Windows XP from a Mac Perspective
Subject:   PC/Mac Gamma
Date:   2002-02-16 08:57:03
From:   derrick
I've received a couple of notes about the ease of gamma switching on the Mac. I thought some of you might be interested in this, so I'm posting one of the letters with my response.

I just read your article on your migration from Win 98 to XP and your
feelings about OS X. Nice article - less ill-informed bashing and a
more realistic user angle.

You mentioned gamma inconsistencies between Mac operating systems and
Windows. I have to mention that I develop web pages primarily on a
Mac and have been using Colorsync to switch between print (1.8 gamma
- the Mac default) and web (2.2 gamma - PCs and TVs). Apple provides
a pretty nice "soft" calibration "wizard" in the Monitors Control
Panel in OS 9 and in the System Preferences under OS X.

I work on print and web jobs throughout a given day and switch
between gamma settings all the time (scriptable - sort of). My sites
usually look better on PC monitors than some of my PC developer
friends work because I use Colorsync to maintain proper gamma
calibration. It takes seconds to run through the Colorsync
calibration guide. The advanced mode would probably require some
background to understand (I've been through an intensive ICC color
workflow class), but if you follow the steps you will reduce you're
issues with having a Mac for web development - really.

While it's basically impossible to provide consistent color over a
single display device, Apple has had good support for working around
some of this back as far as Mac OS 8. I work also as the IT guy so I
have a whole bunch of Macs and PCs of varying monitor quality to have
tested all this on. It does help immensely. I see this technology
completely ignored by most of the folks I work with, but they are
pretty much doing only print. For you I would guess that you could
set up a 2.2 gamma setting and forget about it unless you do actually
do prepress work. Maybe you know all this already, but I figured I'd
mention it.

Eric Peacock

My Response:

You're absolutely right Eric, and I should have mentioned the Mac's ability to easily switch between gamma settings. You're also right that it does a pretty good job of emulating PC rendering.

When I'm on the road, I take only my TiBook. Between Virtual PC and a few other tricks like the gamma switching, I'm able to do my work quite nicely :-)

When I'm at home, I do like having access to the Windows machine too. For one reason, I can just leave my work in progress on the Mac, my main machine, but I can swing over to the PC and pull up the page real quick and take a peek.

I realize we're talking about excessive convenience here ;-) But it's a luxury I enjoy, and it helps me through the long days associated with Web publishing.