How many professional photographers bother with color management?

Started Dec 17, 2011 | Discussions
Dan DeLion Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: Wow, A Costco Print!

Most all of the pros in this town send their stuff out to labs, and sometimes many times to get them just right. They don't want to be tied down playing on a computer or Photoshop any more than they need too and some have their spouse or techie kids upload to the lab for them.

Mack

Hopefully, God loves amateurs.

This is the most ill informed post I've seen. Can you just see a pro taking his unseen files to Costco for prints. And if they're not just right, have Costco do them again. Why not pull the memory card from you camera and submit it directly, and unseen, to your customer. Gmack, you do have customers, don't you?

GMack Senior Member • Posts: 2,928
Re: Wow, A Costco Print!

That surprises you?

Ask any Costco print tech if they have any local pros dropping off stuff there, film or digital. They even cross paths there. You'd be surprised how much goes through them around here. I'd guess that maybe 30% of the old pros in this town still shoot film too (esp. 120 size) and never even bother with Photoshop or a computer, but will hand off to a retoucher (They are still around here, and they tend to use the computer more now.). I'm still surprised to see 120 film hanging on their drying racks to this day. Some will claim "Oh. It's just for proofs." Whatever.

Mack

Dan DeLion Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Yes, yes!

GMack wrote:

Ask any Costco print tech if they have any local pros dropping off stuff there, film or digital. ...pros in this town still shoot film too (esp. 120 size) and never even bother with Photoshop or a computer

Yes, yes. No need to bother with a computer, profiling, or PhotoShop. - Not if you are so fortunate to have a Costco handy. Do their highly trained tech's turn out perfect pics on the first go-around or do you have to sometimes ask them to reprint?

The only question I have is: “How do these highly trained tech's know what the prints are supposed to look like and what they are supposed to convey?

RomanJohnston
RomanJohnston Forum Pro • Posts: 18,823
For my work, it's manditory.

All the peices of color managment are nessassary to get the prints I do for my customers.

Its not all that complicated once you understand what its all about.

And it saves you so many headaches. Definitly worth learning AND using.

Roman
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landshark Contributing Member • Posts: 746
Re: How many professional photographers bother with color management?

That is one of the most ridiculous comments I have ever read, we calibrate before every shoot.
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PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
So WB isn't your concern then?

A big part of getting color right is proper white balance at time of image capture. You didn't mention that so I can assume you feel that since you shoot RAW it's not your concern then?

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PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
Re: Wow, A Costco Print!

I know a number of pros (as defined by they charge money) do just this. They'll DL their costco's color profile from the web and figure that's all there is to color management.

Ignorance is bliss and they happy!

Hopefully, God loves amateurs.

This is the most ill informed post I've seen. Can you just see a pro taking his unseen files to Costco for prints. And if they're not just right, have Costco do them again. Why not pull the memory card from you camera and submit it directly, and unseen, to your customer. Gmack, you do have customers, don't you?

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PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
Re: Color management equals freedom lol!

Absolutley!

My opinion is that if you're doing it right you should be able to shoot a subject and then hold the print up next to them and it should match - eye color, skin tone, clothing colors, etc.
A pic of a coke can in red should match the can's red.

If you can't do that then you're doing something wrong somewhere along the line.

Even if you have 'bad' color vision 90% of the workflow can be automated - as Shaun so aptly describes - so that unless you start tweaking the heck out of an image to the point you have to use your eyes to judge color casts - it will be right on every time.

Shaun Bell wrote:

Good colour frees you up to do other things, like photography. This point was really driven home when I started doing art reproduction. There's no margin for error and messing around with test prints is a big waste of time and money. I use a Passport Color checker to profile the camera. We also use a "Spyder elite studio" kit to profile all our monitors and printers. Actually, profiling printers is done rarely as most our suppliers will build a custom profile for us for their particular product. This gives me accuracy from capture to print. The only other thing that affects colour is you lighting. Paying attention to mixed light temperatures and colour rendering index will also improve consistency and quality of your images. So if my images look weird, it's because I made them that way and not by chance lol!
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RomanJohnston
RomanJohnston Forum Pro • Posts: 18,823
Actually...about costco.

If your looking for actual photographic prints, and you DO follow basics of color managment/calibration, AND download the costco profiles (Dry Creek does these for Costco on a regular basis) AND (and this is the last AND) You UNCHECK the edit box on the upload.

If all those steps are followed, Costco is actually VERY reliable and the best value in printing up to 12' x 18" for basic Glosssy photographic prints.

I dont print there for my gallery work, but for my freebies I give away (cheaper than business cards) and proofs for professional visits. Costco rocks.

I dont print anything bigger though...I do not trust their Epson skills, nor do I like their 2 paper offerings.

For all other work, I go to West Coast Imaging, or for smaller orders, their sister site Aspen Creek Photo.

But no matter where I end up going, I manage fully my color, spaces, proofing....its the only way to get consistant, perfect results.

Anything less is careless (from a professional standpoint).

Roman

Dan DeLion wrote:

GMack wrote:

Ask any Costco print tech if they have any local pros dropping off stuff there, film or digital. ...pros in this town still shoot film too (esp. 120 size) and never even bother with Photoshop or a computer

Yes, yes. No need to bother with a computer, profiling, or PhotoShop. - Not if you are so fortunate to have a Costco handy. Do their highly trained tech's turn out perfect pics on the first go-around or do you have to sometimes ask them to reprint?

The only question I have is: “How do these highly trained tech's know what the prints are supposed to look like and what they are supposed to convey?

-- hide signature --

"The only rule of composition is....that it works."

We are officially live!!!!
http://www.commercialfineart.com/
Old Web Site
http://www.pbase.com/romansphotos/

OP ComputerDork Regular Member • Posts: 225
My profiling habits

Actually I do profile my monitor. I even got a colormunki and profile my printer, which is much less critical than the monitor.

I was using these crappy ips monitors that would really only display 6 bits per channel, and to make things worse I ended up with a defective Spyder 3. After being unhappy with that for a while, I decided to shell out for a NEC PA241 with the custom puck and all is well

From what I have read, making sure the monitor is displaying correctly solves 80% of the problem because you have to have something that's properly showing you what you're dealing with and that something really needs to be what you're using to make adjustments.

With the ink jet, a custom profile seems much less important. If I print out a colorchecker chart from an artificially created Lab file in photoshop and then use the colormunki to compare the difference of some patches, with Epson ultra gloss and built in printer profiles I get something like 10 deltae off, and with my custom profile I get more like 5 on most things. I can tell the difference but its slight and I get the feeling most people don't care.

At the lab at school people just print to 3880s with the built in profiles (occasionally I'd use the Epson standard ICC profiles on the computer but that was pretty much just me trying to see if I could squeeze a little more color using ProPhoto RGB on certain photos). Everyone is quite happy with that.

With this horrible Lexmark color laser printer I have profiling makes a huge difference though. The built in color crap on this thing just mindlessly cranks up saturation to make pie charts look pretty and photos look horrible. Color checker patches will be 25 deltae off. But after profiling the accuracy gets down to about 10. (Not planning to print photos with this much, but it's nice to know photos will look right on there now if I want to print my own brochures or something.)

I printed some artificially created (lab colors typed in manually and drawn in PS) color checker charts at Sams Club. They were around 10 deltae off or about the same as the unprofiled Epson or profiled color laser (at least in color matching, not anything else).

I asked the people in lab coats at the sams photo center how often they calibrated their printer and they told me it was every morning or every time a paper roll changed. As for how, they pointed at this sheet feed scanner looking thing on top of their fuji frontier. They didn't seem to know anything about it other than press a button and put the special print in the slot thing, but at least they were doing in daily and on media changes.

I printed test charts there at different times and got noticeably different results. I suspect that this has something to do with the fact that the frontier is sitting out in the warehouse area within 20' of the main doors where outside air is blowing through all the time. As a result the thing is exposed to major temperature variation all the time, especially when it's freezing one day and 20F warmer the next.

Well, anyway, I hope the prof was just making that claim about printers and not monitors. I don't see how anyone can do anything without a properly calibrated monitor. Someone recently sent me a photo that was way too dark. Who wants to bet that someone took a correctly exposed photo and then darkened it to make it look right on their too-bright monitor?

Anyway, I'm learning about this stuff myself and not just listening to my photo I instructor.

Richard Katris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,421
Re: How many people bother with color management? cringing...

I use color management. Wife has an interest in playing with photos. So.....she got a new IPS monitor ----and calibration for Xmas this year. The kid in college just developed an interest in photography after 20 years of exposure to it and little interest...so she got an IPS monitor and calibration lessons and loan of equipment for Xmas as well.

I use a LaCie IPS screen and have for a number of years...and the difference in output consistency and print matching is so much, that I cringed at the idea of my family members wasting time modifying images for themselves with non--calibrated work flows.....and so viewed it essential that they have both better monitors, and calibrated ones. The other option is to likely make things worse rather than better when viewing them on a computer screen....and who wants to waste time doing that?

and yes I also cringe when I know so many of my clients are viewing my work on uncalibrated monitors...but I just try to educate them about what they are missing.

The reality is that today, for $60+ and change, you can buy a decent calibration piece of equipment that will even help a cheapTN screen render better much better images....close in color to what the IPS screens will render...though the gradations possible in a larger gamut IPS screen will be better yet....but at the price of a calibrator today, it is becoming more reasonable to let clients know what they need to change and then hope they have done so. IPS screens are also now available at much more reasonable prices than they were when I got the LaCie. The wife's ASUS proArt 24 1200x1900 screen was less than $500 delivered. The kid's LG 23 IPS screen under $300 at a major retailer's store. Both are seriously better than any TN screen out there.

The LaCie, and the Asus had little change after calibration....but the terrible screens on all of our laptops benefited HUGELY....by running calibration software on them...though I still NEVER use any of the laptop screens for any color modification work (unless I have to for an emergency in the field) because it is never as good as what I do on the calibrated IPS monitors at home..

Richard Katris aka Chanan

eNo
eNo Forum Pro • Posts: 11,744
Neither you, I nor your teacher have statistics...

to back up any claims. I can tell you my impression is that for folks that get paid to deliver consistent output, color calibration is mission-critical. The sRGB comment is a red herring, IMO, and a red flag for veracity, actually. The final delivered color space, even if its sRGB, could produce (or not) a solid output based on whether each of the steps have been calibrated. Many of the professional printing services accept sRGB and offer printer profiles one can use to generate that sRGB for printing, so the two can't be mutually exclusive.

As to how important color calibration actually is depends on the type of work being performed. I bet you product photographers who must accurately represent their client's merchandise, and that includes color, one would presume, will be keenly interested in solid color management. Artists who are interpreting color and other aspects of the photo may be less inclined to bother, though a calibrated starting point (why I generate custom camera profiles derived from a color chart) may provide them with a more solid foundation.
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ToddSC Forum Member • Posts: 54
Re: How many professional photographers bother with color management?

I work at a photo lab starmarkimaging.com and I will chime in here.

Professionals (or those getting paid to take photos) run the gamut for their submitted work. I would say most have not a clue when we mention color calibration to them. But, most don't do much post-production work so we get their work straight from their camera. The ones that do a lot of post production know what we are speaking about and readily accept our color profile for our printers so they can soft proof their work before they send it in.

Just my 2 cents

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