Optimum print viewing conditions

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Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Rajkumar » Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:22 am

Hi All, wanted some inputs and experiences of folks here in terms of reviewing fine art prints.

Problem statement.
I got some prints made recently and reviewing it to calibrate what I see on the screen and what I see in a print. Idea is to adjust the workflow to get satisfactory prints consistently. BTW my monitor set up in calibrated. Print was commercially made in a calibrated set up

Now for the step of examining the results. Here the questions was under what brightness must the print be examined. For the prints with light tones and a few dark patches it was holding the same viewing quality in range of light conditions . There were some prints with dark tones. In these prints the viewing quality varied heavily with brightness. In bright outdoor shade conditions I could see plenty of shadow details and prints look good. If the brightness of light is reduced . Shadows details quickly disappear.
What are ideal standard viewing conditions ?
Any thoughts on how to resolve this ?

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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Ganesh H Shankar » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:50 pm

Raj, I ran into this issue long ago and zeroed in on this solution. It is satisfactory, if not perfect.

1. My Eizo 27" Monitor is set as shown below for processing images for printing.

Brightness 80 cd/m^2
Black level: Minimum
White Point: 5500K
Gamma: 2.2 (for all channels)
Priority: Standard

2. I bought 5000K Solux light for viewing the prints indoor.
My Solux Art Light covers about 20x30 print area well. For larger print you
may need a wider light source.

I think window light may work well too. I hope this helps. Please do share your learning, it may help many here.
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Prashanth Sampagar » Tue Oct 06, 2020 6:58 pm

Thanks for bringing up this very important point, Raj. I remember the discussion on this some 10 years ago. If I remember correctly this was one of the key points discussed in our first CNP meet at Adithya's place.

Even though the image is processed on a calibrated monitor, printed using a calibrated printer still if we dont view it under proper light the viewing experience may not be good. I also tried using an external LED with adjustable colour temp, the print looked best under this. As a bonus I also got to see the mistakes I did loud and clear :) I remember a 50W LED came close to the 5000K. I was not able verify this with a light meter though. But this is a cheaper option and quality will be slightly compromised for sure. Even the LEDs used for videography are decent as well. But, what Ganesh has suggested is probably the best solution.

Wish we could have a print sharing meet soon at Adithya's place. @Adithya, are you listening?

Please note: I've made very few prints, so it's not an expert's view.

Best regards,
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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby ramesh_adkoli » Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:12 pm

My 2 cents:

Use a D50 equivalent light at 5000K with 2000 lux brightness. I find daylight that falls just indoors of the french windows of our place to be an excellent source. I have measured the intensity of light there using a light meter and found it to be around 2000 lux. I use this area for viewing my prints.

If you use any artificial source of light, please ensure that that is the only source of light incident on the print. This will secure the cleanliness of the light spectrum incident on the print.

These are ideal conditions. We have no control over the lighting conditions and viewing parameters of the final framed print.

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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Rajkumar » Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:06 pm

Thanks all.
So here is what I gathered so far. Two distinct areas

- Color temp and spectral range of source light. White balance kind of a problem. The picture will look different say in Florescent light versus Daylight. Solux light sought of solves this. Or Daylight. I also came across that some purists would actually measure the spectrum of source light and the use that while printing to make a complimentary correction !!!! Whew...not for me

- Light intensity. This changes the perceived contrast as well as the shadow details. So to make judgement on these one has to view the prints consistently in certain level of light lux so as to keep the perception consistent. Here Ramesh's 2000 Lux logic seems good. However I would also keep a 1000 Lux option for poorly lit display. I am thinking a priory I will decide bright or dim print and correct accordingly and examine in the respective light brightness.

Experimenting further. Will update
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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Vikas T R » Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:57 pm

Thanks Raj for bringing up this topic and a lot to learn from all the inputs here.

I would like to understand about viewing distance too (which you bring up during print meets) :)
"The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity."
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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Rajkumar » Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:26 am

Thanks, Vikas. Also, a good point that I forgot to mention.
Viewing a print from too close we loose the over all tonal play and the feel of the image and start seeing it in parts. When we see it in parts shadows without detail and bleached highlights , focus etc are overemphasised. From a distance they may sit well within the overall aesthetics of a picture but up close they seem like a mistake. Ok for learning and improving but not for judging the work as acceptable or not

My take is a good viewing distance is about 2.5 times the diagonal of the print to take in the overall aesthetics of the work.

Hope others add their experience and practice
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Re: Optimum print viewing conditions

Postby Nevil Zaveri » Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:00 pm

Interesting thread 'n inputs. Me too, normally prefer window day light but it does vary a little due to time of day. I think, artificial light suggested by Ramesh will be more consistent.
Ramesh, can you suggest a bulb/daylight with specific brand or model no. for a D50 equivalent light at 5000K with 2000 lux brightness?
Thank you.
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