The virtues of color calibration

I am a fairly serious photographer and for years I’ve wanted to have a properly color calibrated workflow. I edit my photos on a Dell PremierColor monitor. It’s not a $5,000 Eizo but it’s a great monitor and fine for my purposes.

Marketing photO from X-Rite. i want that large format scanner. I kind of want the Intuos, but i’d rather have a CIntiq.

Marketing photO from X-Rite.
i want that large format scanner.
I kind of want the Intuos, but i’d rather have a CIntiq.

When I was doing all my work on one monitor it didn’t really matter (to me) if the monitor was calibrated since the photos would only be viewed there. Of course they might show up differently for others and it’s not professional to edit photos with a skewed reference display. But for a time it wasn’t a priority.

That changed when I bought a printer. Last year I purchased a Canon Pixma Pro-100. I wanted something nice but felt I should stay with dye ink rather than pigment ink because I print infrequently. In hindsight I regret that choice. While I like the Pro-100, if I had it to do again I’d buy the ImagePrograf Pro-1000. I don’t have the space to add a second printer in my current studio so for now the Pro-100 is fine.

Once I had a second output device, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get my prints to match my monitor without calibration. The Canon Print Studio application supports printing out a set of thumbnails to manually adjust color parameters but I wasn’t having much luck picking the right settings. Worse, even after installing ICC profiles for the paper, my prints on Canon Platinum Pro would have wildly different color from prints on Canson Baryta. Then the Canson prints would look nothing like the Hahnemühle prints.

I recently caved and bought an X-Rite i1Studio. It’s a color spectrometer that will accurately calibrate and profile displays, printers, cameras, scanners, and projectors. I went with that model because I want the support for all of those devices.

I started with my monitor and then generated ICC profiles for my go to papers with my printer. Game changing. The soft proofing in Adobe Lightroom is very very close now to my printed output. I have discovered a few cases where my photos go out of the color gamut of my printer, but that’s to be expected. I’ve also started using relative colorimetric color space mapping for portrait prints.

The result is that now my prints have the same colors on different paper stock and they are very close to what I see on screen if I view them under daylight color temperature. I haven’t calibrated my scanner yet but perhaps this weekend. I don’t really scan in photos, but since I have the tool I may as well.

In summary, very happy with this purchase and I’m now getting results that are far superior even to downloading the ICC paper profiles for my printer.