Author Archives: colorconfidence

Colour management – a refresher

With spring being the time to dust away the cobwebs…

refresher_chews_blog

… we thought we’d do a refresher post about colour management as a whole.

Last week we blogged about the apparent arrival of spring, and a couple of products that would benefit photographers during this time of year. This week we’re going to take a step back and refresh everyone on what colour management actually is, and why it’s important.

What is colour management?

In a nutshell, colour management is the process that helps you keep colour accurate and consistent throughout your workflow. This could be from image capture, to viewing an image on-screen, to printing something out on your printer.

There are numerous solutions and devices out there that help you achieve this accuracy, the process of which is often referred to as ‘calibrating’ or ‘profiling’ your gear. Typically, you can profile your monitor, camera and printer (as eluded to above) to display or process colours as accurately as possible. There are a range of products out there that do this to suit a specific requirement or budget.

Why is it important?

Accuracy is the key word (hence the repetition in the section above!). You want to know what you’re seeing on screen, capturing on your camera or printing out is as true-to-life as possible, especially if your livelihood or reputation depends on it. Effective colour management will help you do this.

No two devices will display colour exactly the same way. Every device will have it’s own colour range or gamut. Even two monitors of the same model and brand can display colour differently. By implementing colour management you can keep colour consistent from device to device, and as accurate as possible within its capabilities.

We’ve blogged specifically about colour management themes before. You can read back through our posts here.

You’ll soon question once you start doing ‘colour management’ how you ever lived without it in the first place!

Spring is here!

Apparently.

daffodils

Despite being April, you’d think we’re still in the middle of January with the cold wind and patches of snow we still have on the car park.

Nevertheless, we thought now would be a good time to run through a couple of products a photographer will find useful for the longer daytime hours and sunshine (fingers crossed).

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

An essential accessory for any photographer. ColorChecker Passport features a series of colour targets to ensure you can ‘calibrate’ your camera in all environments and conditions. Just make sure the first photo of your shoot includes the Passport, and then use the included software (or Photoshop) to correct your images using the Passport’s standardised references post shoot.

Key feature: portability

X-Rite ColorMunki Display & i1Display Pro 

Calibrating your screen is the one thing above all else we recommend you do. One useful feature of these calibrators – and relevant to longer daylight hours in spring – is an ambient light measurement capability. You can get your screen automatically adjusted to the lighting conditions you work in as they change. This means you can be sure your screen is accurate regardless of where the sun is in the sky and how much light is coming through your window.

Key feature(s): speed of calibration, regular lighting condition adjustments

Booq Toploader

With spring in the air the likelihood of nipping out to take a few pictures increases. Get yourself a booq Toploader camera bag to ‘nip out’ in style, and be assured your DSLR is protected against the elements. There’s enough room for a DSLR and lens (plus lens caps, memory cards etc.) so you’ll only take what you need when spontaneity strikes.

Key feature: compact, minimalist toughness

Franzis HDR (editing coolness)

Once you’ve been out and about, edit your RAW or JPG pictures with the latest HDR effects from Franzis software. Add filters, enhance and correct your images and create original effects to add some extra impact.

Key feature: bracketing feature to work on multiple images simultaneously

No more boxed Nik Software – what do we get now?

With Nik Software going to download only, what are your choices if you still want boxed photo editing solutions?

(p.s. desktop Snapseed is also going too).

These three are your most comparable matches:

onOne Software

See: Perfect Photo Suite 7 – probably the closest comparison to ‘Complete Collection’ with some arguably more intuitive and useful features.

Perfect Photo Suite 7 includes the entire onOne range from black & white and filter effects to image resizing and layers. With a seamless integration into Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, or as a standalone product in its own right, onOne is a very good accompaniment to any image editing photographer. Good for RAW and JPG images too.

Star feature: Paint-in brush tool to work on specific areas of an image

DxO Labs

See: Optics Pro 8 Elite

Software that works in harmony with your camera and lens combination(s) to provide automatic image corrections. Optics Pro is an excellent combination of precision image correction (RAW and JPG) and creative effects. Sophistication meets creativity with very satisfying results.

Star feature: Downloadable corrections for a specific camera and lenses

Franzis HDR

See: Franzis Projects Platinum

The most natural ‘replacement’ for Nik HDR Efex Pro, Projects Platinum offers the latest in High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing. You can apply effects to a single image, or upload your RAW camera bracketing directly for tailored effects and editing. Preset effects give you a good base which can be customised and saved to suit your needs.

Star feature: The automatic ghosting removal feature is a huge benefit when working on bracketing images

Choosing a monitor (updated) – a buyer’s guide.

Back in 2011 we blogged about choosing an NEC or Eizo monitor to suit a specific budget.

Monitor choices

With Eizo launching new models in the New Year, we thought we’d re-visit your options to include these new monitors.

Something for the professionals.

Much of what we said last time is still applicable today. 24″ remains a popular size for most professionals, although we had a lot of interest in our 27″ NEC’s at this year’s Focus On Imaging. Top grade panels and high colour accuracy are still standard, as are monitor hoods and calibration software for your higher-grade models.

So without bombarding you with too much information…

The 24″ choice:

Consider whether you require the IPS panel of the Eizo or the newer P-IPS panel of the NEC. The Eizo has a larger native resolution of 2560 x 1440 compared to 1920 x 1080, but the NEC has a higher Adobe RGB coverage of 98% compared to the 97% of the Eizo. Both come with monitor hood and calibration software.

Again your choice is between an IPS (Eizo) and P-IPS (NEC) display. Consider the Eizo’s 16:10 ratio, 1920 x 1200 resolution and digital screen uniformity feature compared to the NEC’s 16:9, 1920 x 1080 and no digital screen uniformity option.

The 27″ choice:

These are the ‘bigger brothers’ of the 24″ versions mentioned above. The main consideration points are the IPS panel, 850:1 ratio and 97% Adobe RGB coverage of the Eizo compared to the P-IPS panel, 1000:1 ratio and 98% Adobe RGB coverage of the NEC. Both come with monitor hood and calibration software.

The main consideration points are the IPS panel, 850:1 ratio, 97% Adobe RGB coverage and digital screen uniformity of the Eizo compared to the P-IPS panel, 1000:1 ratio, 98% Adobe RGB coverage and no digital uniformity feature of the NEC. Neither monitor comes with hood or calibration software.

Still out of your price range?

If these are still out of your range, consider either dropping down a monitor size or to the next grade of monitor.

  • Eizo SX2462W or NEC PA241W (from approx. £696 to £839 respectively)
  • Eizo CS230 or NEC P232W (from approx. £590 to £450 respectively)

Bear in mind stepping down in price range or grade often reduces the size of the screen and the feature-set included. Granting, these choices are excellent ‘entry-level’ options. They will all benefit from the addition of a monitor hood that can be purchased separately. None will come with their own calibration software.

As ever, your best bet when choosing a new display is to specify what features you desire and then ‘compare and contrast’ which monitor best fits your requirements.

We’ve created a monitor comparison chart to help guide you through this comparison.

If you still can’t decide, comment below or get in touch and we’ll do our best to help!

Focused on imaging

So there we go, another Focus On Imaging done and dusted.

It was a very good show for us this year. Our NEC Monitor area was very popular and our presentation area was also full throughout.

With great support from our colleagues at DxO, Franzis, X-Rite, Tecco and NEC, we hope all those who visited our stand came away with more insight into the sometimes daunting world of colour management.

One thing is for sure – lots of people will be going away and calibrating their screens which is great to hear. You’re all on your way to accurate colour!

We hope you’ll agree our stand was a big improvement on last years design too. We were extremely pleased with it.

Take a look at our gallery from the show:

It’s Focus time!

Only one week (and a bit) to go…

Focus 2012

… until Europe’s largest photographic and imaging show Focus On Imaging will open its doors.

So who wants to know what we’re up to then?

Over the year’s both the company and our stand evolve and grow with new colour management solutions, and this year is now exception. Focus gives us a unique opportunity to talk to our customers in-person; getting to know them, what camera they use, what they like shooting, and more importantly, what challenges they’re currently facing with their current workflow. After all, we’re here to help!

So if you have a burning colour management issue you need resolving, come and see us at the show.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve got on:

  • Expert demonstrations and profiling solutions from market leaders X-Rite – come and see the new ColorMunki Smile in action
  • This year we have a dedicated NEC Monitor wall with NEC technical staff on stand to guide you through which monitor is best for you
  • Our ever-popular Tecco stand has been given an overhaul so you can see just how good Tecco paper really is in the flesh
  • We will be officially launching two all-new software brands to the UK; DxO Image Science and Franzis HDR (we’ve been playing with them this week, they really are something to get excited about!) – both of which are perfectly placed to fill the hole left by Nik Software’s move to Google
  • We’ve scheduled an even better presentation timetable this year having been inundated with attendees and last year’s show, details can be found here
  • Our technical team, as well as brand experts from NEC, X-Rite, Tecco, DxO, Franzis, and many more will be on-hand throughout the show to give live demonstrations and answer your questions

Full details can be found on our Focus microsite, and if you want a flavour of previous shows, you can read our blog posts from the last two shows here.

We’re quite excited about this year – we hope you come and see us!

P.S.

If you pre-register for the show you can save yourself 20% off the normal admission fee. Details here.

Come and discuss all things Dry Lab at Focus On Imaging

Hello everybody

We’re sounding slightly like a broken record at the moment, but we’re almost ready to unveil our Focus On Imaging plans for 2013. What we can reveal though is our plans for our Imaging and Printing Division…

pete_hollandPete Holland – who heads up our Imaging and Printing Division – will be present on stands C11 (that’s our stand!) and stand E10 (Epson) throughout the show. He looks after all things Epson and Noritsu Printers at Color Confidence, particularity focusing on professional Dry Lab solutions which allow you to produce supreme quality prints on a variety of paper sizes and media, perfect for professional or business printing.

Two Dry Lab solutions worth seeing him for:

Epson SureLab SL-D3000

epson_d3000

The SureLab range sets the benchmark for Dry Lab accuracy and quality, ideally suited to high-end photography print reproduction. The Epson D3000 offers a print quality and colour consistency comparable to that of Epson’s professional graphics printers. This means output will appear consistent to customers, giving companies the flexibility to work with a wider range of sizes and print run lengths by using the SL-D3000 in conjunction with another Epson printer.

Noritsu QSS Green

noritsu_qss_green

QSS Green is the latest in a long line of innovative Dry minilab systems from Noritsu. Powerful, versatile and compact, the QSS Green is built to handle a wide variety of printing requirements. The QSS Green also raises the bar in terms of environmental friendliness and print variety and has the potential to become the new de-facto standard model for photo businesses.

If you’d like to arrange to meet Pete at the show, visit his dedicated Focus page on our microsite.

Mad about monitors…

If you’re a fan or follower of our Twitter or Facebook you’ll have noticed we’ve been a bit quiet recently. This isn’t a deliberate ploy, we’re just delving very deep into Focus on Imaging 2013 prep. We’re almost ready to reveal all, but there’s just a few more details to sort before we can show you what we have installed.

You’ll just have to patient for a little longer.

We were very busy in December and January setting up the new Eizo monitors; CX240, CX270, CG246 and CG276, which are the next-generation models to their existing range.

We’ll be doing an in-depth monitor review on these in the next few weeks; comparing and contrasting the features and benefits of each model.

Before this, we can briefly announce that the Eizo CX models (so the CX240 and CX270) will now include Eizo’s ColorNavigator calibration software free of charge. Previously, ColorNavigator was only available with the CG models, but this has now been included for the CX’s too.

For a full run-down on ColorNavigator, it’s worth reading Eizo’s page here.

To see an overview of all the monitors we have available on our website, or if you’re in the market for a new one, our monitor comparison chart is a great place to start to initially compare the features and technical aspects of each monitor.

The complete colour management service

Colour Management at your service.

After last weeks winter wonderland post we thought we might be sharing some more snowy pictures of our car park with you today. (Luckily) we haven’t had any, so we’re looking much greener this week, which is nice.

In this post we’re going to talk to you about our Services and training and consultancy options; something which not everyone knows we do, but we’re very proud of.

We want to make colour management as accessible as possible. Professionals or ogranisations dealing with more complex issues could benefit from our more in-depth knowledge, with over twenty years of experience to back this up.

We are one of only a few certified EFI-fogra DealerCert resellers, meaning we can offer professional, accredited installation and maintenance of the EFI ColorProof XF Systems – a guarantee of high-quality proofs produced to the internationally recognised ISO 12647 standard. You can read more about this here.

We can do both full and half-day training packages tailored to your specific requirements, covering a vast array of colour management topics from Installing and setting up your printer correctly to making sure your complete colour workflow is as accurate as possible from image capture to print output.

So if you’ve got any colour management queries, get in touch or comment below and we’ll do our best to help.

Working in a winter wonderland…

If you reside in the UK at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Christmas has been brought forward to mid-January, what with all the snow and ‘wonderland’ weather.

This week at Color Confidence HQ – or at least the car park – has pretty much resembled Strictly Come Sequins On Ice (or whatever it’s called), what with not a lot of grit salt available, a few inches of snow, freezing temperatures and a gradual inclined driveway causing no-end of problems for HGV’s and our resident BMW driver. All good fun though, helped by the occasional snowball… here’s a few pictures to set the scene:

looking out of the office early morning

looking out of the office early morning

the 'ice-rink'

the ‘ice-rink’

the 'ice-rink' pre car carnage

the ‘ice-rink’ pre car carnage

peeking through the hedges

peeking through the hedges

The above images are courtesy of our main man in the warehouse; Michael ‘silver fox’ Mackinnon and a little help from Photoshop. With more snow forecast tonight apparently, we may well have some more images for next week as well.

Away from the slush and general coldness, we’ve been busy (very busy) in the final stages of Focus on Imaging 2013 preparation. Can you believe there’s only 6 and a half weeks to go? It only feels like yesterday we were at Focus 2012! CC Staff are currently in the middle of product refresher training to ensure we’ll be your best source of information for all things colour management at the show.

We’ll announce full stand details in due course, but without wanting to giving too much away at this stage, we’ve got some significant improvements on last-year’s stand design – including a re-vamped presentation area that proved so popular last year. There may also be one or too new brand additions to the stand worth visiting, but you’ll have to wait and see who they are…

Away from Focus, we have just added some new Booq products onto the website, this time moving away from bags and into iPhone 5 cases. The Fibre Snapcase’s continue the contemporary style of Booq’s ‘fibre collection’, so if you’re looking for something a little more trendy for your iPhone 5, take a look at the Snapcase range.