Colour Management, Screen Profiling & Calibration
is featured in our comprehensive printing tutorial, 'From Camera To Print'
Superior Screen Profiling and Calibration
Photographed with a Pentax 645II and Pentax 300mm (67) ED-IF f/4 lens on Provia 100F
Most photographers now appreciate the need to have a properly profiled display. As they come from the manufacturer displays are all over the place in terms of the colour settings, and trying to adjust them properly without an appropriate instrument and software is a mug's game. It simply can't be done, or at least done well enough for critical work. And if you don't calibrate and profile your monitor you can't have any confidence that what you're seeing on screen will bear any resemblance to what you print.
The image immediately above is a good example of one that would be almost impossible to process and preview properly on an uncalibrated and properly profiled screen, because of the subtlety of tone in the large expanse of dark areas, and the delicacy of the tones in the sky. (If you see the foreground hillside as black, or with a lot of visible detail, your monitor isn't properly calibrated or profiled).
Fortunately over the past couple of years devices such as the ColorVision Spyder2Pro, Monaco x-rite Pro and Gretag Macbeth Display 2 have gotten to the point where their features, functionality, and price are within reach of just about anyone that takes their colour work seriously.
Each of these hardware devices comes with appropriate software for screen profiling, and sometimes calibration. But, is the provided software good enough?
Many people will think so, and find that the idea of paying another $175 for specialty software an unnecessary expenditure. But for those that want to refine their colour workflow to the greatest extent possible, ColorEyes Display from Integrated Color Corporation may be what they're looking for. ($300 with a bundled XRite colorimeter). ColorEyes is available for both Macs and PCs, and users are allowed to install the software on up to three computers.
Calibration and Profiling with the Instrument of Your Choice
Contax 645 with 210mm f/4 Sonnar
& Kodak DCS Pro-Back @ ISO 100
One of the first advantages of ColorEyes is that it will work with virtually every colour calibration device currently on the market, including those from Gretag Macbeth, XRite, Sequel, Spectrocam, and even the proprietary puck that comes with the Sony Artisan monitor. So, if you feel that the software that came with your monitor calibrator isn't doing the job properly, there's no need to buy a new one. It just may be your software that needs upgrading.
What helps set ColorEyes apart is the attention paid to calibrating and linearizing the gray balance of your monitor. The software uses an iterative process that double checks itself each step along the way.
Unique to this software, and patented, is what is called L* technology for setting gamma. While you can set Gamma 1.8 or 2.2, or whatever else you wish, L* creates separate tonal curves for the shadow areas, mid-tones, and highlights. This is claimed to provide smoother transitions, and therefore more accurate colour reproduction.
Its versatility also extends to setting the screen's colour temperature. You can set it to the standard D50 or D65, or any specific value that you wish. You can also set any specific chromaticity coordinates on the X / Y axis, by entering values, or by using the colorimeter to measure the screen's actual native white point. Or, if you want to balance your screen to the same colour temperature as your print viewing box you can point the colorimeter there and take a measurement, which will be then applied to your monitor settings. (Note that only LCD monitors have a native white point. CRTs do not).
Unlike most monitor calibration software, ColorEyes allows you to also match luminance levels across multiple monitors. And, on a Mac at least, calibrating and profiling dual monitors is a cinch, with each monitor automatically loading its own profile on boot-up. (Windows machine with dual monitors may need a second video card, or a special dual monitor card).
There's little point in showing you a series of screen shots of the software in action. But one of the program's capabilities that is worth showing is the Profile Validation screen. This allows you to validate the screen profiles that you create with ColorEyes. Above is a validation of the current profile of my three year old 21" Apple Cinemadisplay. The performance is still remarkably good, with an average Delta E of 0.86 and a maximum of 1.56; well below a value of 3, the highest that one would want the numbers to be for critical work.
The Bottom Line
Is ColorEyes a must have for profiling your monitor? Possibly not, if you're the type of photographer that buys third party lenses, and no-name filters. But if you buy your manufacturer's top-of-the-line lenses, and only will use a B+W or Heliopan filter in front of them, you're a stickler for quality, and ColorEyes is likely the type of monitor profiling software that will meet your exacting expectations.
A demo version of the software is available for downloading.
ColorEyes Display – Highly recommended!