Color Correction        

Older monitors and video driver boards varied considerably from unit to unit.  As a result, monitor calibration programs were devised to attempt to reduce the errors. 

New equipment is considerably more accurate.  A new monitor and a new computer, operated at nominal ("out of the box" -- including intensity at nominal, not maximum) settings, is usually quite accurate.  If you have new equipment, using a calibration program could easily do more harm than good.  

When evaluating color, keep in mind that the monitor is transmissive and the print is reflective.  Room lighting is important in evaluating a print. 

What we've found is that nearly all digital cameras, with well-illuminated subjects, with appropriate white balance settings, without any subsequent editing, produce color which looks good.  

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for flatbed scanners or slide scanners.  We've found that many flatbed scanners do not have good color.  One of the common problems is that the glass on a scanner reflects quite a bit (an unpredictable amount) of light, so the scanner has difficulty differentiating between dark gray and black.  Worse yet, any fingerprints or dust on the glass will show up conspicuously for the darker colors.  Most scanners handle this problem by simply making anything that is darker than a dark gray show up as black (red = 0, green = 0, blue = 0).  This hides the fingerprints, the dust, and the reflection off of the glass, which usually varies from place to place.  Unfortunately, you probably don't want to lose most or all of your shadow detail.

Another problem with flatbed scanners is that the illumination is not uniform.  A perfectly uniform white piece of paper will show up on the scanner lighter in some places than others, simply because the lamp and associated optics are not perfect.  The scanner manufacturer doesn't want to get complaints that white backgrounds show up differently from place to place, so the scanner makes anything lighter than a very light gray show up as white (red = 100%, green = 100%, blue = 100%).  Unfortunately, you probably don't want to lose most or all of your highlight detail.

Slide scanners have similar problems, the result being that getting good results is often difficult.

The bottom line:  it is best if you can do one of the following: 

  • Use a digital camera, and avoid the need to use a flatbed scanner or slide scanner, or

  • Purchase professional equipment (a good flatbed scanner may cost more than $2,000), or

  • Get a good drum scan from an imaging service bureau.

This relates to getting good artwork in the first place.  What about editing?  The first piece of information you need is whether your monitor will predict accurately what you will get from our printer.  If you are already one of our customers, and if you are about to place an order for a large print with very critical color, it is a good idea to order a small print first, and compare the color of the print to that of your monitor. If they are not the same, you can then make adjustments to bring them closer to being in alignment.

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