Buyer's Guide: 10 Essential Color Management Devices
|The Colormunki spectrophotometer can calibrate monitors and measure print targets for ICC profiling.|
Despite only having been around for a few years, the Colormunki Photo - a combined display and printer calibration tool - has already become one of the most popular integrated color management devices on the market. This can be at least partly explained by its simplicity, since it uses the same device to perform both tasks. Indeed, integration seems to be a theme with the Colormuki Photo. Even the carry case with which it is provided doubles as a holder for display calibration, its weighted strap acting as an anchor when the device is positioned on a computer screen.
As the image above shows, print profiling is performed by running the Colormunki over a series of printed patches, the results of which are used to create the profile. Further clever functionality includes an integrated white ceramic tile, which quickly allows the device to be calibrated for accuracy, as well as a Spot Colour measurement option which enables it to read a colour from a physical object - such as a CD cover, magazine or other - in order for it to be transferred to a computer and used for other tasks such as image editing and logo creation. There are more advanced (and expensive) calibration devices available, but the Colormunki is definitely one of the most user-friendly.
An alternative version aimed at graphic designers, the Colormunki Design, is also available. Easily identifiable by its white casing, this is based on the same spectrophotometer as the Photo version, but it has slightly different software to make it more appropriate for use in graphic design, rather than photography.
|The Spyder3Studio SR kit is cheaper than the combined cost of the included Spyder3Elite and
Spyder3Print devices if purchased separately, which effectively means you get the SpyderCube for free.
Designed as a complete colour management package, the Spyder3Studio SR combines three of the most popular Datacolour products: the Spyder3Elite colorimeter (the most advanced of the trio of Spyders currently available) for monitor and projector calibration; the Spyder3Print SR for generating custom ICC print profiles; and the SpyderCube to provide accurate points of reference for image processing.
The Spyder3Elite colorimeter is equipped with an ambient light sensor, so that this may be taken into consideration during calibration, while the supplied software may even be used to assess the quality of the monitor in order to determine the consistency of reproduction across the display area. The spectrophotometer used for print profiling, meanwhile, comes with its own base to act as a guide when moving it across a series of patches, the process of which now claimed to take merely a few minutes.
Finally, the SpyderCube is constructed from a fade-proof resin, to ensure its surfaces remain accurate over time, and with the integrated tripod thread and hook it can be respectively mounted or hung in the scene depending on which is easier. In addition to the above, the package comes complete with a monitor cleaning cloth and a Quick Start Guide, and everything comes in a solid metal case which is useful for more mobile users.
|Understanding Color Management is intended intended as an introduction for
those new to color management although intermediate and more advanced
users will find plenty of useful information too.
Although obviously not a color management device, I think this book deserves a place on my list as it covers all aspects of color management relevant to photographers. Despite being originally published in 2004, much of the information within it is still as relevant to color and its management today as it was seven years ago, but as its title suggests, its focus is more on theory and basic principles of color management rather than providing a step-by-step guide for any specific tasks.
Abhay Sharma's book begins by looking at the very basics of color and the human visual system, before venturing into the purpose and differences between color spaces, the importance and basic principles of device profiling, and other key issues such as appropriate rendering intents for photographic reproduction. Those wanting a good overview of everything involved can start with the 46-page introduction which succinctly covers the book’s scope, and gloss over some of the more involved sections.
Although the reader isn’t expected to have any prior knowledge of the topics discussed, both the pace and tone of the writing allows them to quickly develop an understanding of even more complex aspects of color management. The book is logically organized to enable you to do so, while summaries at the end of each chapter quickly remind the reader of the key points discussed. True, it may not be the cheapest book on the subject, but in terms of its scope and usefulness I think that Understanding Color Management is well worth the investment.