Color management mysteries

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Tonydpr New Member • Posts: 16
Color management mysteries

Several years ago I had an old CRT monitor which I calibrated regularly. Then I upgraded to a NEC Multisync PA241W LCD monitor. At the same time I had printer profiles made for the papers I regularly used with my Canon Pixma Pro 9000 printer. At this time I decided that I would only calibrate my monitor when the printer output no longer matched my screen. This never happened and for several years I have not calibrated my monitor and have always experienced a good match between printer and screen.

Recently I changed my printer to a Canon Pro-100 but did not have new printer profiles made because the match to my screen remained pretty good, though perhaps not quite as good as it had been before. I still did not feel the need to calibrate my monitor. However, I have always felt that I must be doing something wrong because all the experts say that if you take color management seriously, you must calibrate your monitor regularly.

So, as an experiment, I had new printer profiles made for the new printer and I calibrated my monitor for the first time in several years. With the new monitor profile as the default and the new printer profiles selected for printing from Lightroom, I noticed three effects:

One. For new photographs that I post-process to my satisfaction in Lightroom, the prints match the screen. This was to be expected, but is not much different from my situation before I made these changes.

Two. For old photographs that had been post-processed and printed to my satisfaction before these changes, the screen no longer showed my images they way I wanted them and the way they had previously been printed. The colors on the screen are considerably muted and dull compared to the screen images and the prints using the previous profiles. I suppose this makes sense now that I see it, but I had not anticipated it. It is in fact a big problem because my portfolio viewed on the screen no longer looks they way I want it, or the way it is already printed.

Three: When I export an old photograph in TIFF format from Lightroom the colors are muted and dull as described above. But when I export them as JPG the colors are much brighter, as I was accustomed to seeing them before I made these changes. I had not expected this and cannot explain it.

So, I have decided to keep the new printer profiles as they do give me a slight improvement in matching the screen image. But I will not use the newly calibrated monitor profile as I wish to see my older portfolio screen images matching my previous prints. I will go back to not calibrating my monitor.

I still have the feeling, though, that I must be misunderstanding something important about color management and would be grateful for any explanations, advice or suggestions. Is it possible that my monitor is self-calibrating to some internally defined profile?

 Tonydpr's gear list:Tonydpr's gear list
Olympus E-M5 II
Canon Pixma Pro-100
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