Is Screen Calibration Important to Photographers These Days?

I’ve heard arguments from both sides of the camp. The question is whether or not screen calibration matters these days. With over 14 years in this business, I’ve seen the answer change many times. And, just like with reviews, there’s a technical answer and a practical, real-world answer. There are folks who won’t change their minds no matter what. And there are photographers who never even cared about it. In 2022, the answer is a bit complicated. And we think the truth of the matter may change your mind.

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The Datacolor SpyderX Tool Kits Could Be Essential for Photographers

With the Datacolor SpyderX tool kits, photographers will be able to get a lot more from their workflow.

Photographers of a particular skill set above the typical amateur are going to want to pay attention to the new Datacolor SpyderX tool kits announced today. Besides including their much improved SpiderX Elit calibration unit, they’re also assisting higher end photographers by bundling a few other goodies together. There are two kits: the SpyderX Capture Pro, and the SpyderX Studio kit. One isn’t necessarily a more high end than the other; one is designed more around the need for capturing out in the field, the other is for studio work.

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Review: Datacolor SpyderX Elite (Their Best and Their Most Behind Product Yet)

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The Datacolor SpyderX Elite is mostly the same product as its predecessor with a few major improvements.

If you were to ask most journalists, editors, and photographers about how often they calibrate their computer displays, I’m positive that the answer would be never–though the Datacolor SpyderX Elite should give them a number of reasons at least to consider it. The most recently updated product from Datacolor includes a few big design changes and deviations from the previous products. For the creatives who have been using the Spyder units for years, you’ll be happy to know that it operates mostly the same. But in terms of future proofing and reaching out to a newer generation of creatives, there are some obvious and glaring problems with the new Datacolor SpyderX Elite. A number of competitors have popped up in the most recent years to include pretty revolutionary features to the genre of products. But what’s perhaps the Datacolor SpyderX Elite’s biggest problem is the displays that they’re catering so hard towards.

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The Best Gift a Photographer Can Give is a Print; And Here’s How You Can Do it Correctly.

The absolute best thing that any photographer can do to their images is bring it into the real world via a print.

As the Editor in Chief of the Phoblographer, we get a bunch of submissions from photographers for us to feature their work–and unfortunately I think that one of the problems for many photographers is the fact that we’re not all using the same screens. To that end, all of our images look different depending on a number of factors that are almost completely out of control. Some of those factors include the lighting around the screen that your photos are being viewed on, the screen that it’s being viewed on, etc. But with prints, there’s a pretty different story.

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Review: BenQ SW240 Monitor for Photographers

The BenQ SW240 is the company’s latest affordable option for the photographer; but how is it?

Only a couple of years ago a high-end monitor with a built-in calibration and profile system which was also capable of displaying the entire Adobe RGB (1998) gamut cost serious money. And then BenQ upended that game with the SW series monitors. If you are in the market for a high-performance monitor, performance wise the BenQ SW models are right up there with the Eizo ColorEdge and NEC PA monitors but cost substantially less.

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Review: The BenQ SW 271 Display (27 Inch)

The BenQ SW 271 has a lot going for it. We’ve been testing it for a little while now.

BenQ is making a really strong push to compete with the big boys — Eizo and NEC— in the high end, high resolution, large gamut monitor market segment. And they are doing so by bringing very competitive pricing to the mix. Selling for (as of mid-December 2017) $1,099.00, the BenQ SW271, is a 27” (diagonal), 16:9 aspect ratio, 4K UHD monitor with an on-board color calibration chip. It is a powerful shot across the bows of the justly acclaimed, but very expensive, Eizo ColorEdge CG and NEC PA monitor series.

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Matte vs Glossy Paper: What Should You Print on (Premium)

How does the old saying go? If I recall it’s something like “My photo isn’t done and isn’t a photo until it is printed.” This is an old saying, but one that holds true for many photographers as they grow and progress. Arguably speaking, one of the biggest accolades of photography as an art form is the idea of printing your photo. Seeing your photo in real life on something other than the screens that you stare at all day and night is a testament to your work. Some may consider printing to be a dying art and it is arguably a hard sell due to it being an experience that you need to have in person. With a world that has growing economic disparity and that puts more emphasis on getting that double tap on your photo vs seeing it in galleries live, printing is an art form in and of itself that black and white photographers really should look into.So let’s just start with the basics and explore things that many photographers have never even thought about.

Matte Paper

If you’ve ever had prints made or seen them, then chances are that they’re all from the same Fujifilm paper used by Walgreens, Costco, Duane Reade, etc. That’s a glossy paper and that’s what people are so used to seeing. I’m going to tackle glossy in a bit. But first, I should really emphasize and talk about matte paper. Instead of these pharmacy prints, you should liken matte paper more to the types of paper that one would typically write on. Even then, matte paper isn’t really done a whole lot of justice by saying that.

Unlike the paper that you write on typically, matte paper tends to be thicker and is sometimes called “cardboard stock.” For what it’s worth, it’s also much more durable. When you put your hands on the paper, it has a much different tactile experience than anything that you’ve felt before and that’s often due to how the strands of fibers are put together. Matte paper tends to absorb light in a scene rather than reflect it. If you’ve ever seen a matte computer display and a glossy computer display, you can immediately tell that one is much easier to edit on than the other–often times it’s the matte. It tends to cut down on reflections but also does different things to your photo. At the same, matte can make your colors more dull unless you calibrate your software and printer to know that you’ll be printing on matte paper. While that may sound complicated, it’s literally the case of one or two clicks of your mouse.

Some of my favorite Matte papers are made by Epson and Red River. Generally speaking, it requires greater amounts of ink to make the colors look more saturated. But that can also be offset by the lighting. Lighting for matte prints are a whole other story. For that reason, lots of photographers prefer the look of matte for black and white photos.

Glossy Paper

Glossy prints and paper tend to be what folks commonly associate photo prints with. Why? I honestly want to blame the industry. It’s sometimes cheaper to make and people are often spellbound by the look of their prints. I’m not going to lie here, it’s pretty difficult to make a photo look bad on glossy. But for what it’s worth, there are different types of glossy. What you’re most used to seeing from pharmacies are glossy prints but then there is semi-glossy, luster, pro luster, satin, etc. The marketing terms can be interchanged for forever, but glossy paper can be defined as paper that when you look at it and shine light on it, you’ll clearly see reflections. But just like your cell phone’s screen, it makes the colors, text and all pop so much more.

Glossy paper and prints can make for really great printing experiences. Colors often look fantastic with glossy paper. Despite my saying that Glossy paper is the most commonly used option, that doesn’t mean that it’s only a basic offering as I was lead to believe years ago. There’s lower end glossy and higher end glossy.

How You Light It Matters

Matte prints and glossy prints are both different beasts. I want you to imagine, if you will, the photos that you probably have in your home. Maybe they’re framed. But as you walk around them, are there reflections? Then note a few other things:

  • What color is the light in your room?
  • What color are the walls?
  • What colors are in the print?
  • At different times of the day, are there more or less reflections on the paper?

Those are just a basic number of questions to think about and the list can go on and on. But let’s set up some general rules. If you’re printing on matte paper, then make sure that the light source is directly hitting it. If you’ve got a matte print, try placing it closer to a window to absorb that light. If you’re printing with glossy paper, then make the light source either directly above it or indirect. This will give the paper full illumination, brighten the colors, and cut down on reflections.

Printing

Finally, there is the whole process of actually printing your images. When it comes to doing this, I strongly recommend getting a dedicated photo printer. You don’t need the highest end options, but the reason why you should strive for one of these printers is because they have multiple inks that work harder to get the colors more accurate according to the Adobe RGB scale. That also requires having a monitor that can cover a decent amount of that scale. Software like Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One can do a great job with handling printing; arguably Lightroom does it the best. Then what you also need is some sort of color calibration tool. I’ve been using Datacolor’s tools for years. This will help you get more consistent results across the board and you can then create color profiles of your monitor to send to the printer to make your print match what you see on the screen.

Or at least that’s the goal…

Tutorial Video: How Photographers Can Calibrate Their Computer Display

Photographers need to be able to not only shoot great photos, but also export great images. And there are lots of tutorials on how to edit your photos to look a given way but not a whole lot on how to do something fundamental to the process: screen calibration. Let’s think about this: my office setup and the lighting there is most likely far different from what you have in your office, where you’re probably reading this from, or on your mobile device. So it isn’t the same viewing experience. If you’ve ever used photographic reflectors, your viewing experience of a screen is very much like using different sides of a reflector–soft gold does one thing, white does another, etc. Photographers need to be able to give their viewers the same viewing experience they have.

In order to do that, please check out this video below on just how you calibrate your display from our recent Facebook Live session.

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The Truth About How White Balance And Your Camera Actually Work

There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t care about white balance in the same way that you care about manual control over the exposure of the image. The way that color is rendered in a photo can completely change the way that it appears and in order to get the absolute best color, you should use manual control over your white balance in the same way that you manually control the ISO, aperture and shutter speeds. While manufacturers sit there and try in vain to get better high ISO results and more dynamic range, they’re not giving us what can possibly provide for even more creative freedom: better color control. The majority of cameras don’t provide incredibly accurate color control or gradation from their sensors. Film arguably does a better job of this in the right situations but digital cameras are capable of getting pretty darned close to real results.

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How to Get the Best Color in Your Final Images

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In today’s world of photography it’s very easy to get caught up about camera sensors, sharpness, lenses, etc. But one of the most important things that I’ve always stressed is the significance of color. If you study photographer who use color very effectively like the work of Steve McCurry, you learn that many of his portraits have one key or main color and two other complementary colors. The latitude of those specific colors is also quite important to the perception of the final photo.

But so is the delivery–and ensuring that everyone has the same viewing experience. That’s where the importance of color calibration comes in. Everyone has a different monitor calibration for their own purposes (brightness, contrast, etc). Additionally, everyone also uses products from different manufacturers. That’s why effective color calibration can help ensure that your images make more of an impact from monitor to monitor–this is where the Datacolor Spyder5PRO comes in.

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Review: DNP DS40 Dye Sublimation Printer

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer DNP DS40 printer review images (1 of 10)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Dye-Sublimation printing isn’t new, but it surely is a process that hasn’t been spoken about for a while or as much as laserjet and ink jet printing. However, DNP is a company that makes Dye-Sublimation printers–and if you aren’t familiar with the process then head right on over to your local WalMart or CVS. Most of America and the world is indeed happy with the results that they get.

So when the company pitched the DNP DS40 at us, we were naturally curious. Wedding clients have always been happy with prints from CVS or other places, so how would it work in a natural home/office setting?

Over the past three months we’ve been playing with the DNP DS40 and we can only describe this as addicting.

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First Impressions: Spyder Print

You have all kinds of pretty pictures on your computer but what happens when you want to print them? Some opt for services like Snapfish or Costco. Otherwise hand off the file to a professional lab like BayPhoto and pay a little more for better service.

Others still endeavor to print their own images. For those so willing, color calibration is a key factor to WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) results. I’ve struggled with it in the past and was thus excited to try a demo copy of the Spyder Print device.

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SpyderCAPTURE PRO Takes All The Guesswork Out Of Your Shoot

Datacolor has announced their ultimate solution to shooting and editing your photos in true color. The SpyderCAPTURE PRO bundles four separate tools into an affordable and precise suite that makes your life just that much easier during a shoot. You don’t have to hope and pray that your white and color balances are on point or that your lenses and camera are calibrated precisely.

Head past the break for full details.

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Review: Spyder4Elite Color Calibration Tool (And Why It Is Too Much For Most People)

We’ve previously reviewed the DataColor Spyder4Pro, and we thought it to be good enough for the majority of creatives in the industry that declare themselves to at least by semi-professionals. One step above the Pro is the Elite, and on paper and in previous briefings, I thought it to not have much more capabilities than its sibling.

What I ended up with was a harsh lesson equivalent to handing a Nikon D4 to an absolute novice.

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