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CNET Membership newsletter August 20, 2004 

The 5 that matter

Dear CNET members:
This week I received some incredibly detailed submissions from our members in regards to Donna's question about printing digital photos to exactly match the image on her monitor. And in the submissions, the overwhelming response was that it is impossible to achieve a dead-on match even through the use of high-tech color calibration hardware and software. However as Donal's winning answer states, "you can do a better job at it." So please check out the great extensive explanation from our winner below and, by all means, read the honorable mentions for some awesome explanations about this topic. Thank you all for your participation!

If you have missed any of our newsletters from previous weeks, click here to access the Q&A archives from each week's newsletter.

1Why is it every time I print a digital photo, the colors or lighting from the prints never match what I am seeing on my monitor? I want to be able to print exactly what I see on my monitor, color for color, to my printer. Help!

--Submitted by: Donna P. of Orlando, Florida

The short answer on how to match the colors produced by your printer to what you see on the monitor: it is impossible, since the digital print uses reflective light from inks to produce colors; the monitor uses far more brilliant transmitted light. Any printer, no matter how expensive or what technology it uses, has to compress the very large brightness range of color on the monitor to what inks are capable of rendering, which necessarily involves altering those colors into duller versions of themselves.

That being said, it is possible to do a better job of it, but it can be tedious to get it right.

The first step is to calibrate your monitor so that the colors on it display correctly--a gray is truly gray, not a green-gray, for instance. Your monitor and operating system usually have software or controls to do that.

The second step is to make sure your printer is using fresh ink and of the type intended for it. Cheap off-brand ink is usually not what you want to produce vibrant color.

Third, and this is where it gets fun, you have to use the controls available to you in your image software and your printer's driver to alter the colors to what you like. Both programs affect the final printed color... Read more

--Submitted by Donal H.

(Please click here for the honorable mentions, which includes a great deal of additional information.)

For Donal's efforts, we’re sending his choice of any Learning CD.

Check out next week's question:

I was wondering if someone could help me set my computer up so that my kids can use it but cannot download or install anything without my permission. I have caught my son installing Kazaa (with viruses coming with it!), using it, then uninstalling it before I got home. I hate to punish my other children by having to leave my computer off all day.

--Submitted by: Debbie B.

We feature a new question every Friday. If you have the answer, e-mail us at If we choose your response, you'll get a free CD. Click here for Q&A submission guidelines

Best regards and enjoy!

Lee Koo
CNET Community
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