Equipment Colour Calibration

The Need for Colour Calibration

Many photography enthusiasts do not realise that they need to colour calibrate their computer screen and printer. In both cases this should be carried out regularly, but one occurrence is far better than none!

These processes are needed in order to view, edit or print images with accurate colours, brightness and contrast.

The Basic Theory Behind Colour Calibration

You might find the following paragraph complicated. If so, do not worry as you do not need to understand it. It is provided for guidance only!

Hidden deep within the details of each image file, such as a JPEG, numbers are used to identify the colour required for each pixel (for screens) or dot (for printers) of the image. Every computer screen and printer, as it comes out of the manufacturer's factory, provides its own rendition of each colour as best it can. However no device displays or prints every colour exactly as is encoded in the file, without colour calibration. Such calibration provides a way of translating the information for each colour into the value needed for correct rendition on the screen or printer. In basic terms, the colours produced by the device are measured using a colorimeter, compared with the intended colour and then these data are used to provide a translation table. This table is then used, during display or printing, to display or print the correct colours.

Screen Colour Calibration

The good news about screen colour calibration is that it is achieved, with the correct equipment and software, with minimal manual intervention. The bad news is that this process should be carried out regularly, preferably monthly. However, as stated previously, having your system colour calibrated once is far better than never!

Spyder 2

Spyder 2 Screen Calibration

I use a Spyder 2 system for screen calibration. This system compares displayed colours with intended colours, producing a colour profile. This profile is then loaded, automatically, whenever the computer starts up. Once your monitor has been colour calibrated, you can forget it. Unless, that is, you repeat the operation at regular intervals, as recommended (I calibrate my monitor monthly). The result of the operation will be a computer which displays all colours correctly, allowing more accurate viewing and editing of your photographs. Of course, applications and your WEB surfing will also benefit from this improved performance.

I can provide this service to you, without any effort required from yourself. I can then repeat it as often as you like or stop the colour profile software from reminding you, endlessly, that you should refresh the calibration.

If you would like to get more information on this service then please contact me.

Printer Colour Calibration

Printer colour calibration is very different from screen calibration in that it is extremely manually intensive but can be carried out far less frequently.

Spyder 3 Print

Spyder 3 Print Calibration

If you use printer paper or inks other then those manufactured by, and recommended by, your printer's manufacturer then it is vital that you colour calibrate for your chosen paper and ink combination. In fact, you should calibrate for each paper and ink combination you use. Even if you use the recommended materials, you will almost certainly receive better results after colour calibration due to the variance between individual printers.

I use a Spyder 3 Print system, which uses test sheets printed on the target printer, using the chosen paper and inks. These test sheets, consisting of multiple different coloured squares, are measured one at a time using a hand operated colorimeter. A colour profile is then created and placed with the default printer profiles. Once created this profile has to be manually selected when printing from Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or other image processing software.

There are a variety of test sheets which can be printed, with varying numbers of squares. The more squares, the better the results, but the more manual clicking is required!

I can provide this service to you, without any effort required from yourself, using whichever degree of calibration you choose. Obviously the extra time and work needed for the more complex test sheets is reflected in my charge for the service.

Once a colour profile has been created it is unlikely that it will ever need to be created again, unless you change the paper or inks you use.

If you would like to get more information on this service then please contact me.

For prices for this service please go to Flying Custard Photography Prices.