Saturday, April 18, 2009


I recently submitted my report on how to avoid “prints too dark”, but I am still doing research trying to find affordable, even inexpensive, LCD displays that can used that can be adjusted for brightness to provide print density matching. There are $1,000 plus solutions that are easy to implement and effective, but as budgets are getting smaller, obtaining an effective reliable digital photography experience with a computer virtually disappears if the price is affordable. However looking at one low coat LCD display after another I noticed a new breed of displays that are specifically enabled to support 3D gaming. And today I received my copy of Computer Graphics World and the lead article is about 3D graphics including gaming, with the inside cover ad touting these new 3D LCD displays.

Serious digital photography to the computer industry is a small niche market that only obtains support in LCD displays with high-cost specialty brands and models like Eizo ColorEdge, LaCie and the very limited XL line of Samsung Syncmaster brand displays. I’d mention too NEC’s SpectraView displays (in the same high price category), but word is that many of their displays will not support a low enough brightness to match printing paper brightness. But I have had some luck with much more modest cost displays adjusting, calibrating and profiling them to provide both color and density print matching. However, there are hundreds of different consumer LCD display models and sadly the information (specifications) give no indication if they will or will not work and can be adjusted, calibrated and profiled successfully, and although I would like to find out and develop a list of affordable displays I can recommend for digital photographers, without actually testing some, it is not a possibility.

But in general, should putting together a computer system and setting up the component hardware and software to obtain color and density matching between display and output without “prints too dark”, be that difficult and expensive? It should not be so, as it is really not rocket science, although color management profile making software does involve high level color science, implementing a color managed work flow is relatively simple and involves well established known hardware and software elements. There are a dozen or so companies that can produce all kinds of ways to make it easy to do image manipulation that took time and skill manually with Photoshop, and they are selling plugins to all kinds of digital photographers either too lazy or intimidated to learn how to use Photoshop. There should be some of that resource of programming talent that could devise a Wizard that would walk a user through adjusting their display, and setting up their system to enable color management and a workflow that would output photographic images that aren’t either too dark or off color. So, why not?

It used to be a principle of business success to discover a need and fill it as a way to make money. But today it seems that everyone is trying to make some gee whiz gizmo, usually not needed, that will become the latest fad to turn a buck in the marketplace. I have been immersed in trying to find solutions to “prints too dark” for months now, and it still seems to be a taboo subject within the digital photography industry. I would think someone would recognize that making the challenge of putting together a moderate cost computer system configured and capable of inputting and outputting digital photographs of good quality, reliably, out of the box is a golden opportunity. Maybe some company has something in the works that’s still secret, but I am fearful maybe there is nothing because everyone just hopes the problem will go away because they don’t really understand what’s involved.

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