I hate to be a tease, because I don't have the solution. But, I recall reading something somewhere about a fix for that problem. I am not sure if it is a software fix to lower luminance, or what. You might try contacting Scott Martin at www.on-sight.com and asking him. He is a consultant I have known for a long time, and he may know the solution.
FWIW, I prefer to keep my monitor luminance below 100 cd/m2, especially if you are planning on matching monitor to print, and hanging your own prints under "normal" lighting levels. I find that 120 cd/m2 is pretty bright, and typical lighting levels are lower, resulting in prints that tend to look dark and muddy. But, if you are using bright viewing ights, 120 might work well.
You might even search this forum for this problem. Also, check Luminous Landscape to see if they have any solutions.
Just to be on the safe side, make sure that Universal Access is disabled and its controls are inactive.
Go to System Preferences > Universal Access. In the "Display" section, make sure that the slider is all the way to the *left*, exactly at "Normal".
Also go to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts, look for "Universal Access" and uncheck the check box right next to it.
Thanks Lou. I will check out those sources. Wow...100 cd/m2. Mine screen is pretty dark at 120 cd/m2, and my room is completely dark. I will keep that in mind, but with this imac, i'm lucky to get down to 120 without problems. I'm currently at 148 cd/m2.
I have searched this forum for a solution. There were a couple of results, but no answers that I could find. I also did multiple google searches. The only solutions that people had were to use an app like "Shades" to reduce the brightness or luminance. I have already tried that, and it didn't work. Changing the brightness using that program in result changed the other settings.
I just find it very ridiculous that apple or x-rite have no solution to a problem that obviously effects thousands of purchasers of this device.
Thanks a bunch for your reply. I will contact Scott.
Marco, Thanks...that's a great idea, but no cigar. I checked and it was set to normal. Thanks for the reply though.
Your mileage may vary, but I find a luminance above 100 to be too bright to get a good monitor to print match "under normal print viewing conditions". I am not talking about viewing under a bright viewing light or light box conditions, but where the print is ultimately displayed.
I present my approach and logic in the Monitor and Print Profiling article on my website at the following link:
Of course, use whatever works and gives you a good match, but if you find your prints looking dark and muddy compared to your screen, consider lowering monitor luminance.
This is a problem that has been discussed at length in the Mac Photoshop forum. I can't believe the X-Rite people didn't know about it. Well, actually I can if it's the same person I spoke with last week. The real solution appears to be in using a third party monitor calibration software that allows a greater degree of hardware manipulation. From what I've read, this should fix your problem:
Thanks Lou, when I am able to lower the luminance, I will keep that in mind. As of now, the lowest I am able to go is 148 on my imac.
Thanks pfigen, but buying an expensive monitor or dropping an additional $300 for the software (on top of the $200 i've already spent on this damn eye-one display 2) is not really something I want to do. I will keep it in mind though. Thanks
You're getting sound advice from Lou and from Marco, as I fully expected. I even temporarily disabled my plonk list to see if Peter Figen was being a little more blunt than Marco and Lou, but that was not the case.
Therefore, I'll say it: an iMac is far from optimal for serious photography and graphics work in my opinion. If you don't want to hear it, that's fine. But if you're serious about your work and that iMac is brand new, I'd advise you to consider returning it and getting a desktop MacPro.
Just my two cents.
EDITED the word "graphics" in second paragraph.
As for luminance, I have my CRT monitors calibrated to 95 cd/m 2 with excellent results, meaning superbly low ∆E Temperature Color (Luv) values well under 1. My blacks are at 0.30. I work in a lighting-controlled environment that remains virtually uniform 24/7.
I'd go bananas with a value of 120 cd/m 2 , let alone what you're seeing. :/
EDITED formatting only.
Ramon, I am also coming to the realization that an imac is not the best system for serious graphic design or photography. It's a learning process I guess, and due to my lack of knowledge at the time; i purchased an imac. Sadly, I'm stuck with it because it's almost 2 years old now. Maybe I can make a switch sooner than later, but getting a new system isn't really an option right now or an easy solution to the question at hand. However, I definitely don't dispute what your saying.
Well, I got "ColorEyes Display Pro" installed, and am going to give that a go. It's ability to reduce the brightness/luminance to a lower value is definitely a good thing. It also seems like a much more thorough and customizable piece of software than the software that comes with eye-one's display 2 calibration device.
There is so much conflicting information on who makes the better calibration device for under $200. Scott Martin from On-Site.com recommends the Spyder, and he seems like a knowledgeable guy when it comes to this stuff. The Huey get's so so reviews. I went with the eye-one display 2 because of it's better reviews in forums and sites like amazon.com. I realize not all reviews have to be taken with a grain of salt, but it's really the only thing i can base my judgments on, prior to actually owning the product and trying it out myself.
In regards to the settings. Again; conflicting information throughout the net. Maybe it all depends on intended computer use, ambient lighting, and so on; but it's hard to know what to chose.
I've read that 6500 kelvin for the white setting is the new standard. Some say 5000. Some say the paper test rule is pointless since there are too many variables (types of light bulbs in your room, etc).
I think it's common practice to stick with 2.2 for the gamma on both mac and pc now a days.
With the luminance, then numbers are all over the place. 120 is recommended by the makers of the "Display 2" (X-Rite), as well as many online sources. Some say that's way too bright, yet others say their prints are great. Some people say to use 110. Now I'm hearing 95. I guess trial and error is the only way to tell for sure. I'm not sure my inexpensive inkjet would be a good indicator anyway. It would be nice to avoid having to make my corrections through trial and error with a print shop though :)
The optimum luminance for your screen is dependent on the screen and very much so on the level of ambient light in your room.
CRTs have traditionally been calibrated in the 80-90 cd/m2 range and used in very subdued ambient light.
LCD screens have a secondary problem in their luminance. They don't get as black in the blacks as a good CRT can, but they are easily much brighter on the white point luminance. Because of this, most experts recommend that LCD ambient lighting be higher than CRT. This will have the combined effect of making the screen seem less bright overall, and more importantly (to me) give the impression of a more solid black point, as LCD blacks tend to look grayer in low ambient light surroundings.
As for the actual readings, you need to take them at as a basic starting point and experiment to see what works best for you. The numbers you get from, say, Sony's Artisan colorimeter for their CRT are not going to be directly transferable to any other measuring device. There is not enough agreement between devices, particularly when measuring blacks.
It's unfortunate that Apple is marketing these screens as being suitable for higher end graphics. I think there should be some sort of disclaimer.
As mentioned in my article on profiling, I start with the final location where my prints will be displayed and work backwards (assuming monitor to print match is your most important criterion). Display lighting is typically moderate to low, unless you have dedicated lights aimed at every framed print hung in your house, office or gallery. "Normal" display lighting level helps dictate the intensity of my inspection light, which in turn, feeds back to establish monitor luminance.
Stated simply, if your prints look too dark compared to your monitor, then your monitor is too bright and you need to reduce monitor luminance. If your prints are too yellow compared to the monitor, then you need to lower the color temp of your monitor (ie, add yellow) so you get a better match. This assumes you are using a decent viewing light (Solux or Philips 5000K lighting) and not an incandescent bulb. It also assumes you are using accurate profiles for printing.
I always keep coming back to about 5200K white point, 2.2 gamma, and a luminance of between 85-90 for my monitor, and I get fantastic monitor to print matches (for my own prints, and also press proofs). I have always found 6500K to be way too blue, but I don't knock those who like it. I don't.
If your most important criterion is the web, then I'd probably calibrate to 6500K, 2.2g, 100 cd/m2, or possibly even a little brighter.
Great advice Lou. Thanks for putting it in terms a novice can comprehend. I really don't have any lights in my room that are very bright when i'm on the computer, so hopefully the "type" of light won't be much of an influence in my perception of what i'm seeing on my monitor screen.
Like most people, I need to work in both web and print, so I guess it would be best for me to create 2 separate profiles (one with the brighter settings for web, and one with the darker settings for print)? I've read that switching from one profile to another is not wise, due to the monitors slowness in adapting to these changes. Maybe I read false info, i don't know.
I'm not sure if that ColorEyes calibration software allows someone to manually lift or lower specific color levels, but I will keep that in mind. I have noticed that my cmyk values showing on my monitor are not quite matching my pantone bridge guide (new). I calibrated with the ColorEyes software and used the Eye-One Display 2. I guess I will keep trying new settings. Wish I never got this imac for graphic design use :( Thanks again, I will try the recommended settings that you and others have given.
I use the EyeOneDisplay2 on my Apple/NEC/Sony LCD monitors.
I like to set the hardware brightness at around 150 luminance (apply no adjustment in the Eye-one software), and target Native whitepoint because it gives me more pleasing skin tones (typically comes out at around 5400-5800), gamma at 2.2.
I would recommend you find the settings you like and train your eye to work within those settings (not keep second guessing your approach and hardware).
ALSO, most important is your reference image, be sure using a good calibration image.
DOWNLOAD the aRGB Photodisc PDI target image here
I use 140 cd/m2...and I love bananas! :-)
Marco - I hope you are joking with the 140 :)
G ballard - Thanks for the response. I wouldn't keep second guessing my approach and hardware if my pantone guide swatches were closely matching my screen values.
I will definitely try using that reference image you sourced. I'm assuming a good reference image is one that offers a good variety of hues and contrasts.
You use a 150 luminance setting? It confuses me that one system can be using an 85, and another 150; both resulting in good prints. Different room lighting may be the reason I guess.
While I have no need for Pantone swatches, I keep reading over and over that the Pantone swatch books are not consistent, that they change from one version to another, and that individual swatch books often don't match each other.
What I'm referencing now are replies by experts here and in the Photoshop Macintosh forum. I'm just glad I don't need them, and I hope others will comment on this for your benefit.
Thanks Ramon. I just dropped $300 on Pantone's essential's set. There are so many designers that say trying to design/print without a guide is like flying blind. And I've heard your side as well. Like everything, there are many varying opinions :)
>Marco - I hope you are joking with the 140
No. My monitor is calibrated for a luminance of 140 cd/m2. Honest. You may call the color management police on me, but they'll have to pry my mouse from my cold dead hands... :-)
>Different room lighting may be the reason I guess.
As long as you don't work in prepress, a dark work environment is overrated. As long as nothing in your field of view is brighter than the white of your monitor, and you don't face sunlit windows, or glare on your display from powerful light sources behind or above you, your eyes will adapt to the white point of the monitor.
Do not underestimate your visual system's capacity for chromatic adaptation. I don't advise luminances high enough to give you a suntan, but 140 or even 180 cd/m2 are not a problem in a work environment like the one I just described.
One warning, though: if your environment is dark, you should use lower luminances, otherwise you'll be blinded by the excessive difference between room lighting and the monitor's brightness. It will also tire you out. But under "normal" ambient conditions, a higher luminance is not at all detrimental.
>> pantone guide swatches
Sorry, I completely missed that in skimming your posts.
Pantone issues are problematic in Adobe apps (because they are a moving target) try adding Chris Cox to your search
I also missed that your iMac would not dim past 140 (I seem to recall hearing that issue before, tho)
I think monitor brightness is a very personal preference dependent on any number of environmental factors...I just noted where I am (my room is relatively dim)...what's much more important (to me) is the monitor's ability to display neutral RGB desaturated gray in Photoshop with no color cast...
my paycheck and work flow depends on faithfully "proofing" color on a Photoshop reference monitor, so I would never skimp on buying the best main monitor and profiling package I could afford
from what I've heard the iMac is not so great for critical color proofing I am not knocking the iMac it is what it is
that's just my 2 cents
Both of your responses make a lot of sense. I guess it just comes down to trial and error, considering everyones environment will be different. Reading the other posts and your feedback here, has helped a bunch. Thanks
>>I'm assuming a good reference image is one that offers a good variety of hues and contrasts.
I like the Photodisc PDI image because of the various skin tones (the monitor and printer have to be pretty good to get them all right a lot of people can tell naturally if skin tones look right or if they correctly saturated.
Second, the desaturated gray bar should be completely neutral and distinct steps between each level.
I've used the PDI image on countless Photoshop monitors along with desaturating the PDI image in Photoshop (Command+Shift+U) and checking for neutrality it is very useful for quickly evaluating a Photoshop monitor.
Also, just as valuable is printing the PDI target to see how well it prints (and how well it matches the monitor) it also can help confirm or troubleshoot a color-managed printing workflow (for the same reasons).
While my simple PROOFING ANALOGY doesn't address the pitfalls of relying on a bad monitor to evaluate and adjust digital color, it does make two important facts about Photoshop and professional color-managed printing workflows:
1) The printer can PROOF (print) the source file faithfully regardless of how right or wrong the monitor is set up, and
2) The monitor can PROOF (display) the source file faithfully regardless of how right or wrong the printer is set up.
Getting a known good file (like the Adobe RGB Photodisc reference image) into Photoshop allows me to evaluate the monitor alongside the print to help me identify where the problem is occurring...
There's no such thing as "my side" when it comes to the Pantone swatches. I take no position on the issue whatsoever because it's irrelevant when you're dealing only with photographs.
Based on what I know, it's best to reference Pantone's Lab numbers, which are found in Illustrator's or Photoshop's swatch palettes (or panels, as they are called now).
Yes, the exact numbers do slightly change from one version to the next, but as long as you refer to the latest published values, you will be fine.
And it is indeed true that there is a certain level of inconsistency in appearance between Pantone swatchbooks or fans, even within the same round of release.
But as I say, refer to the Lab values (for the solid coated edition, usually) and you'll be ahead of the Pantone color game.
Great advice. I will look into all of it :)
Let us know what settings you end up with on your monitor for white point and luminance. Just curious to see what works for you. Be sure you compare your monitor to prints using Accurate Custom Printer profiles, viewed preferably with 5000K lighting. If you don't have 5000K lights, look at your print under filtered daylight in the middle of a clear day (not direct sunlight).
I've been struggling with this "prints too dark" issue since last Oct. when we bought our new 24" glossy iMac. Since then I've not been able to print marketable photos at home the way they came out with the old Sony Trinitron monitor and pc. The past 6 months have been spent choosing a new computer (was iMac a mistake?), then realizing the tremendous learning curve ahead for LR2 and PSCS4, not to mention this HUGE printing problem!
I'll describe my working conditions and setup first. I'm working in the basement of a raised ranch with a north window behind the monitor (covered with dark cloth), a fluorescent shop light over my desk to the left of the monitor, and a drafting lamp with a daylight bulb above the computer desk on the right side. I calibrate and print with these same lights, usually in mid-afternoon or early evening.
Here is the process I follow using an Eye One Display 2. I set the brightness on the monitor at its lowest point, then started the calibration using these target settings: 5500K, 2.2 gamma, 120 cd/m2. Using the Advanced Mode, I skip the Contrast measurement and go to the Luminance adjustment. The final result is Color Temp 5500K, 2.2 gamma, 179 cd/m2 luminance. The luminance is still too bright, but won't go any lower.
Before we bought the iMac, Lightroom 2 and PSCS4, I used PS Elements 5 to print on the Epson R1800 printer which resulted in very accurate prints after some fiddling with the settings. Now I've read so many differing versions of the best way to calibrate and print, I'm very confused and frustrated.
The only prints I've made are jpegs which were edited in Elements, saved as psd's, and printed in CS4.
Please help me with a workflow plan from calibration right through to printing on the Epson R1800. What is the best target setting for calibration: 5500K or 6500K? What settings should be used in Photoshop CS4 to print? What settings are correct on the printer?
Also, concerning the monitor brightness: I downloaded DarkAdapted Pro software to help dim the imac below 120 cd/m2. At what stage in the process is this software used to dim the monitor? During calibration? Before? or after?
You went down from a Sony Artisan to a darned iMac screen??
If so, I'd say you're ready for therapy.
Never mind, I misread Sony Trinitron as Sony Artisan. Sorry.
Hi Cyndy (Vermont's a lovely place and I have spent a fair amount of time there).
As you are discovering, there are a lot of differing opinions on monitor calibration. After lots of testing and experimentation, I settled on 5200K, 2.2 gamma, and 90 cd/m2 on my LCD (I used the same settings in the past on CRTs too). Fortunately, I can dim my monitor to this point without external software, but I would assume you would use DarkAdapted Pro before profiling.
If you are interested in my approach, I have it fairly well documented on my website in the Color Management section. I have a few articles on color management and profiling. It's not the only approach but it works quite well and gives me an excellent monitor to print match, both for my own art work and for prepress. I'd try a few different approaches and see what works. I provide my settings and the rationale for using them. Here's the link to my site.
Click the links on the left side of the page and then choose to open or download the PDF files. Hope it is helpful.
There is an easy fix for this.
You are correct the settings on an iMac are to bright, we also use an eyeone to Calibrate all our iMacs in our design studio.
The way to correct it is to download a program called shades, here is the link http://www.charcoaldesign.co.uk/shades
This program is great, and will reduce your brightness to the correct level, so you can calibrate your iMac with the eyeone display.
"Shades" was already mentioned in the Original Post from the very beginning.
I clicked on your link and found this cautionary note on the Shades page:
Note: Shades may interfere with colour calibration software, and should not be used if colour accuracy is critical.
Shade is fine to use don't worry about the note.
We actually had a Colour Calibration expert come out to our studio to calibrate our iMacs and Printers. This is what he recommended for our iMacs we have never had a printer jobs go wrong with colour managerment.
Even when we outsource our print jobs the same colours as what is on our screen, we have some large cliental so our colour management must be correct, and shades does the job perfect with the mac.
Glad to hear Shades works well. I don't use a Mac or have problems with excessively high luminance on my monitors, but a friend of mine and a color management expert who I trust and respect, said Shades has worked well for him and his clients. Thanks for the info.
Thank you for the reassurance, Andre. What I find remarkable, though, is not that Shades works for you but that you are actually using iMacs successfully in professional work.
After intensive research on the net, I decided to purchase DarkAdapted
Pro because it can be finer tuned than Shades. My problem is knowing
when and how to use it - before I calibrate or after? On our 24" imac
(glossy screen), the Eye One Display 2 calibration gets these results
using Advanced Mode & Color Presets: Color Temp -5500 K (Target &
Current), Gamma 2.2, Luminance - 120 (Target), 179.5 (Current). I
begin the calibration process with the monitor turned to the lowest
brightness setting. After calibration the prints are still dull and
slightly dark (printing through PS CS4). Should I use DarkAdaptedPro
after calibration to lower the luminance to 120 or below? Should I be
calibrating with 6000K or 6500K Color Temp Target instead of 5500K?
Our middle daughter is having surgery today for Stage IV colon cancer,
so I will be away from the computer for at least a week. As she
recuperates here at home, I'd like to find time to get the calibration
process straightened out because I haven't made a good print since we
switched from a pc to the imac last October! Your help and patience
with a beginner is greatly appreciated! This ol' grandma wants to do
something productively creative to help relieve the stress and our
Sorry to hear about your daughter. I wish her the best of success.
I haven't had a problem with bright monitors, so it is an issue I have not had to wrestle with personally. I would assume the software has a manual with suggested steps. A friend of mine (who has done this sort of thing with Shades) suggested calibrating first, then using Shades (or DarkAdapted Pro) to lower the luminance. Some monitors go rather "flat" if you lower the luminance all the way, so it may require some trial and error.
Here's what I would probably try.
1. Lower your monitor luminance before profiling, watching to see if you see any big changes as you do so. As you are lowering luminance, you could display a 21 step grayscale in Photoshop to assess what is happening. My website has a 21 step grayscale on the Color Management page, under the heading "Viewing Gallery Images". (http://www.dinagraphics.com/color_management.php)
2. In my calibration software, I set the target settings to 5200K, 2.2 gamma, 90 cd/m2 luminance. These settings work great for me and give me an excellent monitor to print match in terms of color, luminosity and tonal distribution. Lowering the temp setting warms up the color, increasing it cools it off. I use 5000K lighting for viewing my prints.
3. If your monitor brightness is still high, then try using DarkAdpated Pro to lower the luminance to your desired target point after calibration and profiling.
4. Personally, I would download MeasureTool from the X-Rite website (part of the ProfileMaker Pro profiling package. ProfileMaker is expensive, but many of the features of MT work without a license or paying for the software.) Load it and use MT in "transmissive mode" so you can read a backlit object, like a transparancy....or a monitor.
5. Display your 21 step grayscale in Photoshop after you have done the above steps. First, if your calibration is good, you should be able to see all 21 steps in the grayscale image. If not, something is amiss. You may have to look very closely to see separation between the two darkest steps, but you should be able to see it. Using Measuretool, read the 21 steps one by one. It will give you data for each point in "Lab" units. The L* number gives you the luminance, and the a*/b* numbers give you color component. When both a* and b* are zero, you have a dead neutral gray, and the further they stray from zero, the more color cast you have. The purpose of using MT is to provide some objective numbers to your grayscale measurements and to see if using DarkAdapted Pro is skewing your color, or just lowering luminance properly. You could even measure your 21 step grayscale before and after using Dark Adapted Pro to see what happens. You probably won't be right at zero, but you should be within about 4 or 5 units.
I hope this isn't too complicated. If the MT thing is too much, then simply display the 21 step grayscale image in Photoshop and look closely at it. If the steps look neutral and are well distributed, you are off to a good start. Then, try a normal print and see if it matches. Compare your print to a "Soft Proof" in Photoshop, using the profile of the paper and the rendering intent you used to make your print. For now, I'd print on "photo" papers, since they have wider color gamut and dynamic range, and will show less color and contrast loss than matte fine art papers. We just want to see if we are close at this point.
I have a long article on "Monitor & Printer Profiling" on my website, which you are welcome to read and download. It explains a lot of this stuff in fairly easy to understand terms.
Best of luck, on both counts.
Just to say you're not stuck for ever with your imac as you can plug a second monitor to it : its my actual setup; an imac 20 + an Eizo.
Recently I attended an Epson event for the roll out of their new line of large format printers. I will not name names but one of the speakers was a Mac Guru that I am sure you all know from his many interviews and web postings. One of the first issues he talked about was color management and monitor calibration. He stated that Mac monitors by their nature were all way too bright and in fact they could not be toned down with any of the monitor controls. His fix was to take a large sheet of neutral density filter and tape it to the front of his screen. After the laughter in the audience died down he looked at us and said "You think I am Kidding?". Sometimes even the Guru's throw in the towel and stick on a Band-Aid.