The cause was pretty simple in that each device forming part of our
digital workflow has its own unique way of reproducing colour. Photoshop now
needed to understand how these devices saw colour and that's were the
concept of profiling or characterising these devices came in. ICC
profiles provide Photoshop with the description of how scanners and printers
reproduce colour. Companies such as Epson, Nikon, Canon, etc all
provided generic profiles with their equipment, although they rarely produced
optimum results. High-end, high cost profiling applications already
existed, but it was Monaco Systems who first offered a solution within
reach of the masses. The first version of MonacoEZcolor was
inexpensive, reasonably effective and easy to use, albeit with some
quirks when cropping the scanned target. We've moved on a lot since
those early days and with each new crop of scanners and inkjet
printers our expectations have continued to grow.
MonacoEZcolor has undergone another update; we're at version
2.6 now and with it we get a few more new features including the ability to utilise the new
colorimeter for display profiling that is reviewed elsewhere on this site.
With exception of the Wizard layouts for monitor calibration and
support for the new colorimeter little else appears to have changed
from version 2.5. Therefore I've simply revamped the original review
to include references to the changes and improvements.
Like its predecessors MonacoEZcolor 2.6 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 similarly
products. The wizard-based interface (Figure 1) ensures that MonacoEZcolor 2.6
is intuitive and very easy to use. MonacoEZcolor 2.6 includes the
- Ability to interface with the new MonacoOPTIX XR colorimeter
(X-rite DTP94) for
both LCD and CRT display profiles although it remains compatible
with the older OPTIX colorimeter and MonacoSENSOR for CRT profiling.
- Improved quality for all your profiles: monitor, scanner and
- Uses your Monaco OPTIX XR colorimeter to determine your monitor's best
level of brightness and contrast to provide the widest possible
- Supports dual monitor setups (Mac only)
- Usability improvements include automatic target recognition and
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
asked questions. Monaco also provides a wealth of information on
their web site - http://www.monacosystems.com
Greatly improved display calibration with MonacoEZcolor is first on
the list of enhancements. As with earlier versions this can be undertaken using two
alternative methods: visually, using the software alone; or
automatically, using the application in combination with the optional
MonacoOPTIX XR colorimeter. Using the colorimeter is much better
and the new MonacoOPTIX XR is superior in every way to the older
MonacoSensor or even the original
OPTIX colorimeter reviewed elsewhere on this site.. The monitor white point (Figure 2) and gamma value (Figure
3) are each
manually set by the user.
As already mentioned the automatic method uses the MonacoOPTIX
XR colorimeter to measure a series of colour patches sent to
the display by the application. These measurements (phosphor/dye data)
ensure that the ICC profile created by MonacoEZcolor is a much more
accurate representation of how the display actually reproduces
specific colours. Applications such as Photoshop are dependent upon
this additional data for accurate colour rendering. The
colorimeter (actually called the DTP94) is produced by X-rite and is
probably the best colorimeter currently available. The MonacoOPTIX XR is designed for USB
connection. Once the sensor is connected the application will
automatically adjust the profiling workflow to suit. A separate review
of Monaco OPTIX Pro will uploaded to this site shortly.
Profiling the Scanner
MonacoEZcolor is capable of profiling both reflective and transmissive type
IT8 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 and verify orientation of scan. Once
these steps are completed MonacoEZcolor automatically locates and crops the IT8 target scan
(Figure 4). Again the whole process
takes only a few moments to complete.
Building Printer Profiles
MonacoEZcolor 2.6 provides support for profiling both RGB
(non-PostScript) and CMYK (PostScript) type printers. When Monaco
Systems introduced version 2 much was made of the ability to profile
inkjet printers such as the Epson 2000P.
This involved the user specifying the media type and scanner
being used to measure the target prints. This feature is now gone and
so far as I can see version
2.6 still hasn't been updated to handle the newer Epson UltraChrome pigment
inks. 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
previous versions of MonacoEZcolor in so far as the scanner plays a
significant role in the quality of the final profiles. Again, I found
Epson's Enhanced Matte presented MonacoEZcolor
with the greatest difficultly.