ColorFacts CF-6000 Display Device Analysis System
Display calibration has become an important part of the today's home theater investment. Many serious enthusiasts now allocate part of their home theater budget for the services of an experienced ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) calibrator. Having been ISF certified for nearly three years now, we religiously perform an ISF calibration on every display we review. Without a calibration, one cannot accurately see the true potential of the display. Color analyzers have traditionally been costly, keeping them out of the reach of most end-users. Furthermore, many existing color analyzers designed for CRT displays will not accurately read the other display technologies (i.e. DLP, LCoS, LCD, Plasma, etc.), making the large investment even more difficult to justify.
A company called Milori Software, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, known for their ColorFacts calibration software, has recently teamed up with GretagMacbeth. Anyone involved with the accurate reproduction of color in the publishing industry knows about GretagMacbeth products. They have a full line of color management software and tools. Their Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer is used in several lines of products and offers very accurate measurements, and has the added benefit of being fully compatible with all current display technologies.
Combining the expertise in both software and hardware, Milori Software has introduced the new ColorFacts 6000 Display Device Analysis System that utilizes their ColorFacts software along with the highly accurate GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer. The advantage of being a software development company is they can focus on the software and not on a particular instrument. This allows the calibration software to be powerful while still supporting a large number of color sensors currently on the market. The latest software release (Version 3.0) supports a total of ten instruments. We tested the ColorFacts software with a separate GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer. This is the same sensor provided with the ColorFacts 6000 System.
We loaded the latest ColorFacts Version 3.0 software on our Sony Vaio PCG-GRX550 laptop, which is a P4 running at 1.6GHz with 512K of RAM. Setting up the ColorFacts software is simple and the latest release can be downloaded from the ColorFacts website. A special key is required to enable the software and must be requested through the ColorFacts application or by email. The key is based on a serial number generated during the installation. The Registration Window is used to submit a request from Milori software for an authorization key. Once the key is emailed back to the user (pending verification) and entered into the registration box, the software becomes fully enabled. Without the key, the software will use a simulated color sensor to let potential users get a feel for the application. This is a good approach to get users familiar with what they are buying before they fork out $2495.
We had two different color analyzers to work with during this review. We tried our Sencore CP288 since it was listed on the compatible devices and it worked perfectly, albeit for CRT-based displays only. We then tested the GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer, which is compatible with all displays including reading light off a screen in front projection systems. The Milori CF-6000 ColorFacts System includes the GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer for a complete package. Selecting an Eye-One product does require some clarification if you use the Options menu. If an Eye-One Pro device is connected, you'll need to select the "GretagMacbeth - Eye-Beamer" on the menu. Similarly, if you have the newly released Eye-One Display device you'll need to select the "GretagMacbeth - EyeOne Display". This seemed a bit confusing and I can see how one might select the "GretagMacbeth - EyeOne Display" when they are really using the Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer.
Measurement readings can be displayed in Metric (nits, lux) or Imperial (foot-candles, foot-lamberts) units. Automatic or manual exposure times can also be determined by the operator. The ColorFacts Online Help/FAQ is very well layed out and helps answer common questions users may have with the software.
The ColorFacts screen displays all of the information needed to analyze a display. Manual and automatic measurements can be taken to evaluate the display's performance characteristics. Device Primaries are used to determine the Red, Green and Blue primaries for the display. These three primary colors create a triangle on the CIE chart and determine which colors the display is capable of producing. Only colors inside the triangle can be reproduced. Color reference marks are also displayed on the same chart for comparison to the industry standards (HDTV, NTSC, NTSC(1953), and PAL/SECAM). The ColorFacts System can also determine the display's Contrast Ratio by taking readings at the minimum and maximum brightness levels. This feature works well, but it requires a room with no ambient light, which can drastically affect the results. Gray Scale readings are easy to measure using the automatic feature. Four different testing groups (Standard, Half-Step, Detailed, Very-Detailed) for IRE level sampling are available. The Standard testing has 10 IRE levels, the Half-Step testing has 20 IRE levels, the Detailed testing has 32 IRE levels and the Very-Detailed testing has 64 levels of testing. Complete color calibration history of all sampled IRE levels are displayed for Luminance, Color Temperature, RGB levels and CIE data points. Instantaneous Luminance, Color Temperature and RGB Level data are displayed in separate windows making it easy for the calibrator to see. Raw Color Data is also displayed in a separate window anytime the measurement device samples data. The Test Color window allows the user to produce a wide range of colors by simply clicking on the color palette area. The Spectral Scan window displays a graph of the spectral power distribution (SPD) produced by the display in the visible range (380 to 780 nanometers) for meters capable of returning this information. If an instrument is not capable of returning spectral information, the ColorFacts software will remove the instrument from the GUI. The 3-Axis CIE Chromacity Target window helps the calibrator adjust the three primary colors to converge on a specific white level (e.g. D6500) by visually watching the offset. Finally, Brightness Uniformity is calculated by taking two readings, one in the center of the screen and one on the side.
- Kevin Nakano, ISF Calibrator
#1: Pioneer ELITE - PRO-610HD High-definition
Rear-screen Projection Television
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ColorFacts CF-6000 Display Device Analysis System
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