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Monitor Calibration, and Internet Browsers, and Color Profiles, Oh My!

November 1st, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Now, this article is going to be a bit technical, no choice, but I promise to keep it in as simple of terms as physical possible! Now, I am sure by now all of you are thinking something along the line of, ‘What the heck does monitor calibration, internet browsers, and color profiles have to do with gemstones and for that matter what are they!!??”. Am I close? LOL. Well, that is the goal of this article, as well as to give you the consumer and you the Retailer the proper tools and know how in order to make the purchasing of colored gemstones on the internet even more like shopping in a Brick & Mortar Storefront!

Let us first start with monitor calibrations. What this means is that your monitor is calibrated(setup properly and adjusted to a standard) for color(RGB) as well as Gamma. There are numerous methods in which to do this. First and foremost, as well as the most thorough and accurate, is to use a hardware calibration device like a Spyder, EyeOne, Huey, etc. These hardware units offer as close to perfect as one can hope to get! They plug into your USB ports and have a sensor that reads your computer monitor as well as Ambient room light and they go through a series of tests in order to produce a Color Profile for your computer system. This allows your PC to display true and accurate colors as well as have the proper Gamma settings. This is important to a Retailer because he/she can then make sure during editing of their product images that they are seeing true to life colors. If they then take and embed this color profile into their gemstone/jewelry pictures the consumer can then use a color profile aware browser(we will get to this in a bit) to view the Retailers offerings and be assured they are seeing the images exactly how the Retailer saw them on his/her computer! Nifty huh!?! The next, but not as accurate method, and also it produces no color profile technically, would be a software calibration. This is the method I typically ONLY recommend to consumers and not Retailers! But one can do this software method via the following website:
http://www.epaperpress.com/monitorcal/index.html

Now that we have briefly covered monitor calibration and color profiles, let us get to internet browsers. The reason internet browsers are so important is because many of them are NOT color profile aware!! This means that regardless of what color profile is embedded in the image the browser still uses the existing system profile instead. Opera, FireFox, Internet Explorer, and Safari are the most well known and most mainstream internet browsers used and kn own. For the record, Opera and Internet Explorer are NOT color profile aware browsers. FireFox, by use of an add-on or manual activation, can and will use and respond to embedded color profiles! FireFox is also the more secure of the set of browsers too, so you get an extra bonus for using it! The other browser which supports color profiles is Safari. It was once solely for Apple/MAC computers, but they now have a PC flavor that works quite nicely and accurately displays images with color profiles embedded in them.

I am sure most are still wondering why this is so important? And how a simple color profile and browser can really help and make a big difference? Well, I won’t bore you with words and explanations, how about just pictures so you can see the differences with your own two eyes. The following images are actually screen captures of the same picture in each of the mainly used browsers. Click on thumbnails for a larger view.

ScreenShot009-OPsm

Opera

IE

IE

FireFox

FireFox

Safari

Safari

Opera

Opera

IE

IE

FireFox

FireFox

Safari

Safari

Opera

Opera

IE

IE

FireFox

FireFox

Safari

Safari

Opera

Opera

FireFox

FireFox

IE

IE

Safari

Safari

As you can see from the above, quite a difference in color tones and saturation as well. This can easily translate into hundred to thousands of dollars difference in price or more depending on the material!! So now you can see why this can be extremely important to a Retailer as well as a consumer!!

Apple Safari Browser Download

FireFox Browser Download

Once you have FireFox installed, you can download the Add-On for color management here: FF Color Management

Just for a little more emphasis, here are two full size examples. 😉

AS Seen in IE

AS Seen in IE

As Meant to be Seen using FireFox

As Meant to be Seen using FireFox

Again, you can see the large difference in saturation and color tone, which can be quite a huge difference in value!

Thanks to Jennifer with Gems By Jennifer for the use of her pictures.

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