By Mark Kyrnin
Anyone serious about photography knows that accurate color is one of the key aspects of getting a good photo. If the display that one is using isn’t showing the proper color tones, an edited photo can result in a completely inaccurate print or display of the image taken. For this reason, serious photographers use color calibration devices to adjust their monitor to be properly balanced in color and brightness. Datacolor’s Spyder line of color calibrations have been around for years and their Spyder5 Pro is designed specifically with digital photography in mind. It provides a more sensitive calibration device and improved software to have multiple profiles depending upon your ambient light.
Photography began as a means of solving the “no picture, no proof” argument when I used to do solo backcountry hiking in Alaska. I was stationed at Eielson AFB at the time. Since then it’s bloomed, wintered, and bloomed again. I now define my photography within two distinct veins: Comfortable Isolation and the Personification of Nature. In short, I search for scenes of quiet isolation where we can re-engage our ego and, in that discussion, enable personal growth. I am also in search of hints of Nature in her etherial form. Whether it be the shape of a woman in a wave as in the piece “Her;” trees that look alive as in the piece, “Dance;” or a great bird riding the waves as in the piece, “Pacing the Sun.” Feel free to ask me to define either of these at length.
Awards & Recognition
- 2013 Hawaii Photographer of the Year
- 2013 Every Hero of Humanity by the Everyday Hero Project
- Published 3 times in National Geographic 2014, 2015
- Finalist in Nat Geo Traveler Contest 2015
- Finalist in Weather Channel’s Its Amazing Out There 2015, 2016
- Named Top 100 Night Sky Photographers by Space.com 2014, 2015
- Named Top Artists To Watch For 2015 by Art Business News
The softproof function in Photoshop and Lightroom allows you to get an impression on how a printout will look when printed on your printer with the appropriate paper. It can also show you how the print result will look when you receive the print back from the service provider.
Using softproof allows you to optimize your image for a print. You’ll need to have a profile that describes your printer/paper/ink combination. These can be generic profiles from the printer driver or profiles from the service provider describing their output system or custom profiles you have created with SpyderPRINT describing your own printer with the paper and ink you use!
In Photoshop you’ll need to go to View -> Proof Setup -> Custom. Select the profile that describes the print system with the appropriate paper. Select for the Rendering Intent “Perceptual” or “Relative Colorimetric”. Turn off “Black Point Compensation” and turn ON “Simulate Paper Color”.
In Lightroom, go to the Develop section and enable the “Soft Proofing” option under the image you edit. Now you can select the profile that describes the print system with the appropriate paper in the Soft Proofing section under the histogram. Select for the Intent “Perceptual” or “Relative”. Turn on “Simulate Paper & Ink”.
Tip: Use the “Create Proof Copy” button to create an image version you can optimize for this print while the original stays untouched for future editing possibilities.
Keep in mind that this requires a calibrated monitor and will allow you to optimize an image version for the perfect printout on the selected media. You won’t have to worry about time and money being wasted on your prints anymore!
If you want to get the most accurate colors, the most accurate exposure, and the most accurate prints that actually match what you’ve shot/edited, you need a calibration system. That’s precisely what the Spyder5STUDIO hardware and software package is meant to do.
With this, you are going to take a major step to treating your work and time as a professional would, and there’s no excuse not to, even if it’s not with this product, but it’s hard to think of a better value in the photograhy world. It gets our stamp of approval.
The Spyder5STUDIO is a complete package for anyone serious about color management, and as a photographer you’d be a fool not to be.
Datacolor has recently launched an exciting upgrade for our line of Spyder5 display calibration tools. This upgrade adds a number of useful features to make calibration more effective and convenient. We call this upgrade Spyder5+.
The Spyder5+ software upgrade is available if you own a Spyder5. There are two Spyder5 Plus software versions: Spyder5PRO+ and Spyder5ELITE+. Below are the upgrade paths:
|Spyder5EXPRESS||> Spyder5PRO+ or the Spyder5ELITE+|
|Spyder5PRO||> Spyder5PRO+ or the Spyder5ELITE+|
Spyder5PRO+ adds Automatic Room Light Switching, 1-Click Calibration, and a Profile Management Tool. Spyder5ELITE+ includes the features from the Spyder5PRO+, Soft Proofing/Device Simulation and the Updated StudioMatch.
Spyder5+ – New and Unique Features
We are proud and excited about Spyder5+. It represents our continued commitment to provide innovative products that makes color accuracy predictable and consistent. Let’s take a look at the new features of Spyder5+.
Automatic Room Light Switching
The viewing environment of a display is an important factor to consider when selecting the proper calibration settings. For example, the recommended White Point and Luminance can vary based on the volume of light in a room. Also, if you are aiming for the best consistency from screen to print it is important to set the Luminance to a specific value; commonly recommended between 100 and 120 cd/m2. In general, an environment where the lighting is subdued and the display is the brightest light source is best.
However, it is not always possible to control your lighting environment. Automatic Room Light Switching utilizes the ambient light detector on the front of a Spyder sensor to measure your lighting environment and automatically maintain the profile best suited for the environment. The Spyder software will take room light measurements at select intervals and switch them when an average of these readings indicate a different profile is superior.
Automatic Room Light Switching is selected during calibration within the Room Light menu on the Calibration Settings screen. During the calibration process, the Spyder5+ software will generate multiple profiles that correspond to various lighting environments. To use this feature, the Spyder5 sensor must remain connected to the computer and placed near the display with the lens cap in place. The frequency that the Spyder sensor measures the lighting environment can be set within the SpyderUtility.
1-Click Calibration adds even more speed and convenience to Spyder5. This feature utilizes the settings of the previous calibration to launch directly into a calibration. All you will need to do is plug in your Spyder5 sensor, place it within the outline on the display you wish to calibrate and begin the calibration.
1-Click Calibration is added to the SpyderUTILITY of Spyder5+. After an initial calibration has been performed, a shortcut appears to launch the Spyder5+ software directly to the Calibration screen.
Often times, calibration settings remain identical for each calibration. 1-Click Calibration streamlines the process to make calibration more efficient.
Profile Management Tool
Also found within the SpyderUTILITY, the new Profile Management Tool adds a unified method for working with display profiles on Windows and Macintosh Operating Systems. This feature provides flexibility to perform changes and updates from a single location.
The Profile Management Tool adds the control to select the display profile you would like active, change the name of a profile, delete a profile, duplicate or to see the profile within the profile folder on your hard drive. Besides working with profiles, this new tool offers information about a selected profile
Soft Proofing/Device Simulation
Soft Proofing/Device Simulation will give you a preview of how an image will look on paper or on another device. Previews can be generated for a home printer, retail printer and certain tablet devices.
Soft Proof should be a familiar term for those who print. This process renders a preview of an image on a particular paper by using the ICC printer profile for the paper and printer combination when viewed on a calibrated monitor. Simply put, an ICC printer profile instructs the printer how to print on a particular paper. ICC profiles can be made with a tool like SpyderPRINT. Paper manufacturers often have general ICC profiles for their papers available. ICC profiles are also available for download when printing through many retail printers.
Soft Proofing takes into account how the paper will influence the look of an image. It also identifies which colors are out of gamut or outside the range of printable color for the paper and printer combination. Since various papers influence an image differently, this step can help identify a paper that is a good match for an image.
Device Simulation uses profiles for common tablet devices. Like Soft Proof, this feature shows how an image will appear when viewed elsewhere.
StudioMatch is the industry exclusive tool to allow for better matching between multiple displays connected to a single computer or multiple computers. Our eyes are extremely capable of identifying a difference in multiple light sources when placed next to each other. Multiple displays can measure correctly but the age of a display and the type of backlight can lead to a perceived mismatch. StudioMatch can be used to find common settings to provide the best match. Included with the updated StudioMatch is a visual verification step to fine tune the results.
StudioMatch is found on the Workflow selection screen in Spyder5ELITE+. Displays and their configuration are selected then measured to find their maximum Brightness (Luminance). A Brightness setting is recommended that each display can achieve. If StudioMatch is performed to match displays on multiple computers, a StudioMatch target is created and shared between computers.
The final step in StudioMatch is a visual verification. This allows for manual adjustment, if needed, of the profile for the secondary display(s) to fine tune the results. This process can overcome the physical differences in any display so consistency is achieved.
How to Upgrade
The Spyder5+ upgrades can be purchased in the current software for Spyder5 (version 5.1 as of this post) or on the Datacolor website. Once purchased, you will receive a new serial number that will unlock the Spyder5+ features within the current software for Spyder5. Use the Software Activation selection in the Help menu for Windows or by clicking on the name Spyder5(Express, Pro or Elite) next to the Apple icon. Activate with the new serial number and the new Spyder5+ features will be activated.
Learn More About Spyder5PRO+:
Learn More About Spyder5ELITE+:
By Eric Reagan
Monitor calibration is one of the necessary evils that photographers must learn to cope with now that every image we create must pass through our computer in this digital age. Fortunately, there are some pretty handy tools to take on that challenge.
Datacolor is one of the industry leaders in the monitor calibration market and the new Spyder5 tool makes it painless for the most part.
There are actually three different iterations of the Spyder5 monitor calibration tools – Spyder5EXPRESS, Spyder5PRO and Spyder5ELITE, which cover the most basic calibrations to the most advanced, respectively. This review covers my experience with the Spyder5ELITE.
Color calibration is an important process when taking and editing photos.
With the Spyder5CAPTURE PRO bundle, it only takes a few steps to ensure perfect, consistent color in all your shots.
The kit includes, the SpyderCHECKR to give your photos a color reference, the SpyderLENSCAL, to adjust autofocusing, the SpyderCUBE, to obtain perfect exposure, and the Spyder5ELITE, for accurate monitor calibration.
If you want your landscape and wildlife images to display accurately, as well as be sure your prints look like what you see on-screen, your monitor must be properly calibrated. Datacolor’s Spyder5PRO is an easy and precise way to do this.
Lawrenceville, NJ – August 18, 2016 – Datacolor®, a global leader in color management solutions and color communication technology, today announced the launch of the Datacolor 20D, a portable spectrophotometer designed especially for paint retailers and hardware stores. Combined with the new Datacolor PAINT v. 2.x software, Datacolor 20D provides industry leading color matching accuracy for paint and coating applications. This highly accurate spectrophotometer yields the best first shot color matches on the market, increasing productivity, cost savings and customer satisfaction.
Datacolor 20D contains state of the art color measurement technology and automatic gloss determination in a portable spectrophotometer, enabling accurate color measurement on a variety of sample shapes and sizes in a paint store or at a customer’s job site. Datacolor 20D’s intuitive user interface features a modern and easy-to-navigate large color LCD display, in addition to Bluetooth and USB connectivity, allowing for the seamless transfer of color data from the spectrophotometer to the Datacolor PAINT v. 2.x software. The instrument also includes an LED illuminated viewing port, allowing users to very precisely position samples to assure accurate measurement.
“With the Datacolor 20D we are excited to provide customers with a highly accurate, yet portable and easy-to-use spectrophotometer, allowing measurement of various sample shapes and sizes,” said Diane Geisler, Global Director of Product Management, Datacolor. “This new portable instrument will allow materials to be measured anywhere in the store or even at customer sites to assure the perfect color match.”
To learn more about the Datacolor 20D, click here
Lawrenceville, NJ – August 16, 2016 – Datacolor®, a global leader in color management solutions, today announced the release of Spyder®5CAPTURE PRO, the next generation of its popular color calibration solutions for photographers, designers and imaging professionals. Spyder5CAPTURE PRO features all the essential products needed to manage color from image capture to post production, including SpyderLENSCAL, SpyderCHECKR, SpyderCUBE, and Spyder5ELITE.
- SpyderLENSCAL allows users to calibrate camera and lens combinations, resulting in accurate auto-focus.
- SpyderCHECKR and SpyderCUBE provide the user with reference tools to allow control of contrast, white balance and color when editing images.
- Spyder5ELITE calibrates displays to an industry standard, ensuring that on-screen colors of images are accurate and match photo prints every time.
“We know how important color accuracy is for photographers, but we also know it can be time-consuming.” said Heath Barber, Imaging Market Manager, Datacolor. “Spyder5CAPTURE PRO reduces editing time by providing users with a fast and seamless workflow from capture to post-production by combining our leading color management tools in one convenient and cost-effective package.”
The new Spyder5CAPTURE PRO offers a bundled product savings of over 30 percent. For a limited time, Datacolor and participating photography resellers are offering Spyder5CAPTURE PRO at an introductory price of $269.99 if purchased by 9/30/2016. After 9/30/2016, Spyder5CAPTURE PRO will retail for $369.99. For more information on Spyder5CAPTURE PRO, click here.
It’s summer, time for travelling and also peak season for nature and travel photography. Digital cameras are still getting better and better and easier to use. However, sometimes it is quite disappointing that a picture such as a historic city alley either is partly underexposed with huge dark shadow areas, or the roofs and the sky are extremely overexposed. Although it is possible to review the image immediately in the display on the camera, the problem can often only be addressed at home in the post-processing workflow, and then it might be too late to fix the image in order to get a beautiful photograph.
Experienced photographers can handle dynamic ranges of 10 to 11 EV
Many travel and landscape photography pictures have very high contrast. “Dynamic range” is the term for the range of light intensity from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights and it is measured in “exposure values” (EV), also commonly called “stops”. Our eyes are able to adapt to see high contrast scenes but the dynamic range of the sensor of a digital camera is limited. Unfortunately the dynamic range of monitors, photographic paper or print is even more limited. A dynamic range of an image of about 8 to 9 EV is usually no problem. Experienced photographers can handle dynamic ranges of 10 to 11 EV quite well with exact exposure settings and with the help of calibrated monitors. But what about high contrast scenes with a dynamic range of 14 EV and higher? In particular landscape photography offers a wide range of high contrast scenes: idyllic sunsets by the seaside, backlit photography or scenes in high mountain regions.
An important rule in photography is to avoid high contrast in the first place. Many professional landscape photographers shoot only early in the morning or between late afternoon and evening because the light is much softer. Long shadows can be avoided when the sun is at the back of the photographer. Foreground subjects in backlit photography should be placed in front of a dark background because the high contrast can only be recognized as a small light fringe around the foreground subject. Long shadows might be wonderful for creative photography, but the final picture should offer enough details in dark shadow areas as well. The dynamic range of a scene can be simply reviewed with the help of the brightness histogram on the rear screen of the camera or manually calculated with contrast measurement. If the dynamic range of a scene or subject exceeds 10 or 11 EV the photographer should probably try out one of the following approaches.
A classical tool to handle high contrast scenes like alpine mountain ranges is the graduated filter. With the help of the graduated filter the sky can be exposed correctly, but at the same time the foreground gets enough light to avoid underexposure. There are ND gray filters, but also coloured versions of graduated filters with mostly orange or red shades of colors. Graduated filters were very important for analog film photography. Nowadays digital photography offers better technologies like bracketing, HDR or RAW-push and graduated filters are gradually become less important.
Bracketing and HDR are technologies to control high contrast scenes based on successive shots with different exposure settings. HDR images are automatically combined by the camera into one high dynamic range picture. Bracketing (or more precisely: “autobracketing”) is a feature where the camera stores several shots separately in order to combine the shots later in the post-processing workflow. HDR often creates pictures with an artificial look and feel, sometimes even with a relief-like result. The autobracketing method is much more time consuming, but on the other hand it delivers excellent results. Advanced cameras offer sophisticated autobracketing features. It is possible to adjust the exposure setting with an accuracy of 1/3 EV and the number of successive shots. A basic setting could be for example three shots with a difference of 1 EV. For the bracketing method a tripod is not necessarily required. The camera should be set to continuous shooting mode (or “burst mode”) and the camera automatically handles the settings of the autobracketing (in this example 3 shots with -1/0/+1 EV). In the post-processing workflow the different exposures can be automatically imported and accurately positioned for example in Photoshop as separate layers. The last step is to manually blend the different exposures with the help of appropriate selection tools of the image editing software. The advantage: the photographer has complete control over the high contrast scene and it delivers excellent results. Sometimes if needed even up to 7 different shots with an exposure difference of 1/3 EV. The disadvantages: the method can be very time consuming, and it is not suitable for moving subjects like for example sea surf, trees and strong wind or people and animals in the scene.
Example photo, fishing boats at sunset, Lake Malawi: Autobracketing, 3 exposures -1/0/+1 EV, manually combined in Photoshop
RAW Dynamic Range Push processing
Advanced photo sensors of digital cameras offer an extremely wide dynamic range up to almost 15 EV. This incredible dynamic range is possible because these sensors provide a very low noise level and the shadow areas of a picture can be strongly pushed without losing too much image quality. However, this applies only to RAW files, photographers who are using JPEGs cannot benefit from the wide RAW dynamic range of an advanced sensor. The approach is quite simple: the exposure is adjusted to the highlights of the high contrast scene. As a result the shadows of the scenes are underexposed, sometimes even severely underexposed (nearly black). With the help of the RAW converter only the shadows are pushed by up to 4 or 5 EV. The result is a correctly exposed image with detail in the highlight and the shadow areas (comparable with bracketing …). The advantages: it is a very simple method, no tripod necessary, no bracketing necessary and also moving subjects can be shot based on this approach (which is important especially for wildlife photographers). But there are also disadvantages: the wide dynamic range of almost 15 EV is only available at ISO 100, higher ISO values gradually reduce the available dynamic range. Also the picture on your camera’s viewfinder screen is often very dark, which sometimes means you need to take a control shot with a normal exposure for color corrections later in post-processing. It is also important to know that the shadow areas of the image have a higher noise level than the highlight areas because of the push process (only visible in 100% view). Usually this shouldn’t be a huge problem, but in extreme cases it is possible that stock photo agencies (etc) will turn down pictures because the noise level of the images might be too high although the picture seems to be ok in normal view.
The technologies above are common approaches of every professional landscape photographer, but with some practice the tips and tricks are also easily suitable for amateur photographers. It is very important to develop a feeling for the dynamic range of a scene. Advanced cameras offer tools like histogram or warning instruments for under- and overexposure. As a result incorrect exposures on high contrast images should eventually come to an end and landscape photographers will hopefully be able to enjoy their travel time without any further disappointments.
Accomplished media designer and photographer Dietmar Temps lives in Cologne, Germany and has amassed almost 20 years in the media business. His first professional position as a photographic assistant took him through whole Europe and across the pond to America. After that he studied photo and media technology at the Cologne University of Applied Science. Currently he mainly realizes photo and internet projects with the focus on travel photography, social networking and video streaming.
On his travel blog he writes about beautiful spots around the world which he visited in recent years. He realized many photo trips to Africa, but also to South America and Asia. On his website a series of photo galleries are available where he presents his photographic work, which also is published in many books, magazines and travel blogs.
By Amruta Mohod
It takes a certain type of intuitive perception and skills to reach the level Joe McNally has. From his works for the National Geographic Society to his famous Faces of Ground Zero portraits, there’s a distinctive idiosyncrasy in all his work.
And if you wish to follow in his footsteps, if you like the look and feel of his work, you’d have to study his techniques and understand his perspective.
Joe McNally has produced some brilliant ‘clicks’ to date, but not all of these were fresh out of a camera. Although, his perspicacity shows with every capture, there is a layered post-processing stage involved too. And for which he has a full-time team of 4 at his studio.
He states, “I understand my shortcoming. I’m good at clicking pictures, I’d be put in a box with a camera but I leave what I’m not good at (post-processing) to my team.”
Post-processing is an integral part of the procedure, and one that photographers need to pay due attention to.
From minor edits to revamping the color range of the photo, the digital darkroom is your playground even if you end up with a click you fall in love with.
We rounded up some common-but-imperative post-processing techniques you must pay attention to:
1. Color balance
Probably the main reason why post-processing might have come into the picture at all. Adjusting color balance is important because cameras aren’t equipped to capture the diverse range of colors that nature so beautifully portrays.
Plus the natural lighting and weather plays spoilsport too. This necessitates including color balance as a compulsory step in post-processing.
You can manually adjust the color scheme to replicate what your eyes see, or you can go the smart way and choose a tool like the Datacolor Spyder5ELITE that will provide the highest level of control to ensure the most accurate and true monitor color you can achieve.
One thing to understand is that while you can nail focus in the processing stage, the path to crisp clear pictures starts with your camera. Depending upon the camera you use, you need to accordingly adjust shutter speed and aperture to get superior quality images.
And use a tripod to reduce shakiness and prevent blurred images as this is the first step for tack sharp images.
Most amateur photographers shoot in single point, but if you need to be different than the herd, you’d have to up your game.
And this is done during the post-processing stage. Tack sharpness isn’t easy because it involves a series of detailed steps. But get all the basic and advanced info in this James Brandon guide that besides comprising a sizeable amount of relevant knowledge also provides practical examples using Brandon’s own images.
3. Learn branch-specific techniques
Every branch of photography differs from its counterpart. The techniques you employ to process street photography would differ from the ones you use for portraiture.
While the essence of street photography isn’t fixed, so you have the leeway to bend the rules to get the most out of your click, for portraiture the expressions take center stage. You have to enhance contrast, erase flaws and overall improve the quality.
Or take landscape photography for instance, these are the hardest to work with simply because of the raw uncut procedure involved. You can’t have lighting and props for landscape shots, you see a landscape, you like it, perceive it, and click it. But far too often what you see and what you click isn’t the same thing.
Therefore, when it comes to landscape photography, you need to go a little deeper and gain holistic knowledge of post-processing.
4. Don’t overdo retouching
Image retouching is a common post-processing technique, so much so that even the non-photographer populace often retouch their pictures for social media. But the difference between them and you is the quality of it, and how natural your pictures come out.
You obviously don’t want to give images – especially portraits – a ghastly porcelain doll look, which unfortunately most people do. The idea is to even out flaws and enhance an image to the extent it can be enhanced.
For example, you can achieve perfect skin structure by correctly manipulating Low and High pass filtering or through noise reduction.
Check out this detailed tutorial from photoshopessentials.com on how to retouch a face concentrating on smoothening and softening primarily.
5. Be organized
Editing isn’t mainly a gut thing, you need to know where you want to go and the way to it. Most photographers make the mistake of going with the flow, which, if it works, good for them, but mostly it won’t.
Just like you follow a routine set of steps while clicking a picture – setting up the gear, adjusting, setting the tripod – you need to know what steps to take to go through the entire editing process.
A workflow, as it is called, will save you both time and effort, and give you a realistic picture of the journey. It’s akin to boarding a train, you know the stations in between show how far you have left to go and what to expect.
If you’re tuned to post-processing and have your routine basic steps that you follow, you can stick to it. But that won’t work for all images, in fact you’d have to keep adding other steps to it subject to the type of image you have and the vision of the final version.
Read up on how your mentors and idols go about it, how did someone like Ansel Adams do post-processing or what workflow does Steve McCurry adopt for editing his images.
We found this wildflower photography guide really helpful to get you organized when it comes to post-processing. The workflow mentioned is detailed and practical. If you don’t want to do the work and read up on what other photographers do, just reading up on this would be equally helpful if not more.
Post-processing isn’t easy territory. If the likes of Joe McNally can hire professionals to do his editing, you could consider too. But if you’re low on moolah but still want your pictures to be in the big leagues (we hear you!) don’t forget to check out the resources we mentioned in this post.
Lawrenceville, NJ – April 5, 2016 – Datacolor®, a global leader in color management solutions and color communication technology, today announced the launch of the Datacolor 200 spectrophotometer. This new instrument, designed especially for paint retailers and hardware stores, contains state of the art color measurement technology in a compact form factor. Combined with the new Datacolor Paint v. 2.0 software it provides industry leading color matching accuracy for paint and coating applications, eliminating mis-tints while improving productivity and ease of use.
By redesigning the instrument, the installation of the Datacolor 200 is greatly simplified while at the same time reducing the need for calibration from every 8 hours to every two weeks. Datacolor 200’s sphere geometry, combined with automatic gloss detection, assures accurate color measurement of either flat, glossy or textured samples for perfect color formulation. In addition, its compact design and integrated accessory drawer and service indicator make it ideal for use in the retail environment.
“It’s vital for paint retailers to get the paint color for their customers right the first time, which is why many of them have routinely trusted Datacolor for their paint matching and formulation needs,” said Alok Verma, Paint and Coatings Market Manager, Datacolor. “With the new Datacolor 200 spectrophotometer and the Datacolor Paint 2.0 software, we are proud to deliver the perfect solution for their needs.”
To learn more about the Datacolor 200, or for information on how to upgrade, click here.
By Jason Bradley
Digital printing workflow is all about consistency. The thing with analog printing, especially printing that requires dodging and burning, and masking, is that no two prints are exactly alike. Digital printing, when practiced well, eliminates the unpredictable nature of analog printing. Once an image has been developed and proofed in Lightroom, Photoshop or elsewhere, printing becomes a matter of hitting “Print”. Admittedly, it’s not as easy as that, but compared to building a darkroom, mixing chemicals, developing and fixing paper, it kind of is. Making the one hundredth print versus the first should be, theoretically, the same—even if you print on different printers or on different papers—as long as you know how to practice a workflow that supports such consistency.
The best full-size color checker chart is the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR. Unlike other such tools, it comes with a built-in, easily transportable iPad-size locking hard case that protects the swatches from fading and damage.