Here are some preliminary results after calibration, and impressions from the calibration process, which is a first-timer for me, although I've been convinced that calibration is healthy for a good while. Maybe someone will find this useful, perhaps the more recent members?Introduction
I calibrated my recently acquired Dell 2405FPW (and my old Samsung SyncMaster 710T) with a borrowed Eye-One Proof set. The result was (unsurprisingly) an improvement over Adobe Gamma, but unfortunately not as good predictability for prints as I'd hoped. Printer calibration may rectify that. Viewing quality is pleasing, and I'm pretty sure I can live with the 2405FPW after this.Setup and Equipment
As a minor note, I'd like to point out that it's very convenient to have a secondary monitor to place program windows in when the initial steps of the calibration process are done. It's especially important on DVI connected displays, where e.g. contrast is set in software rather than through the OSD (on-screen display).
My relevant equipment is:
Displays: Dell 2405FPW and Samsung SyncMaster 710T
Graphics adapter: Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro Atlantis
Printer: Epson R1800
Photo editing software: Adobe Photoshop CS2
Profiling/calibration: Eye-One Proof (borrowed from a friend's workplace, lucky me!)The Profiling and Calibration Process
Since there were no instructions in the box (they have been misplaced, I suppose), I just inserted the CD and installed Eye-One Match 3 from there.
I started the software, and the user interface seemed quite okay. I selected monitor profiling, and advanced mode.
The first menu meeting me to select LCD, CRT or Laptop, so I changed to LCD from the default CRT.
The next menu asks me to select target white point, gamma and luminance.
This is where 2405 owners must beware; setting the target luminance to the LCD recommendation of 140 is only possible through the use of adjustments in the graphics driver combined with those of the OSD. Keep in mind that a warmer white point makes it easier to reach the LCD recommendation of 140.
I've tried setting the target white point to both 5000 and 6500. 5000 is what they recommend for proofing, and that's what I've ended up using.
I left gamma at 2.2.
At this point, I'm allowed to make an ambient light measurement. I already suspected that the ambient lighting in my apartment's workroom/guestroom wasn't up to par, and measuring as advised shows that while the luminance level is surprisingly good, the color temperature is approximately 2900 K instead of the recommended 5200 K. Oops. But there's nothing I can do about that right now; I probably have to repaint the walls and get white bookcases. ::
The next step is to calibrate the Eye-One. That was really easy, just placing the device on the holder with the ceramic calibration tile. A minor annoyance is that if you go back and forth between the steps, then you're still required to re-calibrate the device, which is an annoying waste of time. I'd like to be able to say "no, thanks, I just calibrated the thing, remember it for me".
Now to what turned out to be a tricky step; placing the Eye-One on the monitor, and as close to the center as possible. This is a problem both with my Samsung 710T and the Dell 2405FPW, and I suspect with any LCD, until the operator's brain engages and notices that the rubber band connecting the counterweight and the LCD holder is adjustable.
A more serious problem is that unless I tilt my monitor a bit or drag the USB cable underneath and behind the monitor, the LCD holder has a tendency to not
lay flat, but rather leave a small gap at the bottom. This creates an uneven pressure, which of course can result in coloring artifacts near the top. And that's where the sensor is closest to.
Now comes the "bummer" for those of us using a DVI display: adjusting the contrast. I can do this by right-clicking on the empty desktop and selecting "ATI CATALYST™ Control Center", selecting View->Advanced View, and "Color" from the Graphics Settings. Then I'll see a nice contrast slider. At this point, it's wise to check that you're adjusting the right graphics adapter, as in the one controlling the monitor you plan to calibrate ...
While the Eye-One Match 3 instructions tell you to "Set the contrast to 100%", this means that the ATI contrast slider should be set to 200 (the maximum). I hope. :cool: I leave the other settings ("Gamma" and "Brightness" in their neutral positions, 1.0 and 100 respectively.
Clicking on "start" then initiates the procedure for locating where I've placed the Eye-One. When that's done, it's just an easy matter of resetting the contrast to a sane value, which is indicated by a black bar being as close to the middle of a green field (and a zero above it) as possible. For my graphics card and the 2405FPW, a contrast setting of 105 has consistently proven to be the nearest I can get.
The next step, RGB adjustments for setting the white point, is another tricky one with the 2405. There are two choices; RGB controls or RGB presets. The recommendation is to use the controls if the monitor supports it, and that is true for both my monitors.
The first attempt failed spectacularly when the Eye-One failed completely to detect adjustments in the blue channel above "50" (the midpoint), while I could clearly see the colors change onscreen. Ouch. I went back and wiped the ceramic tile for self-calibration with a lens microfiber cloth, and with the next two attempts, the Eye-One cooperated. I then did another calibration just for the sake of writing this up, and now suddenly the red channel adjustments above midpoint were undetected. Restarting the adjustment procedure for RGB doesn't help, setting the correct red channel value becomes guesswork. Am I supposed to be at 51, 52 or 53? My only clues are the changes in green and blue. Redoing the calibration yields the same problems with red. That's three failures out of five attempts.
Now to set the luminance. On my display, I had to set the OSD setting to 0 -- zero, and the Catalyst brightness slider to -87 (139.4-139.6 cd/m^2) or -86 (140.3-140.5 cd/m^2).
The final step is the easiest, the one where the Eye-One measures all the colors and hopefully shows some good results.
Edit:During the last run, I also had a temporary problem with a green cast to the black background when the device was doing the last step of profiling. I aborted the step, touched the bottom part of the device, and restarted that last step. No cast.
But after this step, there is no stepping back to the previous point, and that's very bad user interface design. What if I want to rerun the last step because I realized I'd accidentally touched a color, brightness, contrast or gamma control and the result sucked? Well, obviously, I have to close the program completely. Come on!So, What About the Results?
Here's a summary of the last runs tonight:
Color temperature is excellent, spot on. Ditto for gamma. Luminance is off; the target of 140 isn't reached, the measured luminance is 182.7. The minimum luminance measured is 0.9. That doesn't seem so bad.
Run 5 (attempting to detect changes in red again):
Color temperature is 4900 (off by 100 K), gamma is 2.1 (off by 0.1), luminance is 179.8 (off by 39.
. The minimum luminance measured is 4.5, and the screen's contrast is lousy
I'm sticking to the profile from run 4.The Important Part: How Good Does It Look?
Looking at a selection of a handful of images that I took on July 2nd, the colors look slightly more natural than they did before. And yes, the difference is only slight, compared to the manual adjustments I performed with Adobe Gamma. But shadow detail and gradation is also slightly better, and I see a marked improvement in the highlights; that's where my real gain has been.
Why did my highlights improve? Well, the color temperature has come down from around 6000 K to 5000 K, the contrast is up by 5%, and the brightness is down by a lot
. These were the things that Adobe Gamma couldn't do for my eyes, and I've had as clear an advantage from profiling as I've expected and hoped for.The Prints
The printer uses the canned profiles from Epson. I had a vague hope that I could use the Eye-One Proof to calibrate this one for my selection of papers (it's supposed to support "RGB easy"), but I could find no way to work around the error message for selecting an RGB printer.
For testing, I selected a picture of a rose, taken on a sunny day:
Soft-proofing revealed that a lot of the background, particularly the darker areas, were well out of gamut for one of my chosen papers of the day, Epson Premium Glossy Photo. The other paper, Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl, did not show as much out-of-gamut (huh?). For the Epson paper, I created a hue/saturation adjustment layer based on a fuzzy selection of the out-of-gamut colors, and tuned down the saturation until I was close to in-gamut. I also did one version where I just converted to the Epson paper's profile before printing.
The results were somewhat surprising. The printed images are very similar in color tones, but the color balance is different from what I see on my monitor. The rose looks more pink on screen (regardless of soft proofing or not), and I'm tempted to say that the image on paper is both more red and yellow, and slightly less natural-looking. I think
the representation on-screen (pre-softproofing) is closer to what the rose really looked like. But the yellow on this printer is really good.
Ilford's supplied profile for smooth pearl seems definitely better than the canned profile for Epson's own papers, or it's the paper itself. The Ilford paper's color gradations are smooth and nice, whereas Epson's paper seems to give me something similar to a posterization effect in the yellow, green and dark green transitions, especially visible in the lower right corner. This is visible in the soft proof, too. The Epson paper seems to deliver a wee bit more detail, but I didn't use USM, Focus Magic or anything similar to bring out the details in the first place, so it's really hard to tell. I think I'll be using smooth pearl quite a bit in the future, though.Ruminations On Quality and Results
While some of the things I write may indicate that I'm unhappy with the performance of the calibration device -- which would be a correct observation -- I think that there may be reasons other than quality control on the manufacturer's side here.
For one thing, it was a borrowed device, it's been used many times by the owner. The way the device is constructed, it's entirely possible for dust to accumulate near and around the sensor. It's also possible for dust and grime to do their worst on the ceramic calibration tile. This probably happens when the owner/user isn't careful enough with handling. I'll be sure to notify the owner about this when I return it, their own calibration results may be off by quite a bit if they don't pay attention.
I'm mostly satisfied with the results for my part, though I wonder what I can do to fix that imprecision with red/yellow, except re-profiling, re-calibrating and hoping for the best. And if I squeeze things in that end, will my blues, cyans and magentas suffer next?Conclusion
The Dell 2405FPW can definitely be profiled and calibrated, and it resulted in a clear improvement on both measurable and perceived image quality. This is in spite of technical problems with the profiling process.
Soft proofing still leaves a bit to desired for accuracy, but I'll work a bit on that by re-profiling and re-calibrating a few times more.