ColorNews Issue #55

Troubleshooting Color

  CHROMiX ColorNews
   Issue # 55 - June 26th, 2014

This Month's Contents

  1. CHROMiX News
  2. Latest blog entries in ColoRants (and Raves)
  3. Shows and Events
  4. Color Industry News
  5. Forum Topics, Random Bits, etc.
  6. Article - Troubleshooting Color - Part One (Displays)
  7. CHROMiX Open Box items for sale
  8. ColorNews Admin (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)

For the very freshest color updates, check out our new blog Colorants (and raves).

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Find full details about subscriptions, etc at the end of this newsletter.

CHROMiX News What the heck have we been up to?

Maxwell new Certification Program

With Maxwell's increasing popularity, consultants and resellers are getting involved with Maxwell solutions for their customers. Therefore, CHROMiX has recently created a special Certified Status category for Maxwell expertise. This designation assures that a certified reseller or consultant has a strong knowledge of Maxwell and has more than adequately passed CHROMiX's required qualifications.

An important benefit of this status is that CHROMiX will also directly support those resellers and consultants who are Maxwell certified, an assurance to customers.

There are several who have met and exceeded the requirements and qualified for Certified Status. We will introduce these partners soon in an upcoming public release as well as post their information on a special section of our website associated with Maxwell.

Maxwell Customer feedback

We read this customer quote for Digital PressWatch and loved it! We hope you do too:

"When exact color is critical, there are many factors to consider including the operator and software, paper, toner, atmosphere, the client, and the printer. While a color issue may be software or *cough* operator error, it can often be something else. Since not all color issues are easy to spot, DPW (Digital PressWatch) has been exceptionally useful for us to do a quick system check. It can quickly take a lot of the guess work out of what, if any, changes have occurred, and in a fraction of the time that a critical eye will.

In the past, running out of toner mid-job or switching to a new case of paper purchased at a different time could easily require re-profiling to be safe. With DPW we print the simple test chart out after a change (or possible change) and it instantly compares that to our daily chart and past charts allowing any changes to be easily spotted (with hard numbers and graphs rather than just visual checks).

With subtle changes like temperature or humidity, or just a customer complaining about how something looks, we can easily ensure we are still hitting the delta e targets we have without having to second guess the output.

Finally, when something has gone wrong, DPW has often helped us to identify what changed (the medium, something with the printer, a specific toner set, etc.), which saved us time and energy.

At the end of the day DPW is a fairly small monthly investment to have a constant watchdog on your print process."

Shawn Payne - Store Manager
Duvall Print and Post

If you have a digital press, you owe it to yourself to take a look at Maxwell Digital PressWatch, or talk to a CHROMiX expert about your digital needs at 206-985-6837 extension #1.

Curve3 Customer feedback

"We are testing Curve3 for digital dye sublimation using a variety of inks and profilers with the goal of building a standard set of procedures. So far we have found that printer-to-printer consistency is significantly better when Curve3 is used to augment the linearization. Depending on the profiler, VPR (Curve3's Virtual Press Run module) is increasing profile volumes by at least 25% as measured by ColorThink Pro."

Perry Schwartz

"The new 'smoothing' algorithm in Curve3 has improved our results for variant devices, and I strongly recommend Curve3 for anyone wanting to conform to G7"

Rich Cline, Hammer Packaging

Isn't it time you upgrade your old version of IDEALink or Curve2 to Curve3?


CHROMiX Blog Here are some of the recent posts to our blog: Colorants (and raves)

Shows and Events Color-relevant gatherings to plan for

June 23rd-25th, 2014 - ICC Meeting, Heidelberg, Germany

September 28th - October 1st, 2014 - GraphExpo '14 and CPP Expo 2014, Chicago.

October 22nd - 24th, 2014 - 2014 SGIA Expo in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. All about Specialty Graphics.. and more.

October 30th - November 1st, 2014 - ICC Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts

November 3rd, 2014 - ICC DevCom (Developer Conference), Boston, Massachusetts

Events Calendar: For all current and future events, bookmark this calendar.

Color Industry News What's going on in the world of color

Adobe Creative Cloud updates

Barbieri announces the new SpectroPad 2

At FESPA Digital 2014 in Munich, Barbieri announced the new SpectroPad 2 which has several enhancements and new features. The SpectroPad 2 has a locking mechanism in order to lock the measuring cube and head when not in use or when transporting. A humidity and temperature sensor has also been added in order to check variations in environmental conditions. The SpectroPad Series 2 supports Fogra M-Score evaluation for homogeneity (uniformity). The WiFi interface was enhanced. And more.

Maxwell note: CHROMiX has a SpectroPad 2 and has plans to incorporate it into Maxwell. Stay tuned.

Here's a YouTube video of the SpectroPad 2.

Barbieri creates direct North American company

To better service and support the North American market, Barbieri (Global headquarters Italy) has established Barbieri North America, which will be headquartered in New York.
Barbieri North American Markets

Calumet Photo US goes bankrupt

Apparently this happened abruptly and with no employee notice.
Calumet Declares Bankruptcy

Digital Print Survey

In March this year, WhatTheyThink and Unisource released an informal survey called The Digital Print Survey. As the title suggests, the survey asks several questions about digital print quality from 400 print provider shops. With the rise and popularity of digital, many answers were obvious:

86% of respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the image quality coming off of their presses.
67% were satisfied or very satisfied with color matching.
63% were satisfied or very satisfied with color consistency.
43% were satisfied with color matching.

However, some answers were surprising. For example, when asked, "In your opinion, in general, how does the output quality of your digital color production presses (HP Indigo, Xerox iGen, Xeikon, Nexpress) compare to the output quality of offset presses?"

53% of respondents said about as good as offset
8% of respondents said slightly better than offset
2% of respondents said is much better than offset

By providing Name, Email, and Company, Unisource is providing a FREE DOWNLOAD of the Digital Print Survey data, plus audio commentary from Dr. Joe Webb.

We highly recommend reading this survey.

*Promotional Plug* Maxwell 'Digital PressWatch' is uniquely positioned to monitor digital printing quality and has proven its strength of value to customers for many years. See above CHROMiX News section for information about Maxwell or contact CHROMiX at (206) 388-2559.

HP's new DreamColor displays

At NAB this Spring, HP announced updates to their DreamColor series monitors. The DreamColor Z724 is a 24" ($599) and the Z27x at 27" ($1499). The Z727x features an IPS panel, 100% aRGB 10-bit color, 2560 x 1440 resolution anti-glare screen, and presets for seven common color space settings. It can accept 4K input, which it displays either scaled to fit the screen or natively, allowing you to scroll around the larger image. New to the Z27x is the ability to connect hardware calibration devices directly to the display and to calibrate without the need to have software running on the host computer.

X-Rites new eXact 'Scan' Option

The new eXact Scan option supports measurement scanning of continuous and non-continuous color bars up to 112 cm or 44" long. This long awaited functionality should easily extend the usefulness of the eXact. The eXact Scan Option is priced around $1500 separately.

Maxwell users have been asking for this for some time, and will be happy to know that CHROMiX will begin development for compatibility now that the eXact Scan capability is finally here.

Forum Topics and other bits  Popular topics from and other things we've found along the way.

ColorForums is a safe place to ask questions:   
Recent forum posts provide testimony that people are nice and don't bite in the CHROMiX hosted ColorForums!

Try it out! It's FREE.

And painless.

ColorThink Pro Tips & Tricks keeps growing...:   and growing.
ColorThink Pro Tips and Tricks

Machine augmented color perception = cyborg color?:   An interesting and provocative read.
An interview with a color cyborg

RIP (as in dead) the Server?:   This is not what you think. RIP servers for graphics are not dead, but instead are still thriving. RIPs are probably not ideal for cloud computing... yet.
However, many other software products and services (for production and/or business), like CHROMiX Maxwell, ARE in fact ideally suited for cloud operation.
Enjoyable article. We loved the concept of tank breathing. Perhaps you will too.
Time to breath the air of cloud connection

Troubleshooting Color - Part One (Displays) By Pat Herold

Here's one of those articles that may not have relevance for you now, but it's good to tuck it away for when you need it. This is a compilation of tips for how to diagnose the more common causes of color problems.

If you're just about to file this article away for the day when you actually DO have a color problem, read the next few paragraphs at least. Some of this you should do now.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for the eventuality of a color problem is to take note of what you're doing while everything is working great. Having the files and the settings to duplicate what you're doing now, and some samples to confirm what it is that you like, is enough to solve half the problems you are likely to run into.

Backup your computer files regularly

Yes, I know half of my readers are already saying "Yeah I really need to figure out how to do backups someday" and they'll never get around to it. For you who are too busy, I have the next points of advice:

At least make backup copies of your profiles and other vital files
Most RIPs will have a way to save your settings in configuration files or "environment" files or something of the sort. Locate where they are on your hard drive and copy them off to someplace safe on a different computer in another building at least. Printer drivers have presets which save the printer settings. The file location of presets are not so easy to locate on your computer, but give it a try or follow the next step:

Record your settings

Besides backups of your important files, it's good to have a record of the actual settings you're using. This does not have to be as tedious as it might have been back in the days of notepads and pencils. Today there are several screenshot capturing programs available, or even screen recording programs that can make it very easy and quick to capture the settings in your color programs. A video of you browsing through all the tabs in your RIP may not garner a lot of "Likes" on YouTube, but will be invaluable if your color suddenly starts going south. It does not have to be fancy or long. You just have to be able to look back and see what your settings were.

Save sample prints

When everything is looking good and you're happy, print some of your favorite test images and squirrel them away in a refrigerator or freezer somewhere. If you don't have any favorites, grab some common industry test images. You can start by looking here: ColorWiki Test Images Storing them in a cool, dark place will ensure that they will look the same several years in the future.

Without a hard copy example of what your printing should look like, it's easy to be fooled by poor memory. Humans are not very good at remembering specific shades of color. You could find yourself faced with a change of color, but you don't have any samples of what you printed before, so you don't really know if you're truly "off" or what things should look like when you are "back to normal" again. I have seen people try to solve an *apparent* image quality problem by comparing against some ethereal memory of what they used to print before they replaced the (fill in the blank). For all they know their discernment may have gotten sharper with more experience over time, and the work they printed before wasn't so good after all.

Now that you have some settings and sample prints to fall back on, let's tackle the diagnosis of the color problem you're facing today.


On the one hand, there seems like only one thing you can do to help the color on a monitor, and that is to calibrate and profile it. If that does not work, there's not much more you can do.
On the other hand, the *accuracy* of a display's calibration is always open for dispute. The next question to ask after someone claims their monitor is producing bad color is "compared to what?" Our eyes will tend to "auto white balance" to whatever scene they are looking at, including the display you're staring at 8 hours a day. So a monitor can be off-color and still appear correct to the eyes if you're used to what it looks like. That's why it's good to have an instrument reading, or a physical image, or something solid to compare to.

It is known that most monitor calibrating colorimeters are designed for consistency, not for true color accuracy. You'd have to spend between $1000 for a DISCUS colorimeter and $10,000 for a Photo Research device to get true accuracy. Still, your average Spyder or i1 Display Pro will do a pretty good job of getting you consistent color you can depend on.

When it comes to solving your color problem, start by checking the settings you're using when profiling. Display calibration should be set to reasonable values, as discussed in other newsletters: ColorWiki Monitors Part Two. If you are trying to get a printer to match your screen, try the options in this article on Print to Screen matching. Printer to Match my Screen

The above article describes the importance of setting the white point correctly. Both in color and in brightness, the white point of your monitor should match the white point of the paper you are trying match. If an image of a white house with snow in the foreground is coming out "too dark" when printed, well there's just not much you could expect a printer to do to make that white paper any whiter. Instead it's probably your monitor that is too bright.

If you have calibrated and profiled your monitor, and your settings are correct for your situation and are still getting bad color, try this:

  • Calibrate a different monitor. If you get different results on a different display, this might be an indication that there is something wrong with your original monitor.
  • Calibrate on a different computer. If you get success with a different computer, there might be something wrong with the setup of the software on your first computer, or the graphics card on the first computer may have some limitations.
  • Problems with two displays? Macs can deal with the profiles of two or more displays effortlessly. Some WIndows operating systems are not able to store separate profiles for separate displays on the same video card. You might need to get a separate video card for the other display.
  • It is sometimes helpful to be able to look at the color correction curves in your computer's graphics card. This is not always possible. Profiling software like ColorEyes Display Pro will present you with a graphic. Some graphic card manufacturers may show this to you. If it is available to view, it's a good idea to check these curves to see if they are looking erratic or strange in other ways. In most cases, you're going to want to see red, green and blue lines that travel from the bottom left to the top right of the graph.
  • If your display is old and you're thinking it's nearing the end of its life, browse through the menu buttons on the front of the monitor and choose the "factory reset" or "reset all" button. Then re-profile the display. Sometimes, setting it back to the factory settings will breathe some new life into an old display.
  • Are the cables plugged in? Don't laugh! People have called me up complaining about bad monitor color, and we have found out that the cause was a video cable that was not securely fastened to the back of the display.

One secret to troubleshooting anything is to swap out components one at a time to see which one changes things, makes them worse or better. Fortunately most of us have ready access to alternate monitors, cables and even a friend's laptop if we ask nicely. See which switch gives you a change in the right direction and that will be a good clue to figuring out where the problem lies.

Next time I'll cover some ideas about troubleshooting color on a printer.

Thanks for reading.

Patrick Herold

   To read this article with images in ColorWiki, click here

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