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Monday, January 7, 2008

Hi-Tech Studio: Complete Color Calibration

Color management from reality to reproduction



All display devices, whether CRT, LCD or plasma, suffer from color drift and other phenomena that make it necessary for you to perform the calibration procedure about once a month. The adjustment schedule has little to do with the cost or quality of the display device; it's more dependent on inherent physical limitations. So once you've calibrated your system, don't sell the colorimeter on eBay—you'll need to do it again in about 30 days.

Both Datacolor (www.datacolor.com) and X-Rite (www.xrite.com) offer complete solutions that allow you to achieve professional color management throughout the entire process.

color calibrationDatacolor Spyder3PRO
The SpyderPRO series from Datacolor has been the de facto standard for professional photographers for years because of its rock-solid reliability and ease of use. The Spyder3PRO continues that trend. The hardware sets the example for all colorimeters—a precise sensor housed in a durable, attractive surface glider that includes a counterweight to maximize positioning accuracy. The software is intuitively easy and can be used with all CRT, LCD and notebook computer displays.

Compatible with Windows and Mac platforms, the Spyder3PRO software package offers a wizard-style interface supported by comprehensive help screens that keep you on track. The software is sophisticated, but photographer-friendly. The Spyder3PRO offers unlimited gamma and color-temperature options and an exclusive automated black and white luminance adjustment feature that delivers exceptionally consistent calibration results. Helpful before-and-after viewing features let you compare your display's characteristics with and without calibration. If you're not a believer in the beginning, you'll become one after you make these comparisons. The Spyder3PRO also calibrates LCD and DLP front projectors, so your theater presentations will look great, too.

Datacolor's exclusive PreciseLight technology allows you to take room light into consideration, so you can accurately balance your monitor under virtually any ambient lighting conditions. Other features include multiple-monitor calibration and matching, with custom targeting and curves manipulation. The Spyder3PRO kit also includes a software-based profiling tool that allows you to create custom printer profiles without using a third-party scanner. Estimated Street Price: $249.

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To achieve complete color calibration, you need the right tools. A typical configuration consists of one piece of hardware—a colorimeter—and a software suite.
A colorimeter is a sensitive, high-precision light meter that resembles a high-tech hockey puck.

X-Rite i1 Display 2
X-Rite, which recently acquired venerable GretagMacbeth, is a major player in the color-management arena and offers a broad range of hardware, software and services for measuring color. For professional photographers, X-Rite offers a broad range of calibration products at several price points. Central to its color-management line is the i1 Display 2 (read eye-one display two) colorimeter, a precision sensor that delivers a very high degree of accuracy (within about 250 degrees Kelvin, plus or minus).

The X-Rite i1 Display 2 system includes i1 Match 3.6, a powerful software package that provides an intuitive interface and supreme simplicity in the Easy Mode (it delivers accurate results with just a few mouse clicks) and an Advanced Mode that offers enhanced features and more complete control. You can achieve improved color management on multiple monitors, thanks to user-definable luminance settings, and advanced gray balance optimization delivers better gray renditions. And you can view before and after images so you can easily compare the results of your calibration efforts.

The system features an exclusive ambient light head to capture ambient light measurements. It's detachable and also serves as a dust cover—very clever. If you own a monitor that's DDC/CI (Display Data Channel/Command Interface)-compliant—like the NEC MultiSync 2060NX, for example—you can enjoy one-push calibration. A complete listing of supported monitors can be found on the X-Rite Website. Estimated Street Price: $249.

 

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