Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

Généralités sur la photo panoramique Calibrer un écran Calibrage d'une imprimante Gérer les couleurs avec Photoshop En savoir davantage sur la gestion des couleurs

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Uptaded on April 16, 2017
 

Review of the calibration kit Colormunki Photo

Kit Colormunki Photo to calibrate printerThe calibration kit Colormunki Photo isn't new in the X-Rite range since it was released in 2008. It enables to calibrate a monitor, but also, and especially, a printer. When it was released, it became famous for the quality of its printing profile regarding its price, four times less than the superlative kit i1 Photo Pro 2. This kit suits every pocket and makes it possible to calibrate a printer with professional quality, even if it's still a bit behind its big brother if you want to quibble. Moreover, it is very easy to use.

This kit Colormunki Photo is still relevant despite its age since it was released in 2008! The equivalent of eternity in electronics. But its spectrophotometer, its measuring device, is of high quality and still enables to calibrate printers professionally, at least. All of this for less than $400 ! It can also still calibrate a monitor, but we're only going to be talking about printer calibration in this page...

 

Buy the kit Colormunki Photo

   
Retailers
Price
   
$389.00
Buy from Amazon.com
    $389.00 Buy from Amazon.ca
   
Amazon.co.uk Amazon.ca
   
Amazon.de Amazon.fr
         

This tutorial is only about printer calibration with Colormunki Photo.

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Presentation of the kit Colormunki Photo

Note ! In 2013, X-Rite launched a sales operation including the chart Colorchecker to calibrate your digital camera. You might thus find such a kit in store...

The calibration kit and its box

Thanks to many design tricks, the kit Colormunki Photo isn't bulky at all and can be fitted in a small box. We'll see that it isn't detrimental to quality. You'll only find in the box:

  • A calibration sensor which is an actual spectrophotometer and not a "vulgar" spectrocolorimeter!

  • A USB wire (2.0)
  • A neoprene protecting cover, ballasted,
  • 2 CDs (installation and instructions),
  • and sometimes a mini chart ColorChecker 24 patches, in certain promotional packs of 2013.

 


Content of the box Colormunki Display

 

My opinion! No frills for this box and you'll see that it's because this product is very well designed. The spectrophotometer is an actual and excellent one. Even if it can't compete with higher range kits, it is only because of software restrictions to limit its possibilities. For an experienced user, passionate, or a professional working without RIP, hence in what is called an RGB workflow, it is perfect. It is not specifically "amateur" equipment but really of a professional quality and accesible to amateurs. It doesn't enable to do so many things as the very professional i1 Photo Pro 2, but what it does, it does well. A word to the wise...

Main characteristics:

  • Professional measuring device: a real spectrophotometer!
  • User-friendly software: "easy" and "advanced" modes, with preselections that can be activated in one click, or assisted options for more control when calibrating monitors;
  • Printer calibration in RGB or CMYK flow;
  • Intelligent iterative characterization: evolutive technology measuring and analysing the chromatic capacities of each printer for an improved profile accuracy;
  • Intelligent control of ambient light: measurement, compensation and permanent monitoring of current lightning conditions - New!;
  • Automatic setting of monitors controls (DDC) - New! - to accelerate the characterization process and avoid manual settings;
  • Video projector calibration - New! -
  • Calibrate several monitors on a same reference - Association mode - New!


Technical specifications

 
Colormunki Photo
Sensor
Spectrophotometer Colormunki Photo
 
Programs
Colormunki Photo and Photo ColorPicker
 
CT (monitor)
D50, D55 and D65
 
Choice of the gamma (monitor)
1.8 - 2.2
 
Alignment of several screens
Yes
 
Control of ambient light
Yes, in luminance - Advanced control.
 
Video projector calibration
Yes
Camera calibration
Yes, for certain promotional kits
  Printer calibration RGB and CMYK
 
Company
xrite.com


Download Colormunki Photo

Colormunki Photo exists in WINDOWS, 32 or 64 bits and MAC OS version (compatible MAC OS LION).

Logo X-RiteDownload X-Rite's Colormunki Photo Suivre
Download official documentation Suivre

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Calibration with Colormunki Photo step by step

Let's start by installing the program and the colorimeter: it couldn't be easier!



Reminder: new paper = new calibration

Instead of talking about printer calibration, we should be talking about calibrating a whole set:

a given paper,
inks of a given brand,
a given printer.

Every time a parameter changes, you need to recreate a new ICC profile. However, if you're just replacing a cartridge of the same brand as your printer's, it isn't necessary. I am more dubious regarding the regularity of ink quality for generic or no name brands.
 

Installation of the program Colormunki Photo

It couldn't be more common and since the software hasn't evolved since 2009, you're certain to install the last version (1.2.1 in 2016). When launching the installation, you're going to install three programs:

  • Colormunki Photo of course, to calibrate your monitor, your video projector, and what we're interested in here, your printer.
  • but also Photo ColorPicker: interesting program to measure the color of subjects and create your own color range (nothing to do with color management but funny or convenient),
  • and DigitalPouch, (that we won't be using at all).

Nothing particular to say then! When you'll click the app's icon, the language will be detected automatically and the program will ask you to activate it. For that, you'll just have to plug the colorimeter in and that's it! Registering isn't necessary.

The main menu of the program directly opens on four possibilities: "Match my external devices", "Characterize my display (calibrate my monitor)" or also, "Digital Pouch" and "Photo ColorPicker" we won't talk about here. All of this in a beautiful, dark grey, interface. I like it!

 

Main menu of the program Colormunki Display
  Two possibilities of calibration and characterization: monitor / video projector and above all, printer.

 

Let's click the button "Characterize my printer"


1 - "Start printer characterization"

When you click on "Characterize my printer", a new window where you'll choose to launch a new paper calibration or to optimize an existing profile (meaning to create and measure the second page of colored patches, essential to calibrate your printer as we'll see below - 5 and 6) opens.

 

 

  • 1 - Create a new paper profile or optimize an existing profile: if you already read a chart, you'll have to print a second sheet in order to optimize your ICC profile regarding the weaknesses of your printer, if not you'll start a new calibration.
  • 2 - Select the printer to calibrate (characterize) (it will change the name of the ICC profile generated automatically during the printing of the charts).
  • 3 - Choose the name of the paper: Caution! Choose it wisely because it will be included into the name of the ICC profile.


Click "Next"

2 - "Print the first test chart"

You'll thus start by printing a first page of charts that will be the same whatever the profile. The second page will be different and will depend on each printer.

 

 

For that, click the button "Print..."

A warning and instructions window then opens. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS METICULOUSLY or you'll have to print the chart again and you'll have waster paper. Here they are...

A - Carefully select the type of paper you want to calibrate:

  • If you're using a paper of the same brand as your printer, it is very easy because most often the type of paper has the same name as your paper (Glossy Photo for instance);
  • If you're using a paper from another brand, then you'll have to follow the instructions of the manufacturer carefully. No worries though, all manufacturers sell the same kinds of paper - Glossy, semi-glossy, matt, etc. -

Possibly watch the printing size (100%), no more, no less!

B - BE SURE TO DEACTIVATE THE PRINTER'S COLOR MANAGEMENT - In 99% of situations, when the profile isn't right, it's because the printer's color management hasn't been disabled and it mixed everything up! It happens into the printer's driver.

C - Save or write down the settings of your printer's driver because you'll have to use them again every time you'll use THIS profile.

Your printer's driver opens. Here's an example with an EPSON printer:

 


1
- Select the printer you wish to calibrate.

2 - Choose the menu "Printer configuration". In "Support" select the paper you want to calibrate if it's the same brand as your printer's, and if not, choose the paper type that is the closest. For instance: all Glossy papers in other brands will use names as "Glossy PP".

Very important! Each profile has been realized with one type of paper selected in this menu. This choice determines the inking rate, so a matt paper will require more ink. If you're using a paper that is too glossy with this type of "matt" setting, then your print will run because it will have received too much ink, in addition to altering the ICC profile completely. WRITE DOWN or SAVE the PAPER for each PROFILE.

3 - "Color settings" - VERY IMPORTANT - You must absolutely select "Disabled (No printer calibration)" or it will be useless!

4 - "Quality" - According to my experience, it is not an essential criterion, as long as you choose, in this example, 2,880 or 1,440 dpi. If I had to print at 720 dpi (or under) often, I would personally create another profile.

My recommendation! It has nothing to do with what keeps us busy here, but I prefer to print at 2,880 dpi because I find gradations in the sky even more beautiful because with more substance! For details sharpness, I can't see the difference.

Before launching the print, make sure to have placed an A4 format sheet in your printer!

 

Launch the print then click "Next" when the print is over and not before!

 

You'll get a chart with bright colors that you'll have to let to dry as indicated below...

3 - "Leave the chart to dry"

The program will invite you to wait for ten mintues. It is possible to skip this step by clicking on the button below the hourglass...

My recommendation! Ten minutes is not enough. Specialists will agree that at least 45 minutes / an hour is good. Even if the ink appears dry when you touch, it is not stable yet and a spectrophotometer can see these differences. Since you're not going to create a profile every two minutes, take the time to leave it to dry.

4 - "Colormunki state" - sensor calibration

You now need to calibrate the sensor correctly. For that, and as always helping yourself with a measuring device, you'll have to calibrate it. Among the new features that are very convenient in the Colormunki Photo, there's internal calibration, among others. For that, the sensor needs to measure a reference white, what it does on a ceramic white square inside the sensor. It is clever in two ways: the reference white is safe from dust grains but also from interfering lights.

To calibrate the spectrophotometer, you just have to follow the instructions and place the rotative dial on the right spot. When it's done, click on "Calibrate".

It's OK, the red cross is replaced by a green V.

 

Position the dial for calibration

 

Then, keep rotating the dial downwards to start reading the colored patches on the chart.

 


Click on the button "Next" at the bottom right.


5 - "Measure the first test chart"

Two recommendations to start with! Place two sheets of the same paper under the printed sheet before starting reading the patches. It avoids uncontrolled reflections due to your table, especially if it is colored. Then, start by positioning the reading zone of your sensor (where the light is emitted) on the white part of the sheet and make sure not to step over the edge of the sheet, on top this time.

When your sensor is in the right position and you're ready, press your thumb on the side of the sensor to turn the light of the sensor on and start reading by sliding the sensor along the first range of patches. They're purposedly large to make this measurement easier even without a guide.

Note! A short video shows you how to proceed, especially about the speed to adopt because it mustn't be done too quickly.

 

Reading colored patches with the sensor Colormunki Photo


Click on the button "Next"


6 - "Generate the second test chart"

In order to save ink and paper (another clever idea of the Colormunki Photo), it requires to print a second serial of patches in order to refine the correction of the main defects of your printer. For a few seconds and keeping in mind the reading of patches it just performed, it generates another serial based on flesh-colored shades, some greens uneasy to reproduce and the famous sky blue. As if by chance!

7 - "Print the second test chart"

Caution! Be sure to print this second serial of patches with the same settings in the printer's driver.

 

 

Leave it to dry for another 45 minutes at least on glossy paper and one hour on matt paper.

8 - "Measure the second test chart"

Repeat the same operation as before...

9 - "Save the ICC profile"

The program comes up with a profile name that you can change. Click on "Save the profile".

 

 

When the profile is created, click on the button "Next" and in the next page click on "Finish".

Note ! The profile is stored in the folder gathering all the profiles on your computer. I invite you to read my article about questions / answers about your printer on my blog, written on December 7, 2013.

Then, I invite you to read my page about printing with Photoshop because this program features numerous functionalities that are very convenient to print correctly with ICC profiles. Everything is explained in details in a step by step tutorial. You can also read my page about printer calibration with a calibration kit again.

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Checking the ICC profile and Questions/Answers

Before answering some of the questions I'm asked most often about printing profiles, I'll make a 3D comparison of several profiles of the same pair paper/printer realized wirth the Colormunki Photo and the former top-range Pulse (replaced by the i1 Photo Pro 2).

3D comparison of the profile made with the Colormunki Photo vs. Pulse

Here's the ICC profile of my printer Epson 7800 with Epson Semi-Gloss Photo Paper. As you can see below, the ICC profile made with the Colormunki Photo (kit costing around $400) is, in volumen and in gamut, very similar to the one made with the DTP20 spectrophotometer of the Pulse kit (of a value of $2,000 five years ago). On certain colors, it is even wider!

Note ! the gamut is slightly smaller, globally, with the CMP profile (Christophe Métairie).

 

 

Name a winner in these conditions! If you often print with saturated blue-greens, you'll be happy to have created your profile with the Colormunki Photo kit.

Important note and my opinion! Note, finally, that even if in greens, the gamut of the ICC profile made with the Pulse kit is a bit more important, you need to always keep in mind that about 95% of greens (hence those just a little bit less saturated) will be reproduced identically by these two profiles but that about 5% of MOST SATURATED GREENS-BLUES will be reproduced a bit MORE SATURATED by the Colormunki kit. Unless you compare a green area like Mark Rothko on two separate sheets, side by side, I challenge you, on a more classic photo where there would only be a few areas of that famous saturated green, to find the Colormunki Photo vs. Pulse print at first sight because of a blatant difference. No, it won't be obvious because on the Colormunki Photo print, these greens will just be a bit more saturated.

So, who's the best in this domain and does it matter really? Not so sure, but intellectually speaking, we're often looking for the "best". The quality level achieved by the Colormunki Photo is such that we'd need advanced tool to sort them out because our eyes are significantly unsufficient. What miracle will marketing departments invent to sell us the next evolutions...?

Last fun fact: below a delta E * of 2.0, the human eye can't see a difference. If you search for it, you should find reviews explaining you that one or the other solution is better because you have a Delta E of 1.51 on one side and 1.47 on the other side. Mathematically, one is better than the other, that is undeniable... except that your eye can't see the difference and when it sees it, it can just say that it looks different, not beautiful on one side and ugly on the other!

* Delta E: identifies the difference between two measurements, the ideal one and the real one.


Now your most frequently asked questions:

Q - Do I need to redo my printing profile often?

A: It depends! If you're using ink of your printer's brand (Epson, Canon, HP), it is useless because the quality control of the ink is extremely precise and I never noticed, even after a year hence after having changed several ink cartridges, that it was necessary. In these conditions, I do it every year so as to...
If you're using "generic" ink, I recommend you to redo your printing profile more often...

Q - Do I need to redo my printing (and monitor) profiles if I change computer?

A: Definitely not! You only have to do it again if you change printer, paper or ink quality. The computer just manages colors. It doesn't transform anything alone. You just need to transfer them (save them) and reinstall them on your new computer.

Q - What difference is there between brand inks and generic ones?

A: Especially for brands famous for the quality of their "Photo" printers like Canon, Epson or also HP, the quality control is thorough since they work with color professionals (Photographers but also printers, graphic designers, etc.). The consistency of the quality of their ink's colors is thus fundamental. "Generic" ink makers are rather on the side of big accounts printing Excel tabs all day long. The consistency of colors in diagrams is less "fundamental"!


To go further on my blog... (in french only)

Frequently asked questions about printer calibration - 1

Frequently asked questions about printer calibration - 2

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Conclusion and rating!

The Colormunki Photo kit is of incredible value for money! Calibrate a monitor, a printer (what interested us here) this way and at this price, I'd never seen that before. Personally, I would only use it to calibrate printers because the monitor calibration program has limits, but at this price, it is still a product to recommend without reservations. So don't hesitate anymore because it is very easy to use, moreover! You won't be able to get off the beaten track but what you will do, you will do well, and you'll never be too far from the color quality of an i1Photo Pro 2. Only in black & white will big brother, four times as expensive, make a little difference. On many color prints, I bet you won't see any difference, not because you don't have enough visual acuity or experience but simply because there won't be any, or not enough!

 

Ratings


 

Colormunki Photo

   
Manufacturing quality
5 stars
 
 
Robustness/Stability in time
5 stars
 
 
Possibilities
3 stars
 
 
Quality of the ICC profile
5 stars
 
 
Value for money
5 stars
 
 
PROS...
  • Excellent value for money!
  • Real spectrophotometer
  • Printing profiles of professional quality and not so far from the i1 Photo Pro 2 that remains, of course, the reference
  • Easy to use
 
 
CONS...
  • Not so many regarding its qualities!
  • Black & white prints maybe a little less neutral than with much more expensive kits
  • Maybe the lack of color temperature choice in monitor calibration...
 
 
OVERALL RATING
9.0 / 10
 


My opinion: a full calibration kit, versatile and remarkable to calibrate your printer, of course (especially in colors) but also your monitor. Its main quality: its printing profiles, very good, not to say excellent. I made a lot of comparative prints with the reference and there's no visible gap in colors sometimes. At this price, you don't need to debate it for too long, whether you're an amateur, a club or a professional without any particular need. Here is typically the kind of product I like to review hence to recommend. I don't have any reservations to make!


Buy the kit Colormunki Photo

Colormunki Photo


   
Retailers
Price  
   
$389.00
Buy from Amazon.com
    $389.00 Buy from B&H
   
Amazon.co.uk Amazon.ca
   
Amazon.de Amazon.fr
         

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Shim
Summary > Colormunki Photo
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This website is almost entirely free and yet almost free of ads. Why? Because they look so bad! It is lucrative though, and enables many websites to keep on living. So I asked myself: what can I do? To keep on developing this website, I'm going to need a regular income just like everyone else. How can I keep on giving access to free information like I've been doing since April 2002?

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