Monitor brightness with ATi video cards on a PC

Something strange happened a few days ago that I have now tracked down and corrected.
I use a ATi XTX1950X 512mb video card on my Vista workstation with the Catalyst control center software to configure it.

One day I noticed that my monitor didn’t look right and when I checked it read 85 candelas instead of 100. I re calibrated but 2 sets of calibration software couldn’t achieve a brightness level higher than 85. This is the kind of behaviour to expect from a 5 year old CRT monitor and not a CG211 LCD panel less than one year old.

When I attached my Mac to the screen however I found the brightness back to expected levels so it wasn’t the screen.

I knew therefore it was the PC setup at fault and proceeded to check everything, including uninstalling and reinstalling the ATI drivers and Catalyst program.

Eventually I traced the problem to an obscure setting in the color panel of the Catalyst control center. It was set on “PC standard black and white levels” which sounds fine to me but when I changed it to “Microsoft MCE black and white levels” I got my display brightness back. I have no recollection of even seeing this setting before so I’m unclear as to how the change happened.

I’m mentioning it here so anyone else who comes across this problem knows how to fix it. I seem to get a lot of hits from Google searches from people with imaging related problems, nice to know I’m helping!


Camera Raw 4.1

Having already described the hard headed business types at Adobe and their desire to be as popular as the convicted monopolist Microsoft with their lousy pricing policy, it would appear that the good guys at Adobe have come to their rescue and put something in Photoshop CS3 that makes the upgrade worthwhile.

Camera raw 4.1 includes some very useful new tools:

Hue/Saturation/luminance tab which allows these adjustments with full access to the raw data. This results in much smoother tones and colours than if you perform the same operations on the image in Photoshop. For people who like to get their colour ‘just so’ this is a real improvement.

Defringe control (in the lens corrections tab) This is a great way to get rid of the colour fringing caused by affordable lenses (cheap ones). Its a one step control that doesn’t need picture-picture tweaking like the chromatic aberration sliders (though I still recommend their use – especially on wide angle shots that show it the most.)

Clarity control, this improves the contrast in the mid tones and can work very well.

All in all I’m finding the images I’m getting from recent raw conversions to be quite a bit better than the conversions in the past. It means less work in Photoshop and that’s got to be a good thing for your sanity and workflow.

The other lesson is that new technology and software algorithms improve over time and that’s a compelling argument never to delete RAW files, even the marginal ones.

If you upgrade to CS3 you will need to download ACR 4. from here:

Mac Windows

Im available for telephone/remote desktop and email support for training in the transition to CS3 for existing clients. New clients can email me in the first instance to arrange a workshop or onsite visit.