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Author Topic: Lost in the color management forest..  (Read 1845 times)
KittyQuig
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« on: October 09, 2009, 01:39:19 PM »
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Hi LL People. I am a print graphic designer with over 13 years experience, but for the past few years, I've been working rather piece-meal, from home. Point is, right now, I don't feel super knowledgeable about the technology, since my days have been filled more heavily with things other than computers and software, although I do what I can to stay up to date. Anyway...

Last year, it was time to upgrade my monitor. Costco had the Dell 3007 WFP-HC for $1,300, so I made the plunge thinking this was the only way I would be able to justify a 30", since the other I'd consider (Apple Cinema Display) was 500 bucks more. Well, two print jobs in, I'm leary about the color. The color is just too intense, too saturated. I've tried some basic calibrating within the Mac OS, but I'm still not sure I'm where I need to be.

It first came to my attention when I was working on a book with mostly solid teal cover. I had a damned time getting my color laser to come close to what I was trying to produce. Also, I was working in some areas with very low color coverage (for example 10% blue of some sort) that would print out basically greenish grey. Maybe that is just the nature of such low color percentages, though,

So, Im looking for a solution and I know so little about this. I never had this problem before when I was working for a corporation with Production Managers who handled the press side of things. I just did my design work on the in-house computers (which usually always looked "good enough") and the most of the print jobs came back looking fine colorwise.

So, I've considered keeping the Dell and just getting some sort of colorimeter or spectrometer device and color management software.

I've considered passing on the Dell 3007 to family and taking the plunge to some other monitor with a better reputation for color professionals, like the Lacie or the Eizo's, but in this scenario, I can't see that monitor being a 30" due to cost and that means I'd be replacing my 30" with something more like a 24" which bums me out a little... to have to physically downsize.

I've considered keeping the Dell and getting something much smaller to sit next to it, that has a great color management reputation.

Downside to any of the new monitor solutions, is I think I would STILL need to spend the money to get some kind of color management device and accompanying software.

Is there any sort of comparison chart anywhere, that compares color management hardware devices, monitors and color control software?

Do I need some software to hack into my video card to tune down the brilliance?

I need to decide what device to buy and what software to buy assuming I need that as well. Im willing to spend to get a right and reasonable solution, but Im hardly made of money.

Thanks so much in advance,
Kathryn

Im on an Intel Mac Tower (Quad-core) with NVIDIA card and a MacBook Pro 17" all purchased less than a year ago.
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jerryrock
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2009, 01:59:46 PM »
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You definitely need a colorimeter as a first step in your color management workflow. The two most popular on the market are the DataColor Spyder3 and the Xrite ColorMunki. Either will serve you well. The next point I would like to make is that you are not going to produce accurate color using a laser printer. It is just he nature of the technology which better lends itself to CMYK output using Postscript3 compatibility. You are using 4 toner colors to produce all hues. Blues are especially difficult to reproduce accurately. The software you use will also make a difference. Programs such as Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress are more suited for publication layout and CMYK press.

Instead of a color laser printer, I use the Xerox Phaser at home to produce brochures and flyers. The solid ink technology it uses is basically wax that is heated and sprayed like an ink jet resulting in more accurate color rendition and photorealistic output.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 02:01:19 PM by jerryrock » Logged

Gerald J Skrocki
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2009, 03:23:48 PM »
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Quote from: KittyQuig
Hi LL People. I am a print graphic designer with over 13 years experience, but for the past few years, I've been working rather piece-meal, from home. Point is, right now, I don't feel super knowledgeable about the technology, since my days have been filled more heavily with things other than computers and software, although I do what I can to stay up to date. Anyway...

Last year, it was time to upgrade my monitor. Costco had the Dell 3007 WFP-HC for $1,300, so I made the plunge thinking this was the only way I would be able to justify a 30", since the other I'd consider (Apple Cinema Display) was 500 bucks more. Well, two print jobs in, I'm leary about the color. The color is just too intense, too saturated. I've tried some basic calibrating within the Mac OS, but I'm still not sure I'm where I need to be.

It first came to my attention when I was working on a book with mostly solid teal cover. I had a damned time getting my color laser to come close to what I was trying to produce. Also, I was working in some areas with very low color coverage (for example 10% blue of some sort) that would print out basically greenish grey. Maybe that is just the nature of such low color percentages, though,

So, Im looking for a solution and I know so little about this. I never had this problem before when I was working for a corporation with Production Managers who handled the press side of things. I just did my design work on the in-house computers (which usually always looked "good enough") and the most of the print jobs came back looking fine colorwise.

So, I've considered keeping the Dell and just getting some sort of colorimeter or spectrometer device and color management software.

I've considered passing on the Dell 3007 to family and taking the plunge to some other monitor with a better reputation for color professionals, like the Lacie or the Eizo's, but in this scenario, I can't see that monitor being a 30" due to cost and that means I'd be replacing my 30" with something more like a 24" which bums me out a little... to have to physically downsize.

I've considered keeping the Dell and getting something much smaller to sit next to it, that has a great color management reputation.

Downside to any of the new monitor solutions, is I think I would STILL need to spend the money to get some kind of color management device and accompanying software.

Is there any sort of comparison chart anywhere, that compares color management hardware devices, monitors and color control software?

Do I need some software to hack into my video card to tune down the brilliance?

I need to decide what device to buy and what software to buy assuming I need that as well. Im willing to spend to get a right and reasonable solution, but Im hardly made of money.

Thanks so much in advance,
Kathryn

Im on an Intel Mac Tower (Quad-core) with NVIDIA card and a MacBook Pro 17" all purchased less than a year ago.

Kathryn,

You need a whole education in colour management from the get-go. Start doing it the right way - buy some knowledge, read it and then make choices. For starters, you may wish to buy the Schewe-Reichmann video download "From Camera to Print" - there is a fair bit about colour management in there you need to know (and for today they have a 25% sale going on downloads). But you need to go beyond this because you are working on Prepress. So you need "Real World Color Management" by Fraser. Murphy & Bunting, because this deals with a lot of about pre-press you won't find in the more usual RGB~Inkjet-oriented materials.

Once you've read/watched what you need to know in those sources, you can begin to relate the equipment you have to the software and processes you need to acquire. If I were you, I wouldn't consider spending another cent on hardware until after learning about the kind of colour management you need, because you'll want to see how far you can drive what you already own.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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BobDavid
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2009, 03:49:52 PM »
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X-Rite, makers of Color Munki, also have a monitor calibration system that's fairly inexpensive. If memory serves me well, it includes a colorimeter and software. I wouldn't bother with the Color Munki, since you're probably not going to be making ICC paper profiles. If you want a your monitor to match how an image will look as a printed piece, you'll need to invest in an inkjet printer, like an Epson R2880 which is relatively inexpensive. Problem with the R2880 is that it takes tiny in cartridges, so the cost per ml is high. I wold actually opt for a bigger machine, like the Espon 3880. Yes, the front-end cost is higher, but the 80ml ink cartridges are a lot more cost effective and much more convenient as you won't be running out of ink every five minutes.
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Czornyj
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2009, 04:55:54 PM »
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Try to gain some knowledge first - you can change the gear later, but first learn how to use it. Like others I also recommend "Real World Color Management", you can also find a lot of information in the internet:
http://www.outbackphoto.com/myforum/showthread.php?tid=8

Dell 3007 is a wide gamut panel, so you must install the ICC profile in OS Preferences, and use color managed applications to get porper colors. You can download the profile from Dell website.

When printing on a laser printer you also need the the ICC profile of that outpur device - the CMYK values you're working with in graphics software correspond to an offset press CMYK color space, that is different than a CMYK color space of a laser printer. Some laser and solid ink printers like Xerox Phaser series may also have offset CMYK emulation modes.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 04:58:01 PM by Czornyj » Logged

Raw shooter
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2009, 09:23:51 PM »
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Quote from: MarkDS
Kathryn,

You need a whole education in colour management from the get-go. Start doing it the right way - buy some knowledge, read it and then make choices. For starters, you may wish to buy the Schewe-Reichmann video download "From Camera to Print" - there is a fair bit about colour management in there you need to know (and for today they have a 25% sale going on downloads). But you need to go beyond this because you are working on Prepress. So you need "Real World Color Management" by Fraser. Murphy & Bunting, because this deals with a lot of about pre-press you won't find in the more usual RGB~Inkjet-oriented materials.

Once you've read/watched what you need to know in those sources, you can begin to relate the equipment you have to the software and processes you need to acquire. If I were you, I wouldn't consider spending another cent on hardware until after learning about the kind of colour management you need, because you'll want to see how far you can drive what you already own.

Excellent post.  I would second this. Your experience can only help you learn basic color management - but you simply have to pay that price.  Your monitor is extremely good and it is not the problem in your workflow.  
The videos are a good way to start.  You will fully understand the whole process soon and will really enjoy the experience.
Best of luck.
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2009, 12:31:58 AM »
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Kathryn:  There are several people here MUCH more qualified than I am to talk about colour management, so I'll just take a second to say welcome to the list!

Mike.
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KittyQuig
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2009, 02:58:26 PM »
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Thanks to everyone who took the time and point me in the right direction. And yeah, I definitely need that 'education.' This is something I've been wanting, but not knowing exactly how to go about getting it!

I bought the video, and even though a lot of what I've seen so far is about fine art photo printing (which isn't my primary focus) they are now getting into the calibrating stuff that I'm interested in. Plus, I still find it interesting, since I do have a prosumer camera, so the info IS useful. I really like the video format. It is like taking a class without actually going through the rigamarole of a "class"

I actually bought the Fraser book earlier this year and felt like: "Holy Sh**t" maybe I'll just run without any profiles and such and hope for the best. (har) Maybe after some of the videos,  the book will seem more manageable.

Anyway -- thanks, I'll post again when I get a colorimeter device.

Kathryn
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