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X-Rite's Color Munki Photo

An easy to use color calibrator for photographers By Joshua Virata

Ever had the problem where you have a picture on your computer and then print it out and the color doesn't turn out the same? I can tell you from experience that that has happened to me many times before. But now I don't have to worry about this problem thanks to ColorMunki Photo by X-Rite. ColorMunki lets you calibrate displays, projectors and printers so that the colors in your pictures or media are accurate every time.

The ColorMunki device is an all-in-one spectrophotometer that is used to profile monitors, projectors, and printers, but also to measure and capture colors. Everything needed for calibration is built into the device, the white calibration tile, the measuring points, etc all contained in a palm sized device.

The spectrophotometer is housed within a rotating center part of the ColorMunki with each position that is determined by what you're measuring. From the top to the bottom there is an ambient light diffuser; the next position sets the spectrophotometer to look through clear plastic for calibrating projectors; next is where the white calibration tile is housed; then last is straight down where there is an opening in the ColorMunki used to calibrate displays and printers and capture colors. Calibration of a spectrophotometer is crucial to getting accurate readings. With the white calibration tile built into the device there's no worrying about carrying it around with you.

Monitor/display calibration is carried out while the ColorMunki is inside its soft case with the shutter door open. The long weighted strap on the case helps counter the weight of the ColorMunki while it's hanging on your display. The spectrophotometer of the ColorMunki is pointed toward the screen while in this position so it can measure the colors produced by your screen.

Calibrating displays is either a 4-step process in easy mode, or a 6-step process in advanced mode. Both modes have you verify your display type, go through the steps of calibrating your ColorMunki, measuring the color of your display and creating a calibration profile. The last step is a before and after comparison of your previous and newly created color profiles. In easy mode you can't do much adjusting to things like color temp or the ambient light level. In advanced mode you can change the color temp, measure the ambient light level, and have the software compensate for that measurement. I should mention that for most people it's probably best to use easy mode and the software and ColorMunki will calibrate your monitor for you.

The second to last step in both modes is where you save your profile and set the reminder time interval. Calibrating your display isn't a one time only event so you have to repeat the process again in the future. The software has a built in reminder system that will ask you to recalibrate your display on an interval you choose, anywhere between one and four weeks, but if you choose not to use the automatic reminder you can always turn off this feature.

Calibrating projectors is a 4-step process in either easy or advanced mode, with the only difference in advanced from easy is the capability to set the Target White Point for the display. One difference in calibrating a projector is that the ColorMunki must be out of its case and pointed at the center of the screen at a distance less than 1.5X the height of screen. Other than that the process is very similar to profiling a display.

While calibrating and profiling displays and projectors effectively changes the colors produced by the display and projector, profiling a printer creates a set of corrections stored in a custom ICC file that can be used by applications such as Adobe's Photoshop and InDesign, and Corel's Painter X and CorelDRAW. ColorMunki's AppSet manages your printer profiles and applies them to the correct applications when necessary so there's no need to worry about what to do with the profile. Creating the ICC profile is done by printing a sheet of 50 colors that are then measured by the ColorMunki. Two sheets are printed by the software, the first sheet is measured to create a comparison profile for your printer. After the first measurement the software will generate a second sheet that is measured to create the corrections for your printer.

When you calibrate your display and printer together you match your printer's color controls to match your display's colors. After profiling your display and printer you can use the custom ICC printer profiles to enhance your home printed pictures so that they accurately represent the colors in them.

ColorMunki Photo ColorPicker software allows the user to capture any color from almost any surface virtually so you can use it in a color palette on your computer. This way when you have a picture, wall, or other surface that has a color you really like you can capture that color and use.

The before and after effects of calibrating your display can be pretty dramatic and take a bit to get used to, but once you view photos or other media with a calibrated display you may ask yourself why you didn't calibrate it before. The ColorMunki hardware and software make color calibration easy for the end user. A great device in itself I have only two gripes about it. First I found that the rotation ring was sometimes a bit hard to move and that if it was made of a more rubberized material or if grip notches were installed it would be easier to rotate. My other is the hanging strap for the ColorMunki could use a bit more weight and more adjustability. Though it is worth mentioning that these issues are minor enough in nature to be overseen.

Included in the box are the ColorMunki Photo spectrophotometer, protective bag/monitor holder, USB cable, and documentation. The software bundled with the ColorMunki Photo includes the ColorMunki profiling software, Photo ColorPicker, and DigitalPouch software. The computer requirements for the ColorMunki software are pretty minimal. On both the Mac and Windows sides the hardware requirements pretty much cover any computer bought within the past three years. 

For all you photographers out there who want to enhance your prints with correct color presentation ColorMunki is for you. Profiling your displays and printers can dramatically help your prints and the easier it is to create these profiles the better. Besides already being easy to use X-Rite offers a lot of video training and support for the ColoMunki.

Available now for a MSRP of $499.00 USD, X-Rite is promoting the ColorMunki Photo now with a $50 rebate that is valid to the end of the year 2009.

Color Munki Photo


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Joshua Virata is a 2008 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He has been using computers since the age of 2 and is proficient in the areas of home wired and wireless networking, music creation, secure computing, cell phone communication and GPS navigation. You can email him at [email protected]
Related Keywords:color calibrator, digital imaging, digital photography, spectrophotometer

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  • X-Rite's Color Munki Photo by DMN Editorial at Oct. 30, 2009 2:53 am gmt

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