color calibration confusions

kkamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 24, 2009
79
1
Help,

I've been through many inexpensive colorimeters for my laptop, all have proved useless by producing a terrible color cast. I started getting work, so I had to do some WHCC test prints with just my laptop display's default LCD profile--the results were not bad. (the images I sent them for tests were very, very colorful and punchy, but later prints I ordered from them were more subdued in hue, and clearly showed a slight cyan/green cast in the skin tones.) So I had a problem.

The last colorimeter I tried was a Pantone Huey Pro. It produced a very small pink cast on my display, so I had initially rendered it useless. But when I loaded up that color profile and looked at my troubled prints from WHCC, they were pretty close in hue and contrast--the Huey profile showed the subtle cyan and green issues that are in the prints.

1. Should I just use this colorimeter for now, even though it has a slight pink cast? I think my eyes adjust to it after I stare at it for a moment, but I'm not sure, and I'm not sure if it adjusts enough for me to not make other color mistakes in my prints, especially in the neutral tones.

2. When I open some images in Photoshop, they look dramatically different than when I preview them in Bridge (spacebar) or look at them in OS X's Preview. In Bridge and in Preview they look more contrasty and warmer (redder). I'm working in sRGB. All my Adobe programs are color synced. Why is this happening?

3. When I upload sRGB jpegs to places like Facebook, the colors end up looking washed out after their systems process them. Does anyone know why that is happening and is there anything I can do? I want to start a Fan Page for my business and I would like my images to look like they do on my website or in Photoshop.

Thanks for reading,

KKamin

PS: I fully realize that color correcting on a 6-bit laptop display is borderline retarded. And that I should have a newer, more trusted colorimeter by now. But I've sunk many thousands into the business up until now and unfortunately am at a point where I need some cash flow before I can continue with my hardware purchases.
 

zachsilvey

macrumors 6502
Feb 5, 2008
444
3
Battle Ground
You already know that notebook screens are generally horrible and if you are doing any sort of paid work that involves color correcting you should be using a decent display so I won't say anything about that.

If you are working with raw files it could be that Bridge and Preview are displaying the camera-created JPEG preview and when you open it up in Photoshop you get the unprocessed RAW image.

I have noticed that when I use OS X alone to view images (quick view, preview, safari) the images seem contrastier and more saturated than when I view them in Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop.
 

sananda

macrumors 68020
May 24, 2007
2,387
79
3. When I upload sRGB jpegs to places like Facebook, the colors end up looking washed out after their systems process them. Does anyone know why that is happening and is there anything I can do? I want to start a Fan Page for my business and I would like my images to look like they do on my website or in Photoshop.
All my photos on Facebook are washed out too. That's just what happens when Facebook compresses them, I suppose.
 

Ruahrc

macrumors 65816
Jun 9, 2009
1,345
0
Re: the sRGB thing, if Facebook is not taking the jpg you upload direct (and rather doing some kind of resizing or compressing) then it is possible it is stripping off the sRGB profile. If you're browsing on Safari and encounter an untagged picture, Safari will assign the MonitorRGB profile to it rather than assuming sRGB. This is what causes the washout and unfortunately if FB is stripping the profile, there really isn't anything you can do about it either (perhaps short of using MonitorRGB in your workflow instead of sRGB).

The catch is that Firefox and most windows browsers will assume sRGB for untagged pictures. So you can't have a solution that will work for every browser configuration. In all honesty the real problem is the untagged image, and Firefox vs. Safari's decision to handle untagged pictures are just two imperfect philosophies to the fundamental problem.

I had big problems with this when trying to upload pictures to Google Picasa and even PBase was doing it for the thumbnails- one reason I decided not to buy a membership there for my pictures.

Re: the colorimeter- I use the i1 Display 2 for my 13" MBP. In all honesty the laptop screens are pretty effective once you calibrate them properly. I was even making prints from my old 15" Powerbook G4 (calibrated with i1 display2 @ 6500K) which were matching nearly exactly the screen output. For reference I also have my MBP hooked up to a Dell 2209WA which is a true 8-bit IPS display.

Calibrating the 2209WA the results are great. If I calibrate the 13" MBP with the colorimeter to the same setting (6500K) I get a slight pinkish cast like you describe. This is also somewhat viewing-angle dependent as well so be aware. I have since learned I can fix this by adjusting the white point in my calibration software to some custom value which matches the white of the 2209WA (I put them side by side and fiddle the white point until they match to my eye). Once I do this, however, the color matching between the two is basically exact. Even though I have to eyeball the WP once it's calibrated the rest of the way using the colorimeter putting up 2 pictures on each screen the matching is spot on (and the measured gamut of both monitors is nearly identical). By the colorimeter, the dE2000 of the calibrated 2209WA is about 0.5, and the dE2000 of the MBP screen is about 1.5-2. Not quite as good but unless you're really splitting hairs the differences do not affect my workflow in a meaningful way. I use the dual screen setup for LR and am confident in doing color work on either screen.

Prints from this setup (coincidentally also from WHCC) are matching exactly the monitor output and everything's great. I can order large prints and am confident they will come back looking like what I expect them to.

Anyways, my point is, if your calibration software has the ability to custom define the white point, and you have a calibrated standard by which to compare to, perhaps this is the solution. It's a bit fiddly at first (I am making subtle changes to the x and y values on the WP, not just selecting a different temperature) but once you get it honed in the matching is great.

Hope this helps

Ruahrc
 

kkamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 24, 2009
79
1
Re: the sRGB thing, if Facebook is not taking the jpg you upload direct (and rather doing some kind of resizing or compressing) then it is possible it is stripping off the sRGB profile. If you're browsing on Safari and encounter an untagged picture, Safari will assign the MonitorRGB profile to it rather than assuming sRGB. This is what causes the washout and unfortunately if FB is stripping the profile, there really isn't anything you can do about it either (perhaps short of using MonitorRGB in your workflow instead of sRGB).

The catch is that Firefox and most windows browsers will assume sRGB for untagged pictures. So you can't have a solution that will work for every browser configuration. In all honesty the real problem is the untagged image, and Firefox vs. Safari's decision to handle untagged pictures are just two imperfect philosophies to the fundamental problem.

I had big problems with this when trying to upload pictures to Google Picasa and even PBase was doing it for the thumbnails- one reason I decided not to buy a membership there for my pictures.

Re: the colorimeter- I use the i1 Display 2 for my 13" MBP. In all honesty the laptop screens are pretty effective once you calibrate them properly. I was even making prints from my old 15" Powerbook G4 (calibrated with i1 display2 @ 6500K) which were matching nearly exactly the screen output. For reference I also have my MBP hooked up to a Dell 2209WA which is a true 8-bit IPS display.

Calibrating the 2209WA the results are great. If I calibrate the 13" MBP with the colorimeter to the same setting (6500K) I get a slight pinkish cast like you describe. This is also somewhat viewing-angle dependent as well so be aware. I have since learned I can fix this by adjusting the white point in my calibration software to some custom value which matches the white of the 2209WA (I put them side by side and fiddle the white point until they match to my eye). Once I do this, however, the color matching between the two is basically exact. Even though I have to eyeball the WP once it's calibrated the rest of the way using the colorimeter putting up 2 pictures on each screen the matching is spot on (and the measured gamut of both monitors is nearly identical). By the colorimeter, the dE2000 of the calibrated 2209WA is about 0.5, and the dE2000 of the MBP screen is about 1.5-2. Not quite as good but unless you're really splitting hairs the differences do not affect my workflow in a meaningful way. I use the dual screen setup for LR and am confident in doing color work on either screen.

Prints from this setup (coincidentally also from WHCC) are matching exactly the monitor output and everything's great. I can order large prints and am confident they will come back looking like what I expect them to.

Anyways, my point is, if your calibration software has the ability to custom define the white point, and you have a calibrated standard by which to compare to, perhaps this is the solution. It's a bit fiddly at first (I am making subtle changes to the x and y values on the WP, not just selecting a different temperature) but once you get it honed in the matching is great.

Hope this helps

Ruahrc
Thanks for that, it is very helpful. If I view the MBP from a low angle the pink cast increases. But if I look straight on, it is barely noticeable. I think it will be okay if I can look straight on all the time (my posture changes a lot during long stretches) or I can look at a fraction higher angle once in a while to judge the colors (the cast disappears). Unfortunately the Huey Pro gives very few options for adjustment and I cannot change the x & y values. Thanks for everything.
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,681
69
Sendai, Japan
Pantone Hueys are known for leaving a pink hue. I guess Huey is a suitable name after all ;)

Even though the people are right when they say that any moderately expensive external monitor will beat a notebook lcd, there shouldn't be a pink cast. I use a Color Spyder 2 and I've never had any problems with it. You should insist on proper calibration: I'd return your Huey and get a Color Spyder. I've gotten mine for $65 on amazon.com.

Plus, you should also think about getting an external monitor, but one without a TN panel. (Those are basically all the cheap ones.) TN panels are not just inferior in terms of gamut, the colors depend much, much more strongly on the viewing angle. I find this particularly problematic with skin tones: when I tilt my ProBook's built-in screen, the hue of the skin tones change slightly.
 

kkamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 24, 2009
79
1
Pantone Hueys are known for leaving a pink hue. I guess Huey is a suitable name after all ;)

Even though the people are right when they say that any moderately expensive external monitor will beat a notebook lcd, there shouldn't be a pink cast. I use a Color Spyder 2 and I've never had any problems with it. You should insist on proper calibration: I'd return your Huey and get a Color Spyder. I've gotten mine for $65 on amazon.com.

Plus, you should also think about getting an external monitor, but one without a TN panel. (Those are basically all the cheap ones.) TN panels are not just inferior in terms of gamut, the colors depend much, much more strongly on the viewing angle. I find this particularly problematic with skin tones: when I tilt my ProBook's built-in screen, the hue of the skin tones change slightly.
I tried the Spyder but it made my display a bizarre green for some reason.

I plan on getting a good monitor in the future, thanks for the advice.
 

panoz7

macrumors 6502a
Nov 21, 2005
904
1
Raleigh, NC
RE the pink color cast: are you sure you had the white point set properly? I have a spyder 3 and when I first calibrated my screen it ended up pink. It took me a month or two to realize that the spyder had chosen a bad white point by default. I changed it from whatever it had chosen to native display and the pink cast disappeared.
 

mrkgoo

macrumors 65816
Aug 18, 2005
1,178
3
The pink cast is actually normal. Your eyes are too accustomed to the blue/green cast of monitors that it seems 'too pink' (especially when viewing from a low angle - that low angle tint changes from green to pink/purple).

After use for a while, I grew accustomed to the pink, and when I switch to Native, it feels too green and harsh now.

I have a Spyder 2. I actually downloaded and demoed ColorEyes Pro software to use with the spider, anti DOES give a better profile without a lessened pink hue, but it was still slightly pink.

I just grew to live with it - the pink is more noticeable on greys, but my photos look much better.
 

Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,515
2,468
The soggy side of the Pacific NW
My old 15" MBP had a matte screen, and that was somewhat workable after calibrating with a Spyder 2 - but still not great. With the new glossy screens (such as is on my MacBook Air), calibration only seems to make it somewhat less horrible. :D

Laptop screens are just not good for photo editing. You can get decent results with a calibrated mid-range external monitor - right now I have access to an Dell 20" that does a pretty good job. But I'm hoping I can afford to buy an honest-to-goodness photo-quality LCD in the reasonably near future, such as one of the higher-end NEC or LaCie offerings, or any of the Eizo panels (which are wonderful, but terribly expensive).
 

Ruahrc

macrumors 65816
Jun 9, 2009
1,345
0
Plus, you should also think about getting an external monitor, but one without a TN panel. (Those are basically all the cheap ones.) TN panels are not just inferior in terms of gamut, the colors depend much, much more strongly on the viewing angle. I find this particularly problematic with skin tones: when I tilt my ProBook's built-in screen, the hue of the skin tones change slightly.
The panel type has nothing to do with the gamut, and everything do to with the backlighting. The panel is only filtering out colors from the backlight, and what is left over is the color you see. If a TN panel and an IPS panel have the same backlight the gamut will be the same. My MBP (TN panel) and IPS display (2209WA) have the same gamut.

Sensitivity to viewing angle and the fact that there don't seem to be 8-bit TN panels are the main reasons to try to get a PVA or IPS monitor if you are serious about photography. However, many people discredit too quickly a laptop screen or even a TN panel. As long as you carefully calibrate it you can get very fine results from a TN or laptop panel. I got fine prints from my 5 year old PBG4, and modern quality laptop screens probably do even better. Are they optimal? Surely not. But to say they are outright bad is a dangerous blanket generalization.
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,681
69
Sendai, Japan
The panel type has nothing to do with the gamut, and everything do to with the backlighting. The panel is only filtering out colors from the backlight, and what is left over is the color you see. If a TN panel and an IPS panel have the same backlight the gamut will be the same.
Almost all cheap monitors use TN panels while many more expensive lcds use non-TN panels. These more expensive models also use higher-quality components, among them, better backlights. Hence my advice to avoid lcds with TN panels. But you're right that the reason is mostly due to the backlight, though.
My MBP (TN panel) and IPS display (2209WA) have the same gamut.
Then you certainly don't have a good external screen. Have a look here: this is my ProBook's gamut as measured by my ColorSpyder:

Compare this to a four-year-old quality Samsung 213T lcd (which has been replaced), again as measured:

The difference doesn't just look significant on paper, it is very significant when editing photos. Even the row dividers in iTunes which are faint on my internal screen are clearly visible on the external screen.
Are they optimal? Surely not. But to say they are outright bad is a dangerous blanket generalization.
That depends on what you want to do with it: for rough edits or people who don't even calibrate their monitor, it's fine. To be honest, the new ProBooks have much better screens than mine does (I have a first-gen MacBook Pro). But still, with a decent external screen, you'll fare better.
 

Ruahrc

macrumors 65816
Jun 9, 2009
1,345
0
I have the 13" MBP which is a mid-2009 model which featured a screen with enhanced gamut. My external monitor is fine and by my measurements (i1 display2) the gamuts of the two are nearly identical. Both gamuts measure up to be more or less complete coverage of sRGB.

2209WA


MBP 13


Ruahrc
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,681
69
Sendai, Japan
Just out of curiosity: can you also post lab plots (just open the profiles in ColorSync Utility)? I want to compare the new generation of lcds to my own :)
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,681
69
Sendai, Japan
Nice. Although the 13" has a slightly smaller gamut, it compares favorably to many external lcds. Can't wait to get one! (Although I will wait until I get 4 cores :))
 

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