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Thursday, August 16, 2007

DPP Solutions: Color Calibration

If you're using a professional-caliber LCD monitor, professional-caliber color calibration is a requirement

DPP Solutions: Predictable ColorWhat color is blue? Why is the blue that I see in the sky not the same as the blue that appears on my expensive LCD monitor, and not even close to the blue that rolls out of my inkjet printer? What do I have to do to print the colors that I see?

Even if you're using the correct ICC Color Profiles for your LCD monitor and inkjet printer, you can't expect to produce consistent, predictable results unless your monitor is calibrated. Color Profiles communicate how colors should be mapped from the color space of the input device to the color space of the output device. They also specify how the colors should be reproduced on your color monitor. If your monitor isn't calibrated, you won't be able to see an accurate rendition of the colors, even if the software is correctly translating one device's profile to another. With a properly calibrated monitor, however, you can preview and soft-proof your final output.

Forget how much you paid for your gorgeous 22-inch LCD display—even a Stradivarius violin must be tuned frequently. No two monitors are alike, and all monitors change slightly over time. A monitor that's “just right” in January can be “too blue” in June. Fortunately, calibrating your color monitor is much easier than it sounds, and the cost for everything you need is quite affordable.

To switch from “wanting what you get” to “getting what you want,” you need a color-calibration system. A typical configuration consists of one piece of hardware, a colorimeter, and a software suite. The colorimeter analyzes your monitor output with absolute objectivity, while the software provides the tools you need to tweak the colors until they zero in on the standard values.

Datacolor's ColorVision Spyder2PRO

The ColorVision Spyder2PRO from Datacolor is the de facto standard for professional and advanced amateur photographers because it works—all of the time. The hardware is the archetype for all colorimeters—a precise sensor housed in a durable, attractive surface glider that includes a counterweight to minimize positioning aggravation. The software is wizard-driven and can be used with all CRT, LCD and notebook computer displays.

The Spyder2PRO package offers helpful before-and-after viewing features that let you compare your display's characteristics with and without calibration. You'll immediately appreciate the difference. The Spyder2PRO also will calibrate LCD and DLP front projectors, so your theater presentations will look great, too.


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