The aim of MonacoEZcolor has been and continues to be to provide a low
cost solution for accurate, consistent colour between devices and paper types so that
the time and expense of trial and error corrections are kept to a
Like its predecessors MonacoEZcolor 2.2 creates custom ICC profiles for monitors,
scanners, digital cameras and desktop colour printers. The feature set
is comprehensive and remains a lot more integrated than competitive
products. The Wizard-based interface (Figure 1) makes it very intuitive and easy to use. As a result, the steps
involved in creating a profile for the monitor, scanner or printer are
Integrated on-line help is always
available and easy to follow, and unusually for a relatively low cost
software application a comprehensive paper User Guide is provided (an
Adobe Acrobat version is also available on the install CD). The guide even includes a chapter covering frequently
Building the monitor profile is the best place to start and with
MonacoEZcolor this can be undertaken using two alternative methods:
visually, using the software alone; or automatically, using the
application in combination with the optional MonacoSENSOR colorimeter.
Both methods work well, but as with version 1.6 and 2.0 I found that
the automatic method produced a more accurate profile.
Profiling using the visual method comprise a simple six step
process with the user entering details regarding the monitor
colour temperature, adjusting the monitor's brightness/contrast
controls and then using the application to measure/adjust the
video card gamma ramps for red, green and blue by means of three slider controls.
Figure 2 shows an important step in the process, namely setting the
correct black level for the monitor.
The monitor gamma value is automatically set by the application to 1.8 for Mac's and 2.2 for PC's. The absence of a user option for
monitor gamma is slightly unusual especially now that many Mac users
find gamma 2.2 more accurate when viewing web images. The final step
requires that the user inputs a name for the monitor profile and then
saves it for use. The profile will be placed in the appropriate
location on the hard drive and also made available to the Operating
System for immediate use.
As mentioned above the automatic method uses the MonacoSENSOR colorimeter to measure a
series of colour patches sent to the display by the application
(Figure 3). These
measurements (phosphor data) ensure that the ICC profile created by MonacoEZcolor
is a much more accurate representation of how the monitor
actually displays specific colours. Applications such as Photoshop are
dependent upon this additional data for accurate colour
rendering. The sensor is the Sequel Chroma IV colorimeter as
used by many other vendors, and is designed for USB connection. If the
sensor is connected the application will automatically adjust the profiling
workflow to suit. Unfortunately the MonacoSENSOR is not suitable for profiling
LCD type displays.
Building a scanner profile requires that we scan an IT8 target.
MonacoEZcolor is capable of profiling both reflective and
transmissive type targets, although only the 7 by 5 inch reflective IT8
supplied with the package. Monaco Systems supplies 35mm and 5 by 4 inch
transmissive versions at extra cost.
The process involves a short series of fairly
straightforward steps: select the target reference file, position
target on/in scanner, scan target, verify scan, locate and crop the IT8 target scan
(Figure 4), and finally, save the profile. Again the whole process
takes only a few moments to complete. With version 2.2 I've noticed a
significant improvement in the quality of the ICC profiles for my film
scanners. The previous tendency to be over bright seems to have been
tamed and shadow noise is well controlled.
MonacoEZcolor 2.2 provides support for profiling both RGB
(non-PostScript) and CMYK (PostScript) type printers. When Monaco
first introduced version 2 much was made of the ability to profile printers such as the Epson 2000P.
This involves the user specifying the media type and scanner (Figure 5)
being used to measure the target prints. Once these choices have been
made MonacoEZcolor automatically utilises built-in correction tables.
As with monitor and scanner profiling each step has
its own wizard panel along with appropriate instructions.
The results of my
printer profiling tests were pretty much in line with those for
version 2. However, on this occasion it
wasn't possible to test the 2000P, as I no longer have access to the
printer. As with all the other
competitive products I found Epson Premium Glossy presented MonacoEZcolor
with the most difficultly, although a few tweaks in the profile editor
fix the slight yellow bias that I observed. This is a common problem
with this media when using scanner based profiling applications and is
due to optical brighteners in the media.
The application also
includes a Printer Profile editor (Figure 6) that allows the user to
make global edits to brightness, contrast, saturation and colour. It's
fairly easy to use and does appear to work quite well.
With MonacoEZcolor 2.2 Monaco Systems have certainly succeeded in
bringing affordable colour management tools and ICC profile creation to the Mac OSX
platform. Compared to similarly priced products MonacoEZcolor delivers a
much more elegant, easy to follow interface. When
needed comprehensive Help is always only a mouse click away.
As with version 2 I found visual profiling of the monitor to be
acceptable, but for even better results the MonacoSENSOR is definitely
more accurate. It's a pity that the application doesn't support the
calibration of LCD displays,
especially since MonacoEZcolor 2.2 is primarily aimed at Mac users and we
all know that Apple are pushing LCD displays with all the marketing
hype they can muster.
The profile editor is intuitive to use, and during my
testing I found even most edits could be undertaken without any
impact on the overall quality of the resulting profile. The ease with
which the user can edit the soft-proof preview component of the profile
makes simple an aspect that is normally very complex.
MonacoEZcolor 2.2 has many unique features; all of which make the process of
creating and editing ICC profiles easy. Nevertheless, whilst it remains a "class leader" there
is still some room for improvement. As with all budget-end
products its biggest limitation is the dependence upon the flatbed scanner for scanning the printed targets.
Such devices were never designed to be used as spectrophotometers and
so there will always be some areas of the profile that don't quite
meet expectations. This means that professional workers requiring ultimate control over print
quality may find that MonacoEZcolor doesn't quite meet their needs. That said Monaco Systems do offer
both mid and high-end
spectrophotometer based applications which should deliver most if not all that
the professional requires.