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ColorVision PrintFIX Pro SuiteEasily calibrate your monitor and printer
Back in the early 1990s I worked at a magazine called Digital Imaging that covered the digital imaging and desktop publishing industry. As part of my job I was tasked to bring files via SyQuest drive to the service bureau for film output. At one particular facility I met with a person who had brought a print ad file to the service bureau. They were having trouble outputting the file to match the color that was on screen, and to make a long story short, it turned out that the new display that was used to generate the file was not yet calibrated to the specs of the device that output the file, an Efi Fiery Raster Image Processor. Since then I've always made note of the importance of calibrating the display and printer for good color output of your images.
But this is not always the case. Family members, friends, and readers of this website often ask why the images taken with their brand new DSLRs don't look the same on their computer screen when they output them with their equally expensive printer. So I tell them, calibrate, calibrate, calibrate. It is really a painless process that can be performed on a routine, monthly schedule given you have the right solution.
|The suite includes the Spyder2Pro color calibrator and the Spectrocolorimeter|
ColorVision offers a solution that makes it fairly easy to color calibrate your display to match that of your printer. I've been using it for several months with very good results. Called the PrintFIX Pro Suite, the solution enables you to color calibrate any RGB color driven printer, be it inkjet, thermal, laser, chemical, or dye sublimation. It is comprised of a Datacolor 1005 Spectrocolorimeter, Spyder2 colorimeter, a Tripod adapter, PrintFIX Pro and Spyder2 Pro software, QuickStart Guide, USB mini cable, and the calibration base. If you are serious about your photography, it is a no brainer to calibrate for the best possible output. PrintFIX Pro makes it easy. It is tedious, but it just takes about 20 minutes to get it done.
To get up and calibrating quickly the company has included a QuickStart poster guide that you can follow easily to calibrate your system. You first have to calibrate your monitor. To do this, you use the included Spyder2 Pro colorimeter and the software that comes with it. First you install the software and follow the onscreen directions. Set a display type and then a target. Here you choose the target profile that you can calibrate to. The Spyder2 Pro can also calibrate NTSC/PAL monitors as well as Cineon film formats as well. Since you are primarily concerned about print output from a printer, target 2.2-6500 is chosen, the computer monitor target.
Your next choice is Ambient Light Compensation. You can set it on or off, with off being the recommended choice. Choosing On is made if you wish for the device to analyze the ambient room light conditions and calibrate accordingly. Luminance mode is the final selection. After you've selected it, your current settings are displayed. Once you completed these steps, the software asks if your display has brightness, contrast, and backlight settings.
If it does, you need to reset the settings to the factory default. Once you've reset the monitor to the factory default, you can proceed with the calibration. After calibration of the display, the software shows you how images look on your display with its original settings and how images look after calibration. With the calibration of a BenQ display, the images had a washed out look with a gray cast. After calibration, the images were much richer in skin tones and colors. The calibration change is really evident in the Before and After screen of the software.
|Here is the Initial page setup. The screenshots below showcase some of the steps taken to calibrate your printer.|
|Completed profile. You can print the test image and compare it to the one you printed before you started the calibration process.|
With the first half of the calibration process complete, you can now work on the second half, profiling your printer. You first must install the PrintFIX Pro software and follow the instructions. After you've installed the software and performed the page setup and selected a target, you then proceed to use the Spectrocolorimeter to create your profile. Now this can get tedious as you have to place the Spectrocolorimeter on each individual patch color, and then hit the return key. And you've got a choice of 150 (Fast target), 225 (High quality target), and 729 (Expert and Expert large) patch targets. After you've profiled all of the tiles, the profile is complete and you can print out the test image and compare it to the test image that you printed previously under the meeting setting check. You then build your profile and save it. Keep in mind that if you have multiple printers on your network, like I do, you have to calibrate accordingly. Plus, you can also tweak the profiles to suit your tastes by adjusting parameters such as Red, Green, and Blue, or
|Print quality check|
|You have a choice of targets to calibrate to. Fast target is the quickest, while Expert target (Large) will take some time to complete.|
If you've spent the money on a high quality DSLR and printer, you need to spend a bit more to calibrate your devices to ensure optimal image quality from the monitor to the printer, and there really is no easier way to do it than with the PrintFIX Pro Suite. If you are spending lots of money on printer consumables as well as high quality photographic paper, it only makes sense to ensure that you print an image right the first time. In addition, throughout the wizard process, if you have questions, thee is a comprehensive, browser-based help system that discusses virtually all aspects of the calibration process. It will answer any question you might have during any of the steps in the process.
PrintFIX Pro Suite ($649 list, $100 rebate through July 31, 2007) combines the two tools that are needed to get true what you see is what you get prints. In order to print out accurate color, you've got to calibrate your printer and monitor. Serious digital photographers, graphic designers, web designers, and prepress professionals know the value of a calibrated display. It works with both Windows and Macintosh computers and the compnay has just released a Windows Vista version of the software. The beauty with the PrintFIX Pro Suite is you don't have to be an expert on color theory to get accurate and faithful prints, and what ColorVision has done is provide a very elegant solution to achieve this. For more information, visit http://www.colorvision.com.
John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at email@example.com
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