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Thread: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

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    Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Hi folks, first post here and I really need help. I'm confused on this whole calibrated monitor topic.

    I have 2 monitor setup at home, Dell 2209WA (IPS screen) and another Dell (TN screen). So obviously I do my PP on the 2209WA only. I calibrate both screens using Spyder3Elite (ver.4 software), but the color rendition between the 2 screens are just different even though I use the same settings in Spyder software. I have used this setup for more than 2 yrs and I've been happy with all my prints so far. I've printed photobook, different sizes images all the way up to 20x30 poster from Costco, Mpix, Adorama and I like them all. From there, I assume I've calibrated and did the soft-proofing properly. So I don't have any issues with printing at all. Now, my issue is with other ppl viewing my images from their own screen. I was asked by a friend of mine how come the color of my images are off when viewed on his monitor using Windows Picture Viewer. But when he views using ACDSee, the color seems over-saturated. When I look at my images at work, using work monitor assuming most of them are TN panel, the colors are also off.

    I always wonder how come when we look at those professional photographer websites the images appear to be nice and colors are spot on. What is the secret? Do they PP their images differently for web and for print? If so, any simpler method to avoid double work? For folks who are experts in color management or PP, please share your wisdom. I want to make sure I present consistent result between web and prints. TIA

    EDIT: simplify OP per request from Simon & Colin...hopefully this version is more clear
    Last edited by g0bl0k; 16th April 2012 at 09:19 PM.

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    Momo's Avatar
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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    I very briefly scanned your post. Quick question that I am sure other want to know before responding: Are both monitors receiving the same signal from the PC? (i.e. both digital) I can see one being off if it's a dual analog/digital output. (regardless of color management)

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Yes. both screens are connected via DVI to graphics card.
    I have had some inputs from friends who viewed my images via their screens (not IPS/calibrated) that my images have slight "off" color tone. And I don't know how to address that issue because when I processed those images on my screen, they all looked good.

  4. #4

    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Wow! A rather long complicated post, and a bit difficult to get your question.

    If you have two calibrated and profiled monitors, then images viewed in colour-managed programs should be correct and look the same on both monitors. In Windows 7, the Windows Photo Viewer is colour-managed, the desktop isn't, and nor is Internet Explorer nor Chrome. Lightroom, Photoshop and Elements are colour-managed, as are Firefox and Safari.

    Most people don't use colour management, so you cannot control how images appear on other peoples' PCs, whatever software they are using. However, most monitors have approximately sRGB colour space, so if you export images to sRGB for hosting on the web, then that's the best guess you can make for making them appear correctly on most people's PCs.

    Does that answer your question? If not, can you ask a rather shorter one than before, please?

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Hi "Goblok",

    Datacolor's method for matching 2 monitors is called StudioMatch - just wondering if that's what you're using?

    PS: I fear some folks might get a little lost between the 3 & 5 mile portions of your post -- how about a few paragraph breaks so they get a few short rests along the way?

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    I think they should be similar; but I use this to check:

    http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

    As it happens I'm not to clever at following instructions and I've only recently got a calibration right using Datacolor Spyder. It didn't look different but I achieved the targets. Setting 180 cd/m^2 was the hardest and the instructions tell me to set the white point to 6500 Kelvin, but my monitor has only Cool, Normal, Warm and percentages for Red Green Blue and Gamma.

    I think I've got it right now by checking the above site.

  7. #7

    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    I think they should be similar; but I use this to check:

    http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

    As it happens I'm not to clever at following instructions and I've only recently got a calibration right using Datacolor Spyder. It didn't look different but I achieved the targets. Setting 180 cd/m^2 was the hardest and the instructions tell me to set the white point to 6500 Kelvin, but my monitor has only Cool, Normal, Warm and percentages for Red Green Blue and Gamma.

    I think I've got it right now by checking the above site.
    180 cd/m2 is a bit high, unless you're working in a very bright room. 100-120 is more normal, especially if you want the screen to match prints. My monitors are around 90.

    The fact that the monitor has only fixed presets shouldn't matter. Getting the monitor roughly right is good, but the calibration/profiling process should get the correct brightness and white point, whatever the native setting of the monitor. The Spyder software will create a look-up table that is loaded into the display driver to map the monitor to the required white point.

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Thanks Simon; at first it was set to 120 cd/m^2 even though the target was supposed to be 180, but then I found out I'm supposed to manually increase the brilliance.

    Looks the same to me

    I've got the cheapest IPS screen, actually gone up by over 60 since, but one of the complaints was of a purplish tint and behold it does have a purplish tint on start up; but when the calibration is loaded it is perfect.

    It is a lot better than the TN I've got, and even perfect at 120cd/m^2 although at 180 the room has to be bright or the gamma is slightly out the same everywhere.

    I think I will do it again at 120cd when I feel like it.

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    I'm not sure if your question ever got totally answered.

    First of all, in my experience the monitors are the weakest part of the entire colour workflow. Step in to your typical big box electronics retailer and have a good look at the TVs on display. There is some variability in all of their outputs. From a technical standpoint, they are effectivley 1920 x 1080 monitors.

    My setup sounds somewhat similar to yours my main display is a Dell 2709W and my secondary display is your basic 24" TN. You are quite right. TN (twisted nematic) displays border on downright terrible for colour accuracy. Even though I've calibrated both with my Eye-1, the TN has a dominant blue cast that I can't get rid of. These low end units are built to hit a low price point and have a reasonable response time; colour accuracy appears to be an entirely secondary consideration. Needless to say, I use the larger, better unit for the actual work and park menus as other peripheral stuff on the 24" display.

    I think that one should still work to the proper colour balance, so regardless of the end user's screen, at least you know your colour work is correct.

    Why do images that commercial photographers put out on their website? Really for the same reason that you don't notice a colour cast when we are in a room with fluorescent or tungsten lighting. Our brain compensates and lets us see the images "correctly". Try the following experiment on your dual monitor setup; put the same image up on both screens so that you notice the difference in the colours displayed by both screens. Now turn off your high-end monitor and go away for about 5 minutes. Come back and look at the image on your TN unit. Chances are that you will think the image doesn't look too bad. Turn on your main monitor again and look again. You should notice how "off" the colours are again. Without having a reference to look at, our brains compensate and the colours look "normal", even when they are off. This is why the images on the website seem to be correct. They have been properly colour balanced, so there is nothing to trigger your brain to think that the colour is off, and in the absence of a reference image, your brain lets you see the colours normally.

    We photographers have to train our brains to see colour casts, and even then we can be fooled without proper reference. The room I do my photo work in is painted a neutral colour (a medium gray) and I work with subdued lighting. Even then, I use white points in the image,with the eye dropper tool in Photoshop, to set my colour balance.

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    I'm not sure if your question ever got totally answered.

    First of all, in my experience the monitors are the weakest part of the entire colour workflow. Step in to your typical big box electronics retailer and have a good look at the TVs on display. There is some variability in all of their outputs. From a technical standpoint, they are effectivley 1920 x 1080 monitors.

    My setup sounds somewhat similar to yours my main display is a Dell 2709W and my secondary display is your basic 24" TN. You are quite right. TN (twisted nematic) displays border on downright terrible for colour accuracy. Even though I've calibrated both with my Eye-1, the TN has a dominant blue cast that I can't get rid of. These low end units are built to hit a low price point and have a reasonable response time; colour accuracy appears to be an entirely secondary consideration. Needless to say, I use the larger, better unit for the actual work and park menus as other peripheral stuff on the 24" display.

    I think that one should still work to the proper colour balance, so regardless of the end user's screen, at least you know your colour work is correct.

    Why do images that commercial photographers put out on their website? Really for the same reason that you don't notice a colour cast when we are in a room with fluorescent or tungsten lighting. Our brain compensates and lets us see the images "correctly". Try the following experiment on your dual monitor setup; put the same image up on both screens so that you notice the difference in the colours displayed by both screens. Now turn off your high-end monitor and go away for about 5 minutes. Come back and look at the image on your TN unit. Chances are that you will think the image doesn't look too bad. Turn on your main monitor again and look again. You should notice how "off" the colours are again. Without having a reference to look at, our brains compensate and the colours look "normal", even when they are off. This is why the images on the website seem to be correct. They have been properly colour balanced, so there is nothing to trigger your brain to think that the colour is off, and in the absence of a reference image, your brain lets you see the colours normally.

    We photographers have to train our brains to see colour casts, and even then we can be fooled without proper reference. The room I do my photo work in is painted a neutral colour (a medium gray) and I work with subdued lighting. Even then, I use white points in the image,with the eye dropper tool in Photoshop, to set my colour balance.
    Thank you for the explanation.
    And thanks also to other folks who have replied. I apologize for the confusing OP in the first place .

    I guess this is something that we (as photographer) can't control. We can only control up until we edit the images on our IPS screen. Whatever type of screens other ppl use to view our images is something that we can't control. As long as I calibrate both of my screens properly and set the color space to sRGB for web view, I think I have to live with that.

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    Re: Monitor calibration - off color between screens

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi "Goblok",

    Datacolor's method for matching 2 monitors is called StudioMatch - just wondering if that's what you're using?

    PS: I fear some folks might get a little lost between the 3 & 5 mile portions of your post -- how about a few paragraph breaks so they get a few short rests along the way?
    Colin,
    I've never used/heard StudioMatch. What I've been doing is just calibrate each screen separately. I understand that since both screens are different panel, I don't expect them to be exactly the same spot on. But I was expecting that they are at least pretty close. My settings are 120cd/m^2, 6500K, 2.2 Gamma.

    OP has been simplified, hope it's more clear now

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