Monitor/Print Brightness Problem


Link Posted 25/11/2012 - 23:23
Had a print made at well known High Street Photo Printers. On comparing it to the image on my monitor I was happy with the colours but the print was quite a bit darker than the monitor image. I used Lightrrom to edit and exported it as a jpeg for printing.

I have never 'properly' calibrated my monitors. As I am happy with the colour, is it worth investing in a monitor calibration tool, or just keep on adjusting the monitors brightness until it matches the print and go from there. I have Googled the problem and it appears very common. It seems most monitors default factory settings are far too bright. Also, as a monitor is backlit, and a print is frontlit, it may not be possible to visually match them anyway. So is a calibration tool the way to go?
Thank you.
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Link Posted 25/11/2012 - 23:49
If the colours are spot on, then just make a lighter image to print from and see what happens.

I'd always suggest trying an inexpensive route like that first. You can still calibrate later if you find you need to.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 25/11/2012 - 23:51
You can download colour profiles from some of the more reputable printing services (e.g. DS Colour Labs and some others). When you have processed your image in Photoshop or similar you can convert it to the profile provided by the printing service. You can even match it to specific print types, e.g Canvas. This should ensure that, as near as possible, the printed image is what you would expect it to be.

It would be useful for some of the other members to post their experiences of using the profiles provided by photo printing companies.


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Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 01:45
What size monitor are you using and what have you got the resolution set at ? to my eye if you have your resolution set too hight it looks lighter!
This will give you a guide


Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 01:55
The free option is to try and adjust your monitor brightness so that the image on screen looks similar to the print (i.e. they are both dark).

Then adjust the on screen image in photoshop/lightroom, etc until the exposure looks correct.

Now, fingers crossed if you print again, the print will come back correctly exposed.



Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 07:25
If you are using Photoshop, simply add a duplicate layer (Ctrl_J)rename the layer 'print' then select screen as the blend mode for that layer. Adjust the layer Opacity to 30% and make a test print.

You may need to adjust above or below 30% to match what you have on the screen.

Once you have established the correct Opacity value, save as an 'Action' and use each time before printing.


Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 08:24
Thanks everyone. Am I right in saying (or not) that a screen calibration tool such as the Spyder4Express (which I'm thinking of getting) will profile my monitor for colours but not for brightness?

Also, going back to the film days when received prints always looked different depending which lab you sent them to, and also the same lab was often different from one time to another, will prints from digital media still look different depending on the lab? Is Photobox the same as Trueprint the same as Max Spielmann etc etc.
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Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 08:44
One thing to watch is that your own colour mnanagement is consistent. The defauult (and very satisfactory) setting is to have camera and Photoshop set to the sRGB colour space.

If the settings do not match that could be the source of your problem, or at least heavily contribute to it.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 09:35
Never used calibration tool... Though you can use montior brightness feature to match the brightness of the picture in the monitor with one printed.
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Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 09:46
An 'out-the-box' monitor is typically set to a VERY high brightness. Consequently, you'll adjust your image and end up making it darker!

It is quite surprising just how dark a room you should be in for photo editing, and how low the monitor should be set for optimal matching.

A very simplistic approach would be to get your physical print and adjust the monitor brightness until it resembles what you see on screen. I'd guess that your brightness is waaaay too high

Calibration corrects for colour; profiling corrects for brightness etc

So, with a decent tool you'll calibrate AND profile.

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Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 11:37
The brightness of a print depends on the brightness of the light shining on it, prints reflect the light, the opposite of monitors which emit light.

The ideal conditions for viewing prints is also the opposite of viewing monitors, the conditions you need to view a print are the opposite of how you should be viewing your monitor, prints need a bright room, monitors need a dark room or you get the same problem as using the rear screen of a camera, low contrast etc. Sunlight streaming through a window is a good light for viewing a print, it's the worst kind of light for viewing a monitor.

You can buy desk lamps specially made for viewing prints with a bright intense white light.


Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 12:08
The ColorMunki software can calibrate for brightness (and contrast)too in the advanced mode, but you need a monitor with a brightness (and contrast) control(s) to calibrate it which are seemingly thin on the ground these days.

If you do calibrate for brightness you will be surprised at how dim your monitor seems, 5 minutes later, when your eyes have adjusted to it, it's fine.

The photo lab I use has a room where they do all their image editing, it's painted matt black, no windows and with very dim lighting, each workstation has a hood over their monitor, it's like walking into a cellar or a badly lit night club. Overkill for the average photographer probably, but it's how the Pro's view your image files and the lengths they feel they need to go to.


Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 12:41
As Mattmatic said really...well worth spending some cash on a calibration tool, considering how much your camera equipment costs it's relatively cheap and certainly helps to get the final output you want from your prints

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Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 12:41
It depends what you need to do and we just use a stable light source, sRGB workflow and the prints look the colour we see on the screen. Even prints done by a lab look the same colour. For general pictorial purposes it works just fine.

I do have a feeling that some monitors will also change colour and brightness when the mains voltage changes, so presumably some sort of stabilisation would be needed for absolute accuracy. I'm sure we've all found periods of time when the house lights seem dimmer than usual. There are regulations regarding supplied voltage, but there are allowed variations.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 26/11/2012 - 15:27
Thanks again everyone.
I see it as this. In a perfect world I would like my finished print to look exactly the same as it did on the monitor. However I would guess that even with the best monitor, best calibration, best printing etc this is not consistantly possible.

But does it really matter to most if the colours of the print are slightly 'off'. Indeed when the picture is on the wall, with no reference to the monitor, any small variation in colour will probably go unnoticed. However if the picture is overly bright or dim then this will stand out like a sore thumb. It just won't look right.

As it stands my monitors initial brightness was set at 50%. I now have it at 20% and it could possibly do with going even lower to get monitor matching print. Would this be considered normal?
Thanks again.
6th Year Apprentice Pensioner
Last Edited by dangie on 26/11/2012 - 15:28
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