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Full Version: I learned a lot today about colour management (post may induce sleep)
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ok.. like 99% of computer users I've spent my entire life frustrated with the challenge of getting the colours of my prints to vaguely resemble what's on the screen.. Even just getting my shots to look the same from one screen to the next so I can do proper editing on my laptop would be nice.. Not to mention the fact that lots of people seem to think my images look "dark" when I post them here, making me wonder what proper colours actually look like.

I've had a little dabble in colour management in the past, but usually given up in frustration soon afterwards. Although the concepts behind it are all quite simple, it can be an extremely confusing topic and one that is very difficult to find the actual information that applies to ME and the hardware I have.

So... I figured the best thing to do was go back to the drawing board and start again, but this time do it properly instead of just tweaking everything by eye. I needed *something* to be calibrated properly to use as a solid reference point, and the most logical and sensible thing seemed to be to calibrate the monitor. So I ordered a ColorVision ColorPlus monitor calibration thingy last week... and it arrived today.

I know it is one of the cheapest hardware monitor calibration devices around and while I'm sure the results aren't as good as the expensive calibration tools... I am amazed what a difference this has made! Just running it on both my desktop and notebook screens has now enabled me to edit my photos on either machine with complete confidence that I won't end up with nasty suprises. This alone was worth the money I paid for it, but is only part of the benefits it gives me. It's also actually made my photos look nicer, and the software not only builds an ICC profile for photoshop but loads a LUT (look up table) to the video-card at startup so most of the colour correction is available to all apps, not just the colour-managed ones like photoshop.

I was now very happy with my screen, so I then turned to face my printer... a Canon Pixma iP6000D... this thing although lovely has been a massive headache for me trying to match colours closely with various brands of paper and ink (and an uncalibrated monitor).

So I turned to google for answers... and went hunting down as much info as I could on printer profiles and all that kind of stuff. Now that my monitor was pretty accurate I knew exactly what my prints SHOULD be looking like. And for once it all started to make sense and click into place. I've included a number of links at the bottom of this post for some excellent further reading for those who are interested.

I then went and found the correct printer profiles for the papers I was using, configured the printer driver and photoshop correctly and started doing some test prints... and to my amazement without any manual tweaking at all the colours matched the screen almost perfectly! A million times better than before, and I didn't pull any of my hair out to get there! Given that two of my six ink cartridges have non-canon ink in them (I was in the process of going back to genuine ink because of my colour issues) I'm amazed how good it is - Even if I can't manually tweak things to get them perfect I'll still be very happy.

But in my reading I also gleaned enough info put together a rough "approach" to colour management to try to ensure consistency between camera and screen and printer, the widest colour gamut that's practical to use, and balance it with the fact that 98% of the shots I post to the web will be viewed in Internet Explorer (which doesn't support colour management at all!).

So here it is.. my colour management plan:

1. Camera (Canon 350D)
Set it to shoot using the AdobeRGB colour space to provide a wide colour gamut.

2. Monitor (BenQ FP767 17" LCD and Alienware 17" Notebook LCD)
Use ColorVision to accurately calibrate screens and build custom monitor profiles.

3. Operating System (Win XP Pro SP2)
Disable Adobe Gamma (remove it from the "Startup" group under the Start Menu) and ensure the Display Colour Management Profile is set to the new ColorPlus profile.

4. Colour-Managed Software (Photoshop CS2, Canon DPP, Corel PhotoPaint, etc)
Any software that allows the working colour space should be set to use the AdobeRGB colour space.

5. Non-Colour-Managed Software (Internet Explorer, Fax and Picture Viewer, etc)
There are no settings to make, but the ColorVision loader (or Adobe Gamma if you use that instead) will partially correct your display in non-colour-managed apps.

6. Printer Driver (Canon PIXMA iP6000D)
Go into the Printer Preferences and DISABLE all colour management/ICM functions and corrections/effect. See the first two links at the bottom of the page for more info here.

7. Finding the right Printer Colour Profiles
This is where it gets interesting. I use mainly Ilford Galerie paper and sometimes Canon paper. Both of these manufacturers provide ICC profiles that are specific to both the paper AND the printer. The Canon ones came with the printer (but aren't documented) and the Ilford ones can be downloaded free from their website. These ICC profiles are the key to accurate prints!

8. Stupid ICC Colour Profile Names
Both Canon and Ilford use rediculously obscure names for their colour profiles, making it almost impossible to identify which one you should use for the paper you might have loaded at the time. Thankfully Microsoft have released a handy little control panel applet called "Microsoft Colour Control Panel for Windows XP" which allows you to fiddle (ie Rename) these profiles to something a human might understand. Check the links section below.

8. Printing from Photoshop
When printing from Photoshop, in the Print Preview screen, change the settings to "Let Photoshop Determine Colours" (assuming you are using the printer driver settings that have disabled colour management there)... and then in the Printer Profile in photoshop select the correct profile to suit the type and brand of PAPER you are using. Follow the first two links at the bottom for more info here.

9. Printing from non-colour-managed Apps
If you are printing from an application that doesn't support Colour Management, you need to enable ICM in the Printer Preferences, and also select the correct profile for the paper you want from the Printer Properties.. and then the Printer Driver will do the best it can representing the colours.. but unfortunately because they are coming from an app that doesn't support colour management, what you see on the screen won't be exactly correct either so any difference between print and screen might be as much to do with the screen than the printer. Again, follow the first two links at the bottom for more info here.

10. Saving images for the web (or non-colour-managed apps)
I usually take a RAW file into photoshop and work on it as a PSD file... but when I need to save it as a JPG for the web or something then I will need to convert the colour space for the image from AdobeRGB to sRGB. Doing this will reduce the colour gamut available, but JPG's based on the AdobeRGB colour space have a tendency to look washed out when viewed without such a conversion. I should also embed the ICC profile in the JPG which will ensure it gets displayed correctly in any colour-managed app... but stupidly Internet Explorer doesn't support colour management! grrr.

So that's it! Confusing? Well it might sound confusing, but when you actually go through the steps it starts to make sense. There are a few terms like "colour space" and "colour profile" which you need to understand though.
I don't know if I'm doing everything right, but certainly I'm very happy with the improvement I've seen.
I wish I'd done this ages ago!

And now some linkage:

A good little tutorial that runs along similar lines to the Canon ICC Profile Guide and explains how to understand the Canon ICC profiles a bit better and set yourself up to use ICC profiles effectively to print in photoshop.

A forum thread that discusses the Canon ICC Profiles Guide which starts to make sense of things...

Another forum thread that starts with printer recommendations but soon turns into a discussion on the Canon ICC profiles with some specific settings for the i960.

A slightly frustrating thread that helps explain how when using a "loader" like the ColorVision loader or Adobe Gamma, part of the colour correction is done by the video card while the rest of it is done by the colour-managed application itself.

A whole section of a forum dedicated to colour management and calibration!

Download the Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet for Windows XP - Handy!

Ok so this isn't about Colour Management, but it is a REALLY handy little Microsoft "PowerToy" that allows you to get thumbnails of RAW files just like JPG's... and also includes a replacement to the Picture and Fax viewer that supports RAW format files... so finally they become intergrated into the OS!

Some info on the new colour management system built into Windows Vista (Longhorn).... finally we might have something fully integrated into the OS like Mac's have been doing for years!

Download section of the Ilford website where you can search for ICC profiles to suit your printer and their various papers.
Wow, thanks for the research and tips... I for one go for the "suck it and see" approach.. but I know sooner or later I'll need to take note if I'm going to be serious about my photos...
Great stuff, though I disagree on some of the details.

1. RAW gamut is larger than Adobe RGB. OK, I know, there is no color in RAW, blah blah blah. But if you shoot RAW you have the most data available for the destination space of your choice. And sRGB, though much maligned, is a perfectly adequate destination space for anyone outside of the graphics industry. Shoot RAW and do as much editing as possible in RAW space.

2. Absolutely!

3. Absolutely! Otherwise you will be double-profiling and that will really make a mess.

4. I much prefer to do PS work, if any, in my final destination space, sRGB. It is extremely rare that I would need the extra colors, mostly cyan hues, provided by Adobe RGB. And I avoid a conversion or two.

6, 7, 8, 8*, 9: I much prefer to avoid all this headache by sending my files to a good lab for printing. You can tell them to not color manage, if you are sure of your work. Again, just my preference. I get many prints and don't have time to do them myself. But your workflow looks sound.

10. You shoot RAW? Then why bother with step 1? :/

11. Something you didn't mention but it may be important: The color space rendering intent. For most purposes, set this to Relative Colorimetric. Out of gamut colors will be clipped upon conversion, and that's the cleanest way to convert w/o causing shifts. Perceptual is okay if your out-of-gamut colors are not too far out, but this can cause color shifts because the out-of-gamut colors get squeezed into the new space using the nearest approximation of that color. Absolute Colorimetric is too frightening to deal with.

12. What works for you is what's best for you! Congrats on developing a workflow that makes an improvement in your output. Big Grin
Oh yeah slej.. I always shoot RAW and of course it makes sense that the camera's colour space setting between sRGB and AdobeRGB will only affect JPG's... But I still think its important enough to ensure both camera and PS were set to the same colour space, even if it only relates to 2% of my shots.

With regard to the choice between sRGB and AdobeRGB, it wasn't an easy one. Based on what I've seen and experienced, I agree that for most things sRGB is more than adequate and gives more accurate rendering in non-colour-matched apps without conversion... But I go through multiple steps when converting RAWs/PSDs to JPGs anyway, so adding a colour space conversion into the final process is no big deal. I'd rather my prints looked perfect than my web images, especially as they will mostly be viewed on uncalibrated monitors anyway. But it was the Canon ICC Guide that clinched my decision when it suggested using AdobeRGB because Canon Pixma printers cover more of the green/cyan gamut than sRGB does... I have had the most problems with cyans in my own prints, so anything that can make them more accurate is welcome. Plus in theory it is a wider gamut and so should be able to represent a wider range of colours. Who knows.. I think maybe choosing between sRGB and AdobeRGB is like choosing between Canon and Nikon! Big Grin

Hopefully the choice between sRGB and Adobe will become less important for PC users in the near future as Windows Vista supports colour management at the OS level, and no doubt it will finally make an appearance in Internet Explorer for those people using other versions of Windows. Mac users already have it don't they? But do they have it in web browsers? I know they have other colour management issues because of the 1.8 gamma instead of 2.2 and so on.. yet another reason why Macs are a big can of worms I don't want to open (not that I have anything against them). Tongue

You're absolutely right about #11 and the rendering intent, and one of the reasons I didn't mention it was because I haven't played too much with it yet. I tried both Relative Colormetric and Perceptual and didn't notice a difference in the test prints I was using... but left it set on Perceptual because I figured that for my prints the colour temp of ambient light is going to affect a colour shift anyway, so what's a little more going to matter? At least it will get the widest range of colours in instead of clipping. But if you are saying Relative Colormetric is usually more suitable then I'll happily take the advice of someone who's obviously played with this more than I have! Smile It probably depends a bit on the printer/ink/paper you're using too I guess as to which is better.

Thanks for the congrats! I actually feel like I deserve some congratulations - this has been a bit of a tough nut to crack for a newbie I think.
There seems to be so little useful general information around in how to develop a colour management system, just very specific information that you need to somehow piece together like a jigsaw.
Kombisaurus Wrote:I tried both Relative Colormetric and Perceptual and didn't notice a difference in the test prints I was using...

That is most likely because your images are completely within the printer's gamut (usually sRGB, though some are getting bigger). When you converted to the printer's profile, no shifting or clipping was necessary. Smile

Getting back to RC vs. perceptual: RC maintains the white point, though it clips out-of-gamut colors. Personally I'd rather have my whites stay white. Perceptual can be useful if you have important out-of-gamut colors that you need to retain in the image. Chances are you don't.

Why? Because most of the additional cyan hues captured by Adobe RGB do not naturally occur in nature. (I lost the reference that demonstrates this, but it was a very reliable source.) That's why I think Adobe RGB is better suited to graphics professionals rather than everyday photographers. Portrait photographers in particular get no benefit from Adobe RGB.

If you are really concerned about maximizing your gamut, you should use ProphotoRGB and do all your processing in 16-bit space. :o

But, like I said, if you are pleased with your output, then keep going with it! Big Grin
Here's a great article that explains why Perceptual is hypothetically better than RC because it maintains smoother color gradients whereas RC can get blocky.


It then proves with actual images that RC may be vastly superior for photography!

Oh, the irony! Big Grin

Anyway, that's why I've defaulted to RC rather than perceptual. And I do believe (not 100% sure) that most RAW converters use an RC-like intent when converting from RAW to a destination color space.
I do 95% of my photoshopping in 16-bit anyway - I love the way you can get full use of the RAW format even after the RAW conversion and can pull detail out of the shadows and highlights without the posterisation or clipping of an 8-bit image. The same advantages would also apply when converting between colour spaces.
Most of my PSD files end up between 50 and 100mb each, but disk space and backup media are cheap and only getting cheaper in the future.

But I can see your point about sRGB vs AdobeRGB. Anything that ends up as JPG will need to be converted to sRGB anyway for decent viewing on the web, so unless I'm going to make use of the larger gamut then I should be asking myself why not just start off with sRGB? Maybe I should just try both for a while and see? If I can't see a difference in my prints then I might as well pick sRGB for simplicity.

And while I've had the most problems with the cyans and my current printer, I understand that the areas of gamut that sRGB is limited by don't occur often in nature or my work. That Canon ICC Guide I linked to in the 2nd link of my original post had sample pictures highlighting areas of cyan that sRGB would clip, but the actual print differences were barely noticable - and this was with images designed to highlight the limitations of sRGB.

Now that I've found a workflow that gives me results I'm happy with, I guess I can experiment a bit with trying to simplify or streamline it without compromising the images.

And thanks for the link to that article - it explains the differences and advantages and disadvantages of each intent very well.

wow.. after initially thinking this was the most boring and tedious subject ever, I'm actually finding it quite interesting now. Its like a quest to find a system that can guarantee a perfect colour match every time. Cool *sigh* maybe that says more about me than the subject though.. That I'm becoming even nerdier!
Kombisaurus Wrote:*sigh* maybe that says more about me than the subject though.. That I'm becoming even nerdier!

And what does it say about me, then???


Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
I just read that "Canon ICC" pdf that you linked to.

Pretty obvious that they goosed the comparison images. Look at the black logo at the bottom of the pool - it's totally washed out in the sRGB image. Yet black is obviously not "out of gamut," as shown in the gamut graphic.


Thanks a lot for this discussion about this topic, it is very interesting... Actually I have a problem... Sad

At the moment I am taking my pictures with sRGB, I convert my raw file in sRGB, TIFF, 16 bit. My working space in PS is sRGB, I save my post processing in TIFF format. When I save for web my colors are washed out.

I have worked the same steps but with Adobe RGB and the result is the same… I don’t normally print my pictures, they are mainly for web… so what I do is to go proof colors which it is set in monitor, before I start my post processing. At this moment I lose all my beautiful colors and I have to start adjusting my colors saturating or working with levels trying to get the same colors my program (Raw Shooter) showed me at the beginning in the raw format.

We got Corel Paint Shop Pro X just few day ago. I changed my program to open my raw file as a jpg and I opened it in Corel… The colors appear totally washed out there… With the colors I would see if I saved for web in PS…

I have tried many things, I have read the manual of my camera, the help file in PS I have participated in threads about this topic in other forums. I have done what they suggested… and I can’t get any solution… The thing is that it is really frustrating that you got the perfect picture and when you save it for web it is not the same...

Ok…. my monitor is not a good one, it is not calibrated but it is not that bad I think, because I still can see very well the white and the black in that line they give to test the colors in your monitor…

If I download a picture from the fix me up forum and I work in PS with the picture, I have to proof the colors before I save for web again, because I know the colors will be washed out…

The thing is that G doesn’t have the same problem… and we work with the same programs…
Let's try to eliminate possible errors one at a time.

First, is your monitor hardware-calibrated and have you created a custom profile for it? If so, have you uninstalled Adobe Gamma from your machine?
Morning Mitch...

The monitor is not hardware calibrated (I assume this has to be done with a device reading the screen?). I used Adobe Gamma right now to create a custom profile, which I call it ColorMatchRGB_new

Pictures in RawShooter are a bit darker than before, I worked with exposure to get it lighter.
I converter to TIFF 16 bit and appears in PS paler... I proof colors set to monitor and I get very similar colors to the RawShooter... And they look fine.

Should I uninstall Adobe Gamma??

Thanks a lot for your help... I really appreciate it... Smile
Don't uninstall Adobe Gamma if that is your only calibration. It'll be okay to use.

Make sure "adobe gamma loader" is in your pc's startup folder. It needs to load each time you start your computer.

Next step is to make sure you've got the custom profile installed in your Windows system folder. Right-click on your desktop and choose Properties. Go to the Settings tab and click Advanced. There should be a Color Management tab now. Click that and make sure your new profile is listed as the default monitor profile.

If not, you need to re-do Adobe Gamma and save the profile to your windows - system32 - color folder (I think.)

I'll be out the next few days, but let me know how this works. Maybe someone can pitch in with ideas while I'm gone.
Thanks a lot Mitch... I'll keep you informed

Have a nice time Smile
Hey Irma,

I have a similar software configuration to you except I am currently using AdobeRGB instead of sRGB... but when I did some experimenting and changed the PS colour space to sRGB it seemed to make all my colours paler (even when I opened sRGB images).

Now perhaps I haven't quite got my head around how the colour options in photoshop all work together, but I assumed that if you have a colour-management policy of "preserve embedded profiles" then if you open an sRGB file it will work in sRGB and if you open an AdobeRGB file it will work in AdobeRGB... and the "Working Spaces" was more the default colour space than what it uses with every file.

But when I changed the working space to sRGB it seemed to change all my colours as you describe. When I leave it at AdobeRGB it gives me "normal" colours (ie what I'd expect to see, and closer to what I see in non-managed apps).

Maybe Mitch or someone can explain what's going on here because I think my understanding is wrong... but try changing your Photoshop settings to the ones I've outlined below (even if you continue to work with sRGB files).

oooo.. it also might have something to do with the "Intent" setting as Mitch explained earlier with regard to printing... remember that photoshop has to convert the colour space of the image to that of the monitor too, so it makes sense that the intent is just as important for viewing on-screen as it is for printing... in which case you might want to make sure the Intent is set to Relative Colorimetric as shown below too (but not outlined).

I think I need to do some more reading.. doh

[Image: PS_Settings.jpg]
I have tried to be consistent with the color space... as the image passes through a lot of programs from the camera till its final destination printer or web.... so I have tried already setting all of them to Adobe RGB but I want to try again with new pictures tomorrow in daylight...

Here are my settings I have now...

Camera ................................. Adobe RGB

Raw Shooter
RGB working space ............ Adobe RGB

converts my image to .......... TIFF 16 bit


~~Color settings ....................... As you showed...

~~Assign profile ........................ Adobe RGB

~~Convert to profile:

Profile ..................................... Adobe RGB

Convertion options:

Engine ................................... Adobe (ACE)
Intent .....................................Relative Colorimetric
ticked Use black point compensation

What I don't understand is why when you save for web another window appears, and it is Image Ready the program that converts my picture in jpg... ???

Thanks a lot Adrian for your help...

I am so sorry to bother with my problem.. Sad really... Sad

I'll try tomorrow... and I'll post my results...

Thanks again...
Ah, okay, things start to make a bit more sense.

1st, change your color management policies. Try "convert to the working space." If it's an AdobeRGB file going into AdobeRGB workspace, this will have no effect and the profile will be preserved. But if it's an Adobe file going into sRGB, you definitely want to change it. Click the little boxes to "ask when opening" and you'll get a little pop-up reminder that this is happening. Then let photoshop convert it to the working space.

[Image: screen2.jpg]

Remember, the goal is to have your images look the same (except for out-of-gamut colors, of course) in any color-managed application, and for non-color managed apps (or sRGB devices like most inkjets), a simple conversion to sRGB is all that should be necessary.

Which brings up Irma's workflow: If you are converting from RAW, you should NOT need to assign a profile to your images. The profile should already be embedded, and then you simply convert to your working space if it's different. That means all of this:

Quote:~~Assign profile ........................ Adobe RGB

~~Convert to profile:

Profile ..................................... Adobe RGB

is unnecessary.

However, with some DSLRs (like the 10D), even if you shoot a JPEG in Adobe RGB, the profile does not get embedded by the camera. (Though sRGB does.) In that case, it IS necessary to assign the Adobe RGB profile to your jpeg, and then convert to the working space if necessary. Again, for converted RAW files this should not be necessary.

And yes, Irma, "Image Ready" is the application that converts PS files to the web, but it's very tightly integrated and you never really need to open Image Ready separately. The "save for web" window in PS is really an Image Ready screen that opens within PS.
You did it!! Big Grin

YOU ARE A GENIUS!!!!! Smile Smile Smile

You can't believe how happy I am and how grateful I am Smile

Thanks thousand times.... Smile Smile

I changed my setting colors as you have here...

Then I set my assign profile to ColorMatch RGB

Then Convert to pofile...

Destination Space....
profile: Color Match RGB

I tried proof colors.... monitor and the picture DIDN'T CHANGE!!!! Big Grin

I saved for the web to test... and the colors are the SAME!!!!!

Thanks again.... Smile

I am so happy.... Big Grin

I hadn't post any results becuase, I had the same problem and I was so sorry to bother again...
I'm glad that helped.

1,000 points to me, hurray! Smile

About ColorMatch RGB: I was in a pro's studio (commercial product guy), and he said, with a totally straight face, that he uses ColorMatch because it ... makes ... the ... colors ... match.

Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin

hi slej

looks like you know a lot about monitors?.... uuuhmm may i ask a question....maybe you may know whats wrong with this one.....

im renting this one at the moment..but the problem is that theleft size is out of focus!!! hehehehe..yeah ca u believe it?

my one due to insurerance purposes can not be repair until they say so...or cahs is send to me.

anyway...is not a big deal


woah,I'm going to try all this after my exams SmileSmile
For laptop screen, mine's very inconsistent in brightness - depends on the angle I view it from; not saying that I face the laptop to the left or right, but because i always open and close the laptop screen/lid, so that the screen is not always tilting in the up/down direction. Maybe I could use this as an excuse to get another laptop! hehe but it does shock me how different my pictures look on different screens.
Yeah Adam... and lappy screens seem even more inconsistent than most it seems. Remeber that thread a while ago asking if anyone did image editing on laptops, and I think just about everyone said no because of poor image quality?

Anyway, I used my ColorVision to calibrate my lappy and it did a wonderful job with it, and I have every confidence in using it for PS work now. When I put the two screens together with a test image I can still see a tiny difference between them, but the difference is less than the difference of using the same screen under different lighting conditions so I'm not worried about it.. think of it as a "95% fix". I guess that remaining 5% could well be the difference betwen buying a cheap hardware calibrator (like I got) and one of the more expensive ones?

Mitch, I'm going to try switch everything across to sRGB and give that a go for a while now to see if I notice any difference with the cyans and greens. If I can't see a difference then sRGB is, as you say, much more convenient. I'll also have a play with the PS settings as well (and I liked your toothy mouth btw).

It feels so good to finally be able to "trust" my printer! Smile <goes and gives printer a little hug>
byrt_001 Wrote:looks like you know a lot about monitors?.... uuuhmm may i ask a question....maybe you may know whats wrong with this one.....

im renting this one at the moment..but the problem is that theleft size is out of focus!!! hehehehe..yeah ca u believe it?

Hi Christian,

I've heard of that problem before, but I don't remember the solution. (Though I think it was "replace the monitor.") I believe it has something to do with some internal component being out of alignment. I had an old monitor that was blurry in one corner and there was no way to make it better.
I got the colorplus as well Smile
and trying the things here Smile

Thanks Adrian

Adam was here 2006 Tongue
When I click "save for web" the preview will show a image in which the colours appear less saturated,like the red becomes pink. I tried to take a screenshot of this of the images side by side (the preview from "save for web" next to the original image), but when I pasted it in Photoshop, they ended up looking the same!

What I save in Photoshop is not what I see in Windows Picture Viewer. Is this because Windows Picture Viewer is not colour-managed?