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.
The MonacoEZcolor Interface
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
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.
Editing the Printer Profiles
The ability to edit printer profiles was first introduced into MonacoEZcolor
at version 2. The actual tools don't appear to have changed
along the way, but it is still worth highlighting
some aspects of the workflow.
Generally "output" profiles contain information relating to how the data being sent to the printer
should be altered for optimum results and a second component that ensures the
Softproof on our monitor properly reflects how this
print will appear. Both components of the profile must be accurate,
but quite often it will be the case that they are not the same. MonacoEZcolor
provides the tools to enable the user to edit both components of the profiles independently
If we find that our initial profile produces a print that
does not reflect what we see in the Photoshop Proof Preview mode then
it is likely that the preview component of the profile will benefit from
some fine-tuning. Basically we will be editing the profile so that the PREVIEW
on our monitor matches the print. This is achieved by selecting Method
1 from the dialog shown in figure 6 above. Figure 7 below shows the dialog that appears when method 1 is selected.
However, if we find that the print matches the Photoshop
preview but is unacceptable due to colour cast, brightness, contrast,
etc. then we should choose Method 2 (Figure 8)
Method 2 allows us to edit the profile so that the final print looks
the way we want it. For example the original may well have printed with an
excessive yellow cast; in which case we edit the profile to remove the
yellow cast. Likewise if the
print is dark compared to the preview we must increase brightness and so
on. Strictly speaking we MUST be satisfied that the results from
method 1 are to our satisfaction (i.e. the preview MATCHES the
print - not better and not worse) before moving onto method 2.
The screenshot below (Figure 9) shows the actual profile editing
dialog with Before and After images displayed (After available in Method 2 only).
Given that MonacoEZcolor is not intended to be a high-end-all-singing-and-dancing solution the editor is reasonably complete in the tools that
it provides. The preview screen can be resized to suite your needs and
the Editing tools placed anywhere on the desktop.
As with version 2.2 and subsequently 2.5 I found visual profiling of the monitor
to be acceptable, but the NEW MonacoOPTIX XR (not to be
confused with the original
shaped colorimeter reviewed elsewhere on this site) is definitely the way to go,
especially if using an LCD type display. MonacoEZcolor 2.6 has many unique features; all of which make the process of
creating and editing ICC profiles easy.
Profiling scanners and displays with MonacoEZcolor 2.6 was pain
free and I doubt that many would be justified in being critical of the
results. However, as with all scanner based profiling applications
MonacoEZcolor 2.6 has its moments when it comes to printer profiles.
The biggest limitation is the dependence upon the flatbed scanner for
capturing the printed targets.
Scanners were never designed to be used as spectrophotometers and
so there will always be aspects of the printer profile that doesn't
quite meet expectations. I found that like previous versions of
EZcolor version 2.6 handled the majority of media and ink types quite
well, except when printing on Epson's Enhanced Matte paper,
which still tended to have odd hue shifts in saturated blues. I've
pretty much come to the conclusion that this is an anomaly caused by
my scanner rather than any defect in EZcolor, but it's still annoying. The profile editor is a nice touch and I found it to be intuitive
and very easy to use.
testing I found that major edits could be undertaken without any
impact on the overall quality of the resulting profile. The ease with
which the user can edit the softproof preview component of the profile
makes simple an aspect that is normally very complex.