Difference between screen and print

Why does color management have to be so tricky? I have to confess, I just don’t get it.

I’m using darktable to edit my raw files on an uncalibrated HUAWEI MateView 28.2’’ display. The whole calibration process seems way too complex for me, and I’m not even sure if it’s feasible to calibrate the MateView, or how to go about it. However, the colors I see on my MateView seem pretty consistent with those on my laptop’s native display, an Apple MacBook Air with an M1 CPU.

But, as you might expect, there’s a catch. When I send a photo off to a print lab, the prints come back looking noticeably different from what I see on either of my screens. Fortunately, the exposure is mostly accurate, but the colors in the prints tend to be much warmer.

Here’s a photo to illustrate what I’m talking about. The print displays significantly more red and orange tones than the image on my MateView display.

For a short answer (of a guy who does not have alot of knowledge as well regarding calibration):

  1. You need a good monitor and calibrate it
  2. The printer needs to be calibrated as well and you would need to have a calibrationprofile for softproofing in your software
  3. I think prints and images viewed on the screen are allways different because the screen emits light itself while paper reflects light.

Please correct me if i am wrong.

Calibrating a monitor is not that difficult. I did it with argyllcms.

Edit: i just saw your picture. I have a question about your lightning. How is your room lit where your monitor is? On the image it seems like it has a strange color.

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Looking at the two, I think the “exposure” is also different. Look at snow on the mountain, or lighting in the city. That’s probably more about a tone curve than exposure.

What are you sending to the lab, a JPEG file? TIFF? Is the color profile embedded?


If your screen is fairly close to sRGB or AdobeRGB, its white point will be close to D65, or about 6500 K.
If your home is lit with typical household lamps, that is ‘warm white’ light, the white point of these light sources is around 2700 K (a lot lower, so redder than the screen).
You should not expect the two to look very similar when placed side by side.
On the photo (with the print and the screen), the screen looks excessively blue to me, at least the snow on the mountain looks deep blue, while the town in the valley (probably lit by orange sodium lights) looks as I’d expect it to look. On the print, everything is warm. The ‘real world’ (your hand, the wire on the right, which I expect is white) also looks too warm.

My guess is that if you’re looking only at the screen, your eyes (and brain) will adjust to that white point, and you won’t experience the snow as overly blue. Similarly, if you try looking at only the photo (especially in natural sunlight), you probably won’t see it as that warm.

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Yes, a JPEG file exported at 100% quality as they require, with sRGB color profile.



Ohhh, perception is so weird; it’s a truly fascinating mystery!

Your ideas are convincing. Regarding the snow being too blue, however, it was almost dark that evening, and I perceived it as blue in that moment, as it was illuminated only by the reflected light from the blue sky.

True, though, it’s super blue in the photo I posted. But I don’t see it that blue in my original image, when I look at both on my screen. That photo was only to show that the screen and the print have different colours though.

Start with calibrating your monitors. Note that it doesn’t matter how things look to you eye, as your eyes will adjust to anything.

After I first calibrated my monitors I thought “wow this looks worse” but when my print came out looking very similar I thought “wow this is great”


While it doesn’t account for the differences within the posted image, the embedded ICC profile is the ‘display’ type, “Display P3” whereas, for posting here, type ‘lcms’ or type ‘mntr’ sRGB would be more appropriate.

[deleted confusing comment about printer profiles]

The example colors are so hugely different that I suspect that the calibration or lack thereof on your monitors is not very significant.

Summat’s up or summat …

Sorry, I don’t follow you. Where do you see that my image’s profile is “Display P3”? Thank you.

I don’t even understand where I should start. First things first, what software and hardware do I need?

I have a HUAWEI MateView 28.2’’ display and a MacBook Air (M1) laptop.

Pardon me, It’s in the EXIF of your posted image:

I hasten to add that I was talking about your posted image’s profile! I do assume that you don’t send iPhone shots for printing

Ah, ok, I see, thank you. No, I sent a jpeg file exported from darktable, as shown in a previous post.

Thanks, I just now saw where it showed that in a screen shot …

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If you share the actual file (jpeg/tiff you sent to the printer), then the folks here can evaluate.

Sure, here we go:

You need a hardware calibration device and you should use the software DisplayCal.

Hardware like this should work, but check first to make sure it is compatible with displaycal.

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I think we need more info about the printing service. Some may automatically (consumer or manually) adjust the images for print. They may also expect certain profiles or colour spaces.

@kofa explained quite well the issue with comparing an emitting screen and a print under warm light. Amongst other things screen won’t be affected by surrounding light as it emits light. (perceptually it does change depending on the surrounding but not in the same way as the paper). We’re then viewing a photo of a print in warm light and a screen which makes it even more complicated as your camera photographing the print plays a part.

First thing is to look at the print in daylight and also figure out what your printing service provides and what input they expect.

If your two screens are comparable and one being a macbook I think calibration is secondary.

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Are you editing with DT but using a RT icc profile… should be fine but I just wondered why??

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what an RT ICC profile is. And I don’t even know how you can tell I’m using that profile in darktable. I though I was using sRGB as an export color profile. I don’t know whether this is relevant. :disappointed_relieved:

Prints were made by Loxley Colour. Here is what they expect:

Images should be saved as 8-bit JPEGs and use either sRGB, Adobe RGB or Pro Photo RGB colour spaces.

Hopefully (not so sured anymore after some comments of yours), I used the sRGB colour space.

They did not make any colour correction.