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Digital Cameras--Nature's Palette, Printer's Plate

June 1998

When shooting digitally, the photographer relies on a computer monitor, rather than a Polaroid, to act as the first checkpoint for evaluating the photograph, including lighting, composition and color. The only way to predict on screen what a proofer is capable of printing is to profile the monitor using color management tools.

The client defines the use of the image, a profile is made of the output device, and those properties are used to calibrate and manage color throughout the workflow.

What is viewed on the monitor is a very close representation of what will be printed on the proofer, and the proof is very close to the results of the final print on press.

Michael Shea
Senior Product Marketing Manager
The use of ICC profiles continues to grow as does the need for tools for profiling devices accurately. The ability to make ICC profiles for digital cameras is still relatively new and, at this time, somewhat limited. Currently, it is only viable to make ICC digital camera profiles for controlled studio environments with specific lighting (i.e., daylight or strobe).

Default profiles are good, and custom-built profiles are better. I believe the best profiles can be achieved when using profiling software that includes visual profile "tuning" tools like what is available in our ColorFlow software.

Jerry Magee
Product Line Manager, Digital Cameras
Kodak Professional, Eastman Kodak
To understand the complexity of colors in a digital camera, try to imagine that the possible colors which can be reproduced in a digital image are located on a single sphere. Though the sphere doesn't reside in the camera, the sampling of that sphere and the camera's ability to record the colors within, in terms of its mathematical representation, do. The sampling of the sphere, in turn, is metaphorically located within the camera and helps to assign the proper lighting and colors to pictures.

A color scientist is tasked with sampling this color space to create color matrices closer to the actual subject at the time of the shoot. The matrices are created and stored in the camera to accommodate any possible color configuration that may need to be recreated.

Innovations in digital technology provide the freedom for photographers to set the mode of the camera or leave it up to the camera's "brain" to decide the best lighting. By letting the camera decide, the photographer can leverage the power of the camera's sensors to determine appropriate settings for its environment.

Tim Bates
Director of Marketing
Color is a critical subject for the photographer when using a digital camera. With a digital camera, there is a direct link to the printed page—and color management becomes a major issue. With most digital cameras, color management is more about converting files.

Today, color management systems are allowing the photographer to color-balance monitors, printers and the press close to the original image. It is important to understand when employing a digital camera for product photography, the most important issue is getting the color correct on the printed page. Thus, a great RGB-to-CMYK program is needed.

Taking pictures with digital cameras and getting excellent results in a RGB format is easy. Getting the file into a CMYK format and ready for press takes education and the right conversion program. What most photographers need when using digital cameras is good conversion software, not just color management software.


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