Mac or PC for color adjustments?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Darth Geek, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. Darth Geek macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2003
    I currently have a PC. (Yes, I'm sorry.) I'm needing to do some pretty delicate editing and color adjustment work with large Photoshop files, about 675 MB. The color needs to be really good - maybe not 100% accurate, but 98.5% good, if you know what I mean. The artist, my mother, is picky and computer illiterate, so the job is mine... Here is the problem: Our budget would now possibly cover a 1.25 single G4, but not a G5.

    My question is this: Just how important is a Mac to be able to get really good color? Is the colorsync or whatever in a Mac that much better? And if Macs are that essential, then why do I hear of some graphic designers using Wintels? Are they just sticking to what is familiar, or have they gotten PCs to really work for them? Is really good color even possible on a PC?

    Do you think I should get a Mac - even the 1.25 single G4 - or put the money into upgrading my PC, a 1.8 Pentium 4? I don't yet have the full Photoshop so I need to know what version to buy, Mac or PC.

    Also, if I do get a single 1.25 G4 with an extra 1GB of RAM, do you think it could handle a 675 MB Photoshop file? I tried the file on my 1.8 Ghz Pentium 4 with 512 MB and it was slooooooow. Will a single-proc G4, even with 1.5 GB RAM, handle such a file?

    Thank you so much!
  2. soakwashrinse macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2003
    Sydney, Australia
    Disclaimer: I'm out of my depth here, since I'm neither a graphic designer nor do I have a color critical workflow, so feel free to discard my comments as you wish. :)

    First thing to say is that the biggest variable in color management is the intended output medium. If you're designing for mass-consumption on screen-based media, you can pretty much forget about achieving color accuracy across the board. If you're designing for print, my best advice is to make test prints on the intended printer--and adjust your work based off those accordingly (soakwashrinserepeat).

    There's essentially no difference in the color-handling abilities of Macs and PCs--you can achieve adequate results on both. My advice would be that you invest the money in purchasing a good monitor, instead of buying the Mac (although if you can afford it, the Mac would be cool too). You'll probably need a good CRT for color work. Most Sony CRTs work well. I've had good color experience with the NEC MultiSync FP950. I'm sure others can give you more definite monitor recommendations. If you're *REALLY* serious about color, probably nothing beats the Artisan Color Reference System (do a search on Google).

    For all but the most demanding purposes, the Adobe Gamma program that comes with Photoshop is more than adequate to calibrate your monitor for color work. The standard ICC profiles for your input and output devices help too, but are best tweaked manually. If you want something a bit more rigorous, you might want to invest in a color calibrating device, such as those offered by Pantone ( and click on 'monitor calibration') or Monaco Systems ( or LaCie (, although I stress again that for most people these are unnecessary.

    Hope this helps somewhat!


    As an aside, the reason many, if not most, graphic designers use Macs is mostly historical--due to the availability of design software 10+ years ago, compatibility issues between Macs and PCs way back then, and of course because Macs had a better interface for design work. Today, PCs are for the most part just as capable as Macs for design work.
  3. Xnet macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2003
    the reason macs are used more for graphic design and the like is because on the mac color management is done at the system level, whereas on the PC it is done on a per application basis making it hard to control final output from files with multiple sources.

    on to you color question....

    the ONLY way to get 98% color accuracy on a computer is through the use of a device which will 1)calibrate your monitor 2)calibrate your printer 3)create a ICC profile based on the substrate you will be printing on and the inks in your printer.

    if you can not afford a new computer forget a calibrating device better take the file to a studio for print, cost you a lot less....
  4. PixelFactory macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    Judging by the file size you are working with, these must be for large prints. Are the files originally digital or are they scans. If they are digital, you may have a problem reproducing the colors because of the gamut difference between CMYK and RGB. I have been doing color correction for about 10 years, five of those with a greeting card company. I never trust my monitor. They can be close in color but any change of light in the room can change your perception of the colors on the screen. Try looking at a piece of paper next to your monitor and turn on a different light source and you will see what I mean. I would get a color proof and work from that. If you are just doing one ups from a large inkjet just have them proof them at a smaller size and the cost will be much cheeper. It may take a few proofs to get it right if your mother is that concerned about the color.

    Best of luck.

Share This Page