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Author Topic: Is The P221W Still Worthwhile?  (Read 7107 times)
BruceGordon
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« on: November 09, 2010, 12:29:24 AM »
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I'm currently running a horrid 24" gaming monitor and while people on this forum and using Colour Eyes Display Pro has helped I'm still wasting Ink.

I'm considering a NEC P221W monitor as it's price point is just at my pain threshold (I'm resigned to not buying the Lens I WANT this year) at $425Cdn.

Is this still a good monitor given the low cost or are there better solutions in this price?  I know it doesn't have the fancy technology as the x90 series but I'm not looking for absolute perfection just something that can get me to a more consistent dE and I can drive to a lower brightness than my super duper 20,000:1 Samsung 2493HM.

My puck is a Spyder 2 and I have a relatively recent ATI VideoCard on a Windows XP Pro OS.

Will I get any perceived benefit using the downloaded NEC SVii software over CEDP or it it just convenience?
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2010, 07:49:49 AM »
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Check whether the monitor can be hardware-calibrated using DDC. For calibration/profiling software I recommend BasicColor Display Version 4.1.22 - as well as NEC's own Spectraview, as these are most likely to use DDC with NEC displays, if the display allows it. Spyder II was never reputed to be a great colorimeter. You may wish to change to Spyder 3, Colormunki, XRite DTP-94 if you can find one, or i1 Display 2.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2010, 08:20:53 AM »
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I'm considering a NEC P221W monitor as it's price point is just at my pain threshold (I'm resigned to not buying the Lens I WANT this year) at $425Cdn.
Is this still a good monitor given the low cost or are there better solutions in this price? 

In your price point yes, its the entry level “smart monitor” which should serve you well but DO get their mated software and colorimeter if you don’t own one. Then you’re set.
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Andrew Rodney
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BruceGordon
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2010, 06:18:09 PM »
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Thanks Andrew - That's what I wanted to know.

I was looking at a Dell U2711 (they have a good sale on now at Dell Canada) but I understand that though they are wide gamut the LUTs in the monitor is not directly accessible by any calibration software.

My wife will be happy to know her monitor will now be larger than mine  Shocked

Mark,

The P221 uses 10-bit LUTs I believe that are addressable by the software.

I believe CEDP will work and I will give that a try first with the Spyder 2 which will eventually get replaced.

It seems that the SV II software & puck from NEC comes at about a $250 US additional cost on top of the monitor.  If I can get by without it then great.  If I need jus the software then I can get it for $89US as a download and when I need it I should be able to find a better puck used.
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2010, 06:21:35 PM »
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I believe CEDP will work and I will give that a try first with the Spyder 2 which will eventually get replaced.

It seems that the SV II software & puck from NEC comes at about a $250 US additional cost on top of the monitor.  If I can get by without it then great.  If I need jus the software then I can get it for $89US as a download and when I need it I should be able to find a better puck used.

IF you get a SpectraView, you want to drive it with their software, no question, skip CEDP. Just budget that extra $89 for the NEC software.
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Andrew Rodney
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2010, 07:52:05 PM »
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Thanks Andrew - That's what I wanted to know.

I was looking at a Dell U2711 (they have a good sale on now at Dell Canada) but I understand that though they are wide gamut the LUTs in the monitor is not directly accessible by any calibration software.

My wife will be happy to know her monitor will now be larger than mine  Shocked

Mark,

The P221 uses 10-bit LUTs I believe that are addressable by the software.

I believe CEDP will work and I will give that a try first with the Spyder 2 which will eventually get replaced.

It seems that the SV II software & puck from NEC comes at about a $250 US additional cost on top of the monitor.  If I can get by without it then great.  If I need jus the software then I can get it for $89US as a download and when I need it I should be able to find a better puck used.

OK, if it has 10-but LUTs addressable by the software, Andrew is right - skip CEDP (because it will most likely not be able to work with DDC on an NEC display). You then have a choice of Spectraview II or BasicColor Display 4.1.22. I have just been through all of this with my new NEC PA271W and I can give you a few pointers from first-hand experience and various consultations I've had to resolve issues. Spectraview II is fine if all you want are matrix profiles and they are fine if the display is perfectly linearized. The fact is that the display may not be perfectly linearized, so in this case you may want the added accuracy of LUT profiles, which have many more data points with which to characterize the display's behaviour. The version of SpectraviewII which came with my display cannot calculate LUT profiles, only matrix profiles. If that is the case with any version of Spectraview II, and you want the added accuracy of an LUT display profile, check-out BasicColor Display. You don't need to commit to it - you can download a demo, try it and see what it does for you. As for the colorimeter, given that this is not a wide gamut display (i.e. as is the case for most displays it fits closer to sRGB than to ARGB(98) ) you CAN use the Spyder 2, but as I mentioned, from all I've read, there are better products on the market (that said, I personally haven't used one; I did use an XRite DTP-94 which was said to be "best of class" in its day, until I bought this new display which requires a different colorimeter for best results). I would be careful about buying a colorimeter second-hand, unless you have some idea how it's been handled, how old it is, whether its filters are still in good enough condition for accurate profiling, etc. I think you are being sensible starting with the colorimeter you have, see how good the profiles are, and if you feel they could be improved, then consider up-grading it.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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BruceGordon
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2010, 09:59:54 PM »
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... given that this is not a wide gamut display (i.e. as is the case for most displays it fits closer to sRGB than to ARGB(98) ) you CAN use the Spyder 2...
Marc,
I'm finding NEC's site a little confusing with respect to which colour space the various higher end monitors support.  The P221W is the most affordable monitor that they produce that is compatible with SV II and they do list it as being Wide Gamut (96% of aRGB) but other monitors in a slightly larger size (& pricepoint) talk about how they have sRGB support or some % of NTSC.

I appreciate that you and others on this forum do this for a living and with fine art photography the devil is in the details.  I'm just trying to bootstrap myself on a limited budget and am juggling the usual family, lens addiction and lack of time for shooting.  My long term plan is to acquire the skills & tools to be able to pursue my passion full-time when I retire.

I don't expect this to be the final solution but a useable upgrade that will help me take my output to the next level.

Regards,

Bruce
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2010, 10:19:12 PM »
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Marc,
I'm finding NEC's site a little confusing with respect to which colour space the various higher end monitors support.  The P221W is the most affordable monitor that they produce that is compatible with SV II and they do list it as being Wide Gamut (96% of aRGB) but other monitors in a slightly larger size (& pricepoint) talk about how they have sRGB support or some % of NTSC.

I appreciate that you and others on this forum do this for a living and with fine art photography the devil is in the details.  I'm just trying to bootstrap myself on a limited budget and am juggling the usual family, lens addiction and lack of time for shooting.  My long term plan is to acquire the skills & tools to be able to pursue my passion full-time when I retire.

I don't expect this to be the final solution but a useable upgrade that will help me take my output to the next level.

Regards,

Bruce

My error - you are right - it is wide-gamut. All the more reason therefore to move beyond Spyder 2 when you feel the time is right for you to do so. It's always a game of juggling between perceived value-added versus added expenditure of dollars which have competing uses. Don't we all know it!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2010, 08:05:56 AM »
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I'll jump in as a satisfied user of this monitor for almost a year.  It's a fine monitor for those on a limited budget or where space may be a constraint (and you cannot go much bigger).  You do need to use the Spectraview software for profiling it as this is the key design feature.  The puck that NEC supplies with the kit package works fine as does the ColorMunki (I have both as I use the CM for paper profiling); I have obtained similar results from either piece of hardware.  You will need to make the decision based on whether you need the added capability of the ColorMunki (your cost may go up a little if you take that road).  You won't be disappointed in the results.

Alan
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2010, 08:30:57 AM »
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I'll jump in as a satisfied user of this monitor for almost a year.  It's a fine monitor for those on a limited budget or where space may be a constraint (and you cannot go much bigger).  You do need to use the Spectraview software for profiling it as this is the key design feature.  The puck that NEC supplies with the kit package works fine as does the ColorMunki (I have both as I use the CM for paper profiling); I have obtained similar results from either piece of hardware.  You will need to make the decision based on whether you need the added capability of the ColorMunki (your cost may go up a little if you take that road).  You won't be disappointed in the results.

Alan

Alan - if that display is anything like mine, you do not NEED to use Spectraview; the situation is as I described it above. In Bruce's situation, the financially and technically prudent path is "step-by-step" and show me the evidence, which he can do with little risk. To recap where we were: (i) using CEDP with this display is most likely not a great idea - high probability it won't allow DDC communication with the display. But he can test that because he owns the program already. (2) If it cannot perform hardware calibration via DDC, he should avoid using OSD for this purpose (second best, fiddly solution) and use the $89 download of Spectraview II with his Spyder 2.  (3) If the profile verification results average at 1.0 or worse, he could do better by buying BasicColor Display and a more up-to-date colorimeter. That combination will cost him in the range of $350 I expect.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2010, 09:00:03 AM »
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To recap where we were: (i) using CEDP with this display is most likely not a great idea - high probability it won't allow DDC communication with the display.

I wouldn't say it's not a great idea. A more accurate statement would be that for an NEC that supports Spectraview II, it's not the optimal solution but CEDP combined with using the OSD to adjust the RGB channels would produce a decent result (better than Eye One Match or Datacolor's software and on par with BasICColor). My gripe is that if you don't already have CEDP, Spectraview is cheaper and will do a slightly better job since in addition to being able to hit the white point in the monitor LUT (which is essentially what you do when you adjust the RGB settings on the OSD), it can also perform other corrections and put them in the monitor LUT as well.

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(2) If it cannot perform hardware calibration via DDC, he should avoid using OSD for this purpose (second best, fiddly solution) and use the $89 download of Spectraview II with his Spyder 2.

I would not advise using the Spyder 2. As for DDC none of the US NEC screens will work with any DDC solution other than SpectraView II. I don't know about other countries.

Quote
(3) If the profile verification results average at 1.0 or worse, he could do better by buying BasicColor Display and a more up-to-date colorimeter.

You could get a profile verification of 0.3 dE. Profile verification is not an extremely useful tool to judge the accuracy of a colorimeter because the results are relative to what the colorimeter reports and it's safe to assume that the colorimeter is going to agree with itself (unless it's say, a Huey which is extremely inconsistent... then it may not even agree with itself from readings taken a few minutes apart). A colorimeter merely measures input and spits out a number.

Let's say you have a Spyder 2 and your screen is outputting a particular color (and let's also say that this color is correct). The Spyder 2 measures that color and reports it as being incorrect so a correction is made in the profile. Upon verification it measures that color and finds it to be correct. The validation will pass even though it shouldn't have. Even with good colorimeters like the DTP-94, Eye One Display 2, and Spyder 3, this happens ALL the time. These devices are inaccurate when it comes to hitting the proper white point. A difference of 1800ºK between two pucks is not uncommon. Take a Spyder 3, an Eye One Display 2 and a DTP-94 and profile to 6500ºK and you'll get three different versions of 6500ºK. What's more important is that the colorimeter is reporting accurate color relative to the white point and that is something that the Spyder 2 is not good at. It's an inconsistent device.

The original Eye One Display, Sypder 2, and Huey should all be avoided. The DTP-94 is an excellent colorimeter but doesn't do well with wide gamut displays (it would however be my first choice for a display with an sRGB gamut). The Eye One Display 2 and Spyder 3 are much better suited to wider gamut displays.

Cheers, Joe
« Last Edit: November 10, 2010, 09:08:11 AM by shewhorn » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 09:11:49 AM »
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I wouldn't say it's not a great idea. A more accurate statement would be that for an NEC that supports Spectraview II, it's not the optimal solution but CEDP combined with using the OSD to adjust the RGB channels would produce a decent result (better than Eye One Match or Datacolor's software and on par with BasICColor). My gripe is that if you don't already have CEDP, Spectraview is cheaper and will do a slightly better job since in addition to being able to hit the white point in the monitor LUT (which is essentially what you do when you adjust the RGB settings on the OSD), it can also perform other corrections and put them in the monitor LUT as well.

I would not advise using the Spyder 2. As for DDC none of the US NEC screens will work with any DDC solution other than SpectraView II. I don't know about other countries.

You could get a profile verification of 0.3 dE. Profile verification is not an extremely useful tool to judge the accuracy of a colorimeter because the results are relative to what the colorimeter reports and it's safe to assume that the colorimeter is going to agree with itself. A colorimeter merely measures input and spits out a number.

Let's say you have a Spyder 2 and your screen is outputting a particular color (and let's also say that this color is correct). The Spyder 2 measures that color and reports it as being incorrect so a correction is made in the profile. Upon verification it measures that color and finds it to be correct. The validation will pass even though it shouldn't have. Even with good colorimeters like the DTP-94, Eye One Display 2, and Spyder 3, this happens ALL the time. These devices are inaccurate when it comes to hitting the proper white point. A difference of 1800ºK between two pucks is not uncommon. Take a Spyder 3, an Eye One Display 2 and a DTP-94 and profile to 6500ºK and you'll get three different versions of 6500ºK. What's more important is that the colorimeter is reporting accurate color relative to the white point and that is something that the Spyder 2 is not good at. It's an inconsistent device.

The original Eye One Display, Sypder 2, and Huey should all be avoided. The DTP-94 is an excellent colorimeter but doesn't do well with wide gamut displays (it would however be my first choice for a display with an sRGB gamut). The Eye One Display 2 and Spyder 3 are much better suited to wider gamut displays.

Cheers, Joe

Joe,

I'm sorry to contradict you publicly, but Spectraview IS NOT THE ONLY profiling software which communicates with NEC displays via DDC. BasicColor 4.1.22 also does. I have it, been there, done that. And I repeat, if the display is not perfectly linear a LUT profile is technically preferable to a matrix profile; you can create LUT profiles with BasicColor. But Bruce should try the options in the sequence I recommended and see for himself under his requirements and working conditions. I would definitely recommend spending the 89 dollars needed to avoid using OSD controls for calibrating anything. It is always frustrating and after a lot of time fidgeting with these controls you can can come close to equilibrium, but from my experience and that of many others, never bang-on.

You are right about the colorimeters, but again, for anyone who is budget-constrained, best to experiment with the bird in the hand, and then determine the need for the bird in the bush.

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2010, 09:42:18 AM »
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I agree with Joe. As for DDC, its a dicey proposition unless it works flawlessly which often it doesn’t, such that if a display has a mated and designed software package go that route. You’ll end up with a solution that will work into the future with less hair pulling. Its often less expensive to boot. There is nothing inherently better about a LUT vs. Matrix profile in terms of the high bit panel/matted software solutions. Joe’s point about verification are spot on. Its mostly either a feel good setting or in best case, an indication that something terribly wrong happened when you conducted the calibration and profile process.

Bottom line, IF you are getting an NEC smart monitor, make it all that smarter by using the software that was designed from the ground up for calibration and profiling. Less money, integrated support, most likely better future computability etc.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2010, 10:07:43 AM »
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I agree with Joe. As for DDC, its a dicey proposition unless it works flawlessly which often it doesn’t, such that if a display has a mated and designed software package go that route. You’ll end up with a solution that will work into the future with less hair pulling. Its often less expensive to boot. There is nothing inherently better about a LUT vs. Matrix profile in terms of the high bit panel/matted software solutions. Joe’s point about verification are spot on. Its mostly either a feel good setting or in best case, an indication that something terribly wrong happened when you conducted the calibration and profile process.

Bottom line, IF you are getting an NEC smart monitor, make it all that smarter by using the software that was designed from the ground up for calibration and profiling. Less money, integrated support, most likely better future computability etc.

There's nothing inherently wrong with matrix profiles as long as the display is perfectly linearized. What is the probability of that being the case? I know that mine isn't and it cost me close to $2000. It's not bad, but it's not perfect, why I went for the LUT approach and I'm getting better real-world results with it.

There's been a lot of blood on the floor (perhaps even in this Forum) about the verification business. It can be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy for well-known reasons, and I think I mentioned that above, but it is useful AT LEAST to see whether the profile is performing with internal consistency - as you say to insure nothing terribly wrong happened during the process. Complementing it with the use of an independent set of patches and measuring technique - such as that offered by PatchTool can give verification added respectability.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2010, 10:36:03 AM »
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There's nothing inherently wrong with matrix profiles as long as the display is perfectly linearized. What is the probability of that being the case?

The calibration via internal LUT is literally a linearization, so as a result it should provide a perfectly linearized display. I agree with Joe that a simple colorimeter is not something we can unconditionally rely on, and I also think that the profiling/validating software may influence the results.
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2010, 10:48:15 AM »
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(i) using CEDP with this display is most likely not a great idea - high probability it won't allow DDC communication with the display....

It's been stated on the Integrated Color/CEDP support website that CEDP does NOT support NEC.
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2010, 12:59:52 PM »
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The calibration via internal LUT is literally a linearization, so as a result it should provide a perfectly linearized display.

Exactly. IF NEC had some necessity to build LUT profiles, they would.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2010, 02:11:27 PM »
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The calibration via internal LUT is literally a linearization, so as a result it should provide a perfectly linearized display. I agree with Joe that a simple colorimeter is not something we can unconditionally rely on, and I also think that the profiling/validating software may influence the results.

Yes, the point you make about the linearization is in principle correct. I am reporting on real-world results I achieved using both approaches (matrix via Spectraview and LUT via BasicColor Display) on my new PA271W display. I would not have spent the extra 175 USD on BasicColor if I saw that the screen to print match I achieved with it was no better, but it was. For both approaches of course I used the NEC version of the i1 Display 2 colorimeter which NEC provides with the display+spectraview/colorimeter package, because I wanted to be sure that I was using a measuring device specifically configured for this monitor.

I've never bought into arguments of the type that if "X" thought they should have done something they would have. This is hypothetical and speculative; I prefer focusing on outcomes in which I have confidence. All kinds of considerations drive what companies do and do don't, regardless of how good they may be.

In the final analysis (from me, anyhow), I think Bruce has enough to go on here to chart his up-grade path as suits him best. It's been an interesting discussion.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2010, 02:15:08 PM »
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I would not have spent the extra 175 USD on BasicColor if I saw that the screen to print match I achieved with it was no better, but it was.

How do you attribute that to solely being a difference in LUT vs. Matrix profiles? Using identical settings for the target calibration expect for how the profile is built would not account for this since you can use multiple products all set the same, with the same display and instrument and get quite different color appearance. It sounds alarming (you’d think if you set product A to D65 as well as product B, you’d get a match) but that’s not the case.
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« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2010, 02:34:11 PM »
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How do you attribute that to solely being a difference in LUT vs. Matrix profiles? Using identical settings for the target calibration expect for how the profile is built would not account for this since you can use multiple products all set the same, with the same display and instrument and get quite different color appearance. It sounds alarming (you’d think if you set product A to D65 as well as product B, you’d get a match) but that’s not the case.

Well Andrew, it's two different computer programs. Each has its own math. All the calibration settings were the same for both. The most tangible difference was that I could only make a matrix profile with Spectraview, and I had the option to make an LUT profile with BasicColor, which I did. To tell you what other factors account for the difference in outcomes I cannot because I was not a developer of either package and I'm not a colour scientist; but I do have a keen pair of eyes and a brain so I can see outcomes and then I rely on logical deduction, which I admit may not tell the whole story. For all I know there may be other reasons, but I can only point to the one difference of parameters between them I know for sure because i was the one who did it.
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