It may seem a little bit ridiculous that a person so deeply into colour management and calibration should be so excited by a new system that actually removes sensor based calibration from the equation.
But it makes sense really – the holy grail of colour management is a system that is super easy, indeed totally automatic if possible, that is flexible and offers good levels of accuracy. Ideally, it would be perfectly accurate, but the longer you live with high end colour the more you realise that any true, mathematical sense of accuracy with colour is a mirage – colour is ultimately so personal and subjective that while you can certainly massively improve your technical accuracy with modern tools, you also have to realise that forever pursuing perfect numbers – be they low deltaEs or simply trying to directly match LAB values from one end to the other – after a certain point you realise it becomes a futile exercise of numeric perfection that simply has not a lot to do with actual colour appearance (at the pointy end – broad matching is easy, good matching is achievable almost all of the time with some work and good science, but really precise, perfect matching is impossibly hard – it’s asymptotic really, you’re forever chasing an unreachable goal).
Once you get to that point – that is, the point where you have really good, accurate equipment, and great custom profiles – you realise that spending days and days printing more charts, using exotic filters for better readings etc. etc, all those tricks we in the sharp end of colour management use to try and really get the very best results in a pure mathematical sense – well, you realise that beyond doing that, it’s actually much much more about knowing how to use those good tools properly than really improving the tools themselves much further. In that sense it’s no different to photography itself – you simply do not need most of the whiz bang features on your camera its you just really know how to use the basic ones properly. Which is why great photographers can pick up almost any old camera and make great images with it, and those that endlessly pursue new gear to solve their technique issues will never reach their imaging goals.
Anyway, this brings me (in typically roundabout way) to MultiProfiler (available for free download here) and NEC PA monitors. They’re a really interesting development because they are really the first good example of a new way of thinking – make the monitor itself so good, and so self aware about it’s changing behaviour over time, then give it the ability to self compensate for this – and you have a monitor that doesn’t really need calibration to achieve accurate, reliable colour.
MultiProfiler is a great little tool from NEC. It’s essentially a calibration system without the calibration part – that is, you can set your monitor into all sorts of useful modes, but you don’t have to calibrate. The monitor is simply so good that it can set itself to your chosen target (say a sensible white-point like 5500 for warm fine art papers, a gamma of 2.2 and a luminosity of 100 cd/m2) and that’s it – you don’t need a sensor, you don’t need to wait while measurements are taken, the monitor just displays at the target you set, and you can immediately get on with your work. As long as this system works to an acceptable level of accuracy – you don’t need anything else!
Read about how to use NEC MultiProfiler in our knowledge base article below.