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For a long while I was happily loading images into the computer, and assuming what I see on the screen would appear exactly when producing prints.
Take it from me, if you wish to pursue the art of digital imaging, then monitor calibration should be the first thing on your list.
I will not attempt to explain how to calibrate your monitor. There is a plethora of information out there on the WWW. As a guide, there is the cheap and the expensive route.
For cheap monitor calibration for Apple users there is the Apple ColorSync Calibrator. I am not an apple user myself, so I have found this information with a little research.
For the Windows user, I have found a free and handy website from ePaperPress. They have a section dedicated to Monitor Calibration. This website has handy tools to get you on your way, along with explanations of the calibration process.
Up the scale of under £100 are hardware solutions from companies like Datacolor and Pantone. From Datacolour you have the Spyder 2 Express which is around the £55 mark or $65US, or the updated Spyder 3 Pro version for just under £100 or $160us (now Spyder 4 – 05.11.21). On my trip to America I purchased the Spyder 2 Pro, which is just under £120 or £150US. Used in conjunction with my Epson R2400, I have produced wonderful results. From Pantone is the Huey Pro for a little under £100 or £130US.
I recommend any of these products if you are home printing in small quantities, or selling via the internet.
If you plan on setting up a larger scale printing and selling business you may want to look into the higher rated products from these and other manufacturers. They usually consist of having to calibrate your monitor with the use of prints specifically from your printer, and depending on paper type, you create dedicated ICC profiles. You will get the most accurate results from this method, but for me it seems a little long winded for basic home printing, or internet selling. Prices from £300 to over £1000!!! The choice is yours.
Most printer paper manufacturers will have printing profiles for your printer type, available free from their websites. So as long as your monitor is calibrated, you should achieve harmonious results.
Continuing on from silly thing no.1, I had purchased all the gear for cleaning the sensor, and did not need it. That’s OK, i can use the cleaner to clean my lenses and filters. It says so on the website. What you can not do, is clean your multi coated filters. Which brings me to…
Silly thing No.2 – Multi Coated Filters & Cleaning.
Most photographers will always have a filter attached to the end of their lenses. The main reason is protection. It is also handy for cutting down on unwanted ultraviolet light. With the advent of digital photography, the multi coated filters like the Hoya “Pro1 D”, or B+W “MRC” filter series are now the standard for digital photography. What the manufacturers will not tell you is how to clean the filter without damaging it.
I use the “Eclipse” cleaning fluid to clean the filters. It states on the website that i can clean filters with this fluid. I even had some Pec Pads i can use in conjunction with the product. Bad idea.
While it is true that you can clean filters with this product, i found it is not true for multi coated filters. Take my advise, and do not even try it. It seemed to remove the coating and create large streaks and then little pools of uncoated glass. I did manage to salvage it slightly, but the filter was ruined. One of my more expensive circular polarisers was for the bin.
So what to do?
A fellow photography enthusiast informed me he himself does not use any special fluids, brushes or the like. The best and cheapest method, is to give the filter a blow with something like Giottos Q.Ball if it needs it. Use your breath to dampen the glass, and clean using a good cleaning cloth. I currently use B+W’s cleaning cloth, which is a great product. If you have managed to get salt water, dirt or some other alien matter on the filter, use tap water to clean, let it dry, and clean in the way just mentioned. If you do have dirt, please be sure you have removed all the dirt before wiping with the cloth. Otherwise the glass may become scratched.
Granted, this may not be the only method of cleaning, but it has worked well for me thus far. If anyone has some other tips or tricks, i would love to hear them.
But do not forget, do not use special fluids on multi coated filters. Take it from this numb skull.
One way i have avoided the heartache is to not purchase the multi coated filters. I now use the B+W standard UV filter as a protector filter, which is also cheaper. It does a great job, and it is easier to clean.
Silly thing No.1
Dust on the sensor.
There is a worry for many about the dust that will eventually appear on the sensor. Many of the new DSLRs will have a self cleaning facility built into the camera. If this fails, i recommend a tried and tested method, use an air blower. Before you rush out and purchase all the sensor cleaning swabs and liquid, or miracle brushes, purchase yourself a reasonable priced air blower like Giottos Q.Ball. I stupidly saw dust on my sensor, panicked, and purchased a load of cleaning equipment i have not yet used. I have been using DSLRs for the last few years, owned two DSLRs and have not had to touch the sensor. Just follow your camera’s instructions for cleaning the sensor (this will involve exposing the sensor), give it a good blow, and check. Nine times out of ten, you will not have to touch a thing. Ten out of ten for me, so far….
Stay tuned for tip number 2.