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Why do my images frequently look "too dark" to PC users

William Croninger , Feb 23, 2005; 12:28 p.m.

When I post images online (nothing at photo.net at this time) I frequently hear from PC users that the images are much too dark. I've used both Photoshop CS and 7 on 15" iMac and 20" iMac LCD monitors. When viewed on other Macs with LCD or CRT monitors the images look exactly as I see them here. Also, when viewed on PC LCDs the images are once again just as I see them on the Mac. I've been told I need to purchase calibration software/hardware. Possibly so but prior to that I would very much like to understand what is going on and whether it is something I am doing in Photoshop.

You can see my website here: http://www.shadowsofmaine.com

I did not see this problem addressed elsewhere on photo.net but if it is please excuse my missing it..just point me in the right direction and I'll go do some learning.

Thanks Bill Croninger

often called too dark


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grepmat , Feb 23, 2005; 12:45 p.m.

You may want to change your monitor's gamma setting to the one that the PC world uses. Macs use a gamma of 1.8 while televisions and the M$ sheep use 2.2. The latter is darker, so when your image looks right on your monitor, it looks "too dark" to PC people. Use the calibration utility in the monitors control panel. Cheers

Sean Buckley , Feb 23, 2005; 12:46 p.m.

You might find this an interesting thread:

Something we all need to know...

I believe it is also possible for Photoshop to preview the image as it would appear on Windows (soft proof), but presumably only as it would appear on a correctly calibrated Windows PC. This is important - the sad truth is that most users have their monitor set up badly for photo viewing - i.e. the gradient in the above link won't display properly, and images will look too dark.

William Croninger , Feb 23, 2005; 01:10 p.m.

Gentleman, thanks for your input. I tried the "soft proof" option in Photoshop and the results were very interesting. It certainly darkens the image considerably.

. Kaa , Feb 23, 2005; 01:15 p.m.

This is a function of a parameter called "gamma". Basically gamma is a measure of how much you compress the shadows in the image to make more room for midtones. Macs by default have a gamma of 1.8, PCs -- 2.2.

For more information than you probably want to know, look here:


Sabrina H. , Feb 23, 2005; 01:16 p.m.

The image you posted looks fine to me; I'm on a MAC G4 laptop.

I sometimes have similar problems when posting my images to photo.net. When I upload an image, it usually appears darker than what I want. I've figured out my images posted looks closer to the "windows preview" in Photoshop CS; so I work from there.

We have 3 computers in our house; 1 MAC laptop, 1 MAC tabletop and a Sony Vaio PC laptop (my husband is a graphic/web designer and use the pc for testing websites). My images looks different on all screens but not too bad.

My moniter looks pretty decent but I wont callibrate my moniter because my clients that visit my website dont have calibrated moniters (they're ordinary people) ... I want to at least see some of what they see.

When in doubt, I preview my images on all systems and make a comprimise.

. Kaa , Feb 23, 2005; 01:44 p.m.

My moniter looks pretty decent but I wont callibrate my moniter because my clients that visit my website dont have calibrated moniters (they're ordinary people) ... I want to at least see some of what they see.

LOL. Sabrina, all uncalibrated monitors are different, that's why they are called UNcalibrated. So what you see on YOUR uncalibrated monitor doesn't necessarily have any relationship to what other people see on THEIR uncalibrated monitors.

Designing images for uncalibrated monitors is basically accepting that color variation will occur and that you can't depend on subtle hues. What you meant as red might be orangeish to some people and magentaish to others. Moreover, some monitors will be too bright and will compress your highlights, while others will be too dark and will block up the shadows.

I would still highly recommend calibrating your own monitor so that you have a stable baseline, at least.

John Baker , Feb 23, 2005; 02:46 p.m.

William, I have the same problem. I copied your above picture into Photoshop on my computer and placed it side-by-side with the same picture displayed on my browser. The picture in Photoshop looks FINE but the picture in my browser does indeed look darker. It must be the way Windows displays graphics compared to the way Photoshop does??

Pete Su , Feb 23, 2005; 03:12 p.m.

i make sure everything i put on the web is in the sRGB color space.

then it displays fairly similarly on a mac vs. a PC

exactly why this works out is complicated.

William Croninger , Feb 23, 2005; 05:02 p.m.

Grepmat, Sean, .KAA, Sabrina, John and Pete: Many thanks for all you folks have contributed on this. I'm not going to tell you I understand everying but I certainly understand more than I did and have many more resources to look at then before your assistance.


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