Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Am Now A Colormunki's Uncle...

My new munkis - the Colormunki Display

Sorry for the delay in finishing this post and for neglecting to post anything yesterday but things are hopping right now. Anyway, better late than never....

I have finally found the monitor calibrator of my dreams, the Colormunki Display. While at Photoshop World last month, I decided it was time to replace the older Spyder3 Pro that I had been using for a couple of years. Before PSW, every time I made a print, I would go though several sheets of paper - the first print was always way too dark, I tried to adjust the image in Photoshop and make a second print, it was usually still too dark, and then after one or more tries, I finally got it right. 

While at the PSW Expo, I discussed this with the Epson rep as I thought maybe I was doing something wrong while using my Epson printer. After explaining my dilemma, he diagnosed it as a luminance issue with my monitor - the Spyder3 Pro was great at correcting the color on the monitor but it did not have the capability of allowing me to adjust the monitor luminance (brightness) to the proper level.

My old monitor calibrator, the Spyder3 Pro
Because my monitor was set to a luminance that was too bright, when I processed an image, I made it too dark without knowing it. In reality, I didn't need to darken as much as I had been but the screen's brightness caused me to darken too much, making the images look "right" on the monitor. When I then  made a print, the printer printed it the way I had processed it - dark.

After talking to the Epson rep, I spent quite a bit of time with the X-rite and Datacolor reps trying to decide whether to buy the new Spyder or a Colormunki monitor calibrator. X-rite makes an uber-expensive monitor/print calibrator (~$500) that would ensure that both my monitor and printer were firing on all cylinders but I just couldn't pull the trigger on that bad boy. I just don't make enough prints to justify that kind of expense. But X-rite also makes the Colormunki Display, which at the Conference Expo was going for right at $150. That was the same basic price of the new Datacolor Spyder. Decisions, decisions.

Both the CM Display and the new Spyder allow you to adjust the luminance of a monitor before the devices begin to read the colors to adjust the monitor's display. After agonizing for two days over which of the two devices to buy and talking to +Frank Doorhof, +Brad Moore and others, I finally opted for the Colormunki and bought two - one for the iMac at home and one for the Mac Mini at the office. I couldn't be happier with my decision.

Upon my return home, I couldn't wait to install the munkis. I started with the office Mac and downloaded/installed the software. After plugging the hardware into a USB port, I began the process of calibrating. One of the first questions that popped up was luminance, giving me the flexibility of setting it at whatever level I chose. The Epson rep had told me I needed to set the luminance at 80 but after I went through the calibration process, the monitor seemed awfully dark. I called X-Rite and discussed this with the all-too-helpful techie. He recommended that I start out with a luminance setting of 120. He understood what the Epson rep had said but he thought that a setting of 80 would be too dark. He suggested I start at a setting of 120 and then adjust downward later on if need be. I did so, and did the same with the iMac's munki which is now installed at home.

While I have yet to make a print, I know that my monitors are darker than they were before. I'm in the process of completely re-doing my web site and I've gone back into the hard drives to look for images that I might want to use instead of some of the ones I've been using. Every image I have previously processed, and have now opened in Photoshop, is dark...way too dark. That means that for the past 3 or so years, every image I have processed has been too dark. Great.

Oh, well, at least I pretty much know that if and when I need to make a print, the chances are that when I re-process the image, the print will be right on the first try. That's s good thing.

The Spyder3 Pro will continue to lead a productive life as I have now installed it on my Macbook for use when I'm on the go. Like I said earlier, it has always done a good job of correcting my monitor's color and will now do the same with the Macbook monitor. I just need to manually decrease the brightness of my Macbook's screen to make sure that I don't darken images to look "right". Now that I know how they should look, I should be able to come close in terms of approximating the correct luminance. Win, Win, Win. 

Guest Blog Wednesday

I finished up my guest blog post for +Scott Kelby 's Photoshop Insider Blog yesterday and e-mailed it to +Brad Moore , along with the 24 images that go with it. Brad e-mailed me a link with the final proof which looked fine so it's good to go. I will go live as of midnight tonight so check it out. The topic is golf photography.

Thank You, KEH and B&H

As I mentioned in a prior Blog post, along with the bazillions of things going on right now, I am working on upgrading and adding to my portable lighting stuff so I can do more outdoor and on-location shoots. I picked up a couple of used Nikon SB-800 strobes (for a steal of a price) from KEH to go with the SB-900 and the three SB-800's I already have; and, the 7' black/silver parabolic umbrella I ordered form B&H arrived last week, along with a 3-strobe/umbrella speedlight bracket that I will use to light up the umbrella.

I've been doing a lot of reading on Nikon's Continuous Light System (CLS) in order to educate myself on how to set up and use multiple hot shoe speedlights without having to also use pocket wizards and flash meters. One book in particular discussed the virtues of a Nikon SU-4 controller which is designed to trigger older Nikon speedlights. I have an old SB-28. which is a great strobe, but I was afraid it would see little use now that I'm going whole hog into using CLS.

Just for grins, I priced those little SU-4's and they run almost $100. Yowsa. Then along came B&H - a used one was available in "9" condition (which is akin to brand new) for $49. Say hello to my leetle friend. When I called B&H to order it, as an afterthought, I asked if they had any used SB-600's, 800's or 900's just to see what their prices were. The B&H guy checked and said they had just gotten a used SB-600 and the price was ... $150... in "9" condition. KEH sells these guys for over $250 in a lesser condition. Say hello to my other leetle friend.

Both new acquisitions should be here by Friday. Oh, and at some point in the near future, I'll be doing a post on speedlight lighting and where I am on the equipment front.

No comments: