The problem: Let's say you're a commercial photographer and you calibrate your monitor, use ICC printer profiles, and produce beautiful images on your always-reliable PIXMA printer. Now, imagine if you evaluate your images using a desk lamp, the retoucher works under fluorescent lights, and the client views the end product standing next to a window. No wonder everyone can't agree on what the color should look like!
Here are five tips to standardize viewing conditions that will help you save time and resources.
Color quality. A color-corrected print-viewing booth provides a controlled viewing environment. Most ICC Printer Profiles are built for a D50 (5000K) light source (similar to daylight). Advanced models include lighting presets for stores, offices, exhibition halls, etc.
Replace overhead lighting fixtures with diffused color-corrected lights for an inexpensive alternative to a viewing booth.
The best viewing environment for visually assessing prints is the environment in which they will ultimately be seen. The D50 is a good compromise if you don't know what these conditions will be.
Light Intensity. Intensity is measured in lux, and the ideal amount is somewhere between 1750 and 2250. For example, when comparing original artwork with proofs, the 2000-lux standard is essential to make critical evaluations and comparisons.
A user-friendly definition of light intensity and lux is: "The light intensity 9 inches away from the center of a typical 100-watt frosted light bulb is about 2000 lux. The light intensity 18 inches away is about 500 luxe."
When considering a booth, a built-in dimmer is a great feature since it increases or decreases the brightness without changing the color of the light. By bringing the light intensity of the viewing system closer to the light output of the monitor, the visual color comparison is significantly enhanced.
- Even Illumination. To achieve precise color assessment, the illumination should be even, free from hot spots and fall-off. Technically speaking, if the booth's center is 100% (2000 lux) the corners should be at least 60% of that amount (1200 lux). Let's assume that we use a lightmeter to read the center of the booth and the result is f/11. The reading for the corners should be above f/8 for the illumination to be considered even. The closer the corners are to f/11 the better.
- Ambient Conditions. Surrounding objects and surfaces in the observer's field of view can have a major influence on how color is perceived. Limit the amount of variable light entering the working space and avoid brightly colored walls; neutral gray is best.
- Metamerism. Metamerism is when two different color samples produce the same color sensation. This match may be dependent on the light illuminating the color samples, or the actual observer. Under different lighting conditions or to a different observer, the two samples may not match.
In conclusion, to effectively proof your images, make sure that everyone involved is looking at the same image, use standard lighting conditions like the D50, and follow the tips in this article to the best of your ability.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.
All images are copyright Eduardo Angel