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Pantone Huey Pro Review

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  #1  
Old 16-05-07, 12:11
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Default Pantone Huey Pro Review

Having just bought a Pantone Huey Pro monitor calibrator, I thought I’d share my experiences here.

The device itself is rather smaller than I had anticipated, being about the size of my forefinger. It is supplied with a cradle allowing the device to sit unobtrusively on a desk next to the monitor taking up minimal space. Along with the calibrator and cradle, the Huey Pro comes with a USB extension lead, this is essential if your computer’s USB port is more than about 300mm (12 inches) away from a space adjacent to the monitor. Completing the delivered bundle is a couple of ‘wet’ screen cleaning wipes, a ‘dry’ microfibre screen cleaner cloth, a CD with the required driver and calibration software, and a simple multi-language quick start guide – the latter is also available in pdf form on the CD.

If you use Adobe CS or CS2 under a Windows environment, you will almost certainly have a program called Adobe Gamma in your ‘Startup’ folder. Though there is no mention of this in the quick start guide, an earlier scan of the Pantone web site support section told me I should disable this. Instructions on the Pantone support section here:
http://pantone.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/...i=&p_topview=1

Not having these instructions in the guide seems like a serious omission to me. Users who have gone so far as to buy a monitor calibrator are likely to be the kind of user who will have Photoshop installed. Having two monitor gamma adjustment programs, Huey Pro and Adobe Gamma, running on startup could well cause all sorts of problems as they fight each other. It should also be remembered that if you apply a bug fix patch e.g. taking CS2 from 9.0.3 to 9.0.5, applying the patch will probably put Adobe Gamma back into your startup folder.

Having done the above, following the quick start guide is simple and can be summarised as;
Clean the screen, wet wipe followed by dry.
Install the driver for the Huey Pro from the CD. This is painless and automated, stick the CD in the drive and go.
Plug the calibrator gadget into a spare USB port and launch the calibration wizard – shortcuts to which will have been placed on your desktop, start menu and sys tray.

The wizard is fairly easy to follow, advising that the monitor should have been switched on and not in a screensaver mode for over half an hour before continuing. The user is also advised to remove all ambient light if possible and ensure that there are no strong reflections/light sources on the screen before continuing.

The wizard then takes the user through selecting the type of display in use, be it CRT, LCD or laptop and, for CRT monitors (I did not follow the LCD path) adjusting the brightness and contrast settings on the monitor using the monitor’s hardware buttons.

The wizard usefully points out that you may wish to drag the wizard dialogue box off to one side as the monitor’s own on screen display for adjusting brightness and contrast controls will almost certainly be slap bang in the middle of the screen. This would overlay the graphics the user is required to study whilst adjusting the brightness/contrast. It is during this adjustment phase that I found the only real niggle with the calibration process.

The user is presented with two circular graphics showing in one a series of concentric black circles, and in the other, a series of concentric white circles. The user is asked if they can see three different shades of black in one set, and two different shades of white in the second set. Having answered ‘No’ to the above question (I could only see two shades of black, though I had no trouble with the different white circles), I was prompted to look at the white circles and adjust the brightness/contrast until I could see two white circles. With any combination of the brightness/contrast controls, I could always see the two shades of white, the only difference being the extent to which they were visible. It was not made clear exactly what I was trying to achieve or which control should be adjusted to achieve this. Should I have as large a difference between my circles as possible, or a small a difference as I could perceive? Having said this, some default settings are suggested by the wizard, though this seems to defeat the object of the exercise. Knowing that the monitor’s white point is set by the contrast control, and not having any problem with the white circles, I put it back to its original setting where the difference between the circles was still clearly visible, but to a lesser degree than elsewhere.

The wizard then moved on to the black circles; the same sort of problem was found here. The monitor’s black point is set by the brightness control. At all but the very lowest brightness settings (<15%), and at any contrast setting, I could see three black circles. Winding up the brightness above 15% made the three rings more obvious, but it was not made clear if I should be setting the controls to only just be able to differentiate the rings, or having the difference to be more obvious. Again, some defaults are suggested. I set the brightness control to 17%, the minimum point where the three rings were clear without squinting, and put the contrast back to its previous whitepoint setting.

Having adjusted the monitor hardware settings, the calibrator is placed adjacent to the monitor, facing the user, where it measures the ambient light level and colour temperature. Following this, the calibrator is stuck onto the screen, the wizard tells you exactly where to put it, and the screen flashes with a series of red/green/blue patches and black/white/grey patches. A progress monitor keeps the user informed that everything is going well and the process has not become stuck for some reason.

After this, the calibrator is placed back in its cradle next to the monitor and the user selects a preferred default colour temperature (selectable from 5000K, 6500K or 7500K) and gamma setting (1.80, 2.20 or 2.40). These settings can be changed easily later without having to go through the calibration process again. This completes the calibration sequence. The user can click on ‘before’ and ‘after’ buttons to see the difference, whilst a colour checker chart and portrait picture are displayed. The settings are saved to a file which can be given a memorable name and this file is used by Windows on startup to adjust the graphics card output. When I later launched Capture One, I was nagged that the monitor profile file noted in Capture One did not match the profile in use by Windows and would I like to correct this? After saying ‘Yes’ the correct file was used by C1.

Even with the messing about agonising over the monitor’s hardware settings, the whole process still took less than 15 minutes, this included having to pull my base unit out from its cubbyhole and plug in the USB lead. Recalibrating, a reminder to do this can be set to pop up on a variable timescale from 1 to 14 days, on its own should be less than 2 minutes. There should be no need to tweak the hardware settings in the future now it’s been done. In normal usage, the calibrator sits in its cradle next to the monitor, facing the user, and adjusts the monitor in accordance with ambient lighting – both for level and colour temperature. The time period for this ambient sampling frequency can be adjusted from 1 minute intervals to several hours.

So, after all this, does it work? Has it made any difference? I had previously got the brightness level set too low (at 0%), this was despite running the Adobe Gamma (eyeball driven) calibration routine which had indicated that things were fine at this low level. With the brightness wound up a bit more, my blacks are still black, but I’m seeing more shadow detail in my pictures than previously. Also of note is that the grey background of WPF is brighter than it used to be. Some colours were pretty much unchanged, which in many ways is reassuring, my monitor wasn’t too far out to begin with. Blues and greens are not noticeably different, reds however have distinctly more punch to them. Flesh tones are well, more fleshy, if that makes sense. It’s not something that I had noticed previously, but now I can see that people’s faces were really quite pasty before, they have a bit more colour in their cheeks now. Seeing the ambient light sensor change the monitor is really quite spooky. After calibrating the system with the curtains closed to remove as much ambient light as possible (recommended), on opening the curtains again, the wallpaper I have on my desktop changed to look the same as it had with the curtains closed. I hadn’t realised how much difference this made until I saw the effect in action.

Pros:
You now know that the colours you are seeing are ‘right’, as far as right can be on a PC monitor.
Colour accuracy is better than eyeballing and subsequent guess/estimating the resulting adjustment.
Improved hardware brightness and contrast settings give more dynamic range to photos (despite previously adjusting these using Adobe Gamma utility).
Adjusts settings automatically to compensate for changing ambient light levels.
An essential first step in getting your screen to match prints.

Cons:
Setup instructions miss out warnings about removing any existing gamma adjustment programs.
Setup wizard does not make it clear how the hardware brightness/contrast levels should be adjusted to achieve the desired results, or indeed, what the desired results for the black/white circles should be.

I bought from Calumet Photo, the service was quick, the process painless.

Hope this helps,

Duncan
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  #2  
Old 16-05-07, 16:40
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Thanks so much for this Duncan, I'm looking at calibration programs and it's so useful to have a user point of view.
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  #3  
Old 16-05-07, 16:46
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Thanks Duncan for the detailed report.
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  #4  
Old 16-05-07, 21:09
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Thanks for all the effort put in. I am considering the Huey Pro as a possible future purchase so much appreciated.
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  #5  
Old 16-05-07, 21:10
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Duncan thanks for the posting your findings. Do you know what the difference is between the the ordinary Pantone Huey and the pro version I can't find any comparisons.
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Old 17-05-07, 07:57
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Duncan you did a great job. As usual.

Unfortunately seems not meant for me looking at the length of you review. Any suggestion for a simpler thingy?
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  #7  
Old 17-05-07, 08:08
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Christine,

The Huey and Huey Pro appear to be the same hardware items, but the software used for the Pro calibration routine does more. Having read the help file, which covers both standard and Pro, it would appear that the basic Huey software does not have the routine for the hardware brightness/contrast settings. The user defined whitepoint and gamma adjustments do not appear to be in the basic Huey software either. There is more advanced help available in the Pro too.

The process actually used to do the calibration may well be different for the Pro, more colour swatches, more variation in different grey scales, etc. Not having seen the basic Huey calibration I cannot say for certain.

Pantone offer a Pro upgrade to existing Huey owners, this is a software download only, so it would appear that the gadget itself is the same, what the software does with it could be quite different.

Duncan
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Old 17-05-07, 08:10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sassan View Post
Duncan you did a great job. As usual.

Unfortunately seems not meant for me looking at the length of you review. Any suggestion for a simpler thingy?
Sassan,

For a simpler thingy, the basic Pantone Huey is about as simple as they come, and very, very cheap too.
http://www.pantone.com/pages/product...px?pid=79&ca=2
I'm sure you could get it even cheaper if you shop around.

Duncan
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  #9  
Old 17-05-07, 10:03
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Thanks Duncan, I have found the standard version for £49 so may go for that one. and at a later date upgrade the software.
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  #10  
Old 30-07-07, 15:46
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Must the huey be connected all the time. I.E could I buy one unit and use it to calibrate a number of monitors all on different computers, afterwards store in a cupboard?
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