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Photo Tip Of The Day

Today’s Photo Tip (#196)

In digital photography there are many items that the professionals will calibrate to be able to gain consistent and repeatable results. Most of us may calibrate one or two of these but it’s a rare individual who will take the time to calibrate everything on this list. I’m not sure how many I can list and there are some I may miss. I’ll try to explain why for each one.

Computer screen: This can be done using software and a device to measure the output of the screen. The reason for doing this is to bring the screen back to a standard each time it’s used. Age and “on time” has an effect on the colour your screen produces. Most screens are factory set too bright and too much contrast set. Some professionals will even put up a hood around the screen to stop stray light and reflections having an affect on the screen.

Printer: Once again to produce consistant results. Most times it done in conjunction with the screen calibration. This is so what you see on screen is how it will print. Each printer will be calibrated individually.

Ink: Not actually calibrated but by using the same manufactures ink all the time you get the same results. By changing to another brand ink or refills you may experience slightly different mixes of colour and then inconsistent results.

Paper: Each type of paper will have a different reaction to the ink. Every paper type does not have the same white base so each ink will appear different. So the professionals will profile a paper type so they can achieve predicable results.

Camera LCD: Very few people I know worry about this but if you see a different result on your camera’s screen how do you know what it will look like on your computer screen? Most cameras allow a brightness adjustment, so match the brightness to the computer screen while looking at the same image on both screens. It won’t be exact but close is better than not trying.

Camera White Balance: Most of us will use Auto White Balance (AWB) to take care of this but there are devices to help the fussy to set exact white balance in camera or a set of colour swatches to place in the first photo to help recalibrate the rest of the images once they are in the computer.

Camera lens: Even fewer people will calibrate the lenses they own to their camera. We all assume that the camera manufacturers have done this. True to a point, they set the lenses to be within a certain margin of error or tolerance. If your lens is at one end and the camera is at the other end, the difference can result in back or forward focusing. Most enthusiast level cameras have a focus adjustment available as a menu option. Add to this a lens calibration device one can accurately calibrate each lens they own to each camera they own. Resulting in sharper images.

Flash Units: Usually these are only adjusted by using correction gels or filters to balance the flash output to the ambient light. But still it’s an adjustment most of us don’t do.

Display Lighting: When viewing images on display the lighting used to illuminate the images will have an impact on the way the colours are perceived. So daylight balanced lighting is usually employed so to keep the colours true.

I’m sure there are other items that could be calibrated but I couldn’t recall them. If there is one or two I’ve missed let me know.

Merry Christmas & Happy Shooting

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