Warmth of Soft-Proofing ICC For SE inks

I am printing on an R1900 using SE inks. Mostly on CRP at the moment. I’ve got an i1 Photo and create soft-proofing ICCs using the 21x4 chart & QTR-Create-ICC. I have an Eizo CG222 which I calibrate and profile regularly using the i1. For printing I have it set to 80cd 0.4 5000K 2.2, which I thought was roughly the correct setting for soft-proofing for print. I soft proof in PS using preserve numbers.

However the ICCs that are generated show a soft-proof on my Eizo that is far too warm. This is clear under most ambient lighting, but especially if I use a 5000K viewing light. If I set the monitor to 5500K the soft-proof is still a bit warm. 6000K is a touch cool, and I suspect that something around 5800K may be close to the mark. This is not a problem for soft-proofs for the Neutral inkset, so it appears that the warm shadow toning of the SE inks is being exaggerated.

Why is this? Is this just me? Are my monitor settings not right for this SE workflow? Or is QTR-Create-ICC mainly concerned with luminosity, and less accurate re the colour (toning) dimensions?

Did you download the SoftProof ICCs we made available? Are they more representational?

If you haven’t downloaded them - go ahead and try them and let us know if they are more representational.

I think they’re about the same. The luminosity is a little different, which I assume is because I’m using a custom curve, or perhaps it’s P2, but the warmth is similar. If anything the P2 soft-proof is slightly warmer, but that may be an artefact of it appearing to be slightly brighter.

Now of course I’m using K7 rather than P2 (I’d like to use P2, but it’s not been and won’t be created for the R1900), and I’m using custom curves, so these P2 profiles aren’t a lot of use to me for accurate soft-proofing in any case, are they? Or maybe I could use them. But in any case, they don’t “solve” the warm soft-proof problem.

I guess I just find a colour temperature for my monitor that gives me a close match under a 5000K light. But I am a little surprised that you don’t find a similar discrepancy?

Are you using a dimming 5000k viewing booth laminated to the same level as your display or using something else?

Something else. It’s a 5000k light, but I have to vary the strength manually to match the screen. The match is good, except for the impression of relative warmth for SE. Increasing or decreasing the light doesn’t change this.

JeffG has seen my screen and knows what I’m talking about. He says that he doesn’t seem to have the same problem on his. I’ve re-profiled my screen using his slightly different screen settings, but the problem persists. He is on a Mac and I’m on Windows, so perhaps it’s a Mac vs PC thing somewhere in the workflow.

It’s not a major problem - I can soft-proof SE at 5800K. It’s just a puzzle.

I had wondered whether this discrepancy reflected in some way how the ICC profiles were created on Windows rather than a Mac. But on reflection and with a bit more testing I don’t think so. The IJM P2 profiles don’t significantly change things, and I assume they were created on a Mac, and my ICC profiles apparently don’t do this on a Mac. So it’s not my ICC profiles nor my i1 Photo. It seems to be my system. But the system is otherwise performing well and not exhibiting any odd colour behaviour.

Is there anyone else out there who is soft-proofing Special Edition inks in Windows? Especially with an Eizo ColorEdge?

Actually, all Piezography soft proof profiles are made on a PC, and work well on both Mac and Windows (provided the monitor is properly calibrated, and the correct settings are selected). What settings are you selecting in the soft proof window?

That was a surprise! But MacOS ain’t what it used to be, esp for QTR & K7. And to think that a few years ago I contemplated getting one precisely for this purpose.

I profile my Eizo CG222 using my i1 Photo (this is a V1, not the more recent V2). And before you ask, I used the Eizo ColorNavigator software to do it (V rather than the Gretagmacbeth Xrite Match3 software. This is on Windows 7. I always use Colornavigator to validate the screen profiles to ensure that they’re fairly close, which sometimes means doing the first such profile in a profiling session twice. I gather this is normal.

I was using a print profiling setting of 80cd 0.4cd 5000K 2.2, but after discussions with JeffG I switched to 85cd 0.3cd 5000K 2.2, although this made little difference to the issue. For SE soft-proofing, I’ve switched to 5800K, although even this is still a touch warm.

I’ve attached a screen grab of my soft-proofing settings. I’m not sure how well the strong sepia toning comes through in this screen grab. On my screen it looks like it is for an extra-strong version of the carbon inkset, but I don’t think the screen grab captures that impression. For this grab I had the screen set to 5000K and used your P2 CRP profile, just to try and show that this overly-warm soft-proof is not caused by my ICC profile creation process.

If you want to tighten it up - invest in a dimming 5000k viewing booth by GTI (or similar that complies to the ISO D50 standards), rather than trying to use an OTT or Solex external light or similar.

D50 environments are pretty strictly defined. The ISO put a lot of research into creating a soft proofing standard for human perceptual systems that is considered to be a best practice. The use of an external light rather than a viewing booth is not part of it.

We had a workshop today in which we had an uncanny match to the SoftProof ICCs using an Eizo CG222W. We used a Munki device with Navigator to your same settings (contrast was set to 250:1). Our difference however was that we use a GTI SofView ISO standard viewing booth dimmed to the brightness of the Eizo.

I see the dimming booth as a critical part of the soft proofing environment.

The issue on this occasion is that we’re not talking about subtle differences here - this is a large discrepancy. JeffG doesn’t have a booth either, and he gets a reasonably good match between his CG222W and the SE prints I’ve given him using both my and your SE ICCs. He has seen my monitor and says that my monitor is way, way warmer than his when soft-proofing SE using these same ICCs. I’d have to get out my old Ilford Multigrade darkroom safe light to get a match (ok, this is an exaggeration, but you get the idea). It’s always been this way. I had assumed that it was normal until Jeff told me that it wasn’t.

I understand why you recommend a viewing booth when people complain about matching the soft-proof. You’ve been consistent in giving this advice over the years. I imagine that’s often the issue. But a booth isn’t going to help me if the problem is what my PC / software / video card / monitor combination is causing to be shown on the monitor, rather than the viewing conditions. I could pay the exorbitant price that is charged for a viewing booth in this part of the world only to find that I still have the same viewing discrepancy. I think that’s highly likely.

Gosh this is frustrating, even though there is a work-around. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s my screen, but I don’t see any soft-proofing problems with colour work. And Neutral inkset proofs look neutral.

Ok maybe I misunderstood you. Now it sounds like your viewing condition is ok and Jeff’s display is ok and yours is not.

You can’t compensate in that case. You have a bum display.

You can’t really tell with color work with the same sensitivity that you can with monochrome.

Your visual system can not see delta E differences amongst 16.7 million colors in the same way it can with just 256 shades of gray - in one *ab range.

I would carry your display and your spectro over to Jeff’s and calibrate your display there on his video board. Of course you do not calibrate his video board with Navigator - you actually calibrate the Eizo hardware.

The point being - this will eliminate your video board for sure (in case its bum), or your spectro (in case its bum) - so if you still get the same warm then introduce his spectro. If you still get the same warm you got some issue in your display that Jeff does not and if you are under warranty you should replace. If the display is over 3 years old you may need to replace. But somewhere you got a hardware issue. I am assuming you have latest version of Color Navigator and you tried reinstalling it so that its not software… Or something more obvious that you have not selected the Adobe Color Engine and are using the Apple one instead from Photoshop??

First, my comment about the Ilford safelight may have overstated the matter. 5000K is noticeably too warm under any viewing conditions, but not ludicrously so. 5900K is fairly close to the mark. If you do this comparison you’ll get the rough order of magnitude. Perhaps if you compare SE under 5000K and 4200K? As it happens, I’ve had the monitor roughly the same time as I’ve had SE inks, and as far as I can recall it’s always been like this.

The I1 Photo is not the issue. Your ICCs and mine are fairly close, other than subtle luminosity differences reflecting the different printers used. Jeff took away a print of the 21x4 on CRP and created a profile with his I1 V2, and while it’s not exactly the same as mine, it’s pretty darn close IMHO. So I think that rules out one factor.

I was running Colornavigator and upgraded to without any change in behaviour. I set the priority in the targets to be Grey Balance rather than Standard or Contrast, to no noticeable effect.

I think my PS CS6 colour preference settings are correct. I’ve attached them FYI.

At the moment I can’t think what else it might be other than the monitor, which is well out of warranty. But if that is the case, why are the monitor profiling validations so close? Jeff and I are an 8-9 hour round trip on the Interstate apart, so popping over there with my monitor is no small or easy matter. But I will try and find a way to isolate the hardware. There are a few possibilities.

One thing I can’t easily test myself is PC vs Mac. Dana said that you’ve got PCs. Have you ever tried soft-proofing SE inks on a PC?

A new Eizo CG monitor is definitely not cheap here. It may just be simpler and more cost-effective to proof SE inks at a cooler temperature until there is a real need for a replacement.

We are mostly a Mac studio - the only PC is the main imaging station which I built in order to eliminate the constantly changing Mac OS X internal color management system. The PC is on Win 7 64bit. All of the Macs are frozen at the last Mac OS X which had a stable color management system (10.4.11). Also this allows us to print directly from Photoshop to QTR. This is the last OS X in which Mac did not convert files prior to printing when they are printed without an ICC profile.

We had uncanny matches on a Mac 10.10 laptop calibrated to an Eizo CG222W just last week using our Soft Proofs - but unlike your situation we use Professional Viewing booths. An Asus will come to validation when its calibrated. A Dell will also. AS would a laptop or an Apple Cinema etc…

But the most critical part of color calibration is in the conversion of an ICC profile. But it will not display the same way on a validated Asus as it would on a $99 Dell or an old used Mac Laptop or a brand new one for that matter or an Eizo CG. Validation does not imply that your system can display an ICC as accurately as our Eizo CG222W even as they are the same. If it did - then all devices would equally display well and there would be no reason to favor an Eizo over a $99 Dell.

Is your display over 3 years old?
How many hours does it say its been on?

This statement reads as if you’ve overlooked the fact that I am using an Eizo CG222W. Or perhaps I misread this. Anyway, my reference to profile validation was a reference to profiling and validating my Eizo CG222W directly using the Eizo ColorNavigator software and my 1i Photo V1. If this approach to validation shows an accurate profile then … ?

My monitor has 11,311 hours. You may well say that that’s a lot, and no doubt it is, but this is not a new problem. Soft-proofing SE has always been like this. So I doubt that it’s caused by the age of the monitor. I only raise it now because another user who has seen my screen recently has told that me that it’s not normal.

You didn’t answer the question about whether you’ve tried to soft-proof SE on Windows. I take it that the answer is no. I take it that my PS colour preferences are correct.

I appreciate your responses. I’m not sure that we can this much further. I need to find a way to isolate and test my hardware.

If there are any other Windows users of SE inks out there, I’d be interested to hear of their soft-proofing experiences.

I did not meant to write it to that intention. I know that you are using the same display that we use, but that you are having a different experience than you expect. You also are not using a viewing booth which is recommended but you are discounting that important factor and relying instead on a single point external light source. I was pointing out that the validation from the instrument is not the same as experiencing a D50 environment experience; that validation will come from all calibrations on all types of displays. For example a DataColor Spyder will validate a $99 Dell. Validation and the capability to accurately display ICC profiles are separate although linked. Putting the $99 Dell next to the $1700 Eizo will be quite different experiences (and one should think with a $1600 difference in hardware).

(most professionals replace their display after three years). You have over 1300 days of 8 hour use on yours. That is a factor whether you wish to consider it or not or believe it or not. We turn our Eizos on only for imaging. We do not use ours for email - etc - So in 3 years we have considerably less use than you do. You are either busier than we are or you use yours as an expensive general purpose display in addition to your Photoshop and Lightroom time.

Someone else has confirmed that your display does not look right (from memory of his screen) - but you retain perfect faith in your display and looking for some other cause.

So, other causes - can be:

you have more than one color temperature in your room and your eyes can not adapt.

your viewing light is too bright in comparison to the display.

the viewing light is not at the same color temperature as the display.

your video display board in your computer has a CLUT attached to it via some X-rite or other calibration software.

your video display board is faulty.

your Adobe ACE is corrupted.

You’ve confirmed the ICCs and replaced and repeated without causing the color shift to go away.
You are using eyes to measure the white point of your viewing area (which is totally not very scientific of you) - so I will not rule out your point source. I do not know whether you have other color temperatures in the room or not.

Finally, I would advise you to read about the D50 Standard. Read what is the only recommended practice for viewing ICC profiles and proofs in an imaging room. Where ever you deviate from that standard - is a possible cause whether you want it to be or not. We go to great lengths to protect our D50 environment at our studio and in our teaching workshops and we are using Eizos and Spectraviews with X-Rite instruments and NEC instruments (also made by X-Rite). There is no other light leaking into our room other than 5000k, the imaging room is at 35 lux. The viewing booths are GTI SoftViews. We use the same SoftProof ICCs we supplied you. Just about anyone can come in and plug in their laptops into our displays - calibrate - and have uncanny matches.

If we can not do that suddenly with an Eizo CG222W - we would start from scratch - and eliminate any possibility that the user installed X-Rite calibration software and their video board has some sort of CLUT at start up. We would reinstall - the Color Navigator. We would reinstall the ICCs. We would reinstall the Adobe Photoshop.

But because we have a backup Eizo - we would actually just move that display over to eliminate that as a possibility. If it is the problem - we then repurpose it as a general purpose display and buy a new one. They are expensive which is why we only use them for imaging. If we move the new one over and experience the same problems - we then go through the list. Once in the past - we replaced a video board and found it to be the culprit after everything else checked out.

In your case - you are not in a D50 environment but are using professional grade equipment. Your goal should be D50. Hope this helps you find some resolve.

I use Windows 7 with my Eizo CG222W and can soft proof any of our inks to an uncanny closeness. It’s not an OS issue unless you have some corrupted part of your OS that is responsible for converting ICCs to the display. I suspect hardware or environment. Those are the two areas you have plainly indicated are off norm.

Thanks. Again that’s helpful, as it gives me more things to try as time permits and rules other things out. Much appreciated.

The only other comment I would make is that not all users of your system can justify all the equipment that IJM / Cone Editions has, nor can all of us simply replace equipment on a whim or a regular replacement schedule. Income generation from photography is not sufficient and I try not to be profligate. I’m not running a professional printing house and my name is not Cindy Sherman or Peter Lik. Many of us have to make decisions about value-for-money and find the best way to operate within the constraints we face.

That is such a good point. And really it speaks to the entire digital medium. It effects what we shoot with, or what glass we put in front of what we shoot with. Also what papers, we print with. And the computers we spend our time on. Yes, you want a great display - but - do you really need it?

I can’t say most, but many Gestalt psychologists will say that humans are really not that well equipped physiologically to perceive their own work while staring into light. The experience, no matter how close the Soft Proof is, can not be the same experience as looking at the light reflecting off of the actual Print. Those are two separate experiential happenings and often with little relation to each other.

So given that, one really only needs to look at the Print and learn the numbers (L-values or %ink) and make corrections in Photoshop according to what you wish to do with the Print. Along with a pencil or red grease pen a $99 Dell starts looking perfectly ok.

We bought all factory refurbished displays over the last few years. What we upgraded in our studio last year and this year are the viewing walls and illumination. We have several walls now that are painted inexpensive steel and we use little white rare earth magnets to pin the Prints to these white walls without damaging expensive proofs and prints. And we upgraded how these walls are lit. The main wall is perfectly illuminated by 5000k. Not too bright or too dim at the top or bottom or left or right. Just even all across and able to display 8 feet of print evenly. And then we added auxiliary 4000k LED flood and 3200K LED flood. And we can lower the illumination on these systems to mimic final conditions such as in a gallery or museum. The costs were not high. And they will last years and years or use inexpensive replacement lamps.

I think that rather than in Photoshop - everything really happens on the wall. It’s the Print that you want to spend more time looking at. Mark it up. Execute the changes in Photoshop. After awhile, you know what numbers you need - or the difference in % relations in tones to make them print just as you envision. None of this is particularly novel, right? This is just printmaking pre-display. I think the need for bigger, better, faster is often just marketing hype.

You need a great printer. Some great inks. Knowledge and acquired skill. And some sort of place that you can look at the work you are producing. The computer is the enlarger. Photoshop is just a set of filters or a set of dodging and burning tools. You still need to know intuitively where to take the Print. Eventually that becomes Mastery. Could all be done on a $299 eBay Mac Laptop. Worse yet - could use a discarded too blue display with a $50 Mac Mini. Technically that is actually true. lol