Before I ask the question, some background to put things into context. I have been photographing for a couple of years now but just getting started with serious printing. I'd be classified an advanced amateur. My life doesn't depend on color management but like anyone getting started with color management, I'd like to see a fairly close representation of my images in print.
That being said, I read a lot of articles and saw a ton of videos in the last week about color management. One thing that I am not clear about is if I need to calibrate my monitor if the only thing I care about is a fairly close representation of my images in print. Some say that I can install the lab's recommended profile on my computer, soft proof using that profile and send it off to print when satisfied. According to those, I do not need a calibrated monitor for that use case.
Is that true? For what it matters, I use LR4 with PSE10 and use the former for soft proofing.
No need to excuse your "ignorance", all questions are welcomed here and we try to do our best to provide accurate recommendations.
When you instrument measure and set your monitor to display color as neutral as possible it involves a two step process. The first part of the process is called the calibration. Calibration involves adjusting the hard adjustments of the display to certain target settings. These include setting the color temperature, brightness (luminance), and contrast. The second process is the profiling, which using the profiling software in conjunction with the program's sensor, samples the display's ability to reproduce known color values and then creates a data table of adjustments to map the native color capabilities of the monitor to those known color values. This table known as a Look Up Table (LUT) is then loaded at start up of your computer. This LUT interacts with your video sub-system to display color at a known set of levels. Now you have a calibrated and profiled monitor that you can use with confidence to make adjustments to your images. Now, along with using printer profiles which are created in a similar way you can get a reasonable match between what you see on your monitor and your prints.
Ernesto Santos esartprints.comErnesto Santos Photography Get my new e-Book "Churches of Texas"
Sat 06-Oct-12 12:20 PM | edited Sat 06-Oct-12 12:22 PM by Bump57
Shot answer is yes, you need to calibrate your monitor to get accurate or close color representation of your images. If your monitor is not showing you correct color to start with how would you know how to adjust it to make it right. It's most likely an uncalibrated monitor is showing you images that are overly saturated and too bright like most all monitors out of the box in which case your prints may come back dull and dark as a result. Soft proofing on a monitor that is not calibrated or showing you incorrect color is basically taking a guess at would the outcome might be.
Wow, a lot has happened since I starting typing this post. Listen to Ernesto, he is the man....... ; )
The ColorMunki Photo also does the printer calibration which I do not need. For foreseeable future, I will be sending my images to a lab for printing. Since you recommended ColorMunki over Spyder, I am inferring that you prefer the former over the later. I am also inclined towards ColorMunki, more so because they are offering a mail in discount now.
Tue 06-Nov-12 12:37 AM | edited Tue 06-Nov-12 12:52 AM by jrp
I like the Spyder4 Pro and may upgrade soon to the Elite. That will enable me to also calibrate a projector for presentations.
It has saved me from buying a couple of high end monitors that have the Look Up Table wired-in, by calibrating every two months or less if I find the time.
It is really irrelevant if you print your own or send out to print elsewhere. You want to match what you see with what is printed. And even if you don't print, you want to display appropriately in the web.
I tried both the ColorMunki Display and the Spyder4 Pro and kept the later. The former imparted a brown hue to my late 2011 MacBook Pro and I just couldn't get rid of that anyway. I am pretty happy with the Spyder4 Pro, it works fine with the MBP and a Dell IPS monitor. I do not see a world of difference but I think most good monitors come close to calibrated these days.
If you're interested in a detail review, I've reviewed both products on amazon.com.