Color Management System
Hardware and Software
Gets More Sophisticated and,
Often, Easier to Use
any new products—hardware CMYK are device-dependent color This usually means a wide gamut
and software—have come to models. The numbers provided in RGB file or, in the case of those
market in the past year that an RGB or CMYK file only describe working in Photoshop, the most
aid in producing accurate and a recipe for color, not how that appropriate RGB working space.
predictable color on the desktop. color should, or will, appear either Virtually all CMS products operate
The awareness among imaging on a monitor or as ink on paper. in a similar fashion. Known color
professionals of the need to have a Photographers increasingly are data is passed to the device to be
Color Management System (CMS) being expected to provide files in profiled and some kind of instrument
has been heightened by the new CMYK for output to press. is used to read the color the device
color architecture in Adobe Additionally, many images files actually produces. This allows the
Photoshop 5.0/5.5. Also, many new are published concurrently on software package to fingerprint the
scanners, digital camera drivers press and on the Web. And there is behavior of the device and create
and output devices expect users to never any assurance that some an ICC profile for use in the CMS.
deal with device profiles, which other output won’t be required For digital cameras and scanners, a
requires the deft use of CMS. months or years after an image is “known target” is scanned or
These profiles are descriptors of initially printed to press or the Web. photographed and then that data is
the color behavior of various This newer workflow represents imported into an application for
devices in the imaging chain— quite a change from the recent past evaluating the color the device
monitors, scanners, cameras and and requires users to have a captured from the known target.
printers—and are produced in a significant understanding of CMS. For displays, known colors are
common, cross-platform format Prior to the proliferation of high- generated and sent to the screen,
known as ICC profiles. All the quality desktop imaging, digital where a device called a colorimeter
products discussed in this article files usually were created by prepress reads the colors displayed and first
deal with creating, editing and shops using high-end scanners that calibrates the unit to a known stan-
applying ICC profiles for use in produced output-ready files opti- dard like Gamma 1.8, D65. Then it
today’s ICC-savvy applications, mized for one kind of device. If creates a profile describing the exact
including Photoshop, QuarkXPress, that particular file were used with condition of the display. For calibrat-
Adobe InDesign and many others. another output device, the quality of ing output devices, often hundreds
All the various devices used to the color was often compromised. of color patches of known value are
capture, display and output color Having one archive of a finished printed out and read by a device
on the desktop handle color file for multiple output needs requires called a spectrophotometer.
differently. Describing how each the use of a CMS and ICC profiles. The results in every case are an
device handles color is key to It also means that files need to be ICC device profile that can pass
ensuring consistent and predictable archived in a color space that will information onto the CMS about
color output. This is primarily due allow the original file to be success- the device. Devices must remain
to the fact that both RGB and fully converted using these profiles. consistent in performance to
22 • PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000
remain faithful to their profile. ProfileMaker Pro back in February
Devices that drift or alter their MatchBox 4.0/ColorBlind Pro 4.0 2000 (see “The Art of Converting”).
behavior require constant process New in ITEC Matchbox 4.0 are Since then I’ve been using this
control and re-profiling. various bug fixes, mostly for product more and more, and it
Implementing a good CMS Macintosh G4s running OS9, and continues to impress not only with
based on ICC profiles requires some tweaks to the interface. A its ease of use, but with the superb
users to have a calibrated and version called “Profiler Plus” quality profiles it generates.
profiled display. This is the allows Matchbox users to update GretagMacbeth just released
absolute minimum requirement the application so they can use any Version 3.1, a minor upgrade that
users have to undertake (see “High- spectrophotometer. The standard has some nice new features.
End Monitors,” on page 36). package supports only the Color In the ProfileMaker module, a
Ideally, images that come from Savvy ColorMouse, a hand-held new area has been included to
scanners and digital cameras have measuring device ($450). Pricing generate profiles for digital
a profile that describes the color for the Profiler Plus upgrade is $49. cameras. Naturally, it supports the
makeup of each device and can be A $99 upgrade with a dongle new ColorChecker DC target
archived or converted into the RGB (software security device) is created from the ground up by
working space picked within Photo- available for the user who may GretagMacbeth for profiling digital
shop. Lastly, all output devices wish to free up the serial port cameras. When bringing in either
should have ICC profiles describing where the ColorMouse was once targets for digital cameras or
their behavior, which can be con- installed. Otherwise, the scanners, ProfileMaker has one of
verted to specific output conditions. ColorMouse must be installed as a the coolest and most useful features
copy protection device as well as I’ve even seen in a such a product:
the measuring device. The ability to actually skew a
Also new from ITEC is Version selection to account for a target that
4.0 of their higher end profiling may not have been shot or scanned
Last year I wrote about Compass- package ColorBlind Pro (See PEI exactly square.
Profile, ICC AutoFlow and VectorPro April 1997 for a full review). This
from Praxisoft, and a then-new update takes care of several bug
product called WiziWYG. Since fixes, adds support for new measur-
then, minor updates have been posted ing instruments such as the Spectro-
to these products, with a major Cam, and improved connectivity for
new version of CompassProfile the Mac G4 running OS9. The
(Version 3.0) due to ship by the update to ColorBlind Pro is $19.95
time you read this. for users with the previous version
CompassProfile’s main new capa- (3.6), or $399 for all older versions.
bility will be a complete overhaul to Prove it! monitor calibration and
how it creates CMYK output profiles profiling software is now standard
with regard to black generation issues. (see PEI December 1999 for a review ProfileMaker Pro 3.1 can precisely crop
WiziWYG uses a flatbed scanner on this product). There also have a target, like the new DC Color Checker
(above), and skew a selected target that has
rather than a more expensive external been some improvements to the not been shot or scanned exactly square.
spectrophotometer to measure color interface for ColorBlind Edit, now
patches for creating output profiles. at version 3.0, which is a product One can also crop the image
A more robust version, used to tweak ICC profiles or exactly as needed in an application
WiziWYG Deluxe, ships with a images. A new utility called like Photoshop and click on the Fit
Sequel V Colorimeter for display OnTarget! is a small application to Image Size button, which will
calibration and has some hooks for that allows users to verify and inform the software to auto-
using two exthernal hardware check their scanner profiles. It will matically select the target from the
spectrophotometers. be included with the ColorBlind edges. Also new in ProfileMaker is
WiziWYG Deluxe also ships Pro package and available as a $29 the ability to profile LCD displays.
with a lite version of AutoFlow for option with Matchbox 4.0. Other features that make this
the Macintosh, which can be used for package a winner are the ability to
batch processing conversions of files ProfileMaker Pro 3.1 compare spectral readings of various
using ICC profiles (www.praxisoft.com). I wrote a short piece on devices and the ability to average
PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000 • 23
multiple readings into a single
profile (which is especially useful).
In February, I discussed the lack
of selective color tuning features in
ProfileEditor 3.0, the module for
editing output profiles. In Version 3.1,
users can now selectively manipulate
colors within colors to tune a
profile. While the ProfileMaker Pro
package at $3,500 isn’t inexpensive,
this is one product for serious users
that is worth every penny.
GretagMacbeth also sells a
complete hardware/software CMS
package called the iProfile Bundle.
Priced at $9,500, it includes the
Spectrolino SpectroScan (a fully
In Praxisoft’s CompassCamera, the target has been imported into the application.
automated spectrophotometer with Once I assign the crop on two corners of the image, the software places squares over
a removable unit for hand-held each patch so I can be assured that the target is being read correctly.
measurements or display profiling),
ProfileMaker 3.1, ProfileMaker 3.1 a range they have picked in the setting of contrast and brightness is
Digital Camera module, and flat camera capture software can click adjusted visually rather than using
panel holder for Spectrolino. on the Colorimetric radio button to a measuring instrument. (The
ensure subsequent photographs product also supports monitor
run through the resulting profile profiling with a sequel colorimeter,
retain their highlight clipping value. the MonacoSENSOR, which sells for
While the version I tested was $249.) For scanner and digital
still in beta, the color of digital camera profiles, the product ships
camera files was greatly enhanced with a reflective IT8 target, and
CompassCamera and more accurate, thanks to the users who wish to profile film
Praxisoft is the second company custom profiles it created. scanners can purchase a trans-
to come to market with a product CompassCamera will be available missive target from Monaco for $40
that is squarely aimed at those as a stand-alone application with a for 35mm format or $100 for 4x5 film.
needing to make profiles for digital supplied GretagMacbeth digital One very nice feature in Monaco-
cameras using the new Gretag- camera target for $700. PROOF 3.0 is the optional linearization
Macbeth Digital camera checker procedure used when making output
called ColorChecker DC. Those MonacoPROOF 3.0 profiles. Several packages on the
familiar with Praxisoft’s module for MonacoPROOF is a full-featured market have this provision, and it
making scanner profiles, Compass- software product that can create is very useful for dealing with output
Scanner, will be right at home with ICC profiles for scanners, digital devices that need to be linearized
the virtually identical interface of cameras, monitors and output (calibrated) prior to profiling.
CompassCamera. Making a digital devices. Version 3.0 is the newest MonacoPROOF has a pretty
camera profile couldn’t be simpler; release and sports a simple, robust profile viewer that allows
you shoot the target, import the Wizard-like interface similar to users to inspect the gamut of the
TIFF file into CompassCamera, Monaco’s entry level product, profile three-dimensionally in real
load the Target Description File MonacoEZcolor. Monaco has done time by clicking and dragging on
(TDF) and click the Build Button. an excellent job with this new the image. MonacoPROOF contains a
The software does have a number interface in making a product so simple-to-use profile editor called
of options for controlling the way a simple to use that the well-written MonacoTWEAK that allows users to
profile is generated. For example, manual is rarely necessary. alter saturation and density.
users who wish to keep the When using MonacoPROOF to MonacoPROOF 3.0 sells for $1,495
highlight values of the target set to calibrate and profile the display, the and runs on Macintosh. A
24 • PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000
Vision Doctor PRO ($299) is the
ideal tool for profile editing because
it utilizes the most powerful editing
tool known to man: Adobe Photo-
shop. The filters are actually automate
commands inside of Photoshop.
When tuning, users edit while
Doctor watches and reconstructs
the edits on an existing loaded
profile using an action first created
in Photoshop (www.colorcal.com).
Color Vision MC-7
Before and after windows in MonacoPROOF showing the application of a curve to alter
saturation and density, plus the effect of a nice densitometer.
Color Vision’s latest profiling
hardware, the MC-7, is a very
affordable colorimeter ($199 USB,
$299 serial). The MC-7 is an eight-
Windows version was expected to an RGB device, this additional sensor, seven-filter colorimeter that
ship about the time you read this. feature in Profiler II ensures can calibrate and profile a display.
Monaco’s high-end product, Monaco- WYSIWYG editing capabilities. According to the company, the MC-
Profiler, has far more controls and Profiler CMYK (also $199) 7’s all-digital detection design uses
options for those needing this provides controls for very specific seven long-pass wavelength edge
additional power. It sells for $4,250 black generation parameters when filters to produce more accurate
and is targeted mainly at expert building a profile. There are controls readings than typical three- or four-
users at large printing companies for numerically dialing in dot gain, channel colorimeters. The new
(www.monacosystems.com). black ink limit, total ink limit and design allows more measurements
UCA. This product is designed for over the visible spectrum, thus
Color Vision professional users who need to more closely matching the sight of
Color Vision offers a set of plug- specify exact settings when creating the human eye.
ins for creating or editing profiles CMYK profiles for printing to a The actual device is quite compact
that do not require scanning a press or similar device. and “sticks” to the monitor firmly,
special target. In addition to these, Color Vision ensuring that it will remain in place
To create an ICC profile with sells two profile-editing plug-ins. during the calibration and profiling
any of the Color Vision Profiler Color Vision Doctor ($99) contains process.
plug-ins, you print out a target and the same six sliders noted above in Color Vision offers several
scan it back into Adobe Photoshop, Profiler RGB as well as that very different bundles of software with
which then “feeds” it to Profiler useful RGB soft proof tool. Color the MC-7. For $199, the MC-7 ships
using the Automate command. with easy-to-use PhotoCal monitor
Profiler RGB ($199) creates RGB calibration and profiling software.
or CMYK output profiles. A series PhotoCal has a Wizard-like interface
of six sliders allows for control over that appears as a calibrator plug-in
brightness, contrast saturation and in the Macintosh Monitors and
other tones. It also offers a unique Sounds control panel, or as an
RGB soft proof capability that aids application Wizard in Windows.
the user when tuning RGB profiles For users who wish more
with the supplied sliders. Since features in the software, there is a
Photoshop 5 has no provisions for The sliders inside of Color Vision Profiler bundle with Optical 2.5 for $399.
RGB can change saturation, brightness
showing a soft proof for output to and color when creating a custom profile. Optical has many more professional-
26 • PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000
level controls, such as a feedback complete visible spectral range of but that is changing. ColorBlind 4.0
window that provides specific 380nm-750nm This small mouse-like currently has support for the
information on the state of the device can be used to measure strips device and the software that ships
display both before and after of color patches at blazing speeds. with the Spectrocam allows
calibration, and a set of curves for You simply insert the Spectrocam measurements to be taken and
fine-tuning the display color. into the opening in the adapter, exported as text files for impor-
The Color Vision RGB Suite ($299) place the opening over a strip of tation into profiling products that
contains the mc7/PhotoCal system color patches and manually move accept this data method, like Com-
plus the Color Vision Profiler RGB. the Spectrocam over the row. It passProfile, Monaco Profiler, and
This would allow you to use Profiler measures each patch multiple times ProfileMaker (www.spectrostar.com).
RGB for creating input and output and averages the readings into one.
profiles and the MC-7 hardware Once you get the hang of smoothly ColorControlStation
with PhotoCal for the most control moving the unit over a strip of The ColorControlStation from
over the display calibration. Color patches, a process that takes only a Color Savvy is a very clever idea.
Vision is also marketing the Color few seconds, you’ll find this is one The engineers at Color Savvy took an
Vision CMYK Suite, which includes of the fastest tools for creating existing HP inkjet printer, removed
the mc7/OptiCal 3.0 system and profiles. Users can specify how the ink heads, and replaced them
Profiler CMYK ($499). many samplings per patch the with a colorimeter. Like an inkjet
The MC-7 is no speed demon Spectrocam should read to average printer, you move paper in and out
compared to other colorimeters, as the device can take 35 per of the unit and the colorimeter
but the results appear to be on par. second. The default is 16 samplings head moves across the paper taking
One issue with the MC-7 is a small per patch and, amazingly enough, automatic readings of color patches.
gap between the sensor and the the unit knows where one patch Ingenious. The ColorControlStation
screen requiring that you shield the starts and ends and just figures out is really aimed at people who must
unit from ambient light (or calibrate how to measure each patch as you profile their devices regularly, who
in a darkened room). Color Vision slide the unit over the row. The simply can’t spend the time to
has created a light baffle to retrofit Spectrocam can also be used to manually measure color sheets.
existing units. At this price, it’s take single readings of patches or I was able to test the ColorControl-
hard not to justify the purchase of a any object outside the computer. Station with Praxisoft’s Compass-
colorimeter for any user who is The Spectrocam also can be used Profile, which is currently the only
serious about color. as a colorimeter to calibrate both product that directly interfaces
CRT and LCD displays. With a very with the hardware. I did have some
Spectrocam clever hook-like adapter, you can difficulties with thicker brands of
The new Spectrocam from hang the Spectrocam over an LCD inkjet paper occasionally jamming.
Spectrostar is just too cool! Here’s without having the actual sensor The time to read a sheet of patches
the Swiss Army Knife of measuring damage the delicate LCD display. isn’t earth shattering, but considering
devices for building profiles. At This is one of the first devices on I was able to walk away while the
$999, this true spectrophotometer is the market that can actually be unit did all the dirty work, this
affordable and measures the used to read both types of display. doesn’t seem to be an issue. The
Since the Spectrocam uses a resulting profiles I generated using
pulsed Xenon daylight flash source, 512 color patches within Compass-
it isn’t affected by UV interference Profile were excellent. Color-
found in some papers. The unit ControlStation (USB or serial) is
actually flashes much like a strobe $2,250 and comes with a two-year
when taking measurements. I made warranty (www.colorsavvy.com).
several output profiles using ColorSavvy also manufactures
several products and found the the ColorMouse ($450), which can
Spectrocam did an excellent job of be used with WiziWYG Deluxe.
accurately measuring color.
The only downside is that the unit Andrew Rodney owns and operates
The Digital Dog in Santa Fe, New
is so new, new that not all major Mexico. You can e-mail him at
Spectrostar Spectrocam profiling packages support it directly, firstname.lastname@example.org.
28 • PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000
X • PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000 PEI • SEPTEMBER 2000 • X