Oh My God Help!!! Calibration is busted!!!

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This is gonna be kind of long. I'm sorry about that. Hopefully you'll read through the whole thing because I'm hoping someone here can help me. I've been away on business travel and I haven't had much chance to do much on my computer (late 2017 iMac 27") recently. As I walked by my office, I looked at the screen saver and it looked absolutely horrible. It was showing a photo of flowers from below on a black background. The problem was that there was this kind of posterized hazy gray around and among the flowers (this is not a feature of the image). Essentially on any image I have where there is a lot of black, my monitor is now showing values as low as 1/255 as gray and posterized. Brighter parts of the image may also be impacted, but it's certainly not as noticeable.

I calibrate my monitor (Spyder5Pro). When I switch to a standard Apple profile (iMac, Display P3, Apple RGB), the problem goes away. When I use my calibration profiles (which never exhibited this problem before), or if I use some other standard profiles (Adobe RGB (1998)) I get the posterization in the deep blacks. I took a photo of my screen to show what I'm seeing (it's a little blown out, but you get the idea):

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That's the view from Lightroom. Photoshop also shows the posterization, as does Preview (which ships with MacOS). I notice this on PSDs and JPEGs (haven't checked other files). Interestingly, I don't see this if I open the same JPEG is Nikon Capture 2. I also don't see it when opening the file in my virtual machines (using Parallels). I've verified that if I boot into safe mode I don't have the problem even with my profiles (I'd like to recheck that to be sure, but I'm almost certain the effect is gone in safe mode). I've also check on 2 older macs running older OSs because they can't update to 10.14 (a 2009 24" iMac and a 2012 MacBook Air). Neither of these exhibit the problem when using Adobe RGB (1998) or my custom profiles for them. I've tried rerunning calibration from scratch on my main computer, but the new profiles also exhibit the problem.

I have not changed anything about my Mac (screen brightness, selected calibration profile, etc.). This just showed up recently and I can guarantee it was never there before because a) I would never finish an image to look like that in the blacks, and b) editing a dark image like this is useless: there is no gradient possible in the dark grays and blacks. If this was standard behavior, digital photography would still not be ready for primetime.

I've spent several hours on the phone with Apple tech support we've documented the problem and it went to the Apple engineering team. The first response back from Apple engineering was that it had to be a problem with my custom calibration software, which is kind of boneheaded since I pointed out that other standard profiles which don't show this problem on older versions of the OS, don't exhibit this problem. I sent that response in and I'm waiting to hear back. I've also reached out to Datacolor (makers of the Spyder5) but I haven't heard back from them yet.

As far as I can tell, this is a problem resulting from a recent MacOS update (something around 10.14.6) and as such, I can't be the only one experiencing it. I have verified it on my 27" iMac (late 2017), my MacBook Pro (2018), and my wife's MacBook Air (this one isn't calibrated, but when I switch to Adobe RGB, the problem shows up). The problem effects Lightroom CC Classic, Photoshop CC, and even Preview, but interestingly enough, does not effect Nikon Capture. Lightroom, Photoshop, and Preview all show the problem, but the nature of the posterization is different in each.

I can get it to go away if I use the Apple Standard profiles, but then I'm no longer color managed. I'm kind of freaking out because I don't want to operate without color management, but right now there doesn't seem to be a fix. I'm going to try to roll back my iMac to 10.14.5 to see if the problem goes away, but I'm holding off on doing that until I let the tech support stuff run its course.

Is anyone else able to verify this problem?

Thanks,

Dave
 

Growltiger

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My guess would be that macOS is failing to load your Spyder generated profiles, so you end up with no profile loaded, giving the full brightness.
Although Apple introduced this problem, I suspect it will be down to Datacolor to solve it.
Maybe Apple moved the required location of the profiles, or changed the required format of the profiles.

Other alternatives are to use older versions of macOS or buy a new calibration tool - I used to use Spyder and then switched to the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo (which does printers too).
 
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It's definitely loading the profiles because they have a visible effect w.r.t. color cast so it's operating on the information in the files in some way. I think you're on with how Apple changed the format of the profiles. The weird thing is that it effects standard profiles too, not just my calibration profiles. I'm still waiting to hear from Datacolor but I'm guessing that won't happen until next week some time.

What I'm also wondering is why I seem to be the only person noticing this. I can't be the only Spyder5Pro user on a mac running 10.14.6. I'm sure there will be more to follow.

Dave
 
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Update:

Apple still hasn't solved my problem. I do know that it's not present when you operate in safe mode, but that it's not related to anything I've got installed... at least not that we can find. Also, I've heard back from Datacolor, the makers of my screen calibration equipment. They were aware of the problem, it does stem from the 10.14.6 update. They were able to describe the phenomenon to a tee and even sent mea test file of their own describing what values would be messed up and what wouldn't.

RGB of 0,0,0 is fine, from RGB of 1,1,1, to 89,89,89 the values are wrong (e.g. 1,1,1 displays as 14,14,14). From 90,90,90 and up everything matches. This is the case on any and all profiles I've checked (mine and standard profiles that don't work).

So that's the good news, it's a real thing and it's known. I'll bet some of you are experiencing it, you just haven't looked at photos with large areas of very dark areas yet. According to Datacolor, a full calibration should fix the problem although once Apple remedies the problem in the OS, the new "working" calibration won't work and I'll have to recalibrate. The bad news is that I've tried this and it doesn't fix the problem. I've let them know and I'm awaiting a response.

Dave
 
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OK, another update:

I've now replaced my Spyder5Pro with a SpyderXPro and that didn't help (still working that out per the tech support mentioned in the first update). I also purchased a Colormunki|Display to see if different software would help. Just tried that and lo and behold the new Colormunki produced profile works. Not only that, but it shows up grouped with the iMac profile (one of the Apple built in profiles that does work), as opposed to with all of the other profiles. I don't know why it shows up there, but maybe that's not a coincidence. Maybe whatever flag gets it into that good group gets the profile interpreted properly.

So that's fantastic news. Now I'm profiled again, hooray!!!. I'd love for the SpyderXPro to work though. That thing is way faster than the Colormunki.

Anyone have any similar experiences yet?

Thanks,

Dave
 

Growltiger

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X-Rite are a much larger organisation who specialise in the field and also have hugely expensive high-end products covereing every aspect of light measurement. I decided to stick to using their products. The more expensive ColorMunki Photo has always worked well for me and does printing as well as displays, allowing the making of profiles for any combination of printer, ink and paper.

Slower can be better than faster. The Colormunki makes a large number of measurements. It still only takes a few minutes.
 
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The DataColor-Apple issue that I have been facing is that with a calibrated screen some B&W images don't show (just a big black square). Neither Apple nor DataColor have been helpful. I live with it. OS 10.16.6 and even earlier. Spyder 5 and Spyder X.
 
Joined
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Tucson, AZ U.S.A.
X-Rite are a much larger organisation who specialise in the field and also have hugely expensive high-end products covereing every aspect of light measurement. I decided to stick to using their products. The more expensive ColorMunki Photo has always worked well for me and does printing as well as displays, allowing the making of profiles for any combination of printer, ink and paper.

Slower can be better than faster. The Colormunki makes a large number of measurements. It still only takes a few minutes.
It's very interesting. One reason I tried a new Spyder, is that all of the reviews I read listed it as their number one option, for various reasons, and I suspected that the newer device would come with newer software, as the Spyder5Pro software is still 32 bit and I keep getting warnings that it's not compatible with future versions of MacOS. The new SpyderXPro software is 64 bit so no warnings, but it doesn't solve my problem. At the same time, the Colormunki software also gives me the 32 bit warning, but it does fix things. I guess that isn't a good indication of how up to date with Apple's changing OS "features" a given offering is.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Tucson, AZ U.S.A.
The DataColor-Apple issue that I have been facing is that with a calibrated screen some B&W images don't show (just a big black square). Neither Apple nor DataColor have been helpful. I live with it. OS 10.16.6 and even earlier. Spyder 5 and Spyder X.
Well I'm still not at a real root cause of my problem, but I can say that for me, a Colormunki fixed the problem.

Dave
 

Growltiger

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X-Rite are committed to supporting all their current products on Mac 64bit:
https://xritephoto.com/ph_product_overview.aspx?ID=1454&Action=Support&SupportID=5921

Date Created: 19/04/2018 Date Modified: 15/07/2019

+Mac OS X Mojave 64-Bit Warning

This is a monthly warning from Apple. Their next operating system will support only 64-bit applications. They are dropping 32-bit applications in this next OS X Catalina 10.15. The current X-Rite 32-bit applications will continue run normally on Mac OS X 10.14.5. Apple plans to release this new operating system in September of 2019 and our software development team is working to provide 64-bit versions of all of our X-Rite software applications currently supported on Mac OS X 10.14.5.
 

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