EyeOne revisited with Mountain Lion

A great tool.

When FU Steve installed the latest nVidia GTX 660 graphics card in my HP100+ Hackintosh, he also did a fresh install of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2. When it came to printing from Lightroom yesterday, I found the driver for my HP DesignJet 90 was AWOL, so I quickly reinstalled it. At the same time, I re-profiled all three Dell displays using the EyeOne colorimeter and the (not so) current EyeOne DisplayOne Lion software, the makers at Xrite as usual taking their time with the upgrade to Mountain Lion. While the software reminds you to make monthly profile updates, I find that three or four times a year is fine as my three year old Dell 2209WA monitors are now very stable and exhibit minimal drift. The application logs and charts drift which is handy.

My Dells are set to a brightness of 120cd/m2, gamma=2.2 and color temperature of 6500K. That brightness setting is very low – something like a setting of 14 out of 100 on the Dell’s on-screen controls. If your prints are always coming out darker than you like, chances are you have the display set too bright, which is how Apple and just about every other display maker wants it, to show off their products. And Apple’s displays – built-in or separate – are some of the worst a photographer can use. In addition to having a far smaller color gamut (range) than your photographs and your (good) printer they are glossy, to add insult to injury. But boy, do they look ‘insanely great’ in the Apple Store or what?

While the EyeOne DisplayOne I use appears to have been discontinued – I would encourage any photographer to pick up a used one ($75-100) as there are no moving parts to go wrong in the device – the current model is the EyeOne DisplayPro, retailing for the same price I paid a few years ago for my model:

Click the picture to go to B&H USA. I get no click-through payment.

I have no idea what software is included, but you can download the Lion version of the app from Xrite and it works fine with Mountain Lion. Profile creation takes 8 minutes per display and the profile is automatically saved in the right place. I generally know when I am due for re-profiling as with three adjacent displays any changes from one to another are immediately obvious. If you use one display, a monthly profile run might make sense in the first year of a new display’s life, with quarterly ones thereafter. I always make sure my displays have been on for at least 30 minutes before making a new profile, to make sure they have settled.

When I took our son to lunch in San Francisco the other day – he was off school for Veterans’ Day – I made sure to bring the Nikon D2X with the 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor-S MF lens along, and encouraged him to play with the camera on the trip. It’s too heavy for him to use, as he is only 10 years old, but it was a joy watching him experiment with the various buttons and levers which exist in abundance on this complex camera’s body. I chose the MF lens for two reasons. One to teach him manual focusing, a rarity in the world he inhabits, and the second to take a snap of him over lunch. On the APS-C sensor in the D2X the 50mm lens takes on an effective 75mm focal length which is ideal for head and shoulders portraits, and nicely isolates the subject from the background.

Winston at Sinbad’s, at the ferry landing, San Francisco.
Click the picture for the map. Nikon D2X, 50mm f/1.4 at f/5.6. ISO 400.

The GPS data comes courtesy of the Aoka receiver illustrated here. The same one which fits on the D700 works every bit as well on the D2X. Actually, the receiver works better on the D2X which is quicker to pick up the GPS signal from sleep than the D700. I use the i-Blue MobileMate GPS sender illustrated in that linked piece but any of a number of alternative senders works. Check Aoka’s instructions.

The old 50mm lens, made some 40 years ago, is as good as it gets. No, it’s better, as I have added a CPU for proper loading of a lens correction profile in Lightroom as well as proper recording of EXIF data. The CPU also allows matrix metering to work with old MF Nikkors. In fact, in the case of the above portrait, the old Nikkor lens is too good. Despite the gentle window natural lighting, every last blemish in Winston’s face, despite his tender age, is laid bare in the original print. So when processing the image in Lightroom, I moved the Clarity slider to minus 20, which nicely softens things up without losing too much detail. The sensor in the D2X may be dated by modern standards and may start creaking at anything over 400 ISO, but the rendering of color in the large wall print I just made, with color fidelity made perfect by the calibrated monitor, is stunning.

A good colorimeter is a must have for any photographer, but especially for one who regularly makes prints. I think there may be five of us left in that category in the United States.

Perfectly balanced. The Nikon D2X with the 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor-S manual focus lens.
A dental floss (!) tether protects the GPS receiver against loss.

For more from the stellar 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor, click here.