Ask An Expert: Color Shifts On MacBook Pro

Here’s a tough question I received recently.  Once again, I went back to Nat Coalson for the answer.  Nat’s one of the most well-informed color management experts I’ve worked with and he’s an excellent teacher on the topic.  Here is the question and his response.

The Question:

Hi Brett,

I was wondering if you or a reader may be able to help me. I have a macbookpro and also a Mac Pro with an Eizo Coloredge monitor. I use a Eye One Display to calibrate both and the Eizo is wonderful (as you would expect) however, my macbookpro display shows severe magenta shifts when trying to display blue colours (the sorts of blue you get in the shadows on a blue sky day – see here http://www.flickr.com/photos/timparkin/4251366239/).

However I try to calibrate my macbookpro using the Eye One product, I always end up with these areas coming out a vivid magenta (a bit like the magenta you get from old velvia film). I’ve tried changing the colour temperature and brightness but to no avail – I can’t get close.

I have heard other people have a similar issue and was wondering if anybody had any comments about this?

Nat Responds:

I haven’t seen or heard of this problem. It’s most likely due to incorrect settings. A couple of ideas:

First, make sure that the Eye One software is up to date and the sensor is clean.

Second, make sure the settings used for performing the calibration are correct. I seem to recall there is a “Laptop” mode (but I could be confusing it with another app).  After calibration and profiling is done, go into the Displays control panel and make sure the correct profile is loaded. Also make sure the Mac’s built-in “calibration” isn’t interfering.

Finally, confirm the settings in your ColorSync utility are correct; they should be left at their defaults.

I’ve successfully calibrated a number of macbooks and macbook pros without a problem. Understand that a laptop will never calibrate as well as a standalone, desktop display, so you won’t ever see your macbook and Eizo looking the same. That said, you shouldn’t expect a magenta color cast, either.  I suppose it is possible that for some reason the macbook’s display driver doesn’t like the profile being generated by the Eye One. In this case, you’ll need to Google a bit to see if other people have the same problem, and what the fix is.

I know this isn’t a definite answer but hope it helps point you in the right direction.

4 thoughts on “Ask An Expert: Color Shifts On MacBook Pro”

  1. Many thanks to Bret for posting the question and even more so for Nat for answering it. After having a dig around in Colorsync, I found out that the profile it was using was CIELAB, not the one that I had generated using Colornavigator. So it seems that just doing as EyeOne ColorMatch says will lead to the magenta shift I’ve talked about.

    As soon as I changed this to my created profile things went better. However I’m wondering how I set the colorsync settings to their defaults (i.e. in the device section I have a choice of profiles for my display – do I set both the system preferences>display>color to my created profile and also my colorsync>devices>display to my created profile? It appears that when I use display>color>choose that the colorsync gets changed also. Anyway – when I do this, everything looks a lot better!

  2. Glad to hear this was helpful, Tim. Nat is a color management guru extraordinaire! Really good question and I’m glad you asked it. I’m sure you aren’t the only person out there suffering from this issue.

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