Previous 1 2 3 Next 82 Replies Latest reply: Jan 9, 2010 7:05 AM by coolstuffberlin
Derth Adams Level 1 (0 points)
I'm disappointed in the color setup of my new MBP 17" Unibody display, compared with the original (2006) MBP 17" that it's replacing. That old machine looked great right out of the box, but on the new one colors tend towards the cool, with a purple tinge in the highlights. Fleshtones look completely wrong, and the contrast is milky, with lifted blacks.

I've gone through the calibration process several times, and while I've improved the contrast, the cool/purple bias will not go away. I bring up the same photo on my old machine and my new machine, and the old one has natural skin tones and rich contrast, and the new one has purple highlights and off skin tones.

I've been told that perhaps one explanation is the fact that the new machines use LED backlights?

Unless I can get this monitor set up properly it's going to be pretty useless to me. Would a hardware calibration tool such as the Spyder help me get the display profile where I need it to be, or is there something inherent in the display hardware that gives it this odd color palette?

MacBook Pro Unibody 17", Mac OS X (10.5.6)
  • Phil Ta Level 6 (10,400 points)
    What build of OS X 10.5.6 do you have installed? It should be build 9G2141 or later, which is it the one that came with your MBP's recovery disk. Earlier builds, such as if you cloned your old hard drive to the new MBP, make the new display blue/purple and dim.

    Also, out of curiosity, what model display do you have (9C99, 9C98, 9CAC, 9CAD)? You can find out by going to System Prefs, Displays, Color tab, opening the Color LCD profile, and looking at line 13.
  • Derth Adams Level 1 (0 points)
    OS build is 9G2141, LCD display is model 9C99.

    A friend of mine has a MBP Unibody 15" and I notice a similar look to his display, although not quite as extreme as mine.

    I just did a series of calibrations with a Spyder3Pro, using different color temp and gamma settings - the calibration that looked the best was the one done at 5800K, gamma 2.4. It seems odd to me since Mac display gamma is 1.8, but on the initial setup the blacks were so washed out that 2.4 seems necessary to restore some semblance of blacks to the image without crushing. Even at 2.4 gamma I can still see a difference between deep grays in an 8-bit image that read 20,20,20 and black at 0,0,0.

    I was evaluating the monitor visually by looking at black/white gradients in photoshop, and some online test images in Safari. I know this is a pretty unscientific approach, but I'm not trying to get the monitor calibrated to a specific print output or specific standard, but just to get it in the color and contrast ballpark.

    The Spyder calibrations were a great improvement over the way the monitor was initially set up, but there's still some purple in there, as well as a feeling that colors don't relate to each other completely naturally - like instead of being skewed overall blue or magenta, that there are crossed curves involved.
  • 15" Level 1 (20 points)
    LED backlights have nothing to do with it; I'd avoid taking advice/info from THAT source ever again, too.

    Try an Archive & Install with your data on the new MBP, and use the software Install disk that came wit your unibody 17. The correct, 17" display-specific Nvidia drivers will then definitely be present in your system, a not-uncommon cause of display issues on the new 17" unibody MBPs.

    On one of the 3 17" unibody MBPs I own, this was the only procedure that corrected the issue and allowed me to successfully hardware calibrate that 17" MBP's screen. The other 2 unibody 17s apparently already had the correct Nvidia drivers loaded; they were fine out of the box, and were easily calibrated to various CMS specs.

    Give it a shot; you should be able to get to the performance level that those great displays are capable of by this method!

    Good luck!


  • derth Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the response. Right now I'm out of town and my install disk is at home, but I could try the archive and install as soon as I get back.

    I'm wondering, though, if I don't already have the correct build of the OS and Nvidia drivers installed - my OS 10.5.6 build is 9G2141 and the gMux Version is 1.7.10 for both Nvidia cards.

    Also, I've been reading about issues calibrating Wide Gamut monitors properly - is the MBP Unibody 17" display technically a Wide Gamut monitor? (The promotional material talks about "60% greater" gamut.) I've heard that if your OS and software is not Wide Gamut-aware that there's an oversaturated, neon quality to the colors, which is something I seem to also be seeing here.
  • 15" Level 1 (20 points)
    Man, THAT'S a good set of questions, brother!

    As far as the wide-gamut aware software, I would hazard the guess that perhaps that is what the install disk has in the way of Nvidia drivers necessary to handle the hardware requirements of the 17" screen... that's my fervent hope, anyway, since that would indicate that the 17" screen is probably 24-bit hardware capable, not the 18-bit dithered so common in other products ahem...

    The build numbers can be very misleading, in the sense that some drivers that are correct are sometimes updated or removed from subsequent builds, either inadvertently or by design, and the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in and, well, we get Ka-razee colors on $3K+ laptops that are often needed for color-critical work, day-in and day-out, like with my DV, film, educational, Ad Agency, Photographer, digital imaging, Architectural and Publishing clients.

    Two critical issues that Apple needs to IMMEDIATELY address are:

    a) a MBP Display Update, with ALL reconciled Nvidia drivers necessary for proper operation of ALL 17" unibody MBPs

    b) an answer to many, many of my clients', and many, many present and prospective buyers, about whether or not ANY Apple laptop available today has true 24-bit hardware color display capabilities, and is hence adequately equipped to be used as a true professional tool in film, video, design photography and publishing.
  • derth Level 1 (0 points)
    So I've returned from my trip and was able to do an archive and install with the OSX Install disc that came with my computer. Nothing has changed - the default "Color LCD" profile looks blue/magenta and washed out, and saturated colors, especially the reds, have an inaccurate, candy/neon look to them.

    I did another hardware calibration with the Spyder and it looks just like the last calibration I did before the OS reinstall - contrast and overall color cast is better, but the day-glo saturated colors are still there. Pinks and oranges in skin tone are oversaturated and exaggerated. Yellows tend to go green.

    Do I need to take this in to the Apple store for a possible swap, or might there still be a software issue? It seems odd to me that the default "Color LCD" profile is so far off the mark ...
  • 15" Level 1 (20 points)
    So I've returned from my trip and was able to do an archive and install with the OSX Install disc that came with my computer. Nothing has changed - the default "Color LCD" profile looks blue/magenta and washed out, and saturated colors, especially the reds, have an inaccurate, candy/neon look to them.

    I did another hardware calibration with the Spyder and it looks just like the last calibration I did before the OS reinstall - contrast and overall color cast is better, but the day-glo saturated colors are still there. Pinks and oranges in skin tone are oversaturated and exaggerated. Yellows tend to go green.

    Do I need to take this in to the Apple store for a possible swap, or might there still be a software issue? It seems odd to me that the default "Color LCD" profile is so far off the mark ...

    Yeah, I'd take it in to the Apple Store, if one's close enough to ya. That's the due diligence you needed to do before a return's the next logical step, and it sounds like the MBP in your possession's not gonna cooperate. Whether it's a hardware issue or a software issue, Apple owes you some guidance that quickly leads to a display that does it job properly OR another MBP altogether, also asap, and at now charge to you, since you've ALREADY been charged, in your lost time.

    Good luck! It would be good to hear what you decided to do and what the upshot is!


  • derth Level 1 (0 points)
    Took my MBP to the Apple Store Genius Bar. The Genius wasn't tremendously knowledgeable about color management but tried his best to help out - the things we tried weren't that scientific, and didn't solve the problem, but I think they told me what I needed to know about the source of the issue.

    First he connected a Cinema Display to my MBP. At the default profile for both displays, viewing two instances of the same image file in Photoshop, one on each screen, the Cinema Display looked better - no blue/magenta cast, saturated colors didn't go neon - but it wasn't as wildly different as my old MBP was.

    Then we took my machine downstairs and compared it to the floor model 17" MBP's - one glossy screen (like mine) and one matte screen, viewing the same images from the web in Safari. At the default profile, all three looked very similar in terms of color (with minor differences in contrast on the matte screen).

    So what this seems to tell me is that:

    1) My computer seems to have the Apple-standard drivers and profiles installed, and my hardware is not out of spec. Returning my machine for a new one won't solve anything.

    2) Apple's drivers and profiles may not properly address their display hardware.

    But if #2 is correct, and all of the new MBP displays using the default software produce inaccurate color, then why don't more people seem to be complaining? I suppose my dissatisfaction could be chalked up to me preferring one uncalibrated monitor's rendition of color over another's - after all, discussions about color can get really loosey-goosey. I'm just struck by how different, and not for the better, the new MBP's display looks out of the box compared to the old one.
  • 15" Level 1 (20 points)
    The Genius Bar's a suspect place to get possibly complicated CMS/ICC profiling calibration device-level guidance, let alone investigating Apple's apparent driver/default settings to their various and sundry display! You're a brave man! (oops! Forgot I was on the <Apple> Forums- yikes!)...

    Seriously, I wouldn't expect any typical Apple Genius Bar denizen to know the ins and outs of what many pre-press folks Graphic Designers, and publishing pros only know of, not know well.

    I learned a long time ago, because I was charged with designing, building, testing, and deploying a magazine publishing company-wide CMS, and I didn't want to go hungry, so I learned <fast> ;^)

    The first step that I do to eliminate the color cast that does indeed 'color' (sic) almost all stock Apple displays and replace it with a pleasing, more reality-based, warmer overall but with 'clean' color ramps and solids, as well as an accurate white point and proper color and tonal balance. There's the 'free' OS X software-based method, and there's the X-Rite ColorMunki, Pantone Huey, Spyder 3 Elite, or Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display or Photo... the 'free' OS X method's probably familiar to you- Sys Prefs>Displays>Color>Calibrate>Expert Mode. Perform this simple & brief procedure in a room or surrounding free of harsh, specular lighting, like strong fluorescent lights, or strong sunlight, etc.. Then just follow the directions on each panel in the sequential series of Dialog Boxes, and use the more traditional Mac 1.8 Gamma setting generally and a 6500k White Point; mainly because those two are the 'Old Skool' (well, actually, 5200-5500k White Point's more common setting from Back in the Day, but 6500k is an adequately LONG way from the cold, 'glacial-effect' harshness of any higher WP), and the 1.8+6500k combo strikes an pretty good balance between ultimate accuracy and pleasing warmth. DO NOT check the 'Use Native White Point' box, save the ColorSync display Profile you've just helped yer Mac create for ALL Users' usage, and make certain, before you exit Displays, that you hike on over to the other side of the button, 'Display', and make certain that you've unchecked the 'Automatically Adjust Brightness...' box... NOW exit Sys Prefs, and behold your Band-Aid First Step at getting away from the cold and slanted world of Apple Default Display Profiles. You'll need WAY more accuracy of a good hardware calibration unit if you want to get closer, much closer to Display Nirvana... which brings us to the Next Step. If you've got an LED backlit LCD screen, you'll only need to borrow a unit from someone, or have it done, far less frequently than in days past, because you don't have to concern yourself with the color/brightness/White Point/Gamma/contrast 'drift' of fluorescent-backlit screens, which dim and drift as they age, or the 'phospher aging' of a CRT screen, LED backlit screens need no 'warmuo time', and stay much more consistent throughout their lifespan. Still, you need to somehow get ahold of preferably a Gretag-Macbeth Eye-One Display 2 or the more expensive but more versatile for creating custom ICC/Colorsync Profiles for all your input, output, and display devices, but is about 6 times more expensive than the really good Eye-One Display 2 display calibrator, OR one of the more recent Spyder units, or even an X-Rite ColorMunki (the 'Photo' model, for most users here). I like to avoid the ColrMunki because, amongst other things, it's WAY hard to do what the instructions say you need to in order to produce an accurate profile, and its design gives you way too many opportunities to damage your display. The Huey's a little too basic and less accurate overall than the others, but is still WAY better than our Sys Prefs profile, of which the only reason to perform is to stave off insanity.

    Read the manual/PDF, try it slowly and carefully, especially the ColorMunki, which I like less than the others for the aforementioned reasons... experiment with creating two different hardware display profiles with ANY of these calibrators- one with the traditional Mac 1.8 Gamma, and one with the more au courant 2.0 Gamma setting, both with the 6500k White Point, and see which one you prefer for your own use and your own tastes. Even though most calibration unit manuals will order you to stick with the 2.0 Gamma setting, there are many instances where the 1.8 is superior in actual CMS use. Where those instances are is a whole other post; stay focussed on doing the above, and you'll never regret the time, money and energy you put into it- it's a GREAT investment, and one that will go most, if not all of the way you want to go in terms of fixing your Apple Caste' default display conundrum... good luck! =^D


  • Ranger_One Level 1 (0 points)
    Derth, I do not believe you're alone.

    Sadly, I've been waiting for the new 17" MBP for well over a year. I'm still waiting.

    I've visited SIX Apple stores, and the on-floor 17" MBP in all of them had abysmal screen quality. Purple, low-contrast, dim displays were the norm. This applied to both the glossy (9C99) and matte (9CAC) screens. Comparing them to the 15" MBPs sitting not 12 inches away, it was astounding how bad these 17" screens were.

    When I asked the Apple store employees about this, each store reported the same thing - that the disk image they use was for the 15" MBP's and wasn't compatible with the wide-gamut displays in the 17" machines. That made sense to a degree, but it didn't explain why here it is 6+ weeks after the debut and there is still no fix.

    The Apple Store can't create a new disk image?
    The Apple Store can't use the System Restore CD and at least get a workable machine, albeit without the 007 trailer and select software titles installed by default?
    Apple can't release new ColorSync profiles?

    Reading your post, I was very concerned. If System Restore didn't fix your issue, it implies the disk image in the Apple store is not the issue (unless your restore CD also used the bad image).

    I was in the Irvine Spectrum (Orange County, CA) Apple Store last week for a grand total of about 60 seconds, and I think I saw a reasonable display on a glossy machine. I had been in this store the week before, so I'm not sure if it was a new machine or if they somehow fixed it via software. Again, I only looked for about 60 seconds, but the glossy was just a tiny bit dimmer than the 15" next to it (my concern was alleviated) and seemed to have a much nicer picture than all the other 17's I saw. ColorSync showed the default profile (model 9C99).

    The matte version of the 17, however, still looked off. I checked the ColorSync profile and it looked like someone created a custom profile for it. Switching to the default profile showed a horrible image (model 9CAC). Clearly this one was not yet "fixed."

    At the moment, I can't rely on the quality of either the glossy or matte screens. If Steve Jobs were around, this problem would have been fixed long ago. Given I cannot return any machine that was even the slightest bit "customized", I will not be purchasing any Apple laptop until this situation is corrected.

    I have high hopes, though. The 15" screen is the best laptop display on the planet, so if the 17 is even close to that, it will be a fantastic machine and I will buy one that very same day. But one decent laptop at one Apple store is not enough to convince me the problem is fixed.
  • 15" Level 1 (20 points)
    "I have high hopes, though. The 15" screen is the best laptop display on the planet, so if the 17 is even close to that, it will be a fantastic machine and I will buy one that very same day. But one decent laptop at one Apple store is not enough to convince me the problem is fixed."

    The best laptop screen on the planet is NOT the 15"; when you've seen a properly set up 17" wide-gamut 17" UMBP screen, you'll know what I mean. Unfortunately, you haven't. But just because you haven't, I'd be careful not to jump to conclusions. The issue to which you refer only proves that the 'Geniuses', who by and large tend towards glorified Best Buy 'Sales Associates' are not, or barely, Apple- literate in the basics, at best. are not competent enough to set their 17" UMBPs up. I do, in addition to owning 3 of each, I've set up, properly, 300 or so each for many clients in education, corporate in-house design and pre-press departments, Design firms, Ad Agencies, video post houses, etc., both 15" UMBPs and 17" UMBPs (now over 400). I've seldom seen the kind of out-of-the-box dim, off-color screen, maybe one in 90 or so (still WAY too many as a percentage); the fix is either a re-install of the Restore software or a good hardware calibration, or both- the wide-gamut screen, once it's dialed, puts the 15" screen to shame, and THAT screen's pretty darn good. The issue's that the wide-gamut screen's just that- unlike the 15" UMBP, and this anomaly is causing some problems. There's occasionally a screen that will not respond to either, or both, 'fixes', and those are the exceptions that prove the rule, IMO. As someone who sets these up professionally, along with Mac Pros, XServes, RAIDs, MacPCUNIX Networks, etc., I need to get these screens up and running to work with all kinds of workflows that utilize various CMS; MANY CMS workflows, for various digital imaging purposes, including fine-art photography, gallery prints, etc., REQUIRE a ProPhoto RGB calibrated screen, whether it's attached to a laptop or a Cinemas Display or a Nanao or an NEC or a Barco Reference Calibrator. THAT requires a broader color and tonal rendering capability than the 15" UMBP screen's capable of- the ONLY laptop screen that handily 'contains' this very large colorspace with enough 'headroom' to manipulate its characteristics for different output, input, and display profiles is the <properly> set up 17" GLOSSY, NOT MATTE UMBP screen. The matte screen is NOT the same quality screen, and isn't capable of the gamut rendering that the glossy 17" UMBP screen is, period. If your only tool's a nail, it's surprising how every problem looks like a nail. In other words, if you're convinced that the 15" UMBP screen's 'the best laptop display on the planet', don't let the facts stand in your way, by all means. If, OTOH, you're to learn at some near-future point, that the facts will out eventually out (and they are already, for those of us who can properly set up the 17" UMBPs), the conclusion you're making will only cheat youself out of a better tool. But hey- it's a free country. You're mistaken, but be happy with the choice you're convinced is the best one. One day fairly soon, when you've actually seen someone more skilled than the typical Apple 'Genius' set up a 17" UMBP properly, good luck going back to your 15"! Until that day, however, enjoy your apparent 'best laptop display on the planet'.

    I understand that many of the 17" UMBP displays you've seen have reflected (no pun intended), and I agree- there should be a fix by now, and it's an amazing, but by no means isolated, oversight by Apple to allow this to go on. At the very least, they can and should outline a fix that they then train the Apple Store crews to carry out and test in cursory hardware calibrations to verify that the wide-gamut screens are not 'blinkered' by software or incompetence, or both!


  • Ranger_One Level 1 (0 points)
    I'm quite surprised at how upset you became over my comment about the 15" laptop screen being better. Wouldn't a simple "I think you'd be surprised at how much better a 17" display is when it's working properly" have sufficed? Please show a little more composure and respect.

    I do appreciate your insight, though. The 17" display SHOULD be better, but even the one unit that seemed like it was working appropriately wasn't quite as clear and bright as the 15" sitting next to it. No, I'm not a professional designer, but I know what I saw and I know what I want in a laptop. It's great to hear that you've had only one bad unit out of every 90, but I've seen about 11 out of 12 bad units and have read many similar comments from others. Until I see better units in the Apple stores or hear more similar comments about it being just a calibration problem, I'm not going to plunk down my $4000.

    One reason I was inclined to post on this last night, despite patiently waiting for a couple months, is that one of the LEDs on my 14-month-old 56" Samsung DLP LED TV went out. My entire screen is blue, which reminded me of my 17" UMBP gripes - especially after my 2-year-old and my wife and I needed to huddle around my ancient 17" MBP to watch a new Baby Einsteins DVD.

    I hope Apple sees this post and gets moving on a fix. Yes, I know this isn't an Apple forum, but I would hope they would be interested in learning what their customers are frustrated with. I think it's invalid to assume they won't read this.
  • Phil Ta Level 6 (10,400 points)
    I too was afraid of the blue and dim screen issue and waited two weeks with frequent visits to my local Apple Store down the street waiting for the problem to be fixed. But I went ahead and bought it anyway. It was perfect out of the box. This exactly 4 weeks ago.

    Why stores run old images of OS X I don't know, but one of my local stores did run the build of OS X that comes on the restore disk, whereas all the non-17" MBPs in the store were using the old build. Build 9G55 is the old build that has the dim and blue problem, which I had experienced myself when I cloned my old MBP to the new one. Build 9G2141 does not have the problem.

    So my advice is to just go buy it and stop worrying. Apple has already addressed the problem as far as I can tell and as far as evidence can say.
  • derth Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the detailed reply. As I said farther up in the thread, I have done a series of hardware calibrations using the Spyder3Pro (not Elite) at various gamma and color temperature settings, and while the results were far better than either the default setting or the manual calibration-by-eye available in the Display section of System Prefs, I still feel like the colors are too saturated and tend to go in odd directions, like there's still some kind of colorspace issue.

    Maybe I just had gotten used to a certain rendition of color and this one's more "accurate", but my eye tells me something is off - as an example, skin tones, rather than being subtly variegated, have patches of too-saturated yellow and pink in them.

    It's as if the Spyder tried its best to get the monitor to neutral, but there was something else preventing it from doing so.

    Reading some of the other comments, I'm not sure if my issue is exactly the same one. While my default screen setup was blue/magenta and washed-out, the screen to me has adequate brightness.

    I'm not really sure what to do next. I could try hardware-calibrating a friend's older MBP and doing a side-by-side comparison, but from what I understand, even in the best of circumstances two different monitors won't match exactly. Or I could try to find a graphic design studio with properly calibrated monitors and compare. My Apple Store experience only showed me that my machine matches their default, not that it's capable of true color.

    I suppose I should have taken a Spyder with me and tried calibrating their other monitors and mine in the same lighting conditions ...
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