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CHROMiX ColorNews Issue #31 - My Printer is Too Dark

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C H R O M i X C O L O R N E W S

Issue # 31
May15th, 2008


Table of Contents


1. CHROMiX News - - - MAXWELL.... 1st Public Release!!
2. Shows and Events
3. Color Industry News
4. My Printer is Too Dark - an 'article' by Patrick Herold
5. CHROMiX Open Box items for sale
6. ColorNews Administration (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)



Maxwell public beta testing has gone exceptionally well. Many features were added and improvements made to make it a more rounded service.

So (drum roll please)... CHROMiX released the first commercially available version of Maxwell today, May 15th!! Originally announced in December 2006, Maxwell has come a long way to the final feature set for version 1.0. Thanks for your patience. We think you will find it worth the wait!

Maxwell v1.0 features will include:

- Access Maxwell with any current web browser, anywhere, anytime.
- Secure, protected color repository and database with redundancy and fault tolerance.
- Organize unlimited users, devices, measurement files, locations... with no cost!
- Tracking, monitoring and trending of 'Printer' devices initially, Monitors and other devices to follow in v2.0.
- Useful graphics for reporting and visualization initially, much more to follow soon after launch.

- CHROMiX Measurement services available (extra fee... please call sales).
- QuickTime video tutorials within a Maxwell browser pane. Start with the 5-minute orientation video.
- Online help and ColorWiki Maxwell Users Manual available.

Features to follow soon (expected to go beta in June)

- Compatibility with i1 Pro spectrophotometer for measurement uploads.
- Share or download profiles, files or color information with internal users or with customers.
- Multi-level access privileges.
- Upload single, multiple or complete folders with multiple files... fast!

Maxwell is available initially for a low monthly subscription price of $49 for 10 Tracks. A Track is any item (printer, paper, monitor, etc.) whose activity you want to monitor. Also, Notifiers within Maxwell alert you when this item falls outside of tolerances or fails to meet certain requirements. Design your own Print Performance and/or Conformance programs. Enhanced Analysis and Reporting can be generated for almost any data. The vision for Maxwell is long-term, and certainly there is much more to come in the short-term!

For complete Maxwell product information: or to register for a free trial 'Track' for 1 month, so that you can become familiar with and see how easy Maxwell is to use, simply email maxwellfreetrack(at) or call CHROMiX Sales at (866) CHROMiX. (in fact, all tracks are still open for a limited time, so feel free to come play!)

**Maxwell and IDEALink Verify software will also be facilitating the IDEAlliance SWOP Industry Proofing Study, as described in 'Industry News' below. Please read this important announcement.**

Interested in seeing Maxwell for yourself? Come by the site! We will be holding Maxwell Training Webinars regularly. If you're interested in attending, please send an RSVP email to this address:

And yes, if you have responded to this list before you are still on it! We'll be sending a webinar notification soon.

Also, thank you for all who volunteered for beta testing. We had many participants and were not able to accommodate all who applied. But! don't forget, Maxwell is a web-based service, we will be adding features regularly and can always use an extra set of eyes and hands.

Come check it out!

NEW Brands at CHROMiX ColorGear:

CHROMiX now sells Alwan, Barbieri and Techkon products. We have been impressed by these fine product lines, and we think you will be too:

Alwan products help with controlling color at every stage by standardizing incoming files, produced proofs and the final print. This in turn significantly improves productivity and profitability with faster make-readies, better proof matching and significant reduction of ink consumption.

Barbieri: coming soon -> Barbieri

Techkon is emerging as a new innovative leader in the design and manufacture of measurement instruments for the Graphic Industry. Techkon solutions range from high-quality densitometers, color measuring devices and software solutions for applications in the pre-press and printing industry. Oh, and in case you are wondering, it's pronounced "teshcon".

NEC LCD monitors. CHROMiX also now sells NEC graphics and professional level LCD monitors. NEC monitors




May 21, 2008 - The Pacific Northwest Color Management Users Group Seattle Chapter is having a CMUG Users meeting titled 'Color Management Demystified'. CHROMiX's own Steve Upton and Pat Herold will be the guest speakers. The time is from 6:30 - 9:00 PM at Adobe, U Conference Rooms, Adobe Campus, Fremont, WA. This will be an informative, interactive event you won't want to miss! All are welcome. For more information or RSVP: SCMUG events

May 30, 2008 - CMYK Primer: Preparing Images for Publication with Marco Ugolini,
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, $295, at the Future Light Workshops at Calumet, 2001 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.
Veteran Bay Area digital imaging and color management expert Marco Ugolini presents an all day hands on workshop on CMYK conversion and the art of preparing images for offset press publications.
CHROMiX is a sponsor of this event. CHROMiX will also give-a-way 2 ColorValet Profiles (Print or Scan) during the event.
For more information:CMYK conversion

June 25, 2008 - The Pacific Northwest Color Management Users Group Portland Chapter ( is having a CMUG Users meeting titled 'The ABC's of Color Management for Designers'. The time is from 6:30 - 9:00 PM at The Oregonian 1320 SW Broadway, Conference Room A (just off Columbia). A panel of 3 designers who are 'color managed' will discuss their experiences and other topics relevant to their journey of becoming color managed. All are welcome. For more information or RSVP:Color Management for Designers

May 29 - June 11th, 2008, DRUPA 2008 - Dusseldorf, Germany. This is one of the world's most comprehensive conferences for the printing industry held every 4 years. For more information:
DRUPA 2008

September 17th & 18th, 2008 - Spectrum 360 Conference - New Orleans Marriott, New Orleans, LA.
Spectrum is an IDEAlliance initiated conference to provide a forum to explore and validate current and emerging technologies. Also occurring at Spectrum 360, IDEAlliance will release results information about the SWOP Industry Proofing Study. Those who participated in the study will receive special recognition for their contribution at Spectrum 360. (See details below in Industry News). Spectrum 2008

October 26th - 29th, 2008, Graph Expo 08 - McCormick Place South Convention Center, Chicago, IL The most comprehensive prepress, printing, package printing, converting, mailing and fulfillment and digital equipment trade show in the Americas.
Graph Expo

November 10, 2008, ICC DevCon '08 - The Benson Hotel, 309 SW Broadway Ave, Portland, OR. Hosted by the ICC (International Color Consortium), DevCon (short for Developers Conference) brings hundreds of developers and high-end users of ICC based color management products together to learn the latest on proper implementation of ICC technology. This event is just following the Fall ICC meetings and a day before the IS&P Conference, also in Portland, OR. For more: DevCon 08

November 10th - 15th, 2008, IS&T Color Imaging Conference, The Benson Hotel, 309 SW Broadway Ave, Portland, OR. Hosted by the IS&T (Society for Imaging Science and Technology), hear about the latest research in the areas of color theory, color in displays, edge-cutting printing technologies, and systems and workflows advances. This single track conference will also include the ever popular interactive session where attendees directly engage the presenters and decide which interactive paper will be awarded the coveted Cactus Award for Best Interactive Paper. There will also be a special program to honor contributions by Dr. Robert W.G. Hunt to the color imaging community on Friday, November 14th.
Color Imaging Conference

December 7th - 9th, 2008, GATF 2008 Color Management Conference, Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, Phoenix, AZ. Hosted by the PIA/GATF, as suggested by the name, the entire focus of this conference is 'Color Management'. Color Management Conference

March 3-5, 2009, PMA 09 International Convention and Trade Show. Everything photography.
Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Las Vegas, NV PMA 2009


Color, Product & Industry News


X-Rite had a major staffing layoff to cut costs.
Layoffs at Xrite
What They Think

X-Rite raised most product prices May 1, 2008. This affects the i1, iO and iSis as well as most product lines. However, if you've been waiting for lower prices on any Eye-One Match Module Upgrades, these were in fact lowered by X-Rite on May 1st. For the new i1 Match Module prices: EyeOne modules

X-Rite and Pantone announced the ColorMunki. It's got a funki name and a novel design for an inexpensive all-in-one spectrophotometer. It measures and makes profiles for monitors, printers, etc., and is expected to appeal to those in the $400- $600 price range.
You can find more out about it here: Watch out for the cheesy music.
Here is a good ColorMunki review from Keith Cooper of NorthLight Images:
ColorMunki review
The official press release:
And yes,... if you were wondering, CHROMiX sells the ColorMunki.
Xrite Hubble

X-Rite will be allowing you to upgrade an older X-Rite device and receive an additional 15% off an Eye-One iSis X or iSis XL until July 31st, 2008. Devices eligible are the SpectroLino/Scan, DTP-41, or the ICColor. CHROMiX will be supporting this promotion. For the net price, just simply take 15% of of the CHROMiX price. Contact ColorGear Sales for program details 866-CHROMiX x1, or email sales(at)

Oooops! We neglected to mention in our last newsletter that two of our color colleagues have banded together to multiply their effects. Dan Gillespie and Dan Reid have created a color consultancy specializing in training and remote support. So if you want to have live-chatting, webexing, color tech guys at your disposal, give them a try.

On March 20th, IDEAlliance Launched the G7 Press Pre-Qualification Project to assist printers in qualifying their presses for G7 Calibration. The new G7 press pre-qualification toolkit will provide guidelines and tools to help printers access the readiness of their press to undergo G7 calibration. For more: G7 Press Pre-Qualification

On April 8th, IDEAlliance announced that 27 monitor proofing systems have passed the newly launched IDEAlliance Monitor Proofing Systems Certification Program. This comes after two years of ongoing research by the IDEAlliance Print Properties Working Group and the SWOP Technical Committee in conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology Printing Applications Laboratory to determine how best to judge the quality of monitor proofing systems to the "numbers."
IDEAlliance Monitor Proofing Systems

IDEAlliance (facilitated by CHROMiX, Verify software and Maxwell) will begin a SWOP Industry Proofing Study. Emerging out of the IDEAlliance 'Certification Program', this study will be a comprehensive effort to quantify how the industry is doing as a whole also offer individualized reports for the participants. An additional component of the study will be a report on inter-device agreements. IDEAlliance is now actively soliciting participants and sign-ups will be conducted from May 15th to May 30th.

To sign up go to When the study commences, you will download IDEALink Verify software to help facilitate the uploads and measurements required. There is no need to buy Verify to participate, it will operate for the purposes of this study in 'Demo' mode. The study will occur from June 1st to August 15th. Participants must have a spectrophotometer (preferably an i1Pro), have a hard-copy proofing system and conform to GRACoL #1, SWOP#3 or SWOP#5. Participants will also complete a short questionnaire, complete the Measurement Control exercise and provide proof data and hard-proofs weekly. Besides contributing and benefiting the industry, participants will receive an individual Proofing Quality Report Card, They will also receive recognition at the Spectrum 360 Conference (see above Shows & Events section) and in The Proofing Industry 2008 Report. Finally, participants will receive a copy of the Proofing Industry 2008 Report. Everyone qualified is encouraged to apply as well as tell others to apply. For
A webinar was held May 13th announcing the study and covering details. A recording is available here:

NUREG LLC, a high-end graphics, pre-press and color specialist based in Germany and with a US office in Portland, Oregon, has become the first G7 European qualified Master Proof Provider. and

Eizo is now shipping the NEW ColorEdge CG222W LCD for $1499 at CHROMiX take off $100 with an instant rebate.
The CG222W is a wide gamut 22" monitor ideal for pre-press, digital photography, and other graphics work. It features 12-bit hardware calibration, 16-bit internal processing for grayscale rendering and uniform brightness across the screen. The price point of this unit will make it a very popular LCD for many! In stock now! Price includes free US shipping and CG monitor hood.


Other Tidbits -


LaCie 324 Wide Screen LCD Review:

Our own Pat Herold has done a handy technical review of LaCie's new 324 LCD monitor. The 324 is a 24" expanded RGB gamut LCD for under $1000. It also has hardware calibration, meaning that LaCie includes their Blue Eye software for DDC level calibrations.

Pat's review: LaCie 324 review notes


Color Perception Web Video:

Here's a 5 minute basic overview of color perception by Apple.
This video explains how eyes can be fooled by ambient colors and lighting conditions.

Color Perception by Apple


Recent EIZO ColorNavigator software update:

If you are using an older EIZO display, you may not have the newest ColorNavigator calibration software. EIZO has released v. 5.2 of ColorNavigator in February. It can now support the newest instruments, and the newest operating systems (Vista and Leopard).

Eizo ColorNavigator software update


This Month's Feature Article:

My Printer is Too Dark

by CHROMiX's Patrick Herold


First off, I have a confession to make. The real title of this article is "My Monitor is Too Bright." But we've had a lot of articles on monitors recently and, given that we've had so many articles on monitors recently, you'd think we'd have exhausted the subject. However, judging by the volume of questions we get on this topic, it seems to be a hot button for many people right now.

We have dealt with the general subject of how to get the display to match the printer output in other ColorNews articles.
But an increasing number of people are reporting problems with density and, specifically, that their printer is too dark compared to their screen. This article suggests reasons why that might be happening and what you can do about it.

We have a service called ColorValet where we make custom-made printer profiles. Occasionally a customer will call up and report that the profile is too dark. Upon deeper investigation, we find that the user is comparing the print to their display, and their display is a newer LCD (and perhaps recently purchased.) Perhaps the customer has confidence that the display is accurate because they have calibrated it with a colorimeter.

If you were that customer, you would have good reason to assume that what you see on your screen is accurate. If you get a new printer profile from CHROMiX and, when you use it, your printer prints out prints that appear too dark, it's natural to assume that there's something wrong with the profile.

Well now, hold on a minute.

Without even printing anything you can see if your printer will ever be able to look like the display: Check to see if the white of your monitor matches the white of your paper. Think about it this way:

Suppose you have an image of a snowman, in front of a white house, with lots of puffy white clouds overhead - a picture with a lot of white. When it gets printed on an inkjet printer, there's not going to be very much ink on the page. Much of the color and brightness will be determined by the white background of the paper, and has relatively little to do with what the printer does. How can you ever hope that this print will match the display if the display is naturally a lot brighter?

You really have to get the white of the paper to match the white on the display if you ever hope to get your pictures to match. This is surprisingly hard to do. Emissive light (coming from a display) does not register in our eyes quite the same way that reflective light (bouncing off your page) does, but the idea is to do the best you can. There are two ways to accomplish this:


This is usually the quickest and easiest way to attack the problem. Turn down the brightness on your monitor. Calibrate again. Does it match the print white? If not, adjust the brightness and calibrate again.

Q: Wait a minute - I bought this colorimeter so I could eliminate these subjective judgments and know my monitor is accurate. Now we're going back to doing things "by eye"?!

A: Well, yes. When it comes to setting the brightness of the monitor, the "correct" setting will vary depending on the environment. Once you have determined what your brightness should be, then your profiling software will make sure your colors relate accurately.

Surround the image with several inches of white border. This can make an image appear significantly darker. If you doubt how much this affects perception, switch to a black background and see how much lighter your image looks.

Q: I've turned the brightness on my monitor down to zero, and it's still too bright compared to my print white.

A1: See if your display has an "economy" mode, where it will use less power, and also produce less back-light.

A2: Turn down the Red, Green and Blue levels equally in the monitor controls. This usually reduces the overall brightness, but it does so by depending on the liquid crystals in the LCD display to block the light - not the ideal way to accomplish this. This will tend to reduce your contrast ratio, might reduce the color repeatability of your profile, and should only be used sparingly.

A3: Refer to the instructions for increasing your print illumination (below).

A4: Buy a profiling software package that can make use of your computer's graphics card to reduce the brightness beyond what the monitor's controls can do.

Most monitor profiling software systems have you turning down the brightness at the monitor, and they depend on you being successful at doing that. The rest of the calibration procedure determines the color adjustments that are made in the graphics card.

There are only a very few that can reduce your brightness by lowering the curves in the graphics card. ColorEyes Display Pro, and the MeasureTool module of GretagMacbeth's ProfileMaker suite will do this.

The ProfileMaker suite, while very good, is a bit of an overkill for someone just wanting to get their screen looking good.

ColorEyes Display Pro is available as software-only, which is handy for those who already have a colorimeter device - although still a bit of a shock for someone who thought they had this color stuff all figured out until they bought their latest new LCD display.

I mention this as an option rather than a recommendation. This is a quick little plug-in, available on Mac only, that will reduce the levels in your graphics card evenly. Since your profiling software forcibly resets your graphics curves to "neutral" when it begins its process, you can't use Shades before profiling and expect it to result in anything usable in the end. Also, using Shades after the calibration effectively eliminates the accuracy of the profile, since it alters the graphics card curves. However, for those for whom color accuracy is not as important as brightness, this program might be used with success if you don't take it too far.

Another wrinkle to worry about while you're reducing your brightness on your display is that it will make banding more likely. When you let your video card handle the color adjustments without asking it to reduce luminance, it will have approximately 256 steps of resolution. But when you bring that curve down by limiting luminance, it will have a smaller resolution grid. It might have, say, only 200 or less steps to use to define a gradient from black to white. So transitions from one subtle color to another might not be very smooth. Displays with internal graphics cards, that have say 10-bit or 12-bit processing ability, can handle these curve changes with more resolution, and make banding less likely.

(Now you're starting to see why those upper end displays cost a bit more.)


That piece of printer paper does not have some kind of inherent color or brightness in itself. Leave us not forget that reflective color is a process whereby an illuminant reflects off of a surface, enters our eyes and is interpreted by the brain. To a large extent, that print will be as bright as the light that is used to illuminate it.

Under a bright light, look closely at the print that you think is too dark, and you might very well find all the shadow detail that you see on the screen. Because it is not normally lit up as brightly as the screen version, you perceive it as too dark.

There are various controlled lighting solutions available. We have an entire section of our online store devoted to lighting products. Those big, overhead florescent tubes, even if they say "daylight balanced" on them tend to have sharp spectral spikes. Try to stay away from those. A nice, budget-minded solution for the do-it-yourselfer is to use Solux bulbs in a track lighting setup. www/

Typically, a print will come off your home inkjet with some white border around it. If this is what you're using to compare to the display, then your print will appear darker because of the white border. Cut off the white border or, better yet, mask the border with some black material so that only the image shows through. (This is essentially the opposite of what we did before with the monitor.) Give your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the scene, or go away and come back in a few minutes and you will be amazed at how much lighter the image got while you were gone!

Okay, now if you're about to skip what I just suggested because you don't really think it'll make any difference - just humor me on this. Go get some black cardboard, fabric or paper - and cover the four white borders of your print. It makes a difference.

A few final points to keep in mind:

- When you are comparing the print to the display, you don't want to hold the print in FRONT of the display so that the light from the display shines though the print and makes it appear washed out.
- You also don't want the illumination that you are shining on the print to also shine ON the display. That will make the shadows on the display looked washed out. If you have overhead illumination, this is where a monitor hood is very useful. (Now you're starting to see why people buy light viewing booths!)

Again, there is much more information on these subjects in our ColorNews archives in previous articles and color management myths, so check out the Reserved Articles section of for more information.

Thanks for reading,

-Patrick Herold


ColorNews Administration (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)

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Entire Contents of CHROMiX ColorNews (c)2007 CHROMiX, Inc. CHROMiX, Maxwell, ColorThink, ColorNews, ColorSmarts, ColorGear, ColorForums and are trademarks of CHROMiX Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. CHROMiX ColorNews is intended as an informative update to CHROMiX customers and business associates. We are not responsible for errors or omissions.