Many questions about color management in Photoshop

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by rossi46, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    After getting horrid print results I had done many research and managed to come out understanding quite alot better, but still with half-baked understanding.

    I am going to come out with basic questions first before moving on to post questions about settings or workflows that suits my situation.
    Heres my basic questions -

    1. Convert to Profile -
    I had been advised that the main culprit of my muddy and dull prints could be missing out the steps to convert profile from Adobe RGB to sRGB, before saving the file in JPEG to send for printing.
    For your info, I sent to print for photobook (a normal commercial printers / not professional level, and I understand they use HP Indigo printers)

    Question -
    Is this true? Most commercial printers works best with sRGB? While proPhoto and Adobe RGB is for higher end professional printers?




    2. Colour Settings -
    I had read that colour settings is the setting you use to affect the behaviour of how photoshop converts to profile.

    Questions -
    - so colour settings is quite an important part of convert to profile? For example if I am printing photographic materials instead of designs, I would need to do stuff as changing the intent to "perceptual" instead of "relative colour" to avoid harsh tones which may result from sRGB's limited colour gamut?
    - What are the steps to be done, I need to do colour settings first before I convert to profile?




    3. View - softproof -
    The intention of Softproof view as I understand is to simulate how the colour will look in print.

    Questions -
    If I shoot in Adobe RGB, edit in Adobe RGB, convert to profile to sRGB before sending to print....
    Do I need to softproof in Adobe RGB or sRGB or in CYMK while I am doing my editing work?




    Thanks in advance for your kind effort to reply...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    1. Yes. Send a sRGB file unless otherwise told. If in doubt call them. If they don't know send a sRGB file. I only use ProPhoto for prints I make myself.

    2. I prefer perceptual although much of the time the differences are minor. I would suggest you make a copy of the file ('file name_print") for printing if you're changing profiles to a smaller colour space. Then convert to profile and make any adjustments for final output.

    3. No. You softproof using the profile of the printer you're outputting to. A better lab will have a profile you can download to use as a softproof profile that they have made for their printer. Or if the lab is using a wide format Epson or Canon printer and you know the paper type the paper manufacturer may have one you can download. For lesser commercial printers sRGB *may* work, but since you're converting to sRGB anyway you may as well not bother.

    Have a look here for some introductory information:

    wedding photographers - commercial photography - central coast - sydney - newcastle - hunter valley Flash Gordon Photography

    Gordon
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    458
    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Paul
    Thanks for pointing out this article - as someone struggling with the jump from film to Digital this is big help.

    Note to self - get display calibrated and printers profile pronto !!
     
  4. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    I fully agree with Flash's answers, but still some additional remarks.

    The printer profile is only important if you print yourself, or when soft-proofing. Soft-proofing means that you check via software simulation how the printer will handle the color rendering (especially the out-of-gamut colors). If you don't have a color calibrated (and preferably wide gamut) display, soft proofing makes no sense.

    With color management, you can either do everything in sRGB (which usually means: do nothing special except maybe calibrating your display), or you can go all-in. There is no real middle ground. All-in means: calibrate your display and printer; invest in a wide gamut display and printer if you really are picky on the saturated colors; learn everything about color spaces, rendering intent and profiles. And then you will also find out that going raw and prophoto makes the most sense if you want the maximum control.
     
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    The print place I use for huge prints uses sRGB, so I edit and process prints for that in sRGB. Not much point in painstaking color correction and then downgrading to a smaller space at the last minute. Another lab uses ProPhoto-ish color space and provides profiles for their printers, but doesn't do crazy huge prints (yet) and is quite a bit pricier.

    Different workflow for different images. All my stuff for web sticks to sRGB, since 99% of people viewing it don't have calibrated monitors and many won't have managed browsers.
     
  6. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    I forgot to clarify that it's a paper/printer profile. You need to use profiles for the paper/printer combo you use. If you're trying different papers you'll need a profile for each one. It's not like a monitor where there's only one.

    I suggest you don't worry about printers too much until you get your head around colour management first. There's nothing wrong with sticking with sRGB prints for a while. It's not like they look bad. sRGB prints, done well, look awesome. It's only when you put one next to an aRGB or larger working space that you'll see there was a difference and then not all the time. Some subjects (portraits for example) work well in the sRGB space.

    Gordon
     
  7. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Hi Flash, thanks for your explanations and the excellent link. However, I still have some further clarifications to be made.

    In my case, my work will be sent to commercial level printing of Photobook, in which one of the service provider told me to send the file in sRGB. They do not know what kind of ICC profiling (printer + paper combo) that they use.
    But the paper type will be texture raster.

    So in my situation, I do not need to softproof?

    If I edit my work in Adobe RGB mode, do I need to look at the colors softproof in Adobe RGB mode or in sRGB (since I will convert to profile later)?
    I should not be using CYMK softproof mode right?
     
  8. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Questions about Monitor calibration

    As I understand, monitor calibration is to allow users to see color as close as possible to prints.

    - Monitor calibration is done using what base? Is there a standard base to calibrate the monitor, and once calibrated, whatever ICC profiles you use will show highly accurate colours?

    - Monitor calibration improves colour accuracy, what about accuracy of brightness, shadows and contrast?

    - My work will be printed as a hobby with probably low end commercial printers using sRGB convert to profile. The printing shops has no idea about ICC profile.
    Monitor calibration will not really give me any benefits in this situation?

    - I am using low end Acer V3 Aspire notebook, probably with very limited colour gamut, is it necessary to perform monitor calibration?

    - See above questions,
    If answer is "no, no point calibrating monitor if I am using low end Acer V3 and I only send in sRGB commercial printers without ICC profile info) -

    Is there any quick and easy tips on how I should change my monitor settings so that I can get closer to the print.
    Eg. - brightness, contrast, gamma etc...

    And when I do my work, should it be in a dark or dimly lit environment?

    What about this link from Cambridge in Colour,
    Monitor Calibration for Photography

    I am referring to "Adjusting brightness and contrast" paragraph, is this useful info?
     
  9. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Monitor calibration is done based on calibration device/colorimeter measurements against ICC standards that define what Red (and other colors) should like like. For the ins and outs you can try reading the documentation for X-rite or Spyder products. Color accuracy is indeed only part of the story, and viewing conditions should also be controlled - I calibrate in a room with blinds closed, and the x-rite device I use is also used to set luminosity (brightness).

    There will always be a difference in terms of brightness and contrast, simply because your monitor is backlit, and paper is not. It takes a bit of practice to 'see' how night shots in particular will look on print. Also, while color calibration is always useful to some degree, I would not bother purchasing a calibration device until AFTER I got a good screen. And by 'good screen' I mean an IPS panel, one that doesn't change color or brightness based on what angle you look at it from.

    For the record, calibration is not something you 'only' need if you're using wider gamut color spaces. It is equally important to achieving good/predictable prints if your workflow is sRGB. Heck, most monitors can't even display full sRGB, let alone full Adobe or ProPhoto RGB.

    You may want to consider looking for a better shop that does know their color management. They're usually not much more expensive than the cheap print places, but the quality difference is definitely there. I still go to 'cheap' places if I want a bunch (20-30) larger prints (8x10s or bigger), or as a 'test run', but any images worth hanging get printed at the more expensive places that have more paper options and good ICC profiles available.

    Bottom line: if you're serious about getting good prints, an IPS monitor (such as a 23" Dell Ultrasharp series) and a calibration device are your best bet investments. Unless you print A LOT, pro level inkjet color printers will be much more expensive than having shots printed by pro printers.
     
  10. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    1. CMYK is of little use for photographers. Even though your inkjet printer uses CMYK inks it's still expecting a RGB file. Converting to CMYK requires some skill and there are people who will do it well. You and I probably wont. So as a photographer you wont likely ever need to work with a CMYK file.

    2. My workflow is to softproof if I have a printer profile to work with. If I'm sending to sRGB I'll create a duplicate of the finished aRGB file, convert it to sRGB and make any adjustments (if any) I need to.

    Gordon
     
  11. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Mattia's advice is sound. My additions.

    Calibration isn't about accuracy. It's about consistancy. We're trying to get consistant output from one device to another within the limitations of any particular device. The question "will my colours be accurate if I calibrate?" is asked. The answer is NO. But the colours should be as close as possible a match from screen to printer if both are accessing good profiles and the OS knows how to translate from one to the other. Your "accuracy" depends on you.

    2. Calibrating by eye is nearly impossible although you may fluke it occasionally. The human eye is too easy to fool and your eyeball calibration will be affected by something as simple as the room lights or the paint on the walls. It is possible to eyeball brightness and contrast to an approximation but as modern hardware calibration devices will do this automatically, it's not really neccessary.

    3. Any screen will benifit from hardware calibration. Get a colorimeter. It's worth it. Cheaper than any lens you can buy. It's an investment. Don't spend large sums of money on software that can calibrate multiple displays but get a puck that works on wide gamut screens just in case you upgrade.

    4. Even average labs have profiles. It's just the staff don't know. They're probably emulating as close to possible the sRGB working space. Calibrating you monitor will help in a couple of ways. Firstly you'll have consistancy which means predictability. Secondly you'll know it's not you when your prints suck.

    5. The ICC is the set of standards that form the basis for colour consistancy. ICC profiles try to get you close to that base. For monitors it usually maens a gamma of 2.2 and a brightness of 100 cm2. But some people like 120 and some 90.

    6. Working in a dim room can help but you'll need to examine and compare prints in a brighter environment. Your impression of a print is also influenced by the viewing environment, just like screens. Some colorimeters (hardwrare calibration puck) can adjust your screen for changing room conditions. Personally I've never liked that. My eyes seem to adjust well enough. I would recomend not having a window or strong light source behind you though.

    I think you're doing a good thing here. It's not an easy thing to get started with. But it's worth it. I think all keen photographers owe it to themselves to get a harware calibrator. A Spyder or a Huey Pro is fine. That's about $150.00. Not a big investment compared to the rest of this hobby/profession of ours.

    Calibrating your monitor is the heart of a colour managed workflow. The rest is easy (not!).

    Gordon
     
  12. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Sorry to repeat my inquiry again, as i probably did not make it very clear.

    If I shoot in Adobe RGB, edit my work in Adobe RGB mode, then convert to profile as sRGB for print.

    In the "View -> Proof setup"...should I pick -
    - Customize proof conditions -> device to simulate -> sRGB?
     
  13. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Flash, Mattia,
    thanks a million for the detalied explanations, especially in the monitor calibration, thats going to be next on my shopping list :)
     
  14. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    458
    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Paul
    Having gone to the trouble of purchasing a good IPS monitor (Dell Ultra 23") So I can check the output from my OMD it would be a bit silly not to calibrate it really. Although most reviews say they are good out of the box.

    Most of my none critical shots will displayed on an iPad (with retina) which are supposed to be reasonably calibrated by Apple. (Another reason for calibrating the Dell?)

    If I mainly stick to one commercial printer and paper type and work with their ICC profile and soft proof "the really good ones" then hopefully I can manage to look after colour management with going loopy in the process.

    Any comments from the experts on this approach?
     
  15. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    In this case I don't see softproofing as being neccessary as you're working space on the final file is the same as the space the printer expects. If your monitor is hardware calibrated just converting to sRGB should get you as close as your monitor can without needing to soft proof.

    Gordon
     
  16. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    That sounds fairly sensible.

    Monitors do drift over time so even if the calibration were to ICC standards then you'd still need to redo it monthly or so.

    The first time people do hardware calibrate many of them think there's something wrong as the change is quite large and the greys they are used to seem quite oragnge. This is normal. You'll adjust. Remember consistancy, not accuracy.

    Don't get too anal about perfection. When I first got into colour management some years agoI fussed and fussed. It took a while to relax a bit and accept that every output device is a tiny bit different (some vastly so). You'll never get a 100% screen to print match as Mattia explained in his earlier post. Ipad screens are excellent for viewing images. One of the best portable displays available but even there you will see small variations. Go with it. Personally I think iPad screens are a tiny bit too hot due to the ultra glossy screens. But they sure give images some extra punch.

    I only use a couple of labs for stuff I can't do myself and have the same approach. Keep it simple. After a while you'll be able to visualise the small differences between screen and print intuitively. I'm at the point where I hardly need to softproof at all when printing to my Epson 3880.

    Gordon
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Noted Gordon.

    I am going to ask a very noob / beginner question here.


    In the "View -> Proof setup", I do this
    - Customize proof conditions -> device to simulate -> select either sRGB or Adobe RGB

    The above selection is called standard view right? Its not softproof view.
    If otherwise, appreciate your help to let me know what view settings I should choose in order not to have softproof view. Thanks.
     
  18. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    What software is this in. I'll have to look it up to be 100%. But I would think so.

    Gordon
     
  19. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Hi Gordon,

    I am using Photoshop CS5