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Thread: Calibrating device for laptops

  1. #1
    Alis's Avatar
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    Calibrating device for laptops

    Hi everyone,

    I know we have discussed this issue before but now I am tired of printing pictures with messed up colors and want to ask this one last time before I buy a calibrating device. My question is, is there any difference between calibrating a laptop and a desktop monitor? I use a 18" HDX HP laptop and want to make sure I am buying the right type.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: Calibrating device for laptops

    Hi Ali

    I can tell you a couple of depressing things, though no idea on specifics of PC laptop (macs have built-in calibration, maybe yours has if you search?):

    a: as a lap-top wanders around in different ambient lights, you need a number of calibrations for typical lighting situations, I suspect 'absolute calibration' using Spyder is for use in the dark as in projection

    b: printing is another issue altogether as this is determined by characteristics of your printer and paper for which you need to install driver and profiles. It also changes the image from being back-lit RGB to front-lit CMYK. IMO they are never the same thing, just 2 equally good alternatives once you have set up right.

    To cheer you up again, I use only a lap-top (macBook pro) and cheap printer (Canon IX4000) but just had delivered camera club cup for consistent performance on print competitions.

  3. #3

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    Re: Calibrating device for laptops

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I know we have discussed this issue before but now I am tired of printing pictures with messed up colors and want to ask this one last time before I buy a calibrating device. My question is, is there any difference between calibrating a laptop and a desktop monitor? I use a 18" HDX HP laptop and want to make sure I am buying the right type.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
    Hi Ali,

    Short answer is "No - it doesn't make any difference".

    Long answer is ...

    ... There's quite a variety in LCD screens, with the biggest issue being potentially big contrast changes with changes in viewing angle - which also varies wildly between various models. So the most important thing is to view them from a consistent angle, preferably perpendicular. Personally, I simply look at my own reflection in my laptops screen and adjust the viewing angle so that my eyes are reflected in the middle of the screen.

    Another consideration is the power-management setup - often the systems are setup to have a brighter backlight when plugged in to mains power, which of course affect contrast ratios and white points.

    In terms of "messed up colours" when printing, you'll see a definate benefit in getting something like a spyder III Studio Elite which has a colorimeter for monitor calibration, and a spectrophotometer for producing printer profiles.

    In profiling LCD screens there's usually only relatively small before/after changes to colours, but often much larger changes to black and white points - and that can be quite significant; many laptop graphics chips have a fairly limited scope for adjusting levels (I won't go into the technicalities of it) - suffice it to say that - despite what the instructions say - if you can get your black and white points in the ballpark (especially your white points) (usually the only thing adjustable on a laptop screen by virtue of changing the backlight intensity) then you'll get a much better result (as more of the limited range of levels are available for displaying your image between black and white points rather than being wasted compensating for a "waaaay off" incorrect white point).

    Ambient lighting can also affect the colours your seeing, but the effect on monitors is fairly negligable for all intents and purposes because monitors have their own active light source; whats far more significant is (a) the effect it has on brightness levels (the brighter the ambient lighting the harder it is to see subtle shadow detail so people tend to increase these levels to compensate and then of course this detail prints incorrectly) and (b) the effect it has on colours when viewing the printed result (because what your seeing is totally reflected light). In reality so long as the ambient light isn't too bright, and you view your images in the same location, then it won't be a bit issue -- and you'll quickly learn to compensate for it anyway. Definately no need for D50 lighting or neutral gray walls in your home

    If your entering the world of colour management then the thing that you really really really need to do is pick up a copy of Real World Color Management by Fraser, Murphy, and Bunting - I personally guarantee that you'll learn so much from it - dispell so many myths - and easily save yourself far more then the price of the book in prints that you don't waste.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #4
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Calibrating device for laptops

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    b: printing is another issue altogether as this is determined by characteristics of your printer and paper for which you need to install driver and profiles. It also changes the image from being back-lit RGB to front-lit CMYK. IMO they are never the same thing, just 2 equally good alternatives once you have set up right.
    Thanks Chris. This is very interesting. Never thought of the difference between these two color systems this way. Just when I thought I have a little bit, I find out that there is a lot more to learn

  5. #5
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    Re: Calibrating device for laptops

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Ali,

    Short answer is "No - it doesn't make any difference".

    Long answer is ...

    Hope this helps!
    Hi Colin, Of course it did and I ordered the device and also the book. Just have to find a time to read it . But seriously, photography books are the only books I am reading these days... Thanks again.

  6. #6

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    Re: Calibrating device for laptops

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    Hi Colin, Of course it did and I ordered the device and also the book. Just have to find a time to read it . But seriously, photography books are the only books I am reading these days... Thanks again.
    Hi Ali,

    You're very welcome.

    Now that you've ordered the book I should mention that it starts out easy, but does end up going quite deep. Don't be discouraged. It's easy to absorb only as much as you want or need, and of course, the team is always here to elaborate on anything you think we can help with.

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