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Input/Output/Workflow Scanning, printing, color management, and discussing best practices for control and repeatability

MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

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  #1  
Old 12-23-2007, 04:25 PM
Marni48 Marni48 is offline
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MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

Hi

After using a PC for years, I am considering purchasing a Mac. I mainly use the PC for editing my large collection of family pix that are damaged and need restoration. I am about ready to explode from trying to work with a Dell monitor that is not showing true color. I am using a Epson Perfection 3170 to scan, and a Epson R200 to print and the colors are all over the place. I'm so frustrated. If I get the pix printed, I even get another color, YIKES!!!!!

I have considered buying monitor callibration software, Huey, Pantone etc. but I am not sure I might be throwing good money after bad. Question is, will buying a Mac solve my problems? I understand they are really designed for graphics. I don't do this for a living, so I don't want to spend the national debt.

Please advise????
Thanks
Marni
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Old 12-23-2007, 05:08 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

Marni, the MAC will not necessarily solve your problems. So, the very 1st place to look for the source of your problems is Color Management. What software are you using for your photo editing and what type of color management are you using (Color workspace, Color Settings, Color Profile handling - opening, saving, and especially printing). If you have color management improperly set up or used, no H/W or S/W will help ypu and it can explain why your prints do not match your display and your colors are all off.
After you address the Color Manaqgement issue, then you can determine if your display is appropriate for photo editing or not. Some displays were not meant for image editing - they can not be calibrated, have poor contrast,limited color range, reduced viewing angle). However, many Dell monitors are wonderful for image editing - depends which model you have. Its sort of binary. The one you have will likely be very good or very bad for graphics but not likely in the middle. Provide us with some additional information and you will be able to get some additional suggestions.
Regards, Murray
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Old 12-23-2007, 09:11 PM
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AdamZx3 AdamZx3 is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

While the Mac is best suited for Graphic/Print work, a PC running XP will achieve just the same thing, though Mac may save you from pulling your hair out in the process.

For your particular situation color management is defiantly an issue. Using an un-calibrated monitor will give you false sense of color, it may look great on your screen but once it hits the printer then its . One problem is that your looking at the monitor which is using light (RGB) to get picture and then your printing it out working with pigments and paper (CMYK). So because of this conversion it will never be exact, it can be pretty darn close though.

To get accurate prints you need a complete workflow, breaking one of the steps can throw everything off. I'll try and run through them but to get the best knowledge you should pickup a book on the matter, The book "Real World Color Management" is supposed to be a good one and easy to understand.

Monitor:
Starting off with your monitor, from personal experience a good monitor make all the differance, Theres a huge difference between my old acer 22" LCD ($285) to my 24" Eizo Coloredge CE ($1700) . From the factory the Acer had a blue cast, and when calibrated could show most of the colors. There where times when my prints where more vivid than my monitor! The Eizo has a larger gamut which nearly eliminates that problem.

Calibration:
You will need a hardware calibrator regardless of the monitor you choose, I use the Pantone Eye-One Display Display2, but if I where to do it again I would buy a XRite DTP-94. You could buy a middle of the road Eye-One Display LT for $139, and you can adjust the white balance, gamma, and read out ambient light tempature (color) and brightness. The LT software only allows you to choose from preset WhiteBalance and Gamma but thats just fine. The calibration will adjust the colors and brightness of the monitor so your prints will be closer (if your monitors too bright, you prints can come out looking to dark)

Ambient Lighting:
Your ambient lighting can also effect your perception of the image on your screen, if your lights are to warm (yellowish) your image will have a slight warmth to it when it really doesn't. I have some 5000k 92cri phillips flourecents that are considered to "spec" you can get these at home depot. I also have a separate switch so I can have just one on to proof and turn the other on when viewing prints etc.. (the Eye-One can read out the temp and brightness and tell you how close you should be)

Color profile:
Next your images need to have the correct colorspace profile, the 2 main ones are sRGB, AdobeRGB1998. I shoot in AdobeRGB1998 to capture all the colors I can but convert to sRGB because most prints use that and web browsers only use sRGB (except Safari 3, it will display any embedded profile). Most monitors can't display all of AdobeRGB anyway, my Eizo displays around 97% of that and my Acer didn't come close. So long story short to get your prints to match better convert profile to sRGB (Edit>Convert to Profile in PS)

Proofing:
Your printer is not going to be able to print out all of those colors on your screen, this is called out of gamut, and by soft proofing you can get a good idea of what it will look like on screen, without wasting ink. For this you will need a custom color profile matched for your printer. You can use a generic profile that will get ballpark, or you can have a custom printer profile made for you, this will give you the best softproof. If you send yours to a lab their lab database to see if someone else has made a custom profile for that lab. Once you have loaded a profile in photoshop (directions in that 1st link) then you can hit ctrl+Y to toggle on/off a soft proof preview. By default doing this will give you an offset CMYK profile, the new one must be loaded in. To get this custom profile, you have to print out their target file/photo and send them in your printed paper (stay with that same printer paper though, as that changes a lot if you swap paper) then they email you a custom printer profile.

Once your softproof looks ok, then print away You should also duplicate the photo and resize it to 8x10 at 300ppi (for an 8x10 of course), by doing this the printer won't have to interpolate and resize the image. and then sharpen as needed ( you may need to sharpen more for print vs onscreen). These steps are always done last, again do this on a duplicate so the original remains pristine.


As I write this I am scanning family photo's myself, converting slides to DVD for my grandparents, and X-mas is in 2 days...should be done tonight though ! Hope all works out for you and be sure to ask any questions if you need some help

*edit*
Though the Mac won't directly help you if you need to upgrade in the future their something to look into....I can't imagine without my Mac-Pro! there a fantastic deal and cheaper than the Dell and HP workstations are.

And to sum up my post (err i mean book lol) I would buy a color calibrator, dim the lights and if it's in the budget spend $50 for a custom printer profile. If they are still off a middle of the road monitor might be needed.

Last edited by AdamZx3; 12-23-2007 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 12-26-2007, 06:47 PM
Marni48 Marni48 is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

WOW, thanks for all the info. I am going to try to digest all of it that you both gave me and then probably ask you all a million questions before purchasing what I need. I do know now, that at least I have to change the monitor and then get the callibrator. I guess I was looking for the easy way out LOL LOL.
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Old 12-26-2007, 07:06 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

i use a eizo CG241W at work, it's a nice display but i choked when i saw what they paid for this thing..i could have 2 apple 20" cinema displays and a nice calibrator and still have some change left over...
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Old 12-27-2007, 12:59 PM
Marni48 Marni48 is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

My husband told me to go ahead and get a new monitor for my Christmas gift YEAAAAAAA. So, now I am going to need lots of advice on which to buy, I don't want to make a mistake and be back to square one again. I will also get the calibration software and will need some advice on those also. j
I hope to spend around 300$ for the monitor and then the calibration system, hopefully for under 200$

I don't understand this color management stuff at all, I must be dense. I heard there is a color management for dummies that is supposed to be pretty simple so I am going to go to the book store and check it out and see if I can understand it. As far as a printer profile, now I am REALLY confused.
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Old 12-27-2007, 02:45 PM
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

Marni, can you attach a screenshot of your Photoshop Color Settings under the Edit Menu: Edit>Color Settings. You should see a screen such as the one below. If you can not take a screen snapshot just describe to us what settings you are seeing.
Regards, Murray
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File Type: jpg Color Settings Screenshot.jpg (159.8 KB, 18 views)
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:28 PM
Marni48 Marni48 is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

Thanks so much for your help. I took a screen shot and hopefully it will work and you can see it.

When photoshop7 opens also, I get a message about a missing profile. I had fiddled around with it trying to get this color space thing going, but I am sure I probably have it wrong. I have the assign as "stylus photo R200"

My Windows XP printer color management box settings are automatic and the profile associated with the printer is EE251_1

When I print on the Epson R200 I use the advanced setting and use ICM with with no color adjustment.

I TRULY appreciate your help, this stuff is like greek to me, but I am trying to learn.
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File Type: jpg screen-shot.jpg (99.6 KB, 14 views)
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:59 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

Marni, there is your first problem. Your Color Settings are set up fine EXCEPT for your working color space which should NEVER be your monitor or your printer profile. I suggest you use Adobe RGB. This is a wide gamut color space which will be able to take advantage of the color range output from quality digital cameras and other devices. You can do most of your work in this color space. Then when you want to create an image to be viewed by a web browser (browsers do not use color management and they assume everything is equivalent to sRGB) you can convert a copy of that image to sRGB using Edit > Convert to Profile. Actually I have not used PS7 for a long time but I think the convert command is under the Image Menu.

Next, when printing on an Epson Printer, in the Print with Preview / Printer Setup dialog box there should be a pull down option called Printer Manages Color (or something very similar in PS7). You select that and in the Custom>Advanced Tab do not select ICM. Select Color Controls but leave all of the controls at 0, don't change any of them. What you are doing here is allowing the Printer Driver software to take your image (it does not matter whether you are working in Adobe RGB or sRGB) and the printer software will understand how exactly how to translate the colors in your working color space to the printer's own profile. Note if you have the print preview option selected, the preview will not look right but that's OK because of the way the Epson S/W and PS7 work. Your prints should look a lot like what you saw on your monitor if your monitor was is reasonable range (the grays looked gray, the blacks and whites looked black and white). They may be a darker of lighter depending on your monitor settings, but they should be reasonablly close to what you saw on your monitor.

Regards, Murray
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:11 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: MAYBE going to Mac from PC, need advice

Russel Brown recommends lettting photoshop manage the color and i have to say his procedure gives me acurate results when compared to a calibrated output from an epson 9800...
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