1. [...] I don't think I could easily make a cardboard hood any bigger that wouldn't sag and look worse.. [...]
You are right, but I use black Styrofoam 81/2" deep, coted on the inside with thick black felt, stretched around and leaving the vents open. For the puck, you have to cut a trap. As I said, it does still not look professional at all. So because of my clients seeing that, I'll maybe go for a NEC hood.
2. [...] there is a point of marginal returns for every type of photography. The 1i2 appears to be fine for my needs. I use the Gretag color checker as a reference and so far I'm pleased. [...]
I agree and do also use the CC, the simple classic one.
[...] If I was doing product photography that included different color cars, fabrics, and the such.. then my "good enough" needs would tighten up. I'd look closer. [...]
That's the thing, catalogs.
Still, I have no problems on the capture side. It's just that I want to be able to see what colors are in the file. As long as I don't change anything in post, and normally I do have WB and all the colors right, and indeed don't change anything, I am fine. But if, for example, while softproofing, I have to tweak the colors etc., without a reliable screen, I am working like a blind. And this is a problem even for skin tones...
I'd stop worrying so much. You have a recommended puck. Many pros are using the exact same puck and SVII software and are happy.
I think, I found out where my confusion originated. In the SpectraView II FAQ on NEC's Website it says that there is a European version of their monitors, which sells with a software by basICColor.
Personally I'd be more worried about using a relatively new monitor.. though I hear it's performing brilliantly.. [...]
So maybe I should get one of the Uxi2's? They are cheaper now.
3. "Fine Art" doesn't necessarily require accurate colors either. It's far more important to get balanced colors first..[...]
I agree, after the Color Balance comes the accuracy of colors. I do my digital capture in Raw and try to do close to nothing, or as little as possible in post, pretty much the same way as if I would do when I do 4x5 slides, for example.
[...] that last 1% of accuracy on your monitor. [...]
well till now, with the monitors I had, it was more in the 50% or worse.
Personally.. I think you're going to be blown away with the NEC's and their simplicity and ease of setup.. [...]
I can't wait to see. I think you are right.
You're cautious now after your latest experience..
Yes, not saving money in the beginning would have saved me quites some in the end.
but don't let it make you paranoid..
I start to have to remind myself of that lately.
Thank you Steve for all your comments and suggestions.