Color management: something to try
I am trying to learn about color management. It is more difficult to set up than I thought it would be! After a fair amount of reading I understand the theory. What's not clear to me is what settings to make in each tool. I'm still not there.
Here is something I did today which was a learning exercise. You might want to try it. It's a simple test and if the results aren't what you expect (as happened to me), a little unsettling:
1. Save a JPG with sRGB data and with an sRGB profile embedded in it
2. Display this image in all of your favorite tools at the same time (for me that is Capture NX2, Photo Mechanic, Corel Paint Shop Pro X3 Ultimate, Qimage, Firefox, Safari, IrfanView and a few more).
3. Make all of the images full screen and then step through them sequentially. They should all look the same! Do they? For me they all did but only after some color management tweaks in some of my tools.
4. Repeat the above but with an image which contains aRGB data and an embedded aRGB profile. Do they all look the same? For me they all did except for IrfanView. The image in IrfanView looked somewhat desaturated. IrfanView is not a color managed application - I believe that explains that.
Let me know if you try this and what happens.
One of the things that puzzles me is that in Corel PSP and Qimage, the images look correct if in both of those tools I set the tool to not specify or use the profile for my monitor (a 27" Dell U2711). I think the logic here is that Windows 7 is managing the data stream to the monitor and if these tools are asked to do that as well, there's double data conversion going on. This setting may be a hangover from pre-Windows 7 or XP days.
#2. "RE: Color management: something to try" | In response to Reply # 0esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Tue 11-Oct-11 12:53 PM
I've read your post a few times hoping that I could contribute something meaningful, but alas, I've been a little at a loss here.
What you discovered is correct, the unfortunate reality is that many software developers still do not bother to make their applications color management compliant. This is particularly frustrating for those of us using wide gamut monitors. Unless the monitor profile is included in the CM chain you will get off colors and varying levels of saturation. Right now I am having a problem with the lowly Windows 7 Photo Viewer which is somehow not showing the image colors correctly (over saturated and dark), and I haven't been able to figure it out. I am talking about images that have been prepared for web display by converting to sRGB and tagging the profile as well. It is a low priority for me so it remains unsolved. Hopefully, someone reading this has the answer.
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#3. "RE: Color management: something to try" | In response to Reply # 0Robp Nikonian since 23rd Oct 2009Tue 11-Oct-11 01:14 PM
I note (actually in your next post) that you have received few responses to your query. Not sure why that is, but I thought I'd just kick in my two cents worth.
I didn't go to the same lengths you did to note the differences displayed by the various programs, but did call up Capture NX2 and Photo Mechanic and saw that the JPEG image presented by Capture NX2 was somewhat brighter. I don't have serious data to back up my conclusions but here they are nonetheless.
The JPEG images are produced by condensing from the original data taken by the camera (probably as 16-bit .NEF files) into 8-bit JPEG files. This conversion entails throwing away large amounts of data while condensing it into an 8-bit format. The conversion is a function of the software performing the action and, as such, might permit different interpretations of the final image. Presumably (as was the case with my simplified testing), we are looking at a pre-defined JPEG image; that is to say that the bits contained in the image are not going to change, but the interpretation of the bits is going to be dependent upon the interpreter utilized by the reading software.
I apologize if I missed the intent of your original commentary. The bottom line for me was that I felt that I always got the best images for printing by working only in ProPhoto RGB; therefor. I rarely ran into the JPEG differences issue and hadn't even noticed it when producing the occasional JPEG for display here or elsewhere on the Net. Of course, even working in ProPhoto, I still ran into differences between images printed from Nikon software products versus products from other manufacturers (Adobe, for instance), but these interpretations were well known and (relatively) easily accommodated.
The bottom line for me has been to work with as few programs as possible (Capture NX2 and Photoshop for me). I will display in others, Photo Mechanic for example, but I don't actually do the work there.
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#4. "RE: Color management: something to try" | In response to Reply # 3Wed 12-Oct-11 10:36 PM
Thanks Ernesto and Rob for the replies. I see you too are having fun with color management. My guess is that in 10 years it will be better implemented by the operating system people and the application developers. Peter