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Author Topic: A classics revisited: My prints turn out too dark!  (Read 21542 times)
Nino Loss
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2010, 08:04:41 PM »
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[...] All of this of course assumes that your display is properly colour-managed, and that is why I raised the question about the specifics of how this gentleman's display is managed.[...]

I hope I could answer this in reply to your last post.

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He's posted stuff on three different threads, perhaps because he doesn't know that all of these problems may well be related, and it should all be brought under the same microscope in the same place. Then we may begin to get somewhere.

or, maybe I have nonetheless a little bit of experience with threads. Discussions usually tend to drift away one way on one aspect. I correctly assumed that you would notice the other threads I started simultaneously. Also did I crossreference them explicitly when it I felt necessary. Each thread underlines one particular angle, or lets call it a different symptom, of a possible common problem, "My pictures print to dark" and "colors are way off".

regards
nino
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 08:06:27 PM by Nino Loss » Logged
Nino Loss
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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2010, 08:49:03 PM »
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[...]
Now, how does the monitor match the brightness of the print paper. When you look at a print, you are seeing reflected light, so are we looking at the print under candlelight or bright sunlight? OK, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point. [...]

But isn't it precisely for that reason that we have contractual standardized viewing conditions
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Then the display - what is the ambient lighting environment in which you are looking at display brightness?


don't we have standards for that too?

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Ambient environment affects how bright the image looks regardless of the cd/m2 setting, and as someone mentioned,

the PA241w has a compensation function for that (not sure though how that works)

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the colour of the surround within the image window.

in an industry standard situation that should not be a problem either

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And what do you think makes best practice - to have a different display parameter and therefore display profile for each different paper you use, or have one properly calibrated and profiled display set-up, and use the correct printer profile and corresponding soft-proofing for each different paper? I can tell you the industry-standard answer to that question, but I think you know it - and for those who don't - it's the latter.

on the other hand, things could get better, and technology advance also. 3D Luts (possible device and paper simulation) and one click change between calibration/profile...

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None of this is answering the OPs question about why he's getting the kind of mismatch he mentioned in post #1 and what he needs to do to fix it - correctly. So if his problem isn't solved yet, I would suggest we revert to the basic question.

Thanks Mark. My situation is partially better. Partially because, regarding one paper, turning off "SPC" and having my monitor visually match that paper white, gives me now good results for brightness highlight and shadows, not so good for color. Another paper though, consistently gives me colors that are considerably off and desaturated compared to the soft proof. I tried very hard both approaches described here, yours with independently calibrated and profiled monitor with SPC tuned on, and "tho_mas"' approach with visual match of white point and luminance and SPC unchecked. I tried and tweak again and again. All this is with the manufacturers profiles. I will use custom profiles (once I'll know where to send the color targets). Nonetheless I should be able to make things a little bit better, but I can't, for CIFA Baryta Photographique particularly on 3880 K3VM nothing helped so far?!


regards

nino
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2010, 08:57:03 PM »
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Andrew,

Are the prints too dark no matter how and where you view them?

You are right! That is what I wrote in the OP. On my desktop viewing booth dimmed to match the screen, on full power 2x3m large viewing wall, under the 4700K and the 3600K Solux spots, and where ever in the house and on the terrace: too dark.


EDIT: viewing booths are 5000K
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 11:38:03 PM by Nino Loss » Logged
Nino Loss
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2010, 09:01:56 PM »
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Chas,

Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding the issue, but with simulate paper color on, did you actually follow through and adjust the softproofed view to match the non-softproofed view on your screen?  It usually takes some curves or levels adjustments.
I did. That's the normal procedure.  I usually open a duplicate. Turn on soft proof on that one. Do the actual soft proof, meaning the adjustments... Print. Compare it with the screen. That's how I found out that the print does not look like the screen Wink

regards

nino
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2010, 09:09:00 PM »
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[...] D50 viewing booth to eye up prints. Behind my monitor there is a big shade (grey painted) and behind that shade there is a D50 light ... etc. pp. It certainly doesn't meet all criteria of the ISO standards but I'd say it's quite good.

I think my darkroom does meet the standards.

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Surprisingly my prints look good (i.e. as intended).
When I use soft proof only, mine don't.
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Colors match very good, gradation from the blacks to the whites and overall brightness is very close to what I see on the monitor. And I am quite pedantic when it comes to my prints...

me too, that's why I continue to rely heavily on hard proofs. To what extant custom profiles will change the quality of the match, I am not overly optimistic...

nino
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 09:12:21 PM by Nino Loss » Logged
tho_mas
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« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2010, 04:20:59 AM »
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White point: function of paper white (BTW I normaly use OBA free papers)
Gamma: 1.8
Brightness: 110-120
Contrast: Monitor default (around 375:1 for these conditions. I hope that this default means minimum neutral black. High Delta E numbers I get for the blacks might suggest otherwise??)
the latter got my attention again.

You should definitely not go for the "deepest" black, but (if you like the contrast) you should go for the deepest neutral black.
Otherwise you can get color cast in the blacks.
If your software doesn't allow you to switch from "deepest black" to "deepest neutral black" (or whatever it is called) you should set a black level slightly above the generic black point (0.2 or 0.25 or what... I'd go for 0.3, but you already knew that).

The next thing that comes to my mind is that you might have a weak measurement device. Unless you use one of those $$$$$$ Minolta spectrometers all the measurment devices have issues to measure dark tonal values accurately (which is, BTW, another reason to slightly boost the black level). If your DeltaE numbers are within reasonable values all over the tonal range but not in the dark tonal values this is certainly the first issue to adress.
So I'd say:
- calibrate for the deepest neutral black or set an appropriate numeric value for the black level
- if things still look bad maybe loan a second colorimeter to run a comparision (if possible a DTP94 as they are usually not that bad in dark tonal values)

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Ambient environment affects how bright the image looks regardless of the cd/m2 setting, and as someone mentioned
the PA241w has a compensation function for that (not sure though how that works)
are you using this ambient light compensation? Turn it off!




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digitaldog
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« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2010, 09:37:18 AM »
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Andrew,

You are right! That is what I wrote in the OP. On my desktop viewing booth dimmed to match the screen, on full power 2x3m large viewing wall, under the 4700K and the 3600K Solux spots, and where ever in the house and on the terrace: too dark.
EDIT: viewing booths are 5000K

IF they look too dark everywhere, then lets move away from the display for the moment and see if this is true for all images (even those reference images that are known to have ideal RGB values) because this points to a color management problem elsewhere, like the ICC profile, how its being used, the printer etc. My suggestion would be to download a reference image, print it as you print other work and see if its dark. I have a Printer Test File on my tips and tricks web page, Bill Atkinsion has a great series on his download page (http://homepage.mac.com/billatkinson/FileSharing2.html) and Thomas Holm has a series of excellent images at http://www.pixl.dk/download/
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Andrew Rodney
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tho_mas
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« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2010, 04:55:31 AM »
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Whilst Nino goes through the testing with the reference images Andrew suggested I wanted to come back to softproofing as I am finding some of the suggestions a bit misleading.
I think the "standards" are clear and you can look them up in several publications.
Still - we all are facing the problem of a mistmatch of colormetric measured values and visual perception… and also the problem of measurement errors.
Why don't you simply use D50 for the monitor? Or the measured "ambient light" value of your viewing booth? Because it doesn't look accurate to your eyes.
Finally you won't get profiles with a "good" reverse look up everywhere; often you get a profile that is good (or even perfect) for printing but not tweaked for accurate softproofing.

What puzzles me in this context is that people recommend to get a visuell match of monitor and paper but at the same time recommend to view the softproof abs.col. on the monitor… i.e. to activate the simulation of paper color that effectively changes the monitor white + luminance. Simply doesn't make sense at all.
Either the monitor matches prior to activating the softproof or after activating the softproof. Both at the same time is a contradiction in itself.

Now as to the claim "simulation of paper white should match better" …
"Simulate paper color" means that the softproofed image goes back to the monitor with abs.col. RI.
The abs.col. RI does not use a dedicated table in the profile. It uses the rel.col. table but takes the media white point into account (which is an approximation anyway).
Abs.col. RI and rel.col. RI produce identical results when the paper white point is exactly D50 - by definiton.
In turn this means - consequently - when the monitor already matches paper white (i.e. both monitor white and paper white are equalized) there is no reason for the color management to spin the white point further towards the paper white point or to turn the whites darker or anything.
So the "rel.col." method is an accurate color managed workflow. The only downside here is that you actually have to create a separate monitor profile for each paper (or maybe 3: one for warm, one for neutral and one for cold white …). On the other hand you don't have to deal with measurement-errors resp. with the difference of colormetric values and visual perception.

As to the aboved mentioned "industry standards": IMO, if you want to use them you have to set everything to the standards. So for instance a monitor luminance level of 160cd/m2 to meet the 500Lx of the viewing booth.
Now, with a monitor that bright and a softproof that reduces the brightness (according to the, say, L*96 luminance or whatever is stored in the respective paper profile)… the result may also come very close to a match in terms of brightness and contrast. Makes sense. Still begs the question if the colormetric measured paper white really matches visually…
Also let's not forget that the industry standards allow a certain range of color differences, i.e. tolerances. But a difference of 2 DeltaE for the white point is actually inacceptable, even 1 DeltaE is inedible… at least for me (whereas a difference of, say, 4 DeltaE in high saturated, dark blues or so might be almost indiscernible).
The issue here, IMO, a monitor that is adusted to meet the required white point and luminance level is actually not exactly appropriate to edit images - because working without the simulation of (any) paper color it will be too bright.
Me I feel much better to edit my images at a luminance level that matches paper white from the very beginning (which, again, refers to a "rel.col" workflow).

So, to me, it doesn't make sense to calibrate the display to match paper white visually and to set the softroof to simulate paper color at the same time and I am curious how you eliminate this contradiction…?
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2010, 07:48:48 AM »
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IF they look too dark everywhere, then lets move away from the display for the moment and see if this is true for all images (even those reference images that are known to have ideal RGB values) because this points to a color management problem elsewhere, like the ICC profile, how its being used, the printer etc. My suggestion would be to download a reference image, print it as you print other work and see if its dark. I have a Printer Test File on my tips and tricks web page, Bill Atkinsion has a great series on his download page (http://homepage.mac.com/billatkinson/FileSharing2.html) and Thomas Holm has a series of excellent images at http://www.pixl.dk/download/

Whether I set the monitor to D50 or, to my visual match of a specific paper white, the reference images turn out darker and cooler. I tried 110-120cd/m2 and again 80cd/m2. Also with soft proof turned on (Rel.col and respectively SPC or not) everything looks washed out on the screen, compared to the much more saturated and contrasted print. Basically, and to put it in more scientific terms, I would say that the print looks good, not so the screen. In regard to colors, the skin tones on the print look much more natural than those of the screen. Generally, as mentioned, the screen looks like through a warming/yellow filter. So I tried to go up to UGRA standard 5800K, which did not produce a better screen to print match, neither did way to blue D65.



« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 07:50:53 AM by Nino Loss » Logged
tho_mas
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« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2010, 08:11:48 AM »
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does this look as supposed to when you open it in photoshop?

edit: and if I rembember correctly you are running 3 monitors side by side... is this correct?
I'd switch to a single monitor setup (with your NEC) until this issue is fixed.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 08:14:46 AM by tho_mas » Logged
Nino Loss
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« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2010, 08:41:23 AM »
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does this look as supposed to when you open it in photoshop?

yes. I can easily see a difference between the steps.

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edit: and if I rembember correctly you are running 3 monitors side by side... is this correct?
I'd switch to a single monitor setup (with your NEC) until this issue is fixed.

done
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tho_mas
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« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2010, 08:45:19 AM »
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yes. I can easily see a difference between the steps.
and they all look neutral... no color cast?
how does this image look printed? (or: as you alredy have printed one of those test images... how does the grey scale looks like in the print?)
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Nino Loss
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« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2010, 09:12:15 AM »
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and they all look neutral... no color cast?
how does this image look printed? (or: as you alredy have printed one of those test images... how does the grey scale looks like in the print?)

All the grey scales I printed do not seem to have any visually assessable color cast. (I am still at D50, 1.8, 120.)


Edit: No color cast on the screen either
« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 09:17:52 AM by Nino Loss » Logged
tho_mas
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« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2010, 09:20:32 AM »
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All the grey scales I printed do not seem to have any visually assessable color cast. (I am still at D50, 1.8, 120.)
did I get this right...?
- the greyscale looks equidistant on the monitor and on the print.
- the greyscale also doesn't show color cast neither on the print nor on the monitor?
(okay, just now saw your "edit"...)

So the yellowish cast you were talking about is only in colors ... not in the greyscale?
And at the same time your monitor is too dark, even if you set it as low as 80cd/m2?

could you briefly outline your workflow when calibrating the display?
How do you make the black calibration of the measurment device (which device are you using)?
Could you attach your monitor profile here (as you can't attach files withthe suffix "icc" resp. "icm" just rename the suffix to "txt")?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 09:24:40 AM by tho_mas » Logged
Nino Loss
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« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2010, 09:25:44 AM »
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did I get this right...?
- the greyscale looks equidistant on the monitor and on the print.
- the greyscale also doesn't show color cast neither on the print nor on the monitor?

right.

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So the yellowish cast you were talking about is only in colors ... not in the greyscale?
right.
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And at the same time your monitor is too dark, even if you set it as low as 80cd/m2?

No, the print is too dark, even when I set the monitor to 80cd/m2.
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tho_mas
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« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2010, 09:27:36 AM »
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No, the print is too dark, even when I set the monitor to 80cd/m2.
sure... confused - sorry!

while we're at it:
do you have the impression that the monitor is too bright all over the tonal range... or rather that the dark and mid tonal values are too bright (compared to the print, of course) wheras the white is okay?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 09:30:59 AM by tho_mas » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2010, 09:35:17 AM »
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Why don't you simply use D50 for the monitor? Or the measured "ambient light" value of your viewing booth? Because it doesn't look accurate to your eyes.

I totally agree! Its why in the old CRT days, calibrating them to D50 didn’t produce a match to a so called D50 viewing condition. Its why I start the process at D65 then adjust the values to get a visual match.
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Finally you won't get profiles with a "good" reverse look up everywhere; often you get a profile that is good (or even perfect) for printing but not tweaked for accurate softproofing.
The system is far from ideal. I do adjust the white point to produce a match with the soft proof on.
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What puzzles me in this context is that people recommend to get a visuell match of monitor and paper but at the same time recommend to view the softproof abs.col. on the monitor… i.e. to activate the simulation of paper color that effectively changes the monitor white + luminance. Simply doesn't make sense at all.
Its generally more about getting a match with a better contrast ratio, especially today where we have LCDs that far exceed that of a print (although better solutions do allow us to control this which is very useful). IOW, the Absolute intent is more useful for showing us a white that has a white and black that doesn’t assume white being the whitest the display can produce and black that is a black hole in terms of the display. I find that it helps to do this because of the big disconnect in display versus paper white once a white point has been adjusted. Note too, there is no reason why, with a good display system like the NEC SpectraView that you cannot make multiple calibration targets and associated profiles which are loaded on the fly. Other solutions kind of force you into a white point and contrast ratio that is supposed to be good for all papers and profiles. Not ideal. Going a step farther, NEC’s newer units allow us to load an actual output profile into their software for a creation of this “more ideal, soft proof per product” concept. But as I said, all this is still far from a totally ideal situation for soft proofing.
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Either the monitor matches prior to activating the softproof or after activating the softproof.
The goal is after. Prior, I’m editing the image visually to look as good as it can, in this RGB working space preview. Its my master that will have to undergo some editing while in soft proofing mode, on adjustment layers, based on each paper profile, the rendering intent I decide that image needs etc.
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The abs.col. RI does not use a dedicated table in the profile. It uses the rel.col. table but takes the media white point into account (which is an approximation anyway).
Abs.col. RI and rel.col.
Considering the only differences are the white rendering, is there a reason you think two tables would be necessary?
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As to the aboved mentioned "industry standards": IMO, if you want to use them you have to set everything to the standards.
Standards like this are useful when they work and when people need to work in a collaborative environment. Not everyone does. They use different viewing booths, different display manufacturers etc. In a true collaborative environment, a true reference environment, even the exact display make and model, the same Colorimeters (ideally the same lot of Colorimeters) along with a very high grade reference device would be used. Any shift from these items will cause issues with matching.
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Also let's not forget that the industry standards allow a certain range of color differences, i.e. tolerances. But a difference of 2 DeltaE for the white point is actually inacceptable, even 1 DeltaE is inedible… at least for me (whereas a difference of, say, 4 DeltaE in high saturated, dark blues or so might be almost indiscernible).
And this is easily a delta one can find just by measuring color in the center and then the edges of even a good quality display. As I said, this is all far from ideal!
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So, to me, it doesn't make sense to calibrate the display to match paper white visually and to set the softroof to simulate paper color at the same time and I am curious how you eliminate this contradiction…?
It makes sense if whoever is doing this results in that visual match or the elusive and often difficult goal of WYSIWYG. And in the end, an emissive display and a reflective print will never perfectly match. We hope that we can view a soft proof and with maybe one or two prints, get our work done without any surprises. Soft proofing is just that, a goal in avoiding as much expensive hard proofing as possible. It could be better. Its not close to perfect but it seems many users who struggle with it and get close find it useful.
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Andrew Rodney
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tho_mas
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« Reply #37 on: September 06, 2010, 10:03:10 AM »
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Andrew - thanks for the in depth reply. Much appreciated!
Finally... we agree that there is a lot to "tweak" and there are many things to consider WRT to a "match" or "mismatch".
So even if you set everything to the recommended "standards" you will not automatically get a match.

I do adjust the white point to produce a match with the soft proof on.
Now that makes sense! So you still have to adjust your display for each paper...
But this is basically the same as adjusting the white point without softproof and leave "simulate paper color" unchecked.
I prefer a display that is more neutral for image editing without softproof enabled... so I prefer the "rel.col" method.
So one way or another... I think we agree here.

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The abs.col. RI does not use a dedicated table in the profile. It uses the rel.col. table but takes the media white point into account (which is an approximation anyway).
Considering the only differences are the white rendering, is there a reason you think two tables would be necessary?
no, not at all! I just wanted to point out that there is no "magic" (or so) in abs.col. ... rather that it is just adjusting the white point. And in the end result there is no difference if I adjust the monitor towards the paper white without softproof eanbled (and consequently leave simulation of paper color unchecked). I was referring to the statement abs.col. "should match better". It can match as good... but not better.

« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 10:08:01 AM by tho_mas » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #38 on: September 06, 2010, 12:22:21 PM »
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Now that makes sense! So you still have to adjust your display for each paper...

Sometimes (depends on the paper of course, I usually only work with two) but the NEC SpectraView makes loading different target calibrations and their associated ICC profile a one button affair.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #39 on: September 06, 2010, 01:00:56 PM »
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Sometimes (depends on the paper of course, I usually only work with two) but the NEC SpectraView makes loading different target calibrations and their associated ICC profile a one button affair.
I think I have to take a look at one of those NEC displays and the said feature at Photokina (or elsewhere). Sounds handy.
I actually only use one monitor profile. As my prints are being made in a lab (C-prints, FUJI matt) and I literally always use the same paper it's easy to handle for me. When I am (occasionally) printing on Innova Fiba ultra smooth (which is high white, semi gloss) or when I have to prepare files for offset printing (coated paper) I simply switch to a slightly higher luminance (i.e. from 100cd/m2 to 115cd/m2 here ... without paper simulation).
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