Friday, September 25, 2009


I always like to work with the newest and best, but the reality of my budget is always the deciding factor. So I upgrade a bit less often than I would like. This time I had no say in the matter. A freak accident wrecked one of my Mac Mini’s and its external hard drive with backup in one fell swoop. Panic time and calls to Apple for help. Even though not responsible Apple was generous in helping with the recovery, although I had to spend some money too, plus invest a lot of work time. But the recovery is almost complete.
It makes me happy to have my tools functioning again and even more so because this newest premium model Mac Mini with its new video NVidia GeForce 9400M and now 4GB of RAM running Snow Leopard is a high step above the previous model. I have been recommending Mac Minis to photographers because they allow choosing a good pro-graphics display and be able to afford the combination. With this latest model, the display quality is definitely superior, and the overall performance is no compromise at all to the much more costly Mac Pro for what a photographer needs on a daily basis. Now, I can readily recommend the Mac Mini premium with the full allotment of RAM as a first choice to do digital photography computing.
There are other differences as well with this model. One is the fact it uses the mini DVI port like the MacBook models, but a mini to standard DVI adapter is included. In addition the one FireWire connector os now a 9-pin 800 model, so an adapter is needed to connect to many external hard drives, that is not suppled, nor could I find an adapter that had both a 6-pin and 9-pic connector and nothing offered in the Apple store, so what I could get that works conveniently I found on In other words the support accessory hardware for the Mac Mini also needs some upgrades.
It is my understanding that the Mac Mini is maybe not as popular as it should be. Can’t blame Apple for not pushing it harder as I am sure some iMac sales would probably suffer. It would be much easier to promote if Apple had a version of their 24” LED Cinema Display that were more amenable to gain/contrast adjustment so it could be calibrated and profiled for both color and density print matching. But so far I have not acquired an open ear to my thinking that for the average serious amateur photographer a mac Mini with a well matched display might be the best choice in performance for the money. But it’s so small, how could that be. Yes it uses the kind of components that are used in MacBooks that are compact, but being made for a portable computer they are surely designed for reliability and efficiency. And the Mini is not so small really as it is accompanied by a good sized external power supply, so heat inside the computer is even less than is a laptop. People. Please think outside the box and you will realize a small box can pack a big punch.
But an ideal and affordable display that has a wide color gamut and good resolution that will work ideally for digital photography is missing from the larger consumer market still. There are a couple that are close. The NEC P221W, that by itself is reasonable, but add both the NEC Spectraview 2 software and colorimeter and it does in a $1,000. And with the P221W, you do need the whole kit to get its full potential. But I am writing more fully on this for a report in Shutterbug, so enough for now.
If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


There are so many words which are available to express the idea of balance between things in nature and life. There are also many practical considerations, like if you want to use a swing in a playground, the other person on the far end of the swing must balance your weight if you want to use the swing enjoyably. If you are on a lake with a canoe on a camping trip, you take care loading the canoe so it sits in the water evenly from stem to stern if you want the canoe to be easy to paddle and control. If you have a truck you are careful loading the cargo area so the front part of load is a bit heavier than the rear so weight is not taken off the front wheels of the truck making it steer poorly. On and on, balance is an essential part of ideal functioning.

The same is true about computer LCD displays and printing. The display brightness must match the brightness of paper white if an image adjusted on-scren can be expected to print with the correct density. The one thing I did not mention regarding the “prints too dark” problem before is why digital photographers calibrate and profile their display, so the colors they see on screen can be matched in the colors reproduced with a print of the image on-screen. Here again a matched balance between display and print brightness is crucial.

Many, many photographers with computers get a sensor, colorimeter and software to calibrate and profile their display. Some of the software packages suggest putting the display at the factory default setting to begin the process, others offer different suggested white luminance target setting of 120.0 or 140.0 CD/m2 as the target display brightness goal. The white luminance equivalent of printing paper white is between 80.0 and 90.0 CD/m2, so these suggested display brightness goals will not provide a match for printing in either density or color. When a color profile is made at a high brightness and then used to make a print that is at a lower brightness, how can the color match - it can’t, not as it would for balanced brightness between display and paper.

But even more if you calibrate and profile a display for a brighter level than paper, the color balance will not be correct for printing. The brighter the display the further out of balance the color matching will be. In other words most of the Color Management products sold for calibrating and profiling displays cannot provide either precise color matching or a good brightness match between display image and a print made by a color managed work flow from that image. In other words, the bottom line is that to some extent if you are calibrating and profiling a display, the display brightness must match paper white if print matching in either color or print density is to be expected.

How this obvious need for balance between display and printer paper was ignored by almost everyone is hard to imagine. Maybe because the native brightness of CRT monitors and paper white just coincidentally matched did not cause anyone to think about it. And when LCD displays arrived, being able to make them brighter and easier to see in brightly lit rooms was more important to selling displays than the consequence of being out of balance with printing.
If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at: