current monitor calibration (compared to prints)

dhr90

EOS RP
Aug 1, 2013
305
0
My serious photo editing takes place on a Dell SP2309W monitor, I know its nothing special compared to what is out there, but I always thought it looked very good compared to anything else I have used, since the time of buying (4 years ago) up until now.

Monitor specs: Display Type LCD monitor / TFT active matrix
Diagonal Size23 in
Aspect Ratio Widescreen - 16:9
Native Resolution 2048 x 1152
Pixel Pitch0.249 mm
Brightness300 cd/m2
Image Contrast Ratio 80000:1,
80000:1 (dynamic)
Response Time 2 ms
Horizontal Viewing Angle 160
Vertical Viewing Angle 170
Features TrueLife, 98% color gamut


I had 3 A3 sized prints ordered for xmas from photobox:
1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/41379151@N03/10315417064#
2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/41379151@N03/9618410496#
3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/41379151@N03/9608006889#

The first image, I think on the print isn't really in focus, whilst it is maybe, acceptably in focus on my screen, certainly the print isn't. The real issue is that all 3 prints look under exposed, with poor contrast and slightly off white balance. The fins on the ailerons on picture 3 for instance are creating deep shadows on the print, but not the monitor.

I haven't got a second good monitor to check the images on, nor any access to one elsewhere. I have previously used an online calibrator to try to set my monitor up as well as I can, that at the time was my choice as a student and lack of money was my main restriction.

The photobox website states they use: For all our larger prints we use a Polielectronica Laserlab. This is a world–class laser-based photographic device, which also prints onto FujiFilm Crystal Archive digital photographic paper, at 254 DPI.
I had to send the file in JPEG with file sizes under 7MB. I have used them 2 years ago and was very happy with those results, since then the website has changed and they no longer accept TIFF files (they told me via twitter they have never accepted TIFF files, but I would not have created TIFF files of my order 2 years ago if they didn't), it didn't even allow me a sharp preview image before I ordered, just a heavily pixelated preview with no possible details there.

So I guess what I am asking is, if there a good online calibration tool, or maybe a non too expensive piece of hardware to calibrate it? Is it even worth calibrating it? I can't really afford a new monitor, and certainly couldn't justify the expensive given how infrequently I use it (no space for my desktop to be set up, parents don't like my monitor due to the size and lack of speakers so I use their rather poor one for every day use). Photobox do have a calibration print to send out (http://www.photobox.co.uk/content/quality-advice/calibration), but they didn't send me one, and I don't know how accurate it would even be.

I did have 2 other 7x5 prints ordered (intended to be christmas presents, but they were so poor I decided not to give them), which uses a different printer and whilst one was poor due to it being cropped from an iphone, the other was from my 7D, but the contrast was too high and like the A3 prints it was under exposed.

I could photograph the prints and post them if it helps?
 

Drizzt321

EOR R
Nov 23, 2011
1,667
0
Lala land
www.aaronbaff.com
So you've got 2 problems.

1) Haven't calibrated your monitor with a calibration tool

2) You have a monitor with a TN panel, which generally won't get you as good a quality colors as IPS, even though it says it's 98% of NTSC color space. This is further complicated by #1

I do know there are few software things which can help you get your monitor sorta vaguely in the ballpark by just looking at the screen, but won't really be all that good when compared with a proper calibration tool. Do they offer printer+paper profiles? You can use Photoshop/Lightroom to preview your image in with printer/printer+paper profiles which will help you get closer to what you'd see on the output. Also, be sure to select max quality on the output JPG, and match the resolution to exactly what resolution they want for a given size of print. And tell them not to do anything to it if you have that option.

After looking at http://www.photobox.co.uk (I'm guessing this is the place you're referring to), I'd guess that there's some automated "photo enhancement" that might be going on for their basic prints.

Now, as for printers, you say you had 5x7 prints? Those were probably done on a different printer (see http://www.photobox.co.uk/content/quality/technical). It says all prints less than 15" x 10" are done on FujiFilm Frontier 370 and 390 printers. Ah, and there's further info at https://photobox-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/98 about the printer profiles for the Poliellectronica printer.

So, to sum it up, first get a decent calibration tool. Xrite is pretty popular and has a good reputation. Second, get ICC profiles for their printer and perform proofing using those profiles. Third, make sure you are outputting in maximum possible quality at the exact resolution they need for a given size print. And last, make sure that they are actually using the printer you want for your prints.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,262
1,920
Canada
There is a quick and dirty way.....

Print off a picture on the printer.... Then adjust the video card and monitor settings until the video display matches the print.... It is not an exact method, but it is better than nothing and at least gets you close.
 

dhr90

EOS RP
Aug 1, 2013
305
0
Drizzt321 said:
So you've got 2 problems.

1) Haven't calibrated your monitor with a calibration tool

2) You have a monitor with a TN panel, which generally won't get you as good a quality colors as IPS, even though it says it's 98% of NTSC color space. This is further complicated by #1

I do know there are few software things which can help you get your monitor sorta vaguely in the ballpark by just looking at the screen, but won't really be all that good when compared with a proper calibration tool. Do they offer printer+paper profiles? You can use Photoshop/Lightroom to preview your image in with printer/printer+paper profiles which will help you get closer to what you'd see on the output. Also, be sure to select max quality on the output JPG, and match the resolution to exactly what resolution they want for a given size of print. And tell them not to do anything to it if you have that option.

After looking at http://www.photobox.co.uk (I'm guessing this is the place you're referring to), I'd guess that there's some automated "photo enhancement" that might be going on for their basic prints.

Now, as for printers, you say you had 5x7 prints? Those were probably done on a different printer (see http://www.photobox.co.uk/content/quality/technical). It says all prints less than 15" x 10" are done on FujiFilm Frontier 370 and 390 printers. Ah, and there's further info at https://photobox-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/98 about the printer profiles for the Poliellectronica printer.

So, to sum it up, first get a decent calibration tool. Xrite is pretty popular and has a good reputation. Second, get ICC profiles for their printer and perform proofing using those profiles. Third, make sure you are outputting in maximum possible quality at the exact resolution they need for a given size print. And last, make sure that they are actually using the printer you want for your prints.
I know the monitor would be better as an IPS, sadly I wasn't really aware of the differences when I bought it, and an IPS panel would have been well out of my budget at the time too.

That is the place, they do have a printer profile on offer, not sure if it will be the same paper though, I went for the Pro Poster Print option.

The output JPEG was max quality, and they state on the website they do not do anything to any pictures sent to them for printing.

Is the Xrite Colourmunki smile the right tool?

I didn't want to spend much money on this as I so rarely have prints made.

Don Haines said:
There is a quick and dirty way.....

Print off a picture on the printer.... Then adjust the video card and monitor settings until the video display matches the print.... It is not an exact method, but it is better than nothing and at least gets you close.
Its not a printer I have access to. I could print one off on my printer, which is a Canon MP480, but don't all printers have different colour characteristics?

The reason I'm not happy is that these pictures are so far from what the monitor displayed, whereas the previous time I used them they were very accurate. Can a monitor forget its settings just through being turned off and in storage for a long time?
 
L

Lichtgestalt

Guest
profiling/calibrating by eye is pretty useless if you ask me.
the ambient light will effect your judgement.

prints reflect ambient light.
and as the ambient light changes you will adjust your monitor for a temp situation

do it the right way or don´t.
those shortcuts are useless.

withouth going to deep into it... make sure your monitor is not set to 300 cd/m2.
that´s one of the biggest mistakes... a brigthness that is set too high.
your monitor image may look fine to you but it´s bad for editing prints.
it´s way to bright and your prints will look dark.

keep in mind that paper only reflects light (it does not emit light like a monitor).
sounds banal but people often forget that. ;)

look at your prints indoors and outoors.
indoors you will alway have a different impression then outside on a sunny summer day.

my monitor is set to 120 cd/m2 and i have my ambient light adjusted for my workplace.

prints should be made for the light they are VIEWED under.
that is why good galeries light every print.

your whole system can be calibrated/profiled and perfectly color managed. if the light the print is viewed under is not the light you edited your print for.... there will be a visuell difference to the viewer.
WB is most obvious here... the white of the paper changes a lot when viewed under tungsten light and then under an 7000K LED light. so it´s not only your monitor... it´s also your viewing conditions you have to keep in mind.

another point is the black point. ;)
i do a lot of B&W prints and it´s not easy to get that right with print services.
black density differs from monitor to prints (papers).

what looks good on the monitor often is not (can not) be perfect for the print.
so i always make a extra print version that i edit especially for print output.
black point, white point, contrast, color adjustments etc.


but don't all printers have different colour characteristics?
they do. that´s why you need ICC profiles for the printer/paper combination.

The reason I'm not happy is that these pictures are so far from what the monitor displayed, whereas the previous time I used them they were very accurate.
one more thing to keep in mind.
good print services do color management (you can send them prophoto, adobeRGB).

bad services assume you send them sRGB. when you send them prophoto or adobeRGB the prints will look bad.
 

mackguyver

EOS 5D SR
I agree with Lichtgestalt in some regards - you really need to do it all to get it right, and the cheapest way to do that is to calibrate your monitor and use a printing service that can accommodate ICC profiles. There are still some potential issues with that workflow, but that's the best way to get started and get's you 90% of the way there. The only catch is that you need a decent (read: not cheap) monitor or the calibration will be a waste as well.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,262
1,920
Canada
I mentioned the "quick way" because there are many people who will not go through the time and expense of proper monitor calibration. It is not as good as proper calibration, but it is better than nothing.
 
L

Lichtgestalt

Guest
Don Haines said:
I mentioned the "quick way" because there are many people who will not go through the time and expense of proper monitor calibration. It is not as good as proper calibration, but it is better than nothing.
yes i know what you meant.

but i have so many friends who tried it that way only to complain "i have done so many testprints and compared it to my monitor. yet every time i print the results look different".

;)


making good prints is not easy.
it´s 2014 and most people think it should work automatically... but making a really good print is still a form of art (thank god, it earns me money :) ).
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,262
1,920
Canada
Lichtgestalt said:
Don Haines said:
I mentioned the "quick way" because there are many people who will not go through the time and expense of proper monitor calibration. It is not as good as proper calibration, but it is better than nothing.
yes i know what you meant.

but i have so many friends who tried it that way only to complain "i have done so many testprints and compared it to my monitor. yet every time i print the results look different".

;)


making good prints is not easy.
it´s 2014 and most people think it should work automatically... but making a really good print is still a form of art (thank god, it earns me money :) ).
Yes, many people do not understand the value of proper calibration. The lab I work in spends a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year calibrating equipment... Measurements are useless without it.
 

klickflip

EOS T7i
Jan 16, 2013
97
0
Firstly If want good prints then go to a pro printers, I would always go to a local decent lab/ print shop and talk to them, build up a relationship. yes the prints may cost 5 times the cost of Photobox or other online printers. But you can see the results instantly and ask them to adjust the file or printer settings in order to get the result you want.
And if you only do a few a year then it's well worth paying.

If they are consistently coming out darker, less contrast and colour shift from a calibrated pro lab then your monitor & colour profiles are way out.
One thing is prints will always look a bit darker, less contrast and colours slightly different, although there shouldnt be a massive colour balance/ colour shift between a calibrated monitor / comp set up and the printers results.
Even on my own system ( monitor and printer & paper all calibrated there is a difference, I usually do a test print then add a slight contrast curve and saturation to get the print looking right. )

Calibration for you monitor & comp is really important, buy a Spyder or Munki basic or mid one if you dont want to spend too much (£100) and it will be well well worth it. Then at least you can say to the printers that you have processed the image to the way you want it on a calibrated system.

Some better online printers will give you a colour profile to use which helps but i your monitor isnt calibrated then what you're seeing is likely to be nothing like what they will see.

You should be using adobe RGB, but as someone said some cheaper online printers are only set up for sRGB which limits you colourspace from day one - ie the range of colours and tones that will be reproduced. Do a bit of homework about colour spaces and make sure camera is set to adobe rgb too.

and final tip... go to a real print shop and talk to them, oh said that already! well yes it needs to be said again, online bulk print services are generally really bad but look attractive with slick websites and cheap prices.
 

sanj

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 22, 2012
3,394
203
Lichtgestalt said:
profiling/calibrating by eye is pretty useless if you ask me.
the ambient light will effect your judgement.

prints reflect ambient light.
and as the ambient light changes you will adjust your monitor for a temp situation

do it the right way or don´t.
those shortcuts are useless.

withouth going to deep into it... make sure your monitor is not set to 300 cd/m2.
that´s one of the biggest mistakes... a brigthness that is set too high.
your monitor image may look fine to you but it´s bad for editing prints.
it´s way to bright and your prints will look dark.

keep in mind that paper only reflects light (it does not emit light like a monitor).
sounds banal but people often forget that. ;)

look at your prints indoors and outoors.
indoors you will alway have a different impression then outside on a sunny summer day.

my monitor is set to 120 cd/m2 and i have my ambient light adjusted for my workplace.

prints should be made for the light they are VIEWED under.
that is why good galeries light every print.

your whole system can be calibrated/profiled and perfectly color managed. if the light the print is viewed under is not the light you edited your print for.... there will be a visuell difference to the viewer.
WB is most obvious here... the white of the paper changes a lot when viewed under tungsten light and then under an 7000K LED light. so it´s not only your monitor... it´s also your viewing conditions you have to keep in mind.

another point is the black point. ;)
i do a lot of B&W prints and it´s not easy to get that right with print services.
black density differs from monitor to prints (papers).

what looks good on the monitor often is not (can not) be perfect for the print.
so i always make a extra print version that i edit especially for print output.
black point, white point, contrast, color adjustments etc.


 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,708
879
Your monitor can likely be calibrated to do a reasonably good job. A IPS panel mainly helps you if you are not looking straight on at the monitor, you will badly misjudge the contrast on the TN panel if you are not viewing it perpendicular both vertically and horizontally. New monitors with IPS panels are now cheap.
What you get with high end monitors, in addition to IPS, is even backlighting, a wider color gamut. and better ability to make adjustments. Those are good things, but you spend a lot of $$ to get a small improvement in your prints. If you are selling prints, get a good monitor.

Get a hardware calibrator, one that takes into account ambient lighting is best. If your monitor is set too bright, for example, your prints will come out too dark. If contrast is too high, prints will look faded, and the colors being off is obvious.

Keith Cooper over at Northlight Images had some good information for setting up your monitor. He drops in here occasionally to post. Color management begins with a accurately calibrated monitor, and proper room brightness. Without those steps, the whole process is a study in frustration.


http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/viewing.html