View Full Version : Screen vs Print - WB appears off

22-12-2011, 6:43pm
Hi All, well I've just had my early Christmas, I got a heap of my photos printed some up to 12x18 inches. There is nothing like a good print in the hand, I'm hooked now!! Now to buy some frames!!

They were done by a professional printer that comes highly recommended around the traps, I won't name them at this point. I will contact them about my issue but they have just closed for the Christmas break, so I thought I'd bounce it out here first for some ideas.

This was somewhat of a test as I had many different styles of print done to see the various results. Unwrapping the prints, I was very happy with them for the most part, but on closer inspection I'm not happy with the colour reproduction. But all of them have a slight colour cast about them when compared to my monitor. They all appear slightly warm like the white balance is off, the whites are not white and the greens show an apparent change in hue/temperature that is quite noticeable. In brightness terms they are pretty much as I expected, not quite as bright as the monitor, but generally very good.

My workflow and tech specs:

Dell Ultrasharp U2711 IPS Monitor
Monitor calibrated to sRGB with Spyder3 Elite (long story in another thread about why I don't use aRGB)
Target brightness 120, White point the recommended 6500K, Gamma 2.2 (I check my calibration regularly and did again tonight and it was perfect)
Photos processed in Lightroom 3.5 and exported as sRGB
Files sent to printer via their desktop ordering software
Printer specifies files are to be sRGB
Could it be that 6500K isn't the right temperature to have my monitor calibrated to? Could it be the printer isn't quite on the money? Could it be something else about profiling over my head??! :confused013 I'd love to hear your suggestions.

PS I tried to take a photo of the print next to the monitor to demonstrate, but my camera won't take a photo of my screen for some reason, it just comes out dark, something technical going wrong there.

22-12-2011, 7:28pm
Strike me pink! Or blue, or some other hue. I wonder if we can ever get this white right, Mic. Sounds like you've done all the right things, and it makes me think about the printer's you went to. Did you meet all special requirements they had? Nothing useful to offer, unfortunately. (I usually only get small prints done and am usually forgiving of quality.)
[Head-shaking icon]Am.[/Head-shaking icon]

22-12-2011, 7:52pm
Strike me pink! Or blue, or some other hue. I wonder if we can ever get this white right, Mic. Sounds like you've done all the right things, and it makes me think about the printer's you went to. Did you meet all special requirements they had? Nothing useful to offer, unfortunately. (I usually only get small prints done and am usually forgiving of quality.)
[Head-shaking icon]Am.[/Head-shaking icon]

:lol: Glad to know I'm not the only one head scratching on this one. They only thing they specified was sRGB and 300ppi. I went searching hard tonight on their website for any FAQ's, or anything special and found nothing more.

22-12-2011, 8:36pm
:( I'm over this stuff, I work and print in sRGB , ( Saves a lot of dramas ) My Pro Printer specifies sRGB 300DPI On Fuji Pearl Luster , I Calibrate with a Spyder 3 Express , All works out fine , Very much what I see on my screen is what gets printed , Which is good , There is no more :xmas31:

JM Tran
22-12-2011, 11:02pm
that is strange, everything you have listed is straightforward and exactly like my settings - however I dont use a Spyder of any sort as I think they are not as accurate as a Color Munki that I use, but anyway - I think you should get some more prints with at least another 2 print companies, to compare results. In the past I have had print companies vary in their colour accuracy.

23-12-2011, 6:35pm
Some calibrators are more accurate with certain screens, and others are more accurate with other screens.

I doubt it's the Spyder .. but it could be the Spyder software!!

As to why the prints are all out in one hue is a mystery, but as long as you've specified the right files and types and colourmode, it's really more in Mic's court than the printers.. unless the printer has swapped out paper stock and not used an appropriate colour profile for it and so on.

Other thing I can suggest is your ambient lighting.

Because the screen is lit up, the type of ambient lighting is going to affect the print more with it's particular colour rendering, whereas the screen even tho it's also affected by the ambient light type, it is less so because it's light source is partly compensating for the room light anyhow.

Have you tried alternate light sources in the room?

I'm assuming you're using a CFL type of lighting arrangement, do you have a quartz halogen type light source to try temporarily too?

You can get 6500K CFL lights and they are a very harsh bright white colour, as opposed the the more popular warm toned CFL lights .. which I now can't stand.
The difference in the room once the 6500K CFL was fitted is amazing. All my family comment how it hurts their eye's and it's too harsh and white and so on.. but of course they don't see like wee see.
(eg. I watch the nightly news and can't help but notice the purple fringing in the video footage when under bright harsh sunlight conditions.. everyone else thinks I need glasses!)

Problem is at the moment is that it seems as though you can't physically take the prints back to the printers to see them under their lighting conditions and compared to the digitial files on their screens???

If you don't already have one, try a specialist lighting shop, look for a CFL with a colour temp of 6500K, even better, try to find one that has a CRI index of more than 91%(highly unlikely!!) You probably don't have fluoro lighting in your PC room, but if you did, there are some fluoro lights that also have a high CRI rating.
CRI.. higher = better.

To put this into perspective: imagine if your room ambient lighting was sourced by the setting sun. No matter how white the curtains were, the room will always have a strong yellow cast to it. That's just the nature of ambient lighting. Your print will look warmer/yellower, because it's reflecting light(prints don't transmit light), whereas the PC screen will still look quite yellow to you, you just don't notice it, because the screens lighting is overpowering the ambient light in the room.

The ambient lighting conditions is important for viewing the print ... not so much the screen.

23-12-2011, 6:59pm
Thanks Arthur, I'll check that out. My house does face west and soaks up the afternoon sun which is when I was looking at the prints. I might have another look when it is darker and try different light sources.

24-12-2011, 1:12am
Did you get a copy of the print lab profile, load it and compare onscreen with the prints?

24-12-2011, 3:06pm
Did you get a copy of the print lab profile, load it and compare onscreen with the prints?

Thanks Wayne, I'll give that a go when they re-open after christmas.

24-12-2011, 3:23pm
Well I've done some comparisons in lightroom between the raw files (that were simply exported and sent) and the prints. It seems if I increase the white balance by around 1200-1400K, take the brightness down 25pts and the saturation down 10pts and they match up pretty well. The whites on my monitor are still brighter and more white but the overall image is pretty close. Same applied for both daylight and night shots, here are a pair of examples so you can see the relative difference I'm seeing. In both cases the first image was my version, the second shows what the print is like. Am I expecting too much, or should these be closer?



JM Tran
24-12-2011, 3:32pm
the ones with the cooler white balance is more accurate. about 4 years ago I had some fun prints done at Teds Camera as I was in a rush, and it turned out like the ones you posted above - with a very warm white balance. Naturally I was not impressed as my usual print place printed another set with better accuracy and mirrored the monitor.

24-12-2011, 5:04pm
Make sure that the lab havent applied any "correction" which they sometimes do..

24-12-2011, 7:25pm
You would expect to see a closer rendition of your original image.
That's too much of a difference for it to be a calibration issue.

I think the original shot of the dog looks a bit too cool.
It may be a good rendering of white as white, but at 10AM in the morning, you would expect to have a bit more warmth to the image.

At at time much closer to 12PM the whites will be whiter, and possibly as white as the original image.
Although I would have rendered it with a WB value closer to the original but warmer none the less.

If you've used a polariser in that image, with maximum polarisation effect, you will get a slightly warmer tone too(most polarisers tend to cast a warmer tone).

There is a difference between accurate white balance and accurate colour rendition too. They're not exactly the same thing even they work hand in hand.

But the yellowness of your prints would be something to take up with the printer for sure!

24-12-2011, 8:18pm
Thanks Arthur, I thought the same thing, that the original I used was a touch cool but still closer to correct than the print ended up.

17-01-2012, 6:14pm
OK, I have made some progress. White isn't white??

I finally got to chat to someone at the print lab. They confirmed for me that the files are untouched as they head into the printer, they don't do any adjustments and their printers use the standard loaded profiles from Fuji. After quite a long discussion they advised me to adjust my monitor down to 6000K (from 6500K) and drop my brightness to 100-110. Then try and do some more prints from them and adjust to suit and so on. Hmmm, I'm not sure about this....so....

Back to comparisons and Arthurs post about ambient got me thinking about alternative light sources which I tried before Christmas but didn't have a lot of luck with. Then I remembered the LED lights I got from Christmas! So as a bit of a test I sat the print up on the monitor next to the two images above.

With my normal ambient lighting (western sun through the windows) and also with my room lights and desk lamp etc I still see the print as undesirably warm. Then I lit it with an LED light and things get interesting - the print pretty well matches my original edit on screen!!! :D I got my wife to stand on the opposite side of the room and her interpretation was the same, switch on the LED and the print changes between the two versions I posted above. Amazing, I knew it would a different but that much?!?!

So another idea... I then took the print and took photos of it under different lights in my house and then took it outside in the sun and shade. The results were interesting, basically the camera and Lightroom in auto inside pick the white point as around 3800-4100K depending on which globe I was under. Under the LED it picks it as 6300, and outside in shade and sun 5000K and 5600K respectively. I suspect the indoor readings would be worse once the sun goes down and I'm using purely artificial light. So the same print, that looks the same in Lightroom has a white point vastly different depending on the light it is viewed in. Seems obvious but I was amazed at how much difference seemingly similar light made.

I'm still trying to get my head around what all this means for me and my prints. If someone can put it in more simple terms I'm all ears! Should I compensate for it, should I set my monitor lower, or should I forget it! I can't control the lighting in peoples homes! :confused013

17-01-2012, 8:19pm
I am not a technical type person, but our camera club had a presentation last night about calibrating and printing.

One thing I learnt, is that 1. You can have your camera and lens calibrated, and that each lens needs to be calibrated separately. Now this costa money, as usual.
2. ensure that you calibrate your monitor regularly.
3. Ask how often, if at all, does your lab calibrate their printers
4. Get a profile from your lab.

Now I don't know if this will help, but at least for those who are like me, and don't understand this stuff, it may help


17-01-2012, 10:01pm
I have never calibrated any of my monitors other than by eye, I do the same with my canon ip4700 printer and of the hundreds of photos I have printed I have only had a handfull that I was not satisfied with. I just had 36 printed by a pro priinter at 12x18 and all except one which was a sunrise taken full on into the sun with the 150-500 at 500mm and I wasn't really excepecting it to turn out any better than it did. The rest matched my monitor very closely. I feel that too much fiddling spoils the results.