Dark Prints Regardless of Calibration

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by greenlander, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Hoping someone can shed a bit of light on this situation ...

    I've calibrated my aluminum iMac (running Leopard) monitor with a Spyder 3 Pro and am printing from CS3 following
    Epson's recommended color management procedures. Regardless of the $150 calibration device, I'm still seeing
    prints come out much darker than what I'm seeing on my monitor (you can imagine how thrilled I was to find the
    Spyder isn't thus far delivering prints any better than calibrating manually).

    This doesn't seem to be an uncommon problem, but the range of possible answers I've found out there not only span
    a large timeframe, but different operating systems, conditions, etc ... and none seem celebrated for their

    That said, I was hoping someone has some recent insight or knowledge of the problem and could point me towards
    solving the issue.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. http://www.msjphotography.com/?s=color+management

    Mark has a 4 part series that is excellent. This is part one.

    Click where it says precious entries to get 2,3, & 4.

    I was able to download these from the previous site when they were quick time movies. You can no longer do it, but consider the small price for the movies in quick time or just watch in flash and take notes. I am sure you will see what is going wrong.
  3. Oh, and I do have the .ICC profiles for the paper I am using loaded and am selecting them when printing.

    A little more info on my calibration ... tried to use the ambient light adjustment feature on the Spyder 3 but it kept giving me trouble via some backlight level adjustment screen (which I still do not understand). However, it did recommend that I target 5800k based on ambient light measurements and so I am calibrated with a target of 2.2-5800.

    Still, the prints are considerably darker -- even if I turn my backlight to the lowest setting, the prints are still darker than that. Nice prints, just too dark.

    Very frustrating.
  4. You might want to check and see what color space the pictures are in, while being worked on in PS. Say, if you're working in Prophoto or something, then try to print to an sRGB device, this can lead to problems.

    Try converting the color space then fine-tuning just before printing.

    Other than that, if you can adjust your monitor brightness pretty low, that can help too. I have to set the brightness on my LCD lower than is recommended by my calibration software in order to get everything manageable; otherwise the monitor image is just way too bright.
  5. One last detail. :) Previously tried 6500k too. Same issue.
  6. Michael - Working in Adobe RGB, printing to Epson R2400. Guess I should've mentioned the printer too.

    Mind is a little foggy at 2:50am.
  7. Usually, when I find problems with prints being dark, it means that the screen brightness setting is too high relative to
    the calibration.

    I use an Eye One Display 2 and the accompanying iMatch software. Using the Advanced mode calibration and profiling,
    I set the ACD 23" up for 130 Luminance, 1.8 gamma and 5500K white point. I print from either Photoshop CS2 or
    Lightroom using the Epson R2400 and Epson's supplied profiles for Velvet Fine Art, Ultra Premium Presentation Matte,
    and Exhibition Fiber Paper. The results match the screen very closely.

  8. it has been found that if you are using a lcd srcen and calibrate, the prints aredark. this is because the lcd are running too bright from the factory for the calibrator. turn the brightness down to 110-120 then recalkibrate. you may have to experiment to find the right number.

    with crt this brightness issue does not happen, but with lcds it does.
  9. See, it gets confusing. So hard to know what is the right answer. Datacolor and numerous seemingly well-done tutorials recommend calibrating @ 2.2, 6500k. Datacolor's ambient light sensor suggests 5800k. Godfrey (and others elsewhere) suggest 5000 or 5500k.

    Adjusting brightness any lower for me is not an option, I have the backlight setting on my iMac at its absolute lowest.

    I'm starting to fear the only solution is to process images to be too bright on the screen in order to get similar results -- which of course, will completely defeat the purpose of calibrating the monitor in the first place.
  10. You need some custom icc profiles.
  11. Kory -

    Custom ICC profiles? I'm using the ICC profiles for my printer/paper.
  12. You are using generic icc profiles. They are generic because they are made to work for everybody who has this model of printer. A custom icc profile is made specifically for your printer and paper combo. Just as you are doing with your monitor. You will print color patches out and scan them in giving a custom icc profile. Just as your monitor profile is custom.

  13. Kory - I guess I'm not seeing how they are generic. I have profiles that are specifically for my the paper I am using, used on my printer (for instance, in this case, the R2400's ICC profile for Epson Ultra Premium Glossy Photo Paper).

    So isn't that specifically for my printer/paper combo?
  14. It is like you downloaded a profile from samsungs website for your samsung monitor. By using your spyder pro 3 you are making a custom icc profile for you monitor. From monitor to monitor they are not the same, just as printer to printer they are not the same.
  15. After trying it several times, I've reached a fairly simple conclusion: no laptop has a display that's usable for photo editing. None of them has a good enough screen and/or provides enough control over the screen to be usable for photo editing, no matter what you do, and there's nothing any calibrator can do about it.
    Essentially the only cure is to buy a separate display, and use the one built into the laptop for displaying tool palettes and such but not actual editing. At least as far as I care, the only use in calibrating the screen of the laptop is if you find it annoying when it looks drastically different from the screen you're using for editing.
    The beginner's section has a post on preferred monitors for photo editing. There are quite a few alternatives to those listed though -- Lacie and Eizo but produce monitors intended fairly specifically for photo editing, and they work quite well for the job (though the prices for their top monitors are also pretty insane).
  16. I doubt that this is a profile problem. Dark prints are a recurring topic on this forum. Where is Patrick L.? I am not real familiar with creative suite, but fro what I have seen, it is even more convoluted than Lightroom which I use. My experience is that the settings get scrambled and change on their own and you never know what to expect when you turn your computer on. You might want to share some of your advanced settings for comments. The last time I had problems, I had two profiles checked in Lightroom's list. Also, I can go through my print settings and choose the ones I want for the printer, then go to the settings in the right panel, then find that the printer settings have reverted to something else. So software has to be done first, printer second. I am not the ideal person to answer but this is how it goes for me. This comes up so often that folks may be tired of answering. A search should help.
  17. Im here : )

    why in the world people always suggest a custom profile?! is there any vendor of those in here or what? (i should buy stock option before is too late)

    got a Imac and dark print? your imac is simply too bright..its a well know *problem* with the alluminum one. you wont be able to go below 130-135 for the luminance and it way too high..even if you use a spider or a eye1.

    as for teh calibration, i use gamma 2.2, 6500k, and 110 luminance and i print on my epson 7880 and on commercial press everyday..print are spot on.

    What you could do is to us ea little app call Shades, install it, dim your monitor to around 80% with it, then start the calib process again and now you should be able to go at 110-120 no problem.

    Your print will now appear way closer, if you use the rigth icc profile.

    The monitor list as been done by me, and i wouldtn suggest a LACIE vs a NEC, since NEC made the monitor for LACIE..and lacie sell them for 400$ more on certain model. A Eizo is overkill for many regular user, even the NEC i suggest are overkill..a Apple Cinema Display is by far a best second, for 800$ you got a 20inch (that i sue for years as a profesional..replace it 4 month ago for a NEC..just because : )
  18. Page 68 of this month's Shutterbug addresses this problem specifically...recommended reading. I think you'll get a lot out of it.
  19. maybe this can help you in a way http://www.luminous-landscape.com/techniques/3800-ebw.shtml
  20. With a custom icc printer profile there will be no question: you are getting the best results possible with your
    printer and the problem is somewhere else.
  21. a custom profile is really good when you use other paper brand or other ink brand.

    a custom profile is good to get a bit more shadow details on some epson paper only.

    a custom profile on any high end epson (2400 and up) using epson ink and epson paper is a lost of money for the small change it give.

    a custom profile is not something that will fix your current problem. 100% sure of that.

    The real problem rigth now is the Imac too bright screen that make you think the print is too dark..no print custom profile will fix that. you need to calibrate your Imac, and use Shade to drop the luminance as explain before, and that is your real solution that you should try first.

    Im sure article on how to print, how to use icc profile, how to calibrate your monitor and all other how to and well explain article will eventually help..but rigth now its a MONITOR problem.
  22. Patrick/all,

    I agree that the problem is likely a monitor issue. While I have no doubt that customer printer profiling would help, it might be overkill for what I'm trying to achieve. My issue isn't that my prints aren't *EXACTLY* how they appear on my monitor, it was that they were significantly darker.

    I couldn't find Shade, but did find DarkAdapted X, which seemingly does the same thing.

    I haven't tried a new print yet, but already my monitor matches the prints I already made much more closely when I knock the monitor down to 80% via DarkAdapted X.

    Thanks for everyone's responses. All very valuable.
  23. I have found this thread and wanted to get it going again. I am not working on a mac but a pc, a HP, using a Syper Pro3, and having the same issue. Tried costco, and WHCC, having the same dark print issues, almost .50 underexposed. I have read and read and it seems to be an issue with many people. From what I have read above, people state that we need to turn down the brightness of our monitors to better represent the value of the picture taken correct? My question is, what is the point of a histogram then and a correct exposure? If my camera is saying the picture is exposed, why would we set out monitors dimly to adversely adjust or prints to overexpose them just to print them out?? What we are seeing is a dramatic difference between web/screen and print. Are we to process for each then???
  24. Are we to process for each then???​
    I'm not sure how many people will chime in on a 7 month old thread. You may want to start a new post, but the answer is absolutely. Web, Screen, and Print will often have different color spaces, different ambient lighting, etc. If you want your shots to look their best in multiple mediums, you need to make adjustments in the processing for each one. Not just brightness, but color adjustments and sharpness as well. They all differ in the different viewing mediums.
    why would we set our monitors dimly to adversely adjust our prints to overexpose them just to print them out??​
    This is a slightly over simplified question but the ultimate answer is, for some people it's all about the print.
  25. I just fixed a friend's computer (OSX 10.5 I think) by downloading the latest Epson print driver and the new R2400 profiles. This fixed chronically dark prints with a calibrated monitor.

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