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The common question…

19 Apr

Yesterday we spent a very enjoyable day down at LCE Southampton

It’s always good getting out and about and talking to people face to face. It’s something we enjoy, and without wanting to boast, it’s something we’re very good at. We had a great time talking to you all, and we hope you enjoyed our seminar session in the evening.

As ever though, there was one query that stood out above all others:

“My images look great on screen, but don’t look anything like it when printing out” – or in other words; how can I get my printouts to match my screen?

The answer is calibration – a calibration of both a monitor and printer to be precise.

The device capable of performing both is called the ColorMunki Photo from X-Rite.

ColorMunki Photo

Whereas other calibrators will just take care of your screen or projector, the ColorMunki Photo will do your screen as well as any printer(s) you have connected to your laptop, Mac or PC.

Essentially it does the same thing to both devices; namely getting them to display or printout a series of colours for it to measure, compare to what the colour should be and create a profile to compensate for the difference.

Once these profiles are saved and applied to your machine you can start printing with peace of mind what you see on screen is what you’ll see coming out of the printer.

Calibrate your screen once a month and profile your printer for any paper/ink combinations and you’re good to go.

Easy.

You can learn more about ColorMunki Photo here.

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Spring is here!

5 Apr

Apparently.

daffodils

Despite being April, you’d think we’re still in the middle of January with the cold wind and patches of snow we still have on the car park.

Nevertheless, we thought now would be a good time to run through a couple of products a photographer will find useful for the longer daytime hours and sunshine (fingers crossed).

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

An essential accessory for any photographer. ColorChecker Passport features a series of colour targets to ensure you can ‘calibrate’ your camera in all environments and conditions. Just make sure the first photo of your shoot includes the Passport, and then use the included software (or Photoshop) to correct your images using the Passport’s standardised references post shoot.

Key feature: portability

X-Rite ColorMunki Display & i1Display Pro 

Calibrating your screen is the one thing above all else we recommend you do. One useful feature of these calibrators – and relevant to longer daylight hours in spring – is an ambient light measurement capability. You can get your screen automatically adjusted to the lighting conditions you work in as they change. This means you can be sure your screen is accurate regardless of where the sun is in the sky and how much light is coming through your window.

Key feature(s): speed of calibration, regular lighting condition adjustments

Booq Toploader

With spring in the air the likelihood of nipping out to take a few pictures increases. Get yourself a booq Toploader camera bag to ‘nip out’ in style, and be assured your DSLR is protected against the elements. There’s enough room for a DSLR and lens (plus lens caps, memory cards etc.) so you’ll only take what you need when spontaneity strikes.

Key feature: compact, minimalist toughness

Franzis HDR (editing coolness)

Once you’ve been out and about, edit your RAW or JPG pictures with the latest HDR effects from Franzis software. Add filters, enhance and correct your images and create original effects to add some extra impact.

Key feature: bracketing feature to work on multiple images simultaneously

No more boxed Nik Software – what do we get now?

22 Mar

With Nik Software going to download only, what are your choices if you still want boxed photo editing solutions?

(p.s. desktop Snapseed is also going too).

These three are your most comparable matches:

onOne Software

See: Perfect Photo Suite 7 – probably the closest comparison to ‘Complete Collection’ with some arguably more intuitive and useful features.

Perfect Photo Suite 7 includes the entire onOne range from black & white and filter effects to image resizing and layers. With a seamless integration into Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, or as a standalone product in its own right, onOne is a very good accompaniment to any image editing photographer. Good for RAW and JPG images too.

Star feature: Paint-in brush tool to work on specific areas of an image

DxO Labs

See: Optics Pro 8 Elite

Software that works in harmony with your camera and lens combination(s) to provide automatic image corrections. Optics Pro is an excellent combination of precision image correction (RAW and JPG) and creative effects. Sophistication meets creativity with very satisfying results.

Star feature: Downloadable corrections for a specific camera and lenses

Franzis HDR

See: Franzis Projects Platinum

The most natural ‘replacement’ for Nik HDR Efex Pro, Projects Platinum offers the latest in High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing. You can apply effects to a single image, or upload your RAW camera bracketing directly for tailored effects and editing. Preset effects give you a good base which can be customised and saved to suit your needs.

Star feature: The automatic ghosting removal feature is a huge benefit when working on bracketing images

Choosing a monitor (updated) – a buyer’s guide.

15 Mar

Back in 2011 we blogged about choosing an NEC or Eizo monitor to suit a specific budget.

Monitor choices

With Eizo launching new models in the New Year, we thought we’d re-visit your options to include these new monitors.

Something for the professionals.

Much of what we said last time is still applicable today. 24″ remains a popular size for most professionals, although we had a lot of interest in our 27″ NEC’s at this year’s Focus On Imaging. Top grade panels and high colour accuracy are still standard, as are monitor hoods and calibration software for your higher-grade models.

So without bombarding you with too much information…

The 24″ choice:

Consider whether you require the IPS panel of the Eizo or the newer P-IPS panel of the NEC. The Eizo has a larger native resolution of 2560 x 1440 compared to 1920 x 1080, but the NEC has a higher Adobe RGB coverage of 98% compared to the 97% of the Eizo. Both come with monitor hood and calibration software.

Again your choice is between an IPS (Eizo) and P-IPS (NEC) display. Consider the Eizo’s 16:10 ratio, 1920 x 1200 resolution and digital screen uniformity feature compared to the NEC’s 16:9, 1920 x 1080 and no digital screen uniformity option.

The 27″ choice:

These are the ‘bigger brothers’ of the 24″ versions mentioned above. The main consideration points are the IPS panel, 850:1 ratio and 97% Adobe RGB coverage of the Eizo compared to the P-IPS panel, 1000:1 ratio and 98% Adobe RGB coverage of the NEC. Both come with monitor hood and calibration software.

The main consideration points are the IPS panel, 850:1 ratio, 97% Adobe RGB coverage and digital screen uniformity of the Eizo compared to the P-IPS panel, 1000:1 ratio, 98% Adobe RGB coverage and no digital uniformity feature of the NEC. Neither monitor comes with hood or calibration software.

Still out of your price range?

If these are still out of your range, consider either dropping down a monitor size or to the next grade of monitor.

  • Eizo SX2462W or NEC PA241W (from approx. £696 to £839 respectively)
  • Eizo CS230 or NEC P232W (from approx. £590 to £450 respectively)

Bear in mind stepping down in price range or grade often reduces the size of the screen and the feature-set included. Granting, these choices are excellent ‘entry-level’ options. They will all benefit from the addition of a monitor hood that can be purchased separately. None will come with their own calibration software.

As ever, your best bet when choosing a new display is to specify what features you desire and then ‘compare and contrast’ which monitor best fits your requirements.

We’ve created a monitor comparison chart to help guide you through this comparison.

If you still can’t decide, comment below or get in touch and we’ll do our best to help!

Focused on imaging

13 Mar

So there we go, another Focus On Imaging done and dusted.

It was a very good show for us this year. Our NEC Monitor area was very popular and our presentation area was also full throughout.

With great support from our colleagues at DxO, Franzis, X-Rite, Tecco and NEC, we hope all those who visited our stand came away with more insight into the sometimes daunting world of colour management.

One thing is for sure – lots of people will be going away and calibrating their screens which is great to hear. You’re all on your way to accurate colour!

We hope you’ll agree our stand was a big improvement on last years design too. We were extremely pleased with it.

Take a look at our gallery from the show:

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It’s Focus time!

22 Feb

Only one week (and a bit) to go…

Focus 2012

… until Europe’s largest photographic and imaging show Focus On Imaging will open its doors.

So who wants to know what we’re up to then?

Over the year’s both the company and our stand evolve and grow with new colour management solutions, and this year is now exception. Focus gives us a unique opportunity to talk to our customers in-person; getting to know them, what camera they use, what they like shooting, and more importantly, what challenges they’re currently facing with their current workflow. After all, we’re here to help!

So if you have a burning colour management issue you need resolving, come and see us at the show.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve got on:

  • Expert demonstrations and profiling solutions from market leaders X-Rite – come and see the new ColorMunki Smile in action
  • This year we have a dedicated NEC Monitor wall with NEC technical staff on stand to guide you through which monitor is best for you
  • Our ever-popular Tecco stand has been given an overhaul so you can see just how good Tecco paper really is in the flesh
  • We will be officially launching two all-new software brands to the UK; DxO Image Science and Franzis HDR (we’ve been playing with them this week, they really are something to get excited about!) – both of which are perfectly placed to fill the hole left by Nik Software’s move to Google
  • We’ve scheduled an even better presentation timetable this year having been inundated with attendees and last year’s show, details can be found here
  • Our technical team, as well as brand experts from NEC, X-Rite, Tecco, DxO, Franzis, and many more will be on-hand throughout the show to give live demonstrations and answer your questions

Full details can be found on our Focus microsite, and if you want a flavour of previous shows, you can read our blog posts from the last two shows here.

We’re quite excited about this year – we hope you come and see us!

P.S.

If you pre-register for the show you can save yourself 20% off the normal admission fee. Details here.

Need a new DSLR camera bag?

11 Jan

If you’ve been lucky enough to have a shiny new DSLR for Christmas, you may be after a bag to transport it around in.

Well, we have a host of options available from Booq, and we’d like to draw your attention to the Booq Python range, in particular the Python Toploader.

Python Toploader

One of our favourite Booq bags for it’s compact style with lots of hidden pockets for storage, the Python Toploader is designed for a single DSLR and mid-sized accessories, with plenty of room for an additional lens or two.

The shoulder bag has been specifically designed to protect your DSLR with dense, all-round padding to protect your gear. A removable padded internal divider adds extra protection and prevents unwanted scuffs or scratches.

Toploader internalToploader internal 2

Toploader interal 3

There’s ample storage space for your smaller items like flash cards, batteries, connection cables, SD cards or your mobile phone with 2 zippered side pockets, one internal pouch under the lid, and one external pouch at the rear.

The keyword to describe this bag (and the Python range for that matter) is rugged. The outer shells is tough and waterproof meaning you can transport your camera almost everywhere safe in the knowledge it isn’t going to be damaged by the occasional bump or knock to the bag. Whilst the outside is tough, the inside is plush and sensitive to those more delicate parts of your camera.

Overall, the Toploader is perfect for a first, ‘proper’ camera bag, especially if you only have the one camera to transport around.

Vital info:

  • Exterior: 9.5 x 9.5 x 6″ (241 x 241 x 152 mm)
  • Interior: 7 × 5 × 0.50″ (178 × 127 × 13 mm)
  • Weight: 0.75 kg
  • Made from 1680D Ballistic Nylon
  • Jersey lining

You can learn more about the Python Toploader here.

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