Studio Calibration Webinar now Available for Viewing

Last Wednesday David Saffir and myself presented a Datacolor Webinar on Studio Display Calibration. It is now available for viewing. It answers a few tricky questions about screen to screen matching, ambient light and other advanced issues. You can view it here.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page


Free Accessory for Canon 5D Mark lll; Don’t Leave Home Without It

Whenever you get a new camera, there are always controls and settings to learn or relearn. It can be frustrating when a simple task like setting the ISO or changing to modes keeps you from being able to shoot. Reading the user’s guide is one solution, but its so similar to the previous models, and so long that your eyes may glaze before reaching the parts that are most needed. And many people learn best from hands-on experience. So one helpful accessory is a copy of the Pocket Guide in a place where you’ll always have it handy: on your smart phone or tablet.

Downloading the Pocket Guide PDF for the Canon 5D Mark lll  is a fairly straightforward process, since the file is only about a meg and a half in size. But the link to get to the Brochures and Manuals page does not always trigger the list of available Brochures and Manuals. If you get a blank page, between the list of pages (Overview, What’s in the Box, Brochures & Manuals, etc) and the footer (prices and specifications may vary…) then try a different browser. You can also check that a popup survey window hasn’t been missed, which is stalling the loading of the page content. Once you have the list of contents available, the bottom of the Guides and Manuals section should contain the Pocket Guide (EOS 5D Mark lll). Downloading should not take long, since its a fairly small file.

Next email the file to yourself, and download it to all your mobile devices. I put it on both my iPhone, which has the advantage of always being with me, and my iPad, which has the advantage of a larger screen. Now you’ll have basic directions to key functions with you when you need them, and without digging into your camera bag in search of a printed copy. Happy shooting!

Sample Page from the 5D Mark lll Pocket Guide

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page

Datacolor Spyder4TV HD Serial Numbers

Datacolor released Spyder4TV HD recently, and I wrote a quick review of it, to announce its availability. So, when someone runs a search for the product name, my review is one of the hits on the first page. It is possible from WordPress to see the search terms used from incoming hits, and, not surprisingly, Spyder4TV is in a number of them. But nearly every day I get hits that have the product name, plus the words “serial” or “serial number” in them. These would be from people who already own a Spyder4 (thank you very much!) and who are interested in also being able to calibrate TVs and Video Reference Displays with it (which is also great).

But what they are doing is looking for a Spyder4TV HD serial number, in hopes that they can use that serial number, and a download of the software from Datacolor’s website, to calibrate their TVs or Reference Displays. That explains the title of this article; if people are going to look for S4TV serial numbers on the web, I might as well provide a top hit in their search, that explains why their plan is not going to work.

Spyder4 serial numbers will not allow you to run Spyder4 applications. To do that, you use the serial number to communicate with Datacolor’s servers, and get an authorization code, which is linked to your specific Spyder, and which will unlock the correct Spyder application for use with that specific Spyder. If a serial number has already been used once to authorize a Spyder, it can’t be used again; so posting such numbers on the web won’t allow others to use the software. And even if someone created a Serial Generator app to create new Spyder4 serial numbers (don’t think I’m getting paranoid here, there were such serial generators created for earlier Spyder products) the numbers it created would not be in the database on the server, so could not be activated.

But beyond the issue of honesty, and of how the Spyder products are secured against piracy, just running the Spyder4TV HD software would not be the whole deal; there are DVDs and BluRay discs needed for the patterns generated on the TV or Reference Display, and there is the SpyderWeb (see image below) used to hold the Spyder securely on large TV screens. These are all included in the Spyder4TV HD product… and in the cross-grade package.

Which brings me to the positive part of this post: as I stated in my earlier review, there is a way for Spyder4Pro and Spyder4Elite owners to run Spyder4TV HD without resorting to piracy. The cross-grade bundle has not been officially released yet, because it is a physical bundle, and needs to be assembled and packaged for shipping to cross-grade purchasers. But all the components of Spyder4TV HD, except the Spyder4, will soon be available to Pro and Elite owners, at a reasonable cross-grade price. I don’t have the final official pricing (which will vary worldwide, of course) but since the full Spyder4TV HD package retails for $129US, I think it would be safe to assume it will be, in US$, a two digit price tag. And I’m told that it will be available soon.

So be patient, and don’t waste your time (and risk your computer’s security) surfing the underbelly of the web, where “Serialz” and “Serial Gens” are found. Just keep an eye out for the official announcement of the Spyder4TV HD CrossGrade. I’ll try to put a note up here on my blog when it arrives, for any of you who follow this blog and might be interested.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page

Interesting Comparison: Monitor Accuracy with and without Calibration

The graphs below use the shortest form of the Color Accuracy test from Spyder4Elite’s Advanced Analysis Suite (other versions measure 24 or 48 patches, instead of 12). The top graph shows the accuracy of colors displayed using sRGB as the display profile, a fairly common default setting. The sRGB error values are as high as 4.42 Delta-E, with an average of 2.54, and a least error of .98, which is about 1.00 Delta-E, meaning barely visible to the human eye under appropriate conditions. So it would be safe to say that virtually all the colors in this test would present visible variation from the desired color, when using the display in this manner.

sRGB Profile Accuracy Graph

The next graph shows the same display calibrated with Spyder4Elite, and with that calibration and custom profile in place when the test was run. Here the maximum error is reduced from 4.42 to 2.97, the average is reduced from 2.54 to 1.14, and the minimum error is reduced from .98 to an amazing .19, or a fifth of what the human eye can typically detect. Here the average deviation from the intended colors is at the “barely visible” level.

Two of those colors are out of range for a reason. The black of the Cinema Display is not as dark as the black in the SpyderCheckr black patch; and it produces the same gamut limit value in both cases, within 2/100 of a Delta-E, showing excellent consistency on the part of the Spyder4. And the Cyan Patch from the Datacolor SpyderCheckr (the source of the Lab colors used in this test) is slightly outside the gamut of sRGB, and of standard gamut displays. Here, despite the gamut limit issue, the calibrated result reduced the patch error from 4.42, to 2.76. In fact, every sample except for the consistent black, had a reduction in error though display calibration and profiling.

Spyder4 Profile Accuracy Graph

Calibration of a high end graphics monitor typically results in Delta-E values of about half what occurs on Apple displays, so a further reduction in error could be achieved with an Eizo, NEC, Quato, or other high end display model. Such displays are typically wide gamut as well, eliminating the Cyan error shown here. And they offer increased display uniformity. My next article on this topic will compare a general purpose display to a high end graphics display in terms of Uniformity.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page

Datacolor Spyder4 Webinar, Wednesday April 18, at 3PM EDT

On Wednesday April 18, at 3PM Eastern Time (Noon on the West Coast) David Saffir and I will be presenting a webinar on Advanced Studio Calibration, including multiple display calibration, ambient light issues, studio calibration standards, and side-by-side tuning, as well as special consideration of laptops for studio and field use.

You can register for this webinar here.

There will be a Datacolor Spyder4Pro given away to a webinar participant.

Sign up now to reserve a space.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page

Canon 5D Mark lll, Lightroom 4 Shadow Detail at 100%

Following yesterday’s post on 5D Mark lll shadow detail I’ve had numerous requests for a pair of shadow detail images, one of the full shot, the other of a 100% detail from the same image. The image below was shot in direct sunlight, with deep shadows in the seaweed, and highlights in the barnacles for a broad dynamic range in the image. (For the geeks, this was shot at ISO 100,  f/11, 100th of a second, at 65mm with a Canon 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens). Here’s a jpg reduction of the full image, cropped in height for the subject, but the full width (minor direction) of the original file:

Mermaid's Wigstand

Below is a crop from the center of the image, at 100%, so its showing the individual pixels, with minimal jpg compression in this version of the image. The image was opened into Lightroom 4.1. Three adjustments were made, all of them lens-specific. A sharp prime lens would probably require less, if any, adjustment for all three of these controls. They  were: an increase to Shadows, and increase to Clarity, and an increase to Saturation. Your mileage (and lenses) may vary. Please click on the detail below for a 100% view. For more articles on the 5D Mark lll, and on Lightroom 4, please consult the right column.

Mermaid's Wigstand Detail at 100%

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page

Canon 5D Mark lll, Lightroom 4 Shadow Detail

The shot below was taken the day after Easter, with the Canon 5D Mark lll. Two things we are always looking for from a new camera is more resolution, and more dynamic range. In this case the shot was time-sensitive, so switching to the 70-200mm lens which was in the camera case in the back of the car would have cost me the shot. Instead I stepped out of the car door, to remove the windshield from the photo, zoomed the current lens (24-105mm) to its longest throw, and shot just in time to capture this frame, before the crow flew away with his prize Easter egg.

Crow with Easter Egg; 5D Mark lll crop, Lightroom 4.1 processing

So the question is: what would have been more useful here, more resolution, so that I’d have more pixels in this heavy crop, or more dynamic range, which allowed me to open up the shadows to bring definition to the crow? For those of you not yet reading between the lines, I’m asking if Canon’s choice in the 5D Mark lll in favor or not increasing resolution, and using that capacity to improve dynamic range instead, offered more to this shot; or if I would have been better off with Nikon’s new 800d, which would have produced half again as many pixels, but without an equivalent boost to the dynamic range.

Given the amount of character the detail in the feathers, and especially the eye, provide to the image, I’m not sorry it was the 5D used. And credit is due to Lightroom 4.1 as well, since the ability to bring out such shadow detail without undue noise and artifacts is something that previous versions of Lightroom could not have managed.

Another factor I should note is autofocus: I have used all my previous DSLR cameras almost exclusively in manual focus mode. The 5D Mark lll has such amazing autofocus I find I am using it more and more. Here, the time to manually focus was lacking, and it was only the fact that the camera was already in autofocus mode that saved the day. Picking the crow, tiny in the original image, out from the array of other highly detailed elements in the center of the frame was little short of amazing.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: Return to Blog’s Main Page