A Color Management Story

March 01, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Have you ever walked into a BestBuy or Future Shop and looked at the massive TV wall?  There could be more than a hundred of them, and no two of them have the same picture.

 

Or after working on a picture with the image editor of your choice, you load in a piece of photo paper and hit print.  Then you look at it and realize that it looks nothing like the image on your monitor:  instead of a yellowish green, it is an aqua tint.  Instead of a bright red, it's shifted into a shade of purple.  So, you load the image onto a thumb drive, and head to your local Wal-Mart to get it printed, because that cheap printer can't do anything right.

 

You get it back, and it looks nothing like the other print, or the monitor - the blacks are now grey and everything has a pink sheen over it...

 

You have just experienced a failure of color management.

 

The TV problem (and it has carried over to computer monitors) has been caused by market research that shows the brightest, most electric colors sell the most TVs (and monitors) no matter how inaccurate they are.  Wal-Mart prints are renowned for being too light with various sheens to them.  Chances are pretty good that your $50 printer gave you the most accurate (but not necessarily perfect) representation of your image. 

 

Matching your printer to your monitor is a fairly straightforward process once you have the correct tools.  I use a product by X-Rite called Color-Munki.  There are others - the Spyder line is very popular, but they all do the same thing:  they read what your monitor is doing and adjust it.  Then they examine your printer, and match that to your monitor. 

 

They can't however, fix Wal-Mart.  In some things, you do get what you pay for...


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