I've got a Mac Pro which has historically been my only editing machine. I now have a second editor so I need to be able to edit the pics on a second mac too, a Mac mini.

I know you cannot work on the same catalog at the same time, so I backed up my catalog on the Mac Pro and moved the backup to the Mac Mini. I also shared the Mac Pro's HDD on a gigibit ethernet network so that the RAW files are accessible by the Mac Mini. (So catalog is local on the Mac mini, RAWs are mounted through the network). I relinked the file location in the catalog without any issues.

This all worked 100% except for one thing:

The colour tones are off! Not hugely off, but it is noticeable. The black and white photos are most noticeable. The blacks look less contrasty and soft. My wife, who edits, immediately noticed the issue, which has resulted in this solution not working for us.

I thought that it could be one of two things: 1. Screen calibration. I figured it just "looked" different, but actually was the same underneath. To test this, I exported the same photo from both computers at the same settings and compared the Jpegs on the Mac Pro. It was clear, the colours were different. Screen calibration was not the issue

  1. Editing Presets not being present: Since all our presets were on the Mac Pro, I duplicated them onto the Mac mini. This still did not fix the issue.

I'm out of ideas on what it could be? Any help would be appreciated?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure that the exporter settings were the same and was any ICC profile specified for the export on either system? The JPEG doesn't really rule out screen calibration issues unless you can first verify that the export performed the same actions on both as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Feb 4, 2014 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could it be a difference in local colour profiles? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2014 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you exported it with embedded ICC profiles? Because if not, you implicitly convert to sRGB from your local ICC profile, and obviously the result will be different if your local ICC profile is different... \$\endgroup\$
    – TFuto
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the color profiles: The screen colour profiles are both sRGB IEC61966-2.1. Both screens are 27" LED Cinema Displays, about the same age. On the Jpeg Export, sRGB was used on both. I don't use XMP sidecars as I've never seen the need for them, in this situation the Catalog carries all of the info that the sidecar should carry, or am I wrong there? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dylan
    Feb 5, 2014 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did also try copy over one RAW file to the local disk on the mini. In my mind, i didn't expect anything different to happen, and there were no surprises there. I just wanted to be sure that the network share wasn't screwing with the RAWs in some way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dylan
    Feb 5, 2014 at 8:00

4 Answers 4


I don't use Lightroom, so I'm not an expert, but I wonder if perhaps it includes color profile information in the exported image? If the machines have two different color profiles, then your Mac Pro may be doing its best to display the image exported from the Mac Mini as it was displayed on that machine.

Try the following on each machine:

  1. Open System Preferences and click on Displays.

  2. Click the Color tab and look at the color profile in use.

  3. Try setting both machines to use the same color profile.

Repeat your export test and see if the images don't end up looking the same.


Open one image on both machines and compare all slider positions in all tabs in the developer module. If something is off, try to figure out why (defaults, process version etc.)

If you have custom dng profiles, make sure they are installed on both computers.

Posting a pair of images from the same source, but exported on both machines might help.


Are your monitors calibrated and profiled correctly? (And not by eye but using a probe like he i1 display, colormunki or spyder)

Unless you have some kind of color management in place, how can you be sure that the monitors (or the OS) are displaying the colors and brightness accurately?


Different monitors use different phosphors with different colour gamuts. Same brand/model monitors have production variations. The same monitor will have different colour gamut with different time-to-warm-up and time-in-use. Another long-shot would be to check the colour depth as 16 bit to 32 bit conversions can further affect results. If you are using different spectrophotometers, their results will be different even from the same production run, brand, model, and type. Different illumination will present visible hue differences so the monitors are beside each other for the comparison with fixed ambient lighting in a windowless room. I got the test data for my cinema display from the kind folks at Apple in Austin, Texas and plotted the points to check the included gamut.

Also, different graphic cards (in the two different computers) will not output the "same" image when displayed to a single reference monitor. In short, no two things are equal.

That's all I got.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the OP "-- exported the same photo from both computers at the same settings and compared the Jpegs on the Mac Pro. It was clear, the colours were different." \$\endgroup\$ Jul 6, 2016 at 10:21

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