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Thread: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

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    benm's Avatar
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    Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    Anyone familiar with the Mac's built-in program called ColorSync? It looks like it is used to calibrate the monitor. What I would like to know is if this is a substitute for calibration with an external device like an X-Rite, or similar. And if not, why not. Thanks.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    Simple answer is that it does not work. As an aside, Microsoft offered the same package and shipped it with Windows 2000 and Windows XP but did not include it in any of the operating systems since

    Bottom line is this tool relies on your colour sense and vision to create the profile, and of course that is the problem, as there is no "absolute" reference and the output is based on your ability to judge the various test patterns. I've tested my readings versus the profile my xRite i1 produces; the results were not even close. Stick with a colorimeter, at least you will get a reasonable profile.

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    PRSearls's Avatar
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    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    I strongly agree with GrumpyDiver. Calibrating and profiling your monitor is probably the most important single thing you can do to get a reliable and accurate evaluation of your images on-screen. There are a number of hardware products that will do this at various prices. I use xRite and have found their offerings accurate and easy to use (XRitePhoto.com). I have no connection with them other than being a happy customer that uses several of their products in a color managed workflow from exposure through final print.

    Paul S

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    benm's Avatar
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    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    Thanks, fellas. What you say makes sense.

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    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    Anyone familiar with the Mac's built-in program called ColorSync? It looks like it is used to calibrate the monitor. What I would like to know is if this is a substitute for calibration with an external device like an X-Rite, or similar. And if not, why not. Thanks.
    Hi Ben

    Colorsync is not a calibrating package. Colorsync is the name given to the colour management system (cms) software inside the Mac OS. I think the Windows equivalent is called ICM, or some such.

    As you seem to have discovered, there's a tool as part of display preferences that enables you to calibrate and colour profile the display 'by eye'. It works as well as any such packages, and is far better than nothing. I have pro photographer colleagues who will use nothing else. Because profiling the monitor creates a monitor profile that is used by the cms that maybe where you got the association with Colorsync.

    Anyway, I agree with the others here. If you want to profile your monitor objectively, get one of the newer Xrite devices. They work really well.

    Mind you, the weakness in the chain may be less the colour profiling than your monitor. Laptop monitors are notorious for relatively poor colour and, I'm afraid. Apple laptops don't seem to be any better than any other in that regard.

    Cheers

    Tim

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    In line with this discussion on calibrating your system, Tom Ang stated in his book Advanced Digital Photography, Revised Edition:

    ...it is a good idea to consider the features of ideal viewing conditions, if only to realize how far your own conditions fail to reach them. Walls should be painted white or a mid-tone neutral gray. Curtains should not be coored, so they block light without filtering it. Ambient light levels in the room should be constant throughout the day, and preferably only bright enough to find your way around the room. The monitor should be hooded against local lights such as desk-lamps. Away from the monitor, prints should be viewed in standard daylight-viewing booths.

    Considering all that was stated, does anyone edit their photos in conditions other than what was stated above and does anyone edit and process photos late at night in a well lit or darkened room?

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    John - my editing computer is set up in a basement room with neutral walls and fairly decent lighting (i.e. not too bright), so I don't need the hooded monitor. I do use a calibrated and profiled IPS screen, so I am good there too. I print generally print my own on a colour managed, professional printer.

    I started my colour photography in the darkroom, many years ago, so I know all about finalizing the colours under approrpriate lighting conditions. Things sure are a lot easier today with the tools available in the digital darkroom.

    First of all, let me disagree with a couple of things that Tom seemsto be saying.

    1. Darkened room - That comes from the old view that comes from the CRT screen days. The prevelent theory in the "old" days was that staring at a bright screen all day long would lead to eye strain, so 20 or 25 years ago, people working in CAD and other similar work tended work in conditions very much in the way that is being suggested.

    The other advantage is that in a darkened room, we could turn down the gain of the monitor to the point where the screen had more or less the same intensity as the print coming out of the printer. With the introduction of LCD displays, this is no longer the case; they can't be turned down that low and we need to use different techniques to ensure that we get our prints to match the brightness we see on our screens. Essentially it involves a bit of trial and error using test prints until the reuslt look right, and then reusing those settings for subsequent prints.

    2. The standard daylight viewing booth is also a standard approach, but it too is a flawed. A print should be viewed / assessed in the same light that it will be viewed under. What a viewing booth does is to present a very specific standard colour temperature and light intensity, so that two different people viewing a print, piece of clothing, paint chip, etc. are working to the same standard. Something that looks great in the booth can look terrible in daylight or artifical lighting condtions. Metamerism is simply something we have to live with and deal with as best we can.

    Reality is far different; a print (unless it is hung in a gallery with carefully controlled lighting) will be viewed under varying light sources at varying intensities, so we need to manage those tradeoffs to get something that works for us. That is what a colour managed workflow is all about; it at least gives us a consistent output that can be tweaked to meet the actual requirements.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Calibrating Mac laptop with ColorSync

    Manfred,

    Thanks for responding. It's always good to get someone else's take on proposed work methods. I've worked with spectrodensitometers in the past and have read many articles about eye fatigue, surrounding color influence on hues under analysis, so Tom Ang's comments were very interesting and I wondered how in depth photographers took preparing their surroundings when calibrating their systems.

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