If you are not calibrating your monitor on a regular basis you need to start doing it now. Even if you are only producing jpg’s for web pages you need to calibrate. Computer monitors (was well as TV screens and projectors) can lose their ability to display colors correctly as they age. Luckily they have profiles that can tweak output so that it produces accurate colors. A calibration device uses hardware and software to build a profile that will adjust for aging and keep the display showing the correct colors. The calibration device can be a colorimeter or spectrophotometer. The colorimeter is the less expensive of the devices. I recently found out that colorimeters as spectrophotometers will “wear out” after a time. Colorimeters can not be re-calibrated but spectrophotometers can be sent back to the factory for a re-calibration.
I’ve just upgraded to the Datacolor Spyder5Pro. I’ve been calibrating my monitors since the Spyder2Pro so I’ve been using Datacolor’s calibration devices for quite a while. The Spyder5Pro is a colorimeter and I would not worry too much about it getting old as Datacolor seems to bring out an upgraded unit about every two years. The cost of their units are usually under $200 and if you keep your eye out the do have some very good sales from time to time.
In a nutshell the Spyder5Pro software displays colors of known value that the colorimeter reads to determine if an adjustment should be made. The total of the adjustments are stored in a profile that the computer reads in on startup to adjust and display the images and everything else on the monitor.
Besides the calibration is the capabilities of the to display all or some of the possible billions of colors. I don’t want to get into color spaces too deeply as there are a lot of big words like gamma and color temperatures and so forth. Most monitors display in the sRGB color space which is a smallish space. Colors that are outside of the color space are converted to something along the edge of the space. Colors inside the color space can be displayed accurately on a calibrated monitor.
The sRGB colorspace really does work quite well for most computer displays. When you think back to the CGA days of monitors where there were only 4 colors, present day monitors are pretty remarkable.
Once the Spyder5Pro software and hardware finishes calibrating a monitor it displays the results of the calibration as a plot of the actual accurate colors displayed against the standard sRGB color space. I’ve tracked the three different monitors I use and discovered that my little MacBook Air 13″ (mid 2013 model) does not have that great a color range. It is only 44% the sRGB space. In comparison my mid 2011 model iMac 27inch actually covers the sRGB colors space with a little to spare. It kind of makes me wonder about people that do their main image processing on a small screen. Granted the new 4k monitors will do a better job.
I recently added a BenQ SW2700PT 27″ Color Accurate Monitor for Photography. This monitor will display the the full AdobeRGB color space which is a much bigger space. For the price this monitor is really good as most other AdobeRGB monitors are four times the price. I’ve had some queries as to if the BenQ can support the full AdobeRGB color space and the results of my calibration proves it can. Note: You should have your camera set to output in the AdobeRGB space even if you only have sRGB monitors. Printers and some other output devices can make use of the additional information from the larger color space.
As to how often you calibrate your monitors you could do it daily if you are doing mission critical printing, but for the rest of use once or twice a month it probably good. If you like to sit around on a Saturday morning with a cup of caffeine you could make it a ritual to do a calibration.
This is not so much a review of the Spyder5Pro (it is good at calibrating your monitors) as a discussionof the need to get your monitors calibrated. Luckily it’s not when pianos were analog and needed a third party to come in an tune it for you.
I just spent the last hour (maybe more) looking at cameras. I started at eBay looking at cameras similar to my newly acquired old Yashica A twin lens reflex camera.
I always wanted one of these cameras even if I’ve left the film world behind. It does look good on the bookshelf. I purchased a roll of 120 film and prepaid developing envelope for $20 which is almost as much as I spent on the camera. This is why I do digital while the cameras cost much more the image making costs next to nothing.
Anyway, I started looking at the Yashica’s on eBay and found myself soon searching for the more expensive Rolliflex Twin Lens cameras that the Yashica was modeled after.
The Yashica and the Rolliflex are 120 roll film so they have a bigger negative. With the bigger negative you get more resolution. With more resolution you get better images. You know the drill. I was soon searching for Hasselblad cameras which were better still. I then switch to the medium format digital Hasselblad’s and soon was looking at a new Hasselblad kit with a 100mp back and a price tag very near the price of my new car.
I was after that all inclusive better resolution which would make my images oh so much better. Better camera, better pictures yada yada. I was on the slippery slope.
I finally shut down the browser and came back to reality where I re-affirmed for myself that I do have plenty of camera now and I have nowhere exceeded it’s possibility for taking good images.
If I work at it I can get the light right, get the exposure right, processed correctly, and produce an image the will stand up to scrutiny. Case in point this image of my Tesla Watch (i can tell you were to get one if you really need one).
This image meets all my expectations for a well processed image. So while it may be good to once in a while dream about using a monster camera with a monster price tag, it pays to work at using the camera you have and getting it right, right now.
Then there was the lens that I didn’t think I needed. I seem to have acquired quite a number of the Fujifilm XF lenses. I was pretty sure I had all my bases covered from the very nice wide angle XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS and finishing up with the monster Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.
It took a long time to convince myself to buy the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens because I had the XF 18-55 F2.8-F4 kit lens which was pretty close in range as well as aperture and was reasonably sharp. For a kit lens it is one of the best of any brands. I also have the XF 18-135 Having amassed a number of points on one of my credit cards allowed me to buy the lens without the normal $1k plus price tag. So one day it showed up at my door. (It followed me home dear, can I keep it?).
Having used it for the last few months I have to say I now understand why so many professional photographers say that a 24-70mm F2.8 lens is their go to lens. The XF 16-55mm is the APC equivalent of the full frame 24-70 and it is a stunning lens.
The lens performs so well it pretty much doesn’t come off my camera unless I’m using the XF 100-400mm telephoto. The 16-55mm is incredibly sharp, has great contrast, color rendition, and just performs in all conditions. I’ve gone from not thinking I needed it to it being the lens that is always on my X-T1.
The other day I made a quick trip over to Epcot and realized that I only needed the one lens for any type of shooting I would do there. On previous trips to Walt Disney World I would take along at least 3 lenses, The XF 18-135mm, the XF 60mm, and the XF 35mm F1.4. While the Fuji system is compact and weighs a lot less than my previous (well I still have it but it hasn’t got much use) system, It still was more weight that I didn’t want to carry. So out came all the other lenses and I began traveling light.
It took me a lot of time to realize what should have been obvious. Always get the best glass you can. I think I may have heard one or two pro’s mention that. If you want to take the best pictures go with the “Pro” lenses like the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR and the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR which I will have to discuss in another post.
There have been some gripes about the XF 16-55mm not being a OIS (stabilized) lens but I haven’t had any issues with that. I tend not to try and shoot in too many low light situations. It does have a bit of reach when zoomed and it not the lightest lens by any means. On my X-T1 it is well balanced and I don’t have any issues carrying it around all day. One thing I’ve noticed is that the “Pro” lens like the XF 16-55mm and the XF 50-140mm is that the are much more contrasty in the mid-range than the lesser lenses. You will find you need a lot less sliding of the Clarity slider when processing your images.
For a lens I didn’t think I needed it spends a lot of time on my camera. Getting the best glass is just common sense.
You can become immobilized by the shear mass of advise in print and on line about how to be a better photographer and how to take better pictures. As in most things lot of the noise falls to the wayside with just a little common sense. Here we are going to explore how to use common sense to make you happy with your art as you explore the world of photography.