Musings on color management, CHROMiX products and services and other relevant topics.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

i1Profiler is still almost here

The latest report from X-Rite is that the new i1Profiler products are expected to begin shipping around the end of January, 2011.

Friday, November 5, 2010

i1Profiler is almost here

X-Rite is almost ready to release their new i1Profiler software. There has been some confusion over what prices and paths will be available for upgrading.

To make it simple, there are only 3 options to consider for people upgrading:

  • i1 Publish New Full (Software Only) $999 This version will be necessary for PMv4.x, MPv3.x, and Stand Alone iSis users
  • i1Profiler UPGRADE 'B' for i1Basic Pro, i1Basic, i1Design LT, i1Photo LT, i1Pro OEM $899
  • i1Profiler UPGRADE 'A' for ANY full version of ProfileMaker v5, All Monaco Profiler 4.x versions, i1Photo Pro, i1Photo, i1Photo SG, i1Proof, i1XT, i1XTreme $499
X-Rite is not taking away or overwriting any existing i1Pro, i1Match, ProfileMaker or Monaco Profiler dongles. Users get to continue using their legacy solutions if desired. However, X-Rite will probably verify that the original dongle is legitimate, and eligible for upgrade.

Dongle Upgrades, and other notes:
X-Rite will upgrade an i1Pro or ProfileMaker dongle through the i1Profiler software interface. Users will purchase either Upgrade A or Upgrade B as applicable, and when they receive the upgrade, the box will include an activation code . X-Rite will not use the existing upgrade paths in i1Diagnostics or License Tool.

MonacoPROFILER users will have to call an X-Rite Service Center, where X-Rite will verify that their existing dongle is valid. They will then receive their new i1Publish dongle by mail within 5 business days.

As of Friday Nov. 5, X-Rite has confirmed the above information is correct and reflects their new policies. We will post any new or relevant information here as soon as it is confirmed or is official from X-Rite.

Link to the i1Profiler product page:

Thanks to Rick Hatmaker of CHROMiX for tracking down this information.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Epson 4900 gets 98% Pantone gamut

Recently announced at Photokina in Germany, the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 has just been launched in the United Kingdom. Apparently it uses 11 UltraChrome HDR inks to provide a gamut that encompases 98% of the Pantone colors. This is pretty impressive. Designers are often wondering why the printer can't match the color they are looking for, and the answer is that it is hard to do! Pantone presses will run up to 16 different inks on press in order to produce all the colors in the Pantone books - that's how wide a gamut these colors encompass. To get this kind of gamut in a single printer would be impressive indeed.

Also announced are the new Stylus Pro 7890 and 9890:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monitor reviews NEC PA241W & PA271W

I have just completed extensive reviews of two new displays from NEC: the PA241W and PA271W. Link to these reviews here:
PA241W review
PA271W review
While there are many places to get monitor reviews on the internet, these are mainly aimed toward the "gaming" crowd. At CHROMiX, most of our customers are professional & semi-professional photographers and other high end color specialists with a unique set of requirements for displays. Our reviews include:
  • analysis of size and shape of color gamut,
  • how consistent the color is across the screen,
  • calibration options,
  • analysis of the display when calibrated to the requirements of a photographer (which is usually much lower in brightness than other purposes.)
We write up reviews which are intended to answer the questions our customers will have, so I hope you will find them useful. Browse the ColorWiki for other reviews as well. We have articles that range from products to technology to techniques, and we add more whenever we come across something new. Look for the "Tools" section.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

X-Rite standard for Graphic Arts

X-Rite announces a new graphic arts standard called "XRGA".

Since the merger between GretagMacBeth and X-Rite, the company has maintained the original products in the product lines pretty much as they were. For the pressroom, X-Rite continued producing the X-Rite 530, 938, 939 and the GretagMacbeth SpectroEye, and the i1Pro, etc.

However, each of these two camps of instruments was designed with slightly different calibration standards, and there were enough differences between the two types of instruments that there would be discrepancies when trying to compare the same colors measured using different instruments. To solve this, X-Rite has come up with a matrix of transformation calculations that can be used so that the output from these different instruments will be much more in alignment with each other and provide inter-model agreement. This new standard is called "XRGA".

They are rolling this out in new instruments starting in September 2010. For customers using existing instruments, X-Rite will make available firmware and software updates free of charge to allow your instrument to output the new XRGA standard measurements. This applies to currently-sold instruments only - they will not support instruments that have been discontinued.

In addition, there will be a new version of Colorport (version 2.0) available in or after October, 2010, which will allow you to save data from any of these instruments in either the XRGA standard or the original measurement response.

I have to note also, that the discrepancies we're talking about here are (depending on your perspective) not too large. We're talking about delta E differences of between .6 ∆E to 1.6 ∆E (dE76) or so.

This provides a needed correction for anyone using multiple spectro's. It is unfortunate that X-Rite's testing and the XRGA standard does not cover the iSis chart reader. Since the release of Rev E of the iSis, customers have reported a significant change in the calibration white point of this new rev of the instrument and it would have been good to have a means of making legacy versions of the iSis consistent with the new Rev E version.

We hope to see more from X-Rite on this in the future.

For more information on XRGA see the X-Rite webpage:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Color on the Web

Brian Lawler's excellent Blognosticator blog has a great entry about color management in web browsers.

For a good browser test you should also check out this page at the ICC's site which also tests for ICC v4 compliance. (a new version of the ICC profile format that is slow in being supported)

Color management in web browsers is actually quite a complicated thing. Web browsers are not just image viewers but are much more like InDesign and Quark. They are image and content aggregators (not to mention application platforms). So even though an image may contain a profile and the browser may display it properly, many or all of the other elements on the page may not display properly. In many layouts and designs, incomplete color management is worse than none.

We will continue to research, report and supply solutions to color in the digital display realm, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

USB 3.0 Explained

Here's a great write up of the new version of the Universal Serial Bus standard: USB 3.0. This new version of USB will enable much faster transfer of information - to the tune of about 5 gigabytes per second. This is 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Right now you can buy adapter cards and cables to enable this on your computer, and there are a few external hard drives that are available. In the near future, computers will come with USB 3.0 built in. This is backwards compatible, so you can continue to use your current USB devices on the new systems with no problems. If you start seeing USB cables and jacks with a blue plastic inside - that's 3.0!

This is a very understandable overview and it does not take too long to read:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Last roll of Kodachrome

Spread the news: If you have a roll of Kodachrome in a glove compartment or a drawer or box somewhere, better get it processed now! The last Kodachrome processor in the world will no longer process Kodachrome at the end of this year (2010).

I read the following article and started waxing nostalgic over my film processing days:

Kodachrome was such a different process. Even in its heyday there were only a handful of companies that actually processed it, which involved a long, elaborate process. There was only one company on the West Coast that did it as far as I know. It is not at all like the (relatively easy) E6 processing that is used to process other slide transparency film like Ektachrome or Fujichrome.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Transmissive profiles

We've done a flurry of transmissive profiles for different customers in the last few weeks, and it occurs to me that this might be an area of profiling that not too many people know about. Readers of this blog will be familiar with calibrating and profiling a display - which results in a monitor profile. Also, you can use a device that measures reflective color to make a printer profile. But a different flavor of printer profile is the transmissive profile.

Instead of working with material that is intended to be displayed using some kind of light illuminating the front of the image, you can make a profile that is specifically for an image that will be lit from behind - back lit, and the color you see from this material is transmitted through the media. People who use transmissive profiles are usually printing onto transparent or semi-transparent film for display purposes.

While it is technically possible to print onto film like this using a normal, "reflective" type profile - this will not normally capture the effect of light passing through this media. Especially for film that is less opaque, the effect of a light source transmitting through the semi-clear media and through the ink can best be captured using a spectrophotometer that is specially made for this purpose. And there are not too many of those around. At CHROMiX we use an X-Rite DTP-41T which is a specially modified DTP-41 that can measure transmissive light - and also can read entire strips of color at a time, rather than single colors at a time. Believe me, large targets can get very tedious one color at at time! Barbieri also makes a couple of models of spectrophotometer which can measure entire sheets transmissively. Even better!

Judging by the volume of transmissive material we profile, we might be the only commercial profiling provider around that offers this service.

If you'd like more information on this, contact or or call 866-CHROMIX.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

10-bit color resolution for display

Eizo has given out procedures that document the ability to get a continuous 10-bit output from Photoshop through to their displays. It has taken several years for the various hardware and software players to develop this capability. The last link in the chain has been the graphics card manufacturers, but it looks like there are a few graphics cards that can now support 10-bit color - on Mac and Windows.

We've started to hear reports around the industry that people are actually making this work.

I would not rush out and change your whole workflow over to this just yet. You know what they say about the cutting edge of technology often becoming the bleeding edge. Just the same, it's nice to see that we can do this now.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shooting Fireworks

I thought I'd fire off some quick tips for shooting fireworks this weekend.

It is universally recommended that you shoot from a tripod if you have one. If not, a bean bag makes a good portable something to stick your camera on that will conform to the shape of your camera and help to hold it steady.

A good place to start with settings is to set the ISO to 200, aperture to f/8 and shutter speed between 5 - 15 seconds. If your first pictures are too bright and blurry, use a faster shutter speed. When the time comes for the grand finale, change to a faster shutter speed than you have been using. This will compensate for the brighter skies that will be lit up by the extra color.

Here's a link for more ideas:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Monitor hoods for everyone!

The trouble with being in a business for so long, is that you start to think you've said everything already - so everybody should know it by now. The reality is that new people are coming into the color business all the time and some things we thought were well understood are not talked about much anymore.

In this vein I'm surprised at the number of color people I've run into lately who don't use a hood on their display. Maybe no one ever told you, but that overhead ambient light shining down in your room will cast its light on your screen and wash out the colors, especially wash out your blacks. You would be amazed to see how much contrast is lost because your shadows are all washed out by the ambient light shining directly on the screen. Put a hood on there, and your display will instantly have more "pop." Any kind of hood to prevent direct overhead light from falling on the screen would be good. It does not have to be terribly expensive; all it has to do is 1) be light, and 2) block light.

Now you have no more excuses! Here's a link to simple, do-it-yourself monitor hood creation instructions that will cost you about $10 at your local craft supply store.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Barbieri comes out with a spectro with a polarizing filter

Starting May 1, 2010 Barbieri releases a new Spectrophotometer called the Spectro LFP Series 3 - which among other things can measure profiling targets using a polarizing filter. We have not seen a device with a polarizing filter since the SpectraScans were discontinued by X-Rite. At $8000, I'm not suggesting that everyone run out and buy one, but if you make printer profiles for media that has flat or bumpy surfaces like canvas or other fabrics - this will get you the shadow detail in your profiles that you won't get any other way.

It's great to see a currently-produced product, that is compatible with today's operating systems, that can take polarized measurements.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Curve 2.0.3 update released

We've just released an update to Curve2. Version 2.0.3 addresses some issues we found after shipping 2.0:

  • fixes problems with printing on Windows
  • tweaks to the gray balance algorithm
  • gray balancing systems that are way off balance will work much better in the first iteration
  • the Printing Guide has some corrections
  • numerous smaller tweaks and suggestions from helpful Curve2 users
Of course, full details can be found in the ReadMe file included with the download.

As always, please let us know how it goes and use Curve2's built-in feedback system to let us know if there's a problem or you have questions / suggestions.

Friday, April 9, 2010

iPhone 4.0 supports ICC profiles...

It looks like the newly-announced iPhone SDK 4.0 will support ICC profiles in some manner.

Thanks to Ray Maxwell for pointing this out. Check out this link. Look in the bottom left corner of the image for the words "ICC Profiles".

Any more information is not available at this time due to the non-disclosure secrecy surrounding the SDK.

If we told you, we'd have to kill you (or, worse, take away your iPad!).

It's good news for the fledgling platform. We will let you know more when we are able.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Want to view Lab values in ColorThink?

A customer asked us recently:
In ColorThink, is there a way to manually enter individual Lab colors and plot them in the 2D or 3D graphs?

The answer is: Yes!

In the manual, in the section on the grapher, there is an example of a simple Lab color list you can create in seconds in any text program. You can just copy and paste this from the ColorWiki manual into your text program:

Or copy it from here:

Lab_L Lab_a Lab_b
91 -2 96
44 -29 2

Substitute the "91 -2 96" with Lab values of your own choosing, tab to create the space between numbers, make the list as long as you like, save it as a text file, and you can drag this file into the grapher or worksheet - and your Lab colors will be displayed.

You can also create these simple Lab color lists by bringing an image into the worksheet and clicking on it with the eye dropper tool. A list is automatically populated and you can Save List As... to export a text file or open it in the Grapher.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Take your own picture of outer atmosphere for $800

This story out of Britain is for those of us financially strapped individuals who have always had a love for photography and a love for flying.

A 38 year-old man launches high altitude balloons and takes pictures of the earth from the upper atmosphere. He "captures pictures of earth using a standard camera fixed to a weather balloon."

The story:

His photos:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sharp's Quattron goes to 11!

Sharp has introduced their new Quattron technology, adding a 4th channel (yellow) to their LCD TV.

The claim is that the new channel will be "Introducing never-before-seen colors to LCD TVs, like sparkling golds, Caribbean blues and sunflower yellows..."

Sound too good to be true? Have you been sitting in front of your TV thinking "where are all my yellows?!?" Are you wondering how Sharp can create yellows that weren't in the original signal?

I admit, I'm curious... has anyone built a profile for their run-of-the-mill LCD TV recently? How does it compare to sRGB (which is the space for HDTV)? If you have one, please send it over and we'll do a little looky see. I'll update this post with what we find.

Check it out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

X-Rite Edges Into Black

Returning to (slight) profitability for the first time since 2007, X-Rite books $0.1 million in profit for Q4 2009.

Read the Press Release

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where's Geeves?

Mark Geeves is an industry veteran in the classic sense of the word. He has the experience and the scars. He's co-founded a new company to supply "special effects" to the print industry. Good luck Mark!

Color-Logic provides special effects to the print industry

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New CHROMiX Blog

Welcome to our new blog.

What's it all about?

    Short technical snippits, industry news, cool technologies, and CHROMiX announcements. You know, the usual blog fodder. Only now it's concentrated on Color Management technologies and produced by the company who brought you remote ICC profiling, 3D color gamut graphing, G7 calibration software and the producer of the most widely read color newsletter.

Why now?

  We've had a great newsletter at CHROMiX for many years now and we've been republishing the articles to to ensure they have some "shelf life" online. But what we found is our newsletters were growing longer and longer at a time when we all have less time to read things. Many quick facts, products and technologies that we announce and/or link to in the newsletters yearned to be released more often than the newsletter cycle we follow (1-2 months).

Who Contributes?

  All of us at CHROMiX may contribute to the blog. Expect to see technical missives and hints from Pat Herold, industry and product information from Rick Hatmaker and a wide variety of postings and ramblings from Steve Upton. There's no set schedule for who may post and that's the way we want it. When we find something we think you'll like, it'll head out to the blog so you can stay informed in a timely way.

What about the ColorNews newsletter? 

  We love our newsletter and thousands of readers around the world do too. This blog will allow us to shorten the newsletter and link out to blog entries so you don't miss anything if you only read the newsletter. The automation it provides will make newsletters easier to produce and that means more effort on great color content. In short the blog will make the newsletter leaner and more appropriate for its publication frequency.

So, welcome. We're glad you came by and we hope you come back soon. There's lots more on its way!

Steve Upton
Insufferable Color Geek