Photo colour balance

  stlucia 11:56 13 Jan 2008

When I view photos downloaded from my Minolta Dimage Xt I find I usually have to apply a whole load of "gamma correction" and "contrast" to make them look right on the screen and, more importantly, to make them print right on my Epson printer. I use free Irfanview for viewing and printing, and my photos are in high-quality format and are downloaded as jpegs.

What I was wondering is, is there any way to automatically apply a predertermined correction when downloading photos (I use the Windows XP automatic download thingy that pops up when I connect the camera) and/or when viewing them in Irfanview? The corrections I apply always seem to be about the same values -- 1.7 or so for gamma, and 30 or so for contrast.

Or, if Irfanview can't do it, will I get this facility if I buy (arghh!) one of the mainstream softwares like Photoshop?

Or, am I missing the point, and I should be making the corrections elsewhere? Because if I use Sonic MyDVD to make the same (uncorrected) photos into a slideshow they look okay on the telly.

  Gongoozler 12:20 13 Jan 2008

Hi stlucia. This is an old problem in photography of any kind. Your eye has a non-linear (gamma) response to light, your camera no doubt has it's own gamma, so does your computer monitor, printer (different with different inks and papers), and so does your scanner if you ever use that as an input device. Getting all these devices to work together is a challenge even to professionals. The gamma problem is exacerbated by the limited contrast ratio of the various devices, whereby if you did achieve a linear response from the original image, the output print would probably be missing detail in either the black end of the range or the white. I don't know of any program that will let you apply presets, I use either PaintShop Pro or Corel Photopaint and apply corrections manually - sometimes even with successful results. Irfanview, while it's a superb little program, is basic in it's controls, so Photoshop will almost certainly have the tools to help you get better results. I found this website interesting click here

  hssutton 13:03 13 Jan 2008

Maybe your first point of call is Monitor Calibration. This can be done to a reasonable standard without the need to spend £100 on hardware.

Download "Monitor Calibration Wizard" click here

And also "Monitor Gamma Calibration" click here

Both are freeware.

Obviously your camera could be at fault, but it's far more likely that your monitor is incorrectly calibrated.

Printer calibration is a little more difficult, so initially is best to select "Let Printer Determine Colours" You will normally be able to select this by going to "Print Preview"

  pj123 14:57 13 Jan 2008

Try this, completely free:

click here

  stlucia 21:09 13 Jan 2008

Thanks Gongoozler, hssutton and pj123.

It's going to take me a while to read through all the references in the links. But I've already adjusted my monitor temperature to 6500 (it was set at 5000) and I've downloaded QuickGamma to see what difference that makes, when I've figured out what it's all about.

I'm also downloading and installing Serif's software to see how that deals with the same images.

But from your responses it sounds like, however good my monitor and printer setting are (the printer results are fine once I've got the photo how I want it on the monitor), I'm always going to have to make manual adjustments for some of my photos. Is that right?

  Migwell 01:04 14 Jan 2008

I was having very bad printing problems with colour and brightness / Contrast untill I was given a Huey for my birthday it sets up the monitor and the printer will then print what you see on the monitor. Yes you might still need to make changer to the pictures you have taken as the camera will not always get it right first time because of under exposure / over exposure or backlight problems etc. etc., but once you get it the way you want it on your monitor I know you will have prints you will be proud of.

  stlucia 08:41 14 Jan 2008

My printer prints what I see on the screen okay -- it's just that some photos are far too dark on the screen and, hence, when printed. Increasing the gamma (which tends to brighten them and make them a bit washed out) and then applying a load more contrast (to counteract the wash out) is the simplest way for me to "correct" them on the screen. And that seems to do no harm to photos that already look okay on the screen, hence my thoughts about applying a global preset correction.

  hssutton 11:14 14 Jan 2008

Forget all about Gamma and corrections from within your photo editor until you calibrate your monitor.

Run the calibration wizard first then let us know what the result is

  Gongoozler 15:32 14 Jan 2008

I think that applying gamma followed by contrast is the wrong way to get best results. I find that I get the best pictures by adjusting contrast first (using the histogram in Corel Photopaint, although most picture editors have a similar tool) to ensure that I have filled the contrast window, and then gamma to even the distribution of data within the window.

  stlucia 18:00 14 Jan 2008

hssutton: I've run the monitor calibration wizard. Adjustments turned out to be very small and, quite frankly, I can't see any difference to the photos I'm viewing.

Gongoozler: In my case (using Irfanview) the pictures on screen are too dark and I suppose that, strictly speaking, I should be adding brightness. But that seems to wash them out, and applying gamma correction seems to give a better result. Which I apply first seems to me to be a moot point because they're adjusted by two sliders in the same preview window. I just find it easier to judge what gamma (brightness) I want before then adjusting the contrast.

I've just tried one of my pictures with Serif PhotoPlus 6 (as per pj123's link) and it's a whole different ball-game -- gamma correction doesn't affect the brightness like it does with Irfanview, and I've got a "lightness" adjustment to play with as well as "brightness".

  hssutton 18:09 14 Jan 2008

If you now have a calibrated monitor I would start looking at the camera/settings

Can you upload a sample image (unedited)complete with exif. Photobucket is an ideal site click here

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