Color Management: 2006 by Bob Rose
The Latest and Greatest Tools for Optimizing Color
Color Management Tools for 2006. Top row, Colorimeters—(l–r): Eye-One Display 2, huey, Spyder 2, ColorEyes DTP-94, OPTIX XR. Bottom row, Spectrophotometers—(l–r): Eye-One, PrintFIX PRO, PULSE.
Our lives as photographers in a digital world should be easier, right? But as we’ve all discovered, we don’t have the push-button simplicity
that George Eastman promised over 100 years ago. One aspect of imaging that’s been especially elusive is getting accurate color. You’d think that what you see is what you get, although you find out quickly it’s anything but.
The problem is actually simple—each device you use records or reproduces colors
in a different way. In addition, each piece of hardware is slightly unique, and even if it is fine-tuned to work optimally at the factory, performance changes over the course of time.
In many of the same respects we’ve always
had this issue, even with analog photography, but digital technology allows us to control
it much better. Welcome to color management.
ColorVision SpyderPRO Display settings.
Fortunately for all of us, the concept
of color management
has been tackled and successfully
put under control by a number
of companies. You don’t need to understand
the science or pay astronomical
prices for the privilege of getting good color. However, you do need to use something,
even if it’s just a meter to set your monitor. Otherwise you’re just guessing that what you see is good, and you’re virtually
guaranteed to guess wrong.
There is a system that works and it requires a special light meter to measure your monitor (called a colorimeter) and a different one to measure your prints (a spectrophotometer). A series of known colors are generated by the system soft-ware, and are either flashed on screen or printed as a series of patches. These special light meters then measure the colors and compare what they see to what should be. A few number-crunching minutes
later and a spectral view of each device is created in an industry-standard format called an ICC profile.
Either your computer operating system or your color-compliant application (like Adobe Photoshop) understands how to use these profiles, and that’s all it takes.
Each solution presented below is identified both by the intended user level as well as with the devices it supports. Here’s the current offering of products for you to choose from:
ColorVision PrintFIXPRO Target selection.
Spyder2express $99—Basic (Monitor)
The newest version of the Spyder Colorimeter
is much easier to use than the previous model and has significantly improved
performance. Wizard-driven software
takes you through the steps to make it work, and you’re provided with a fair number of options and ways to fine tune. Especially nice is the before/after comparison
feature, which lets you see the effect of what you’ve done.
Spyder2 Suite $169—Advanced (Monitor, Printer)
Take a Spyder2 and add PrintFIX PLUS software, and you get the ColorVision Spyder2 Suite. PrintFIX PLUS provides the ability to create custom printer profiles
without any additional software. It requires a bit of trial and error to fine tune things, but an online tutorial and clever software helps step you through the process. In addition, ColorVision plans to provide additional support online as they start to add custom printer profiles to use as a starting point. Of course, editing tools let you tweak color profiles to optimize specific color reproduction.
GretagMacbeth EyeOne Target measurement process.
Spyder2PRO $279—Pro (Monitor, Printer, Projector)
Adding even more features and controls to the Spyder2 Suite, the PRO software supports
multiple monitor calibration
and matching, custom targeting, and curves manipulation.
Plus the exclusive Ambient
Preciselight™ function permits measurement of ambient
light and provides a way to balance studio lighting and monitors accordingly. Print-
FIX PLUS is included and so is the ability to adjust digital projectors to ensure that your images are shown to their best advantage in presentations.
PrintFIX PRO $549—Pro (Printer)
PrintFIX PRO software combined with the new PrintFIX Spectrophotometer provides an accurate way to create custom print profiles for just about any RGB device. While it’s a basic, manually
positioned patch reader, it’s surprisingly fast to use. The Print
FIX PRO software wizard guides you through each step of the process, including printer set-up, media selection, and profile creation and editing.
GretagMacbeth EyeOne Match menu.
PrintFIX PRO Suite $649—Pro (Monitor, Printer, Projector)
PrintFIX PRO Suite includes the PrintFIX PRO Spectrophotometer
and the Spyder 2PRO colorimeter.
(Note: In January of this year GretagMacbeth
(Amazys) and X-Rite announced that X-Rite will acquire Gretag-Macbeth (Amazys). According to the press release this should enable GretagMacbeth
and X-Rite to combine the best of the best in terms of product innovation,
service, support and talent.)
GretagMacbeth EyeOne Display calibration settings.
GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display 2 $249 —Pro (Monitor)
The Eye-One Display 2 is GretagMacbeth’s next generation colorimeter for use with all types of displays.
Advanced controls allow best possible match across multiple monitors,
optimization of gray balance for more neutral and better defined grays, plus there’s even a way to check ambient light to determine optimal room lighting for color-critical work. Wizard-driven software
guides you through the process and gives you a visual comparison of the effect of your new display appearance versus the original settings.
ColorEyes Welcome screen.
GretagMacbeth Eye-One Design $995—Pro (Monitor, Printer)
The heart of the Eye-One system is a unique instrument which functions both as a colorimeter and a spectrophotometer.
So with one unit you can profile your monitor and desktop printer, and Eye-One Match software makes it easy. The new GretagMacbeth ruler/folding backup board (also available as an accessory
to current owners) semi-automates the print-patch reading process. It allows smooth movement while scanning the entire test print and prevents the Eye-One from coming in contact with the chart, thus avoiding any possible smearing or scratching. Plus, this all fits in one handy and very protective carrying case.
The basic Eye-One Design is a great starting system that can be enhanced with firmware upgrades as your needs expand. When you’re ready to tackle more critical
color issues like proofing or high-end photographic printing, a software upgrade
module provides advanced RGB or CMYK printer profiling. You can also easily add digital camera profiling, scanner profiling, digital projector profiling and profile editing as your needs expand.
GretagMacbeth Eye-One Photo $1495—Pro (Monitor, Camera, Scanner, Printer, Projector, Editor and Mini ColorChecker)
Add the camera, scanner, projector and editing modules to the Eye-One Design
and you’ve got the Eye-One Photo.
ColorEyes Monitor Validation display.
GretagMacbeth Eye-One Photo SG $1695—Pro (Monitor, Camera, Scanner, Printer, Projector, Editor and Mini ColorChecker)
This package is the same as Eye-One Photo, but includes ColorCheckerSG to support camera profiling.
Going beyond the Eye-One systems described above, there are complete packages for more graphic-centric users such as the Eye-One Proof ($1495—Pro; Monitor, Scanner, Printer, Spot Colors, Advanced CMYK, Editor). The ultimate hardware package is the Eye-One XT ($2,695—Pro; Monitor, Camera and ColorChecker SG, Scanner, Printer, Advanced CMYK, Projector and Beamer Hardware, Spot Colors, Editor and Mini ColorChecker,
Extended Warranty and Training),
providing extreme versatility.
In addition, if you need to create and edit high-quality ICC profiles for monitors, digital studio cameras, RGB, CMYK, Hexachrome
®, CMYK+Red/Blue and CMYK+Red/Green output devices, then you might want to also consider ProfileMaker
Photostudio ($2495—Pro; Software Only).
And to top it all off, while they have automatic
GretagMacbeth just recently started shipping the Eye-One iO ($1995—Pro; Automate Print Profiles), which is essentially a robotic arm that holds your Eye-One and allows it to operate fully automatically, scanning more than 500 patches per minute!
Integrated Color Corporation
ColorEyes Display $185—Software Only—Advanced (Monitor)
ColorEyes Display is a unique software package specifically
dedicated to extract
every bit of performance out of your display, no matter what brand of colorimeter
you use. Priding themselves
on offering the slowest color management package in the bunch, Integrated
Color Corporation knows that the extra time spent making measurements, performing calibration and setting adjustments
really gives you the smoothest gray scale and most accurate profile. And to prove it, the integrated profile verification
tool will show you just how good your profile is. Available as software only for use with your own hardware or as a package bundled with an X-Rite DTP-94 (OPTIX XR) for $325.
Pantone huey startup screen.
PANTONE huey $89—Basic (Monitor)
The coolest new kid on the block is the PANTONE® huey. This stubby, fountain pen-sized device is designed to profile your monitor, and when not in use sits in its special holder, where it measures any changes in ambient light level and readjusts your monitor to compensate. It’s a joint effort between GretagMacbeth,
who created the hardware, and Pantone, who developed the software. No fancy stuff, no color temperatures, no numbers, just simple words to help guide you along during setup. It’s basic and it works.
PANTONE Eye-One Display LT $169 —Advanced (Monitor)
If you need more control and user settings, Pantone offers a Lite version of Eye-One Match software combined with the Eye-One Colorimeter called the Eye-One Display LT. And if more sophistication
is required, an upgrade effectively converts the Display LT into a Display 2 (which is sold by both Pantone and GretagMacbeth).
X-Rite Photo Marketing
Monaco OPTIX XR $249—Advanced (Monitor)
The Monaco OPTIX XR is X-Rite’s next generation design in colorimeters, offering
superb performance and accuracy to within 0.003 chromaticity error. Wizard-
driven software makes profiling any display easy and simple. And if you need enhanced target support for even more accurate profiles, monitor matching for workgroups, extended calibration curve control, and profile checker capabilities, you can get it through software in the PRO version, Monaco OPTIX XR PRO ($379—Pro; Monitor).
Pantone huey calibration view.
Monaco EZcolor $498 —Advanced (Monitor, Scanner, Printer)
Make one wizard-based software program
support the Monaco OPTIX XR for display profiling, and also provide scanner-
based printer and scanner profiling, and you’ve got Monaco EZcolor. Output profile editing rounds out the features on this popular package.
X-Rite PULSE ColorElite System
The PULSE ColorElite System includes a new, precise handheld portable, rechargeable
Spectrophotometer and the OPTIX XR Colorimeter. A new software interface walks the user through each step of the profiling process and provides sophisticated profile editing controls. The PULSE Spectrophotometer fits in the versatile
Pathfinder hand-scanning guide and works in a semi-automatic mode, gliding above the surface of test prints to speed up the patch reading process while eliminating
contact with the print target. Operating
in its exclusive untethered
mode, the PULSE can travel just about anywhere to take measurements, which are stored in its on-board memory, ready to download and build profiles with when you return it to the base workstation.
Available in both the PULSE Color
Elite Standard version ($1799—Pro; Monitor,
Camera, Scanner, Printer, Editor) as well as the PULSE Color
Elite Professional version
Camera, Scanner, Printer, CMYK, Editor). Both versions are also available without the OPTIX XR Colorimeter. An optional accessory kit ($279.00) includes a Dual Voltage Rapid Charger, Spot Guide, Pathfinder Backer Board, ColorShopTMX
Software and a Deluxe Travel/Storage Bag
X-Rite PULSE ColorElite menu.
X-Rite PULSE Display selection.
X-Rite PULSE Target measurement process.
Monaco DCcolor $299 —Pro (Software Only, Camera)
This package creates profiles for digital cameras
and requires either the 24-patch GretagMacbeth ColorChecker, or preferably
the GretagMacbeth DC Digital Camera Color Reference Chart.
X-Rite also offers more sophisticated automatic Spectrophotometers, as well as advanced versions of software such as Monaco
PROFILER Gold Edition ($3050—Pro (Software Only; Advanced),
which is more suitable for reprographic shops, photographic labs, commercial photographers, print shops and creative professionals. And Monaco PROFILER Platinum edition ($4250—Pro; Software Only, Advanced) adds Multi-Color and Hexachrome support.
Bob Rose joined the photo industry in 1978 after graduating from RIT. As Director of Dark Space Research for Beseler, the manager of Digital Business Development for Ilford, and VP of Marketing for Bogen, Rose has been a lecturer and contributor to a number of publications including the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, and has taught at Parsons School of Design. In 1999 he formed his own company, VMI. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.