How do I use a Pantone Huey correctly?
March 25, 2010 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Using a Pantone Huey color calibrator seems to make drastically bad choices with terrible results. What am I doing wrong?

I recently got a Pantone Huey monitor color calibrator. I've used it following the directions on a Sony Bravia LCD attached to a Mac Pro via DVI to HDMI connectors.

Before calibration viewing a video file with VLC looks normal. After calibration the video has large patches of solid colors that are completely, objectively wrong. It has the appearance of being run through the "Posterize" photoshop filter and is so dark it's hard to see any detail in some scenes. The video file happened to be a downloaded MacGyver episode, fwiw.

What bothers me about the color calibrator is the last step - it asks you to pick your "desired usage" and has only a handful of choices. Things like "web designer, video editor, gamer" which result in drastically different output. This seems to negate the whole point of the color calibration.

What am I doing wrong? Is there better software to use with the Huey hardware that would give more accurate results?
posted by odinsdream to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"... The video file happened to be a downloaded MacGyver episode, fwiw. ..."

Could be a bad file. How's the rest of your color world look, after calibration?

"... attached to a Mac Pro ..."

What OS version? Requires OSX 10.3 or higher (some packaging materials say "10.2 or higher" but 10.3 seems the real minimum), and frankly, a lot of Mac users report much better results with Huey Pro (adds, AFAIK ambient light sensing and correction, of more importance with LCD displays). Upgrade?
posted by paulsc at 8:16 PM on March 25, 2010

I'm gonna go ahead and blame the monitor here. How does your monitor do with the following color gradient test? Look very carefully at the dark ranges.

Huey is probably calibrating everything down a bit, and your monitor is unable to render the darker ranges properly. LCD is notoriously bad at rendering darker images.

Banding in LCD Gradients how common?

Question: Did you calibrate the monitor before using Huey? Or are you using factory presets? Calibrate the monitor first & then worry about your computer.
posted by MesoFilter at 8:55 PM on March 25, 2010

Did you calibrate in the darkest possible room?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:57 PM on March 25, 2010

Things like "web designer, video editor, gamer" which result in drastically different output. This seems to negate the whole point of the color calibration.

You're calibrating for the presumed platform of the end user. There is no such thing as a pure color calibration, it's a multi-step process.

Real World -> Camera -> You (the video editor) -> DVD, Broadcast, Cable, Streaming Media -> Computer Monitor/HDTV/CRT/whatever.

There are a LOT of variables here. Different cameras handle colors differently, and you have to have some sort of reference in the Real World to calibrate as far down the line to the reference in the real world. Something like the X-Rite Color Checker.

The video you were editing has probably been through this process & was intended for broadcast & display on CRT displays. Also the fact that you downloaded it says to me that it wasn't exactly DVD quality to begin with, and a lot of compressed video sacrifices the darks a bit.
posted by MesoFilter at 9:04 PM on March 25, 2010

Not sure about your TV specifically, but my Panasonic plasma has a default setting to adjust brightness depending on what's being put on the screen, ie darker scenes give brighter whites, which could screw with your calibrator.

Also, the anti-glare coating of your TV might be screwing with the results also. (if there is one)
posted by wongcorgi at 1:36 AM on March 26, 2010

Sorry, I don't think I was clear on the problem. This is objectively, clearly, massively wrong after using the calibration procedure, regardless of what I choose for the "preset" after the calibration is finished. The video looks completely wrong. I'll have to post some photos of the screens to really demonstrate this I think, so I'll see if I can't get that over the weekend.
posted by odinsdream at 7:13 PM on March 26, 2010

I have a Huey. I think the software is crap and I stopped using it. I could hook mine back up and try to help you but there is no way I'm installing their crappy software again. I suspect the "pro" version of the software is better but I'm not going to pony up to find out.
posted by chairface at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2010

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