Colour management is needed to try to ensure that when using computer systems colour fidelity is achieved across different machines and between soft and hard copy. Computers represent colour as three numbers, RGB. But the same RGB values displayed on different monitors will usually result in a different on-screen colour. In addition, there could be colour gamut issues; one monitor may be able to display colours that are simply out of the achievable range of another. When we consider printers the problem is even worse. The gamut of a printer is very different to that of a computer display. And printers tend to represent colour in terms of CMY or CMYK values. So the colour-management software has rather a lot to do to satisfy users.
A great deal of colour management goes on in computer systems of which the average user is completely unaware. This uses default settings and makes various assumptions but is normally good enough so that reds appear red and blues appear blue on any computer display or printer. Colour management has been built in to Apple software for a long while and is now also part of the Microsoft operating system. But the professional user may require more than is offered by the basic colour management that comes as part of all new systems. However, professional-level colour management comes at a cost and it’s not just financial. It is usually necessary to have to characterize each device (monitor display, printer etc.) that is to be used; and this requires colour measurment and some knowledge of colorimetry.
I recently came across a new product – ColorMunki 1.1 – released by X-rite that promises enhanced colour performance for colour-critical users. This seems to be an interesting product in that it is aimed at designers and photographers.
ColorMunk 1.1 – http://www.colormunki.com/ – is in fact a suite of software that also include a device for measuring colour. I am looking forward to trying this out. If anyone has any experience of this system that they would like to share it would be vey helpful.