Pixels per inch for web

What is the significance?

Simply put? Nothing.
Well, if that were all I had to say on the subject, this would have to be my shortest blogpost ever… Okay, a bit more info then:
A lot of first time DSLR users are concerned that their shiny new camera delivers files that are “only” 72dpi, while their old point and shoot delivered 300dpi files. Why is this concern unwarranted? Surely 300 is more then 72, and more is better, right?

Wrong

The old wisdom saying is that “300dpi is for printing and 72dpi is for screen”.
There are a few things wrong with that.
First and foremost, the term “dpi” stands for dots per inch. In a digital file there are no dots, only pixels. So the correct term is pixels per inch (ppi).
Also, 72ppi originated as it was the resolution of an ancient Mac monitor. Current monitors have a much higher pixel density: My old 12″ PowerbookG4 for instance has a screen resolution of about 100ppi. Most current screens are somewhere between 80 and 120ppi.
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Photoshop CS4 Color Settings

Once, and for all

Never thought I’d blog about something as individual as PS Color Settings… Then again, there is so much conflicting, incomplete or downright inaccurate info on the web, I thought it might be time to set the record straight.

Individual

First of: Like more things in photography life there is no “Magic Bullet”. If that’s what you are looking for, better get used to this idea: You need a basic understanding of Color Management.
On the bright side: The settings in the Color Settings dialog box affect a number of things. However, unless done totally wrong, how your images are displayed is not one of those things.

Settings nobody should use

There is no “Magic Bullet”, but there is a “one size fits no-one”: The setting called “Monitor Color”.
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Color management

An introduction

In the “analog” days, it used to be simple: You had a slide looking like you wanted, and that was a fixed reference point. So it was “somebody else’s problem” to make a print that matched the slide: WYSIWYG. Simple. Or at least: Not your responsibility. Negatives were a bit more complicated, but still: S.E.P.

Nowadays, you’ll have a file that looks good on your screen. Since you probably don’t want to lug your computer and monitor with you anytime you want to make a print, only to be able to show what you think the print should look like, how do you manage to get a print that looks like the image on your screen?

The keyword

…of course, is “manage”. As in: Color manage: “Out of the box” every monitor will display an image different. Ever seen a store with 20 televisions in a row? All TVs looking different? Same will be the case with computer monitors if you don’t take countermeasures.
While the TVs pretty much boil down to “personal preference”, with digital imaging it’s about accuracy.
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Hello world!

First blog post.

Ever.

At least, on my own blog (to be).
I’ve commented a fair bit on other people’s blogs, when the subject was Colormanagement, and someone presented wrong facts. For instance if it was recommended to set Photoshop to use “Monitor color” as working space, since then anything would look the same in Photoshop and the (not color managed) browser. Color management just went right out the window, as well as any chance at consistency…

Therefore, I believe this to be *bad* advice, so often I’d comment something along those lines, or sent the poster an email. I can’t stand misinformation. I’m kinda funny that way.

Because I’m kinda funny in other ways as well, I also like to know how stuff works. (And if possible, also why)
That sometimes leads to hours of searching as to why something doesn’t work as expected, instead of just accepting the fact and get on with what you were doing… So probably not the best practice, both for your social life, and in the business kind of way. For the last, I couldn’t care less, and my social life is okay, thanks very much. Also, it is satisfying my curiosity has the added advantage of getting to understand the problem better, which gives an advantage when you engage other (peoples) “irrational” problems.

So, what to expect here then?

I have no idea yet. I don’t even know if it’s going to be a regularly updated blog, or more “website-like, static” approach. I’m not completely without a clue however:

First, I plan to post a few simple posts on the “how and why” of color management. Just to cover the basics. I’ve posted the same (or similar) on POTN.

Incidentally, that forum is probably what inspired me to start all this: I started a thread there a few years back about color problems. Due to my lack of organisation, limited knowledge at the time (and not locking the thread), it became what was lately accurately referred to, a “Huge meandering thread”. This blog is my penance, and an effort to bring some order to that chaos.

Later on (when I get comfortable with blogging), I’ll probably also post solutions whenever I encounter a problem (For instance: PSCS4 seems to have a bug regarding color managed printing, looking in to that as I have time to spare, I’m using PSCS2 until then)

I sincerely hope that later posts gain in structure compared to this one, and also are a bit more relevant. But this is at least better then the default “Welcome” post by WordPress… (And there’s no-one around to see it anyway).

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