If you use Aperture, you probably really care about your photographs. You might be a pro with a library that ranges into the 100’s of GBs, or you might be an amateur with 20GB of data, but you care enough to take the time to do the right thing with your images so that you can fulfill your vision of what those images should be. So you calibrate your display, right? And you do it frequently, right? If not, let me quote from Appendix B of the Aperture User Manual:
“Aperture is a powerful digital image adjustment application, but its power is limited to the accuracy of the devices that display and print your images.”
If you want to be able to work with your images on multiple machines, print them, or share them, then you need to be taking full advantage of the fact that Aperture is a color managed environment that uses ColorSync to translate colors to your monitor accurately. But, of course, ColorSync needs to know how your monitor displays colors so that it can do the math. This is why you need to make a profile for your display. Not have a ColorSync profile for your particular monitor means that you’re driving blind when you make adjustments to your images.
As important as it is, I know lots of people that are serious about their images that don’t profile their display. And I think there are two reasons for this: 1) Color management is a complex field and it’s full of lots of big terms and complex numbers; and 2) Good profiling hardware has typically been expensive. It’s been coming down in price over time, but still, to get the good stuff hasn’t been cheap. Combine these two points and most people, it seems, do nothing.
Nowadays, both price and complexity aren’t valid answers. You can get really good basic tools for about $80. They don’t have all the features of their more expensive brethren, but they do a good job for photographers that want to accurately edit their images. To see how good these inexpensive tools are and if I could recommend them to others, I picked up a Pantone huey from the Apple Store the other day.
The huey at work (larger image)
After test driving it a couple of days, I can report back that it’s easy to use. Software setup is an easy drag-and-drop install. Then you plug the sensor in and run the software. It takes care of the rest. And the profiles it makes are good. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t choose it for profile quality over, say, a Monaco Optix (which I also own) or a Pantone Eye-One. But if you don’t have anything at all, this will get the job done.
The huey in its stand (larger image)
A nice bonus feature of the huey is that you can leave it plugged into your Mac and it will periodically take ambient light readings, adjusting the profile in use to react to changing conditions in your workspace. This is something that I wish my other color management tools had.
There is a downside to the huey that’s important to mention here: It only works against the primary display. Considering the price and ease of use factor of the huey, it’s a perfectly acceptable compromise, but it is something to be very aware of. I’ve read that you can play tricks on a multiple monitor workstation by swapping out the main screen and building profiles for each, but this works against the easy-to-use nature of the tool.
The bottom line: You need to calibrate your displays. If you can spend, say $200 or $300 insteed of a $100, look into the Monaco Optix or the Pantone Eye-One. You’ll get super high quality profiles and the ability to work on multiple displays. If, however, you’ve only got $100, then you still have options. You can get the huey for $90. You can get the ColorVision Spyder Express for $80.
No matter what you do, go get a calibration tool already and start getting the most out of Aperture, ok?