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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

ColorThink to the rescue!

Tropical fish, or defective profile?

I got a call from a printer today who decided to order a custom profile from us.  He's up against a deadline and the canned profile from the paper manufacturer is giving him a lot of banding.

Always curious about bad profiles I asked him to send it to me so I could take a look.  I ran it through some of the tests we do using ColorThink Pro, including Viewing a Rendered Gamut.  (See the "tropical fish" gamut above.)   CTP showed pretty quickly strange handling of blues, and a section of outer gamut magentas were being mapped to color locations well inside the gamut!

It turns out this profile was made using Monaco Profiler, considered one of the best profiling engines of its time, and not too long ago at that.  It occurred to me that even with a good profiling engine, you never really know what you're getting when you build a profile - unless you have a means of checking it out - seeing its shape, if the measurements match the gamut, if it renders appropriately.

This was a publicly distributed profile, going out to users of this well-known brand of paper. My customer said he was using up more paper trying to deal with his "banding" issues than he used adjusting color. To tell the truth, the profile is not so terribly bad that it produces a lot of bad color. In fact, depending on the content of the image a lot of prints might come out fine. But this customer spent a tremendous amount of time and paper trying to solve this problem while running different calibrations and head alignments with Epson. He had a deadline coming up, was supposed to print 40 x 60 inch inkjet prints, and ended up overnighting a new target to us because he was running out of time.

Some people who have never heard of ColorThink (there are a few) ask me why they should get it. How is it going to improve their color tomorrow? And I don't have a good salesman answer for them.  I say something about how it does not fix things so much as it's a diagnostic tool.  That's about when their eyes glaze over and I can imagine what they're thinking - they don't need another diagnostic tool that gives them cool things to look at but has no practical value.   So this real-world example is just one of many, many examples of the practical value of ColorThink Pro. If this customer had CTP, he would have quickly uncovered the cause of the banding that would have saved them more time and money in just one use than the program cost.  When you've got a problem - that's when you need ColorThink.