View Full Version : Is accurate colour calibration a necessity for good prints?

11-07-2004, 08:46 AM
My problem is this, I've already calibrated my displays not to any colour chart but my eyes, that is to say they're all set to about the same back light brightness, 50% contrast & then I've tweaked the gamma, contrast & brightness in the graphics card driver/software to give, to my eyes, a natural luminosity curve with bright, vivid colours & neutral greys without overly bright low-luminosity colours.

At this point I will say I've not sent any digital photos of to print and atm I have no decent colour printer to print off photos however this looks like it will change soon, so when I go out and look at magazines & on-line resources you tend to get the impression that unless you've accurately calibrate you monitor to give true colours else you might as well not bother. I've gone out and done the whole monitor calibration thing, and low and behold I end up with something very similar to what I stared with before I tweaked the display to something that looks right in my eyes. From the point I can see a few solutions -

1) Completely ignore colour calibration al together and pray it looks okay, paying for the preview prints/draft printing.

2) Change the display settings for the entire display system and put up with what I consider really bad colour rendering.

3) Somehow get the graphics package to calibrate its self around the 'bad' display calibration.

I've never liked head-in-the-sand solutions and it also tends to lend its self to complete disasters, however if I can get around it easily or things aren't as bad as people make it out to be it's a very simple solution. Calibrating all the colours to 'curate' colours just goes against the grain to me as I've spent a long time dialling in the monitors to what I find visually pleasing. The latter option seems the best but I really don't know how to go about doing this or if it's even possible. Ideas and suggestion please, I'm totally bewildered as to what to do.

11-07-2004, 03:45 PM
The problem is that a computer monitor and a printer use two different systems for producing colour images and as a result, unless you calibrate your monitor and by doing so produce a profile that your printer can use, there will be differences in reproduction. The chances are you will not see what you get.

You can use Adobe Gamma Control Panel adjustment tool or use any number of web sites that will help you calibrate your monitor. You really should do that.

As I understand it, using the human eye is next to useless because all your doing is seeing what you like and setting your monitor accordingly. Think about it: how could you instruct your computer to tell the printer what you want to see as results without using something the computer and the printer between them understand?

11-22-2004, 08:56 PM
No, but it's a lot less expensive than trial and error. That's what you are left with if you don't calibrate. Of course, even if you don't calibrate, eventually your eye can tell when what's on the screen is going to look good on the printer, but it's expensive getting there.

OTOH, luck also plays a part. You're monitor may be so close to the printer without calibration that you just don't need to bother.


12-04-2004, 11:29 PM
It sounds like you've done your research and have done a lot of experimentation. It sounds to me like you need to ask yourself whether having a bright vivid monitor for screen previews is more important than having consistent, accurate prints. If printing is what you are after, monitor calibration is an important step in achieving that goal.

You mention that you've adjusted the monitor's controls for optimum white point, luminance and gamma. Why not let a software/hardware package that is a great deal more accurate than your eye do all that work for you? Our ability to perceive color varies tremendously based on what we eat, how much sleep we've had and what other colors are present in our surroundings. Colorimeters don't suffer from the same problems.

Another point you address is that after calibration you feel the color representation on your monitor was less than ideal. If your monitor is new and the calibration is accurate, this is probably true. You need to turn down the luminance of most monitors to get an accurate monitor to print match. If your monitor is too bright, your prints will appear too dark.Calibrating your monitor helps to bring accuracy and consistency in your printing. Another key step is learning to navigate your printer's print drivers. Once you have these two elements in place, you should be churning out beautiful prints on a regular basis.

Best of luck with your printing
Jay Kinghorn
RGB Imaging