the white and black patches are distinguishable (just barely, in the case of black), both on-screen and in the print. Skin tones look fine. If I had not compared them closely with the screen image I would think they were great. (I know a print can't look exactly like a screen image. More on this later.) Color swatches are close but not quite the same.

The first 10 or so prints I made with this printer were standard test images. I've felt all along that they were perfect, and I thought I had finally gotten the screen and printer in sync. What made me realize there was a problem is that the last 2 images I've printed looked great on-screen but flat and dead in the prints. Just horrible. I was going crazy trying to decide just exactly what was wrong with them: brightness, contrast, or color. THAT'S why I resized the onscreen image to the same size as the print, so I could do a very close-up stare-and-compare, trying to find exactly what was different between the two. That's how I realized that there were some warm tones (dead leaves, rocks, etc) that just were wrong. So then I went back to the standardized test images; they look good when I just look at them like you normally would, but if you look really close at the tiny color swatches you can see that some of the reddish ones aren't quite right. I've gone all through the different color ranges using Elements and Gimp, trying to correct those colors, and I just can't get it right. That's why I was asking if the monitor could be the problem. Oh, and since Lowner mentioned that possible problem with the printer profiles, I printed one of my "dead" pictures using a different paper (Kodak) and the appropriate profile, and it looks exactly like the one on Canon paper.

I know that prints can't look exactly like screen images, and for some photos, I could take the little bit of color difference I see in the standardized test images. But it just kills these 2 photos I'm trying to print now, and so I figure there will be problems with others in the future, so I need to get it figured out.

Since I can always see all the steps in the gray scales, I'd thought that my monitor was fine, but if it can't reproduce all the colors accurately, that's a problem. So just to be sure I understand, are some monitors incapable of producing colors correctly? (I'd hate to spring for an IPS monitor and have the problem be me!)

Thanks




  
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tonylong
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Sep 03, 2010 15:34 |  #8

Yes, monitors as well as printers can have small but sometimes noticeable shifts in how they handle colors -- that's a fact of life.

You mention getting a better quality monitor and yes, that would make a difference. One thing you can do aside from that is make your own "profile" -- a preset or action that could do the minor corrections pre-print.

I'm curious -- I don't see the post processing software you are using...? If you were using Photoshop CSx, you could use the soft proof utility to try for a bit more accurate matching, but you won't find that in (most) other software. DPP and Lightroom, for example, lack this utility to view an image through the "window" of the printer/paper profile. And it's not a matter of trying to change the software "color space" but something unique works with the PS soft-proofing.


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ncjohn
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Sep 03, 2010 16:30 |  #9

tonylong wrote in post #10845070 (external link)
One thing you can do aside from that is make your own "profile" -- a preset or action that could do the minor corrections pre-print.

That's what I hoped to accomplish by trying to adjust the monitor so it matched my print. But I wasn't able to ever get them to match.

I'm curious -- I don't see the post processing software you are using...? If you were using Photoshop CSx, you could use the soft proof utility to try for a bit more accurate matching,

I use DPP, Gimp, and PS Elements. I tried the softproofing in Gimp and couldn't do a lot with it, but I've never had the opportunity to try PS, so I don't know how they compare.

Well here's a bit of an update. After deciding the problem has to be my monitor, I went to the local camera/printing shop with one of my problem photos on a flash drive. We loaded it into a computer and it seemed to look about the same as it does on my monitor; in other words, it looked good. I didn't think to take a print that I had made (dang!) but I'm going to go back and see what they think of my print. They've got some fantastic prints hanging on the wall that they've printed, so we'll see what they think about mine.

Thanks




  
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Pete ­ Kossaras
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Sep 03, 2010 18:11 |  #10

I use this lamp to view my prints.:)
http://www.bluemaxligh​ting.com/black_floor_l​amp_47_prd1.htm (external link)


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Lowner
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Sep 04, 2010 04:44 |  #11

Pete,

But thats not cheap is it!


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Pete ­ Kossaras
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Sep 04, 2010 07:40 |  #12

Lowner wrote in post #10848145 (external link)
Pete,

But thats not cheap is it!

Around $200.00


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ChasP505
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Sep 04, 2010 08:14 as a reply to  @ Pete Kossaras's post |  #13

This lamp with a Solux 4700k bulb is less than $100 USD.

http://www.pegasusasso​ciates.com/DisplayLigh​tPDL214.html (external link)


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ChasP505
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Sep 04, 2010 08:51 as a reply to  @ ChasP505's post |  #14

John, let's make sure we are clear on this... When you print out a standardized test image, it has absolutely no relation to the quality or performance of the monitor display. It isolates the printer performance and color settings only. So, the print output is NOT to be used for the purpose of adjusting the display, only to evaluate and troubleshoot the printer/paper/ink.

I believe this image is the best way to evaluate the quality of your display. Forget about color for a while and focus on gamma and tonality. When I view this image at 100% in Photoshop on my calibrated $225 IPS monitor, the six patches match perfectly. Download it and view it at 100% in PSE. It's a layered .PSD file and you need to switch off the topmost instruction layer.

http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com/news.49.ht​ml (external link)


Chas P
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ncjohn
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Sep 04, 2010 11:20 |  #15

ChasP505 wrote in post #10848717 (external link)
John, let's make sure we are clear on this... When you print out a standardized test image, it has absolutely no relation to the quality or performance of the monitor display. It isolates the printer performance and color settings only. So, the print output is NOT to be used for the purpose of adjusting the display, only to evaluate and troubleshoot the printer/paper/ink.

Charles, I know the monitor and printer don't affect each other. But if you don't have something to compare the standardized test image print TO, you don't have any idea if the print looks the way it's supposed to, all you know is whether or not it "looks good." I've found out just from my own brief experience that those test images will make a good-looking print no matter (almost) what you do. I've got about 20 of them, printed over the last couple weeks with different settings ; they all look fantastic but very few of them match each other. Which one(s) is accurate? According to Lowner, you can't assume that using the correct paper and profiles will produce an accurate image; so you compare the print to your monitor to see whether or not it looks right. Right?

I believe this image is the best way to evaluate the quality of your display. Forget about color for a while and focus on gamma and tonality. When I view this image at 100% in Photoshop on my calibrated $225 IPS monitor, the six patches match perfectly. Download it and view it at 100% in PSE. It's a layered .PSD file and you need to switch off the topmost instruction layer.

I checked out the image and it told me what I already knew: that my monitor has problems with the gamma targets and is pretty good with the gray scales. From what I've read, all non-IPS monitors will fail those "gamma tests." But will that cause my colors to be off? (I know you said "forget about color" but the color in my prints is exactly what I'm concerned about.)

I'm not trying to be difficult, but some of the things you say don't make sense to me. But I'm trying to hang in there and give you the benefit of the doubt because of your ridiculous advice before to spin in circles 3 times and kiss my elbow, which just happened to be right!:p




  
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Still having problems matching prints to monitor
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