What color calibration tool would you use for a MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by iW00t, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    I am thinking of getting something like a Spyder2 to calibrate the poor LCD on the MBP to make it better. Is the Spyder2 a good device?

    I did some research on the brand and found some poor reviews, so I hope some experts here may know of a better brand. Thanks
  2. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    I use a Spyder2PRO, and have done since getting a Powerbook a couple of years back. It's worked very well on pretty much every display I've used it with so far.

    I've just checked the license, and it seems it's ok for me to distribute the .icc profiles it creates, so here's one from my new matte 15" Core2Duo MacBook Pro. The target was 2.2 Gamma, native white-point.


    Now there's a few things I want to point out - displays change over time, so what's a good profile for my display won't be perfect for yours - heck, even if you had a brand new Core2 MBP too, it'd be different. When you say it's for a MacBook Pro, I don't know if it's a CoreDuo or Core2 one, or if the CoreDuos even used the same screen.

    When you download it, put it into Home > Library > ColorSync > Profiles, and it should show up in the Display preferences.

    Hopefully, this will give you an idea of the kind of improvement you'll see from using a Spyder2 on your LCD, but there's a good chance it won't look so good.

    Using a profile from another machine is not suitable for any sort of image editing, I'm just hoping it'll be some sort of improvement over how things are for you now, and give you a general idea of what the profile does. If it doesn't look so good, then it's purely because you're using a profile from another computer, and I would still recommend you pick up the Spyder hardware.
  3. speekez macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    A handful of info.


    Do you have a glossy or matte screen? Are you trying to calibrate it to improve what you are seeing on the screen and/or for print output?

    In trying to decide whether to get a matte or glossy screen, I came across a bunch of different threads on the web in regards to calibrating these screens. I still haven't decided. I'm reposting 3 comments here (two are which are long), which might be of interest to both you and others regarding calibrating.


    "During a recent workshop I was teaching everyone had their own laptops - all but one were the normal lcd screens, but one lady had a glossy screen. It was head and shoulders the favorite of all the students - the images just looked stunning, so much better then everyone elses (including my large cinema display on my desktop). However when it came to printing, we could never get a print to even come close to the color that was displayed on her screen - and we profiled all the monitors with an Eye One. So in this instance at least, while the images were just gorgeous, it was very frustrating to her not to be able to get accurate color on the monitor for printing..."

    Tim Ernst in Arkansas


    I rang around the local mac stores today and finally found a store that had both the glossy and the matte in 17" in stock on demo. I rang them up and asked if I could come down and do a serious comparison over a couple of hours in a darkened environment. They were kind enough to accomodate - on one proviso - that I bought one or the other there and then.

    I went down there with my Spyder Pro 2, a couple of test discs [Digital Video Essentials, Monster Video calibrate] and with a color spectro photometer that I use on a daily basis for calibrating plasma displays in my other job [insert plug - www.cableman.com.au]

    I will qualify my findings by saying that I hold an ISF certification from the Imaging Science Foundation and a THX Level II Theatre Technician certifcation - so I have a pretty good grasp of color management, calibration and displays - its grounded in Home theatre - but the principles are the same.

    Anyway....my findings....

    First things first.. thanks to the guys at the store for giving me the time and space to do this comparison - they kindly set me up in a back room where i could work at my liesure and control the light. [Amazing service! - and it worked as you will see below]

    I calibrated both devices with the Spyder Pro 2 in a dark room [the gloss and matte] and generated a profile for each of them. I then calibrated the 30" Cinema display in the room as a reference point - I set them all up side by side.

    A quick note.. out of the box the matte was much closer than glossy and looking at the graphs shows less of a correction factor. The glosse took some fiddling to calibrate due to its reflective surface. I had to turn off the work light as it was interfering with spectrophotometer readings. I put a question mark up on how the glood reflects stray light back into the Spyder when calibrating - its just an unknown factor....

    Then I ran the DVE disc and checked it with the color spectrophotometer. This was interesting as it [the spectrophotometer] cant generate a profile as its designed to be used for calibrating plasma displays and projectors. However its more accurate [it costs about 10 grand] than the small Spyder and is excellent for checking how good a job the spyder generated profile is doing. In other words it can measure how good a job of producing accurate color the monitor is doing - but it cant do anything about it. Its also excellent for hunting down and revealing color errors - usually in the green channel which is by far the most obnoxious....

    Bottom line is.. the Spyder generated profile does a pretty dam good job of getting the video card and LCD to generate accurate color - its not 100% perfect but its dam close and close enough for all but the most critical color work. Note: The 30" Cinema display shows a more even greyscale with less color shift when grayscale tracking [virtually none that is measureable] edge to edge - the differnce between the greayscale tracking of the cinema display is marginal - I couldnt see it with my eye - but the machine can see it. The laptop screens show slight errors [in the red channel] at certain points on the screen [again.. I cant see it with my eye, but it is there]- meaning their uniformity and tracking is not quite as good as the cinema display - nothing to be concerned about and MUCH better than most laptop screens I have ever bothered to test. Its actually a lot better than I expected period.

    Anyway I digress. Point is I wanted to get them producing as accurate a color as possible so I could compare them - and bottom line I got them all dam close to perfect. Meaning they are for all intents and purposes IDENTICAL in their ability to reproduce accurate color. They both also do a fine job of grayscale tracking. The gloss screen takes a bit more fiddling and is less acruate out of the box - but once calibrated does just as good a job as the matte. The out of the box comment is actually a bit irrelivent as I only had one there to try - another may have produced a different result....

    To end the story.. I had agreed with the store to purchase one or the other. So I purchased the Matte - purely because I found the reflections on the glossy screen to interfere with what I was trying to do when calibrating - which most likely means it would cause me issues in the field.

    There was another reason for choosing matte however...

    Totally unplanned...I also purchased a 30" cinema display.... it turned out to be an expensive visit! My Visa is smokin! Its display is matte so matches nicely with the matte notebook.

    This will be my last post here for a while... Im about to shut down the Dell and fire up the Mac and learn to use a whole new O/S.

    I hope this might help others who are unsure of which to purchase - and for the sake of clarity - it doesnt matter. Buy the one you prefer the look of.

    Edit - I returned the Mac Book Pro for a full refund - I was NOT happy with its speed running CS2. I purchased a Dell Precision M90 workstation laptop instead.


    This is from Uwe over at Dpreview and Editor of Digital Outback Photo:

    "We had one MacBook as a test machine (for 3 months) and in addition I calibrated a friends 17" glossy MBP (worked well, but he returned it anyhow and got the matte one). Findings so far (and please note that a sample rate of 2 devices is not exactly great - other tests may give different results). Also please take into consideration that even a well profiles laptop display is still showing less accuracy than a stand alone monitor (limited calibration possibilities and great dependency on the viewing angle):

    - The glossy screen of the MBP seems to be easier to calibrate than the MacBook. I have no information if they are indeed different, but it seems to be the case. I used a Spyder 2 Pro and the ColorEyes Bundle on the MBP (each three times) and while there were slight differences between the two profiles, each three runs were showing a very high degree of consistency after sufficient warm-up and with pretty dim ambient light. Color print matching was very good (Epson R2400) with both, but the ColorEyes calibration yielded better B&W output.

    - The MacBook was causing quite some problems. The individual runs were inconsistent with both calibrators and had varying colour casts, they got a little more precise when the room was completely dark - unfortunately this is not how you should calibrate displays (unless you also work in complete darkness). In the end we were doing trial and error - calibrate, print, save the profile, labelled the hardcopy with the profile name, and then hand-picked the best result out of some 20-25 prints and selected the respective profile based on that... not quite what it should be, but doable.... :-(

    Maybe others have tried glossy screens with other devices/software combinations.

    For me the conclusion is to stay away from glossy screens if the machine must be used for editing. Even if the experience with the MBP was quite OK and calibration went well, it still shows a lot of symptoms that make it pretty much useless for serious image editing:

    - The unnatural contrast and saturation makes sharpening and white balance correction random tasks (I assume same is true for NR, but have not tried that)

    - The display clips shadows far too early - prints contain more detail and a different black point

    - Unless you only work in your own environment and can control ambient light, the mirror effect can be pretty annoying (more on the MB than on the MBP though).

    I would only consider the glossy models for uploading, tagging, rough selecting etc. and connect a second monitor for post processing. If the second monitor is no option, stay with matte. The glossy screens are indeed nice for viewing videos and DVDs and for presenting images to clients..."
  4. raleigh1208 macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    Sorry for the newby question from a new Mac owner, but what is a Spyder 2 or Spyder 2 Pro? A device? piece of software? cost? where available? Thanks in advance for your help!
  5. hqsbud macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2003
    Finally! I've been waiting for someone to compare my glossy Spyder2 calibrated profile with a matte one. But posting your matte Spyder2 Pro calibrated profile works for me too. The first diagram is the 2d Lab plot with andrewfee's matte profile on the left and with my glossy profile on the right. The second is with the matte profile ghosted and the glossy one in color. Some interesting differences, with the glossy extending farther in the blue and green area, and the matte extending farther in the other areas.

    Very interesting results others had as well. Color is so complicated, that I was able to see some missing data even there. I have an Epson R2400, and matte paper with matte black ink produces charcoal-black blacks, but glossy premium paper with photo black ink isn't nearly so, though it's still impressively black. Perhaps the gamuts of their printer was just too different from the display, and the limitations of the glossy more closely matched the printer? Might they see different results from a different printer/ink/paper combination?

    I'm no color engineer, so anything I say about this should be taken with a Morton salt container.

    Attached Files:

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  6. hqsbud macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2003
    It's a device that comes with software. I got a Spyder2 from bhphotovideo.com for $150. The device is sort of like a puck with three prongs coming out the side for CRT monitor suction cups. It connects to your Mac with USB. It has very clunky software which guides you through calibration, and it's quite easy even for someone like me who doesn't have much color training. And worse, is colorblind.
  7. speekez macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003

    thanks for diligently posting these profiles! this has been helpful.

    I guess what's been confusing to me is why the matte is considered the preferred choice over glossy for color accurate work like graphics and photos.

    For example, let's say the laptop is being used indoors in desirable lighting where reflections in the glossy screen are not an issue.

    Also for the sake of discussion it's understood that laptop LCD screens aren't up to par with desktop LCD screens.... and that desktop LCD screens aren't quite up to par to a great CRT. And CRTs, with their glass (gloss) surface have always been the preferred monitor for color acurate work.

    That said, for photographic work, I wonder why a glossy laptop LCD screen is generally considered inferior to a matte laptop LCD screen when both are compared to a CRT. Why is a matte screen a more color reliable/print reliable equivalent to the glassy CRT? After all, CRTs and glossy LCDs both having a glass-like surface, so one would think they would be the closer cousins.

    CRT's have always had a glass/gloss surface and we've been able to make pretty close prints to the pictures we see on them... so why is the glass/gloss surface of a laptop so much different and considered a step backwards? Is it because the glossy surface of an LCD is more difficult to calibrate the the shiny glass of a CRT?

    Or, are matte surfaces (let's say on a high quality LCD desktop monitor) actually a better display medium, period -- better than glass CRTs and a step forward for onscreen accuracy and reliable printing.
  8. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    I could be wrong, but I think these profiles really only take into account the gamut of the displays, (the range of colours they can reproduce) rather than the saturation of those colours, so while the gamuts may be similar, images on the two will still be quite different. I'm guessing the differences in gamut are really due to manufacturing tolerances, as I believe it's determined by the backlight used, rather than the screen type. Perhaps it has some effect, but I'm sure it's not really a big difference. LCDs are typically a bit red deficient, so any improvement you can get there is good. Neither of these are any good compared to what's available with desktop displays though.

    I've found glossy screens to produce far more saturated colours than matte ones though, and personally I don't like the look, especially for photo editing. (while I've not used a MBP with a glossy screen, I have had a Sony X-Black monitor and a MacBook) It looks great for plaing games on though.
  9. iW00t thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    speekez, I got the matt screen.

    My screen isn't as bad as some other MR members but what really irks me is the poor colour detail. Everything seems somewhat washed out, and watching DVDs seem to make it seem like a cheap thailand pirated video. There is very poor detail in the shadows and it just looks cheap and tacky.

    I got the C2D MBP. Can't remember the model number offhand but it is the one with "60" at the end.
  10. iW00t thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    Wow, tried it and indeed there is a small but noticeable improvement.

    I've ordered one from an outfit called Integrated Color. They seem like a smaller company but many photography forums that I frequent seem to hold their product with high regard, so I will give that a go and see how it improves the display.
  11. speekez macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    woot --
    do you have a link to the one you ordered? I assume you didn't order a Spyder/Spyder Pro from Integrated Color., but something other?
  12. iW00t thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild

    It is the package that is bundled with the DTP94 color meter. Costs more than the Spyder Pro but then again the difference isn't huge. Besides if I am really after savings I can get the Spyder Pro software off some *places* for $0 and get the color meter for $69 at Amazon.
  13. speekez macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    cool.... please do let us know how it works out for you!!!!
  14. iW00t thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    I hope it results in some significant improvement. I'd be jibbed spending so much for no results.
  15. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    Excellent, I didn't know ColorEyes Display supported the Spyder2 Colorimiters now. They've got a free demo, so I'll give that a shot and let you know how the profiles compare.
  16. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    Just had a go using the demo and my Spyder2 colorimeter, and I'm very impressed - I think it's more due to the L* gamma rather than actually being more accurate (although it does seem to spend more time creating the profile) but I think I'll be buying this as soon as I can. I'll probably just stuck to using my Spyder2 colorimeter though.

    I'd definitely recommend picking up either the pack with the DTP94 or getting the software and any of the Spyder2 packages. (they all use the same sensor now)
  17. speekez macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    iw00T did you get calibrator?

    say iw00T

    did you get your calibrator yet and did it improve anything?
  18. deadpixels macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2006
    whats strange is that the second guy says this :

    and the other guy says that :

    weird, uh? who's right then?
  19. vgoklani macrumors regular


    Jul 2, 2004
    I calibrated my 17" MBP using an eye-one 2 colormeter, and the gamut is fairly similar to what you posted. Interestingly enough, I also calibrated an average CRT on my desk, needless to say, the CRT blew away the MBP.
  20. iW00t thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    Not yet. The ColorEyes bundle was backordered at Colorgear (the place I ordered it from) apparently, so I switched to a Monaco Optix XR Pro bundle instead. Same sensor so if it doesn't work out I can at least try the ColorEyes demo :)
  21. usvi4me macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2006
    Trinidad, West Indies - soon St. Thomas USVI
    Since it is possible to share icc profiles, can someone post a calibrated profile for the 17" MBP C2D ?
  22. Bern macrumors 68000


    Nov 10, 2004
    I use a Spyder and in accordance to the instructions that come with it I darken the room (turn off overhead lighting and close the blinds, remove any direct lighting from the screen).

    Indeed calibrating with the Spyder on my MacBook and my desktop LCD displays small differences and I would prefer the end result of the desktop to my MacBook but they are almost identically calibrated anyway as a result. Having said that I couldn't imagine doing any imaging editing on a laptop screen given it would be too small to see any accurate detail of what I am doing and therefore only use my desktop display for such work.
  23. speekez macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    Hmm. Methinks I may want to reconsider getting a laptop over a desktop, at least for my purporses. I've never owned a laptop, but as an owner of a trusty blue & white G3 desktop and an aging CRT, I'm ready for an upgrade and have been considering a notebook for a change, mostly to conserve desk space. But as a graphic designer and as someone who wants to move into photography more professionally, it sounds like a laptop screen might not cut it for photo editing (although, I do know of some folks who do it) -- and I might need an external LCD monitor on the desktop anyway. I'm not a student, nor am I the type who wants to use a laptop in Starbucks, so if I am mostly going to use the system at home, maybe I'll consider the Mac Pro tower. Then again, a laptop might be nice to bring to clients, show work, and it can still power Aperture, and a nice external LCD. So, we'll see :)
  24. iBorg20181 macrumors 6502


    Apr 5, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Are you talking about Colorvision Spyder 2 Express at Amazon for $69? Sounds like it comes with software, albeit not the "Pro" software. For a nonprofessional photographer, I wonder how well this inexpensive package would work? (I'm not keen on spending $250 or so for a package!)

    If anyone has experience with this package, I'd sure appreciate your advice!

  25. Irish Dave macrumors regular

    Nov 20, 2006
    The Emerald Isle
    I have experience of all three Spyder models.
    The Spyder 2 express does a reasonable job (much much better than not calibrating) but definitely the .icc profiles becomes more accurate as you head up to the Pro 2. Like most things in life, the more you pay the better the results.

    Remember if you do buy a Spyder, you should calibrate at least once a month.

    Dave :)

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