I am hoping someone can help me better understand color calibration, specifically, how to manage oversaturation.

I'm new to color management and this has been a ver frustrating last few weeks. I got a new IPS panel, 27", 8-bit monitor (Viewsonic 2770) to use with my older laptop (2010 macbook air), for pro photo editing (I know I need a better laptop). I calibrated the monitor using a Spyder 4 pro, but it never seemed to look right (though I've been used to my MBA screen). At first there was a visible green cast, which diminished when I played with the ambient light. Then I finally had to play with user color after calibration and tune down the reds and greens a touch because the colors seemed way too warm. Finally, I felt I had a somewhat accurate color representation comparing to sample images and on other screens. However, the colors were way more saturated overall on this monitor than on my MBA (I use Lightroom) and the yellows, for example, appeared almost neon. I chalked it up to the MBA screen being older and perhaps undersatured, so I tuned down my images on the Viewsonic, however, when I got some prints back today from new edits on the IPS monitor, they were way undersaturated. Printing from the laptop previously had returned pretty accurate results.

Am I doing something wrong? The colors look ok on the monitor, though very bright, but terrible in print.

I've been thinking about these possibilities: When I created an ICC profile, I did it in 'native' mode. Should I have calibrated in sRGB mode? Is Lightroom using the correct color profile? I tuned up the brightness past the recommended amount a bit to edit (recommended: 180, tuned up to 200) - could this affect saturation (image darks seemed ok in the prints - only colors were dull)? Gamma is 2.2 as recommended, 6500 white point.Should I change these, reduce the gamma to 1.8?

PS: I used the Lightroom in-app printing service which allows you to create photobook from within Lightroom and then automatically converts, uploads, and send to Blurb, the printing service.

Any advice about how to manage oversaturation on screen, or undersaturated prints would be appreciated!

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    It's very easy to imagine that your calibrated monitor has a green cast. If it was too purple out of the box then calibration will make it greener and, when you see that change applied your natural reaction is "OMG, everything just went green!" rather than "OMG, all those purplish greys are now pure grey!" I don't know about Macs but Windows XP was rather unhelpful in this regard in that it only seems to apply the colour profile about 30s after logging in so your eyes adjust to the out-of-the-box wrong colours and then get to see the calibrated right ones. – David Richerby Jul 3 '14 at 15:34
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    Continuing my previous comment, if you look at reviews for any monitor calibration device on Amazon, a huge number of them say something very close to "Garbage. Made my screen turn green. Sent it back. One star." – David Richerby Jul 3 '14 at 15:35

Probably you did not use color calibration on your old laptop monitor, so when you adjusted the images in Lightroom, they looked right, but in an unmanaged environment. Consequently, bringing those images to the color-managed Viewsonic will create no good at all. And finally, probably you do not have a correct color management flow from your monitor to the print shop.

The way to go: create ICC profiles for your new monitor and for the printer (you will have to print a test image, and I do not know if your Spyder can handle printed material...) And use this complete color managed flow to edit images and generate outputs.

Never mind about receiving oversaturated images from an old, color-unmanaged monitor, you should not fix something that is irrelevant to your new flow...

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  • Thanks! So what you're saying is that my viewsonic monitor is probably producing color-accurate images, but the images that were sent to the printing service were not embedded with correct ICC profile? I used the lightroom photobook, the in app service which automatically sends (and presumably converts to JPEG) to Blurb printing service. Would it make mores sense to manually convert and uplaod images, ensure that they have the correct ICC profile, and then send? I don't have a printer at home so I would need to figure out how to get the correct images to these services. – Skunkness Jul 3 '14 at 12:35
  • Also, would it make sense to try an calibrate my laptop? – Skunkness Jul 3 '14 at 12:38
  • RE: "were not embedded:" Yes. Re: JPEG conversion: you should check manually if ICC information is embedded. (By the way: why not use a lossless image format? :-) ) You should also ask Blurb if they use the embedded ICC at all. If not, your best bet is to convert to sRGB. – TFuto Jul 3 '14 at 13:14
  • You can also use the default ICC profile of their printer, however, the most accurate is to create a printed color test pattern and use a proper spectrophotometer, e.g. ColorMunki Design, to create an ICC profile. – TFuto Jul 3 '14 at 13:17
  • It makes sense to calibrate your laptop if you would like to sometimes preview your images that you work on using the Viewsonic. However, if you do that, all the images that look good now on your laptop will probably look very different - so it's your call. – TFuto Jul 3 '14 at 13:18

Saturation and Luminosity are tied together when using RGB. If you want your prints to look good then I think you want a similar amount of light coming out of your monitor as light bouncing off a piece of paper. I use 100 for my brightness and I don't think that is too far off the mark. Also you mentioned a warm cast... definitely check out black and white images because color ones can fool you.

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Native mode is correct, don't dumb down the color space to sRGB if the monitor can produce a greater gamut. Calibrate your printer or get prints made that you can check you monitors calibration with. Don't go by opinion. Here's a link to a free tool I created that you can use to check color from print to display. There's a link at the bottom of the page to get the tool. That will help you by providing the important colors and showing you any white point errors in your display. Adjust the white point first. That's the most important point. Remember that if your ambient light is variable or has a bias to it your display will appear to have the opposite cast if you ambient light levels are higher than the display brightness. Probably best to go to a high end lab instead of Blurb to do your initial calibrations. Then get the ICC profiles for Blurb or any new lab, and convert to those and embed them in the images you send to that lab.

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  • You seem to have forgotten a link. – Bob Jul 3 '14 at 15:52

If ambient light reading suggests you 180-200 cd/m2 then your ambient light is definitely too high. Try to lower your ambient light to a point where it suggests 80-120 cd/m2.

Furthermore, your monitor seems to have a big color gamut, so it's normal that it seems to have more saturation than your MacBook Air.

Be sure you calibrate both screens and that, when editing and comparing to prints, you do a SoftProof:


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