ColorVision PrintFIX Pro Suite
If you’re really serious about the quality of the digital prints you make, you need to introduce colour management into your workflow. The tools required are a colorimeter for measuring the colours produced by your monitor and a spectrophotometer (or spectrocolorimeter) for measuring the colours produced by your printer. Together they enable you to make the picture you see on-screen emulate the output of your printer. . . [more]
If you’re really serious about the quality of the digital prints you make, you need to introduce colour management into your workflow. The tools required are a colorimeter for measuring the colours produced by your monitor and a spectrophotometer (or spectrocolorimeter) for measuring the colours produced by your printer. Together they enable you to make the picture you see on-screen emulate the output of your printer.
The ColorVision PrintFIX Pro Suite includes both tools – Spyder2 Pro is the screen calibrator and PrintFix Pro handles printer fine-tuning. Both are straightforward to use, thanks to excellent on-screen Wizards that provide all the information you require. Best of all, it’s easy to obtain accurate ICC profiles for your monitor, printer and media.
Workflow calibration starts with the monitor, which should be ‘warmed up’ for roughly an hour first. Work in normal lighting but make sure no direct light is shining on your screen. While the monitor warms up, check the following computer parameters (instructions are provided in the Spyder2 Installation guide):
– Set the display resolution to a minimum of 1024 x 768 pixels and display colour depth to 16 million colours,
– Disable Adobe Gamma,
– Switch off screen savers and power savers and disable anti-virus software,
– Windows users should set hardware acceleration to full.
Now load the software. The supplied ProfilerPLUS 2.3, a plug-in for Photoshop, installs within seconds; the Spyder2 1.0.5 software takes a minute or two extra. Then attach the Spyder2 colorimeter to your computer via a USB port. (Windows will automatically recognise it and build a database for it.)
Monitor Calibration with Spyder2 Pro
Launch the Spyder2 software and follow the Wizard-based commands, which cover:
- Selecting the type of monitor you wish to calibrate;
- Setting the required colour temperature and gamma level for your workflow. For most photographers, these settings should be 6500K and 2.2 respectively.
- Adjusting the monitor’s brightness, contrast and colour levels to bring them within acceptable parameters.
Once these steps are completed, the software will move on to attaching the colorimeter. If you’re calibrating an LCD, make sure the baffle is installed. Hang the Spyder2 over the screen, adjusting the counterweight to keep it in place. Tilting the screen backwards a little is advisable. For a CRT monitor the baffle is removed so you can attach the Spyder2 to the screen with its suction cups. If you require a more detailed explanation of the choices you make at any stage of the process, click the Help button.
Position the colorimeter over the onscreen graphic, following the instructions carefully. Click Continue. The sensor will read a series of coloured squares that represent all the colours the monitor can display. This takes between 12 and 15 minutes. It will then instruct you to remove the colorimeter.
The software will calculate an ICC profile for the monitor and save it under the name you enter. We recommend using the date of calibration as part of the name. This profile becomes the default profile for the monitor. The software will next show you a reference image with a button you can click to see Before and After views of the effect of the calibration. There should be a visible improvement in the After screen.
The final page of the wizard provides information on the importance of re-calibrating your monitor on a regular basis, and allows you to set reminders to prompt you to do so.
Profiling with PrintFIX Pro 1.0
PrintFIX Pro works with the Datacolor 1005 Spectrocolorimeter, which measures the colour of reflective materials. Because colours can vary with different paper types and from one printer to the next, you must create profiles for each paper you use and each printer you print with. Photographers who use two or more printers and several different types of paper will find the investment in profiling saves them money over time because they will waste less paper and ink getting prints right.
The first step is to run a nozzle check on your printer because successful profiles depend on the printer functioning correctly. Then load the PrintFIX Pro software. Launching the software starts a Wizard that steps you through the following procedures:
1. Defining your printer type and optimising your printer settings: This screen requires you to enter the brand and model of your printer, the type of media you are profiling, the inkset type (pigment or dye), the Driver Media Setting and the date. (If you don’t have details of some of these settings, leave them blank.)
2. Printing a quality check: This screen allows you to print a quick test chart to check that your printer is working properly. Note that you can print the test chart on any corner of the paper so you can compare settings for different printers (or for the same printer at different times).
3. Checking media settings: This screen allows you to check media settings. If you’re profiling a media type that appears in your printer’s media list, choose that setting. Otherwise try a similar paper name.
4. Selecting a target: PrintFIX Pro provides three target options with different numbers of patches. More patches take longer to read, but produce better results. (We found the ‘Fast’ target produced excellent results with the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 printer.)
5. Connecting the spectrocolorimeter: Plug the spectrocolorimeter into a spare USB port on your computer or monitor while your target print is stabilising. (Allow at least 20 minutes for this.) Before making any readings, calibrate its sensor by pressing the head onto the white tile on the supplied base.
6. Reading the test chart: Press the spectrocolorimeter’s head down on each colour patch in the target print to read its colour. Note: put a sheet of plain white card or paper under the target print so the colour of the desk you’re working on doesn’t influence the spectrocolorimeter readings. As you read each patch, the on-screen display will track your readings. You can choose to display the entire patch as Pure colours (ie, the colours sent to the printer), Measured colours (the colours the spectrocolorimeter detected) or have it diagonally split to show the Pure and Measured colours (we recommend the latter because it’s easier to see whether you have measured the patch correctly).
7. Building the profile: Once the measurements have been completed, you are prompted to enter a name for the profile. We suggest you use a system that identifies the printer, media and the date the profile was created (eg, R2400lustre101006). Save the profile using the default values. Then test the profile by making a print of the supplied reference image. As with the quality check you can print the test on any quadrant of the paper.
8. Editing the profile: If you wish to fine-tune some of the profile settings, return to the Build Profile Setup screen to adjust tone, brightness, contrast or saturation and tweak colour settings along the cyan/red, magenta/green and yellow/blue colour axes. You can also use the colour temperature slider to warm or cool the colour balance.
When evaluating profiles you should always use the supplied reference image (shown on these pages); not one of your favourite shots. ColorVision provides comprehensive notes to help you with your assessments.
The test image supplied allows you to identify critical features of a successful profile.
Calibrating and profiling your monitors, printers and media is surprisingly easy with the ColorVision PrintFIX Pro Suite, thanks largely to well-designed wizards that step you through each process and, at the same time, provide you with all the information you need to understand what’s going on. If you’ve been frustrated by the poor accuracy of facilities like Adobe Gamma and Quick Gamma, this toolkit could give you the precision and repeatability you need. The money you save by reducing paper and ink wastage will soon recoup your initial investment.
We found the software very straightforward to use and the resulting profiles for both our monitors and printers were excellent.
USB Datacolor 1005 Spectrocolorimeter
USB ColorVision Spyder2 Pro Colorimeter
Printed Quick Start and Installation guides
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