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  • Calibration: setting temperature

    Greetings all,

    Technical background info: D5000, NEF files, tone and color work done in LR. Macbook with an HP ZR 24w monitor. Spyder3Elite which I use religiously, including the ambient light monitor.

    Problem: My prints (mpix and a local professional lab) are coming out dark. I emailed with (unfortunately, he wasn't there when I went in) the technical guy at my local lab and with mpix. I never got to a place of resolution with either of them and have some questions before I go back to them again.

    I am working in 2.2 gamma, which I understand to be native to the computer but not necessarily to the monitor but also not necessarily the biggest issue in terms of the darkness problem. Using sRGB. I was calibrating the white balance to 6500K at the request of the Spyder. Both places seemed somewhat surprised at that and thought it should be more like 5000 or 5500K. So, for an order that needed to get out I did that, (can't remember which because I'm not in front of the monitor now but only one was available) lightened it up a bit in LR (if I remember correctly in the tone curve) - still looked a little bit bright to my eye on the monitor but printed ok. I didn't think, in my rush, to print one of each (the original done on the 6500 and the other).

    So, what temperature is appropriate?

    Also, what about adjusting the brightness for while I'm working. The spyder wants me to bring it way down for the calibration but I'm just unable to work at that level and remember reading (in my long search for which monitor and calibration device to buy) that it was ok to calibrate an then move to where you're comfortable working. Even tho that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I've started not following the spyder's directions to bring it down but that doesn't seem to make a difference in the final product.

    Sorry for rambling on so long. Truly appreciate any advice.

  • #2
    Re: setting temperature

    Hi Pinkhorse

    The color temperature you want and the brightness of the monitor for calibration (and editing) should be the same as the environment in which you will view the prints.

    The lower color temperatures were often base on the fact that much of the lighting in this world for viewing prints was tungsten with that color temperature. These days there is a bigger variety including a lot of viewing that is just on the screen (no prints) and prints viewed in office environments with more fluorescent/CFL/LED lighting set to a higher temperature.

    As far as monitor brightness. Guidelines for calibration/editing are often in the 100 to 150 cd/m^2 range.

    Here is what happens if you have your monitor set quite bright (lets say 400 cd/d^2. You make adjustments for the black areas of the image until it gives a good black impression to you. You make a print and go view it in a 100 cd^m2 room lighting. Guess what, it will look 2 stops underexposed because you are viewing the print with 2 stops less of illumination than the environment with which it was created.

    Here is a link to an article on the topic by Andrew Rodney that may "enlighten" you

    All IMHO of course. Hope this is useful.


    • #3
      Re: setting temperature

      Originally posted by pinkhorse View Post
      So, what temperature is appropriate?
      The one that produces a match to your prints when prints are properly viewed. See


      • #4
        Re: setting temperature

        Originally posted by andrewrodney View Post
        The one that produces a match to your prints when prints are properly viewed. See
        Can you post a new link to the article?


        • #5
          Re: setting temperature

          Apparently the link is broken right now (may come back) yet here is a cached version that should work:


          • #6
            Re: setting temperature

            A video update of the article may be of interest

            Why are my prints too dark? Dec 2015


            • #7
              Re: setting temperature

              Those places are very silly. Your calibration process is just rewriting a display profile, so deviating significantly from the monitor's native output will make things look terrible on your screen. You're also working in sRGB, which uses an illuminant that is close to 6500k at its maximum value.

              Your real issue is that your monitor is set too bright. Prepress operations often use very bright viewing booths with very little additional ambient light. The ideal temperature of the display is then the closest target to the temperature of that light source. The brightness should match the print when viewed under one of those sources, and they will typically suggest something like 160 cd/m^2.

              For general use, this does not match your viewing conditions. If you don't have this kind of controlled setup, you're likely to get a better match with your display set to 85-100 cd/m^2. The actual value should be based on a consistent viewing environment and match your print. It's not as exact doing it this way, but the results should be fine. It will certainly not deviate greatly from your expectations at that point.


              • #8
                Re: setting temperature

                Thanks John, Tony, Klev and Andrew. Good info. I've been evaluating the colour temp and luminance of my workspace lighting.
                I appreciate the links and insights!
                --shift studio.


                • #9
                  Re: setting temperature

                  Originally posted by andrewrodney View Post
                  The one that produces a match to your prints when prints are properly viewed. See

                  Why are my prints too dark?
                  A video update to a written piece on subject from 2013

                  In this 24 minute video, I'll cover:

                  Are your prints really too dark?
                  Display calibration and WYSIWYG
                  Proper print viewing conditions
                  Trouble shooting to get a match
                  Avoiding kludges that don't solve the problem

                  High resolution:
                  Low resolution:


                  • #10
                    Re: setting temperature

                    Sorry for hijacking this thread but ... regarding positioning of overhead lighting, what are everyone's (anyone's) thoughts for the best workspace setup?
                    A light ceiling light behind user a metre or more, a light directly above the display or a light behind the display a metre or more.
                    I actually don't have a choice, but am curious about the answer and why.
                    Thanks in advance.
                    --Shift Studio.


                    • #11
                      Re: setting temperature

                      In my case I would just turn it off completely. I think this is an acceptable response, because as you mentioned, you don't have a choice of placement. Whenever there's too much other stuff visible in my field of view, I find it distracting. During the times I worked from home, I relied on blackout curtains. Otherwise most places that employ retouchers make it easy to maintain a dim working environment.


                      • #12
                        Re: setting temperature

                        Thanks Klev. I'm in that direction - lighting is quite dim but still I do use a light in the room
                        It makes me uncomfortable (not in an uneasy way) with lighting any dimmer. When I go to leave my I feel like I've been working in a coal mine

                        Any other thoughts?
                        Thanks, Shift Studio.
                        Last edited by shift studio; 03-16-2017, 04:03 PM.


                        • #13
                          Re: setting temperature

                          Originally posted by shift studio View Post
                          Any other thoughts?
                          Thanks, Shift Studio.
                          I understand the feeling. Total darkness isn't that pleasant. Between your hypothetical choices, I would probably go for the ceiling light behind the user a meter or more away. Too much direct light on the display can make it look washed out due to light reflected by anti glare coatings. The older displays used by Apple were even worse in that regard, due to the presence of sharp reflections.

                          I think in your case, I would at least be careful to avoid leaving any bright surfaces (including walls) within my range of peripheral vision. This can be accomplished using any manner of workspace barriers if it's a problem for you. My productivity drops off exponentially in the presence distractions, so I'm quite careful to avoid them.


                          • #14
                            Re: setting temperature

                            You can't go too dark in an editing environment! ANY ambient light that strikes the display affects your perception of black. You can absolutely run too bright and you want to avoid as much light spilling on the display as you can muster.