I did six months in a photo lab. This is pure crap. Two near identical photos. Both completely different.
I miss film.
So you feel that your calibrations and Harvey Norman's would be similar somehow?
1 - How about photo books? I have about 4000 photos sitting on my hard drive from the last holiday that I never printed, will have to be careful about what I do with them after reading the above story.
2- Have a bit of a lens question; I'm looking at getting the Sigma 17-50 2.8 as kit lens upgrade. I've seen Sigma also have a 18-35 1.8 which also sounds tempting. Am favouring the former at this point as the extra zoom might be a bit more versatile for a holiday. Though I question whether it be worth say, buying the 18-35 instead in addition to a 50mm 1.8? I suppose this is subjective, but thought I might canvas a few opinions. 3 - How well will a 2.8 work at night or indoors? The 50mm price means I'll probably buy one just for the hell of it at some point anyway.
Most of these questions don't have black 'n white answers (pun semi-intended) and have a bit to do with personal preference and personal experience.
1 - BG - to some this is pretty obvious, but to others it is a revelation. And pretty simple: what you see on your screen, be it a phone, tablet, laptop, CRT or LCD, IPS or TFN, or even projector - is subjective. Every screen everywhere is displaying a certain level of brightness, contrast and chroma (colour). And depending on what angle it is viewed at can change those apparent characteristics. So what you are looking at right now is either a set of parameters your 'computer' is telling the screen to display - or (as is more often the case) a default setting built into the unit by the manufacturers. There are many types of screens with varying characteristics. There are screens with more limitations than others, when it comes to the visible spectrum - the ones mentioned above.
So - given this information, why would anyone consider that the screen (or image) they are looking at, looks the same on someone else's screen? The answer is - well, either because they haven't really thought about it, or - they know that they are looking at the same parameters that someone else is looking at. That is called 'monitor calibration'. Without this knowledge, one may very well take a photo, import to their computer, play around with it - perhaps make it look just how they like it - then trundle off to Harvey Norman or somewhere similar that is not geared up to correct they image for you, print it - and there you go - surprise! It looks like shit. Are HN to blame? Not necessarily. But maybe.
How do you calibrate a monitor?
Well, there are several methods. The cheap, not-very-reliable-but-better-than-nothing method is to use an online, browser-based calibration routine. Something like this http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test
Better than nothing. Can you tell why it is not exactly foolproof? I'll tell you anyway - because it is, once again, subjective. You are setting parameters based on what you perceive, not necessarily by what 'is'. But - better than nothing.
The other way is to use specialised hardware for calibration. This is what professionals who rely on their images to be printed exactly as they see them on their screens use. Or should use, anyway. A specialised device is basically like a camera coupled with a software program, that literally measures the output from your screen as it goes through its routine, and when it is done, it compiles a set of parameters in a readable file. This file can then be read by the computer/monitor/editing software/printing software/printer so that everyone in the chain is speaking the same language - the same parameters. Now it is objective, instead of subjective.
There is a third way. You can use a professional lab to colour correct your images for you before printing. The downside is - you only get to see the result after printing.
Combined with the above, there is the matter of monitors and screens themselves. They are not all made equal. All cameras will take a picture. Not all screens will display what you saw. It's something that you can research if interested, but it is not 'necessary' for you right now (I'm guessing). Hope that gives you some info on the matter. It applies equally, of course, on whether you are printing 5"7"s, billboards, or photo books.
2 - Lens choice is (or at least - should always be) a matter of requirement, be it personal or professional. It is easy to get caught up in hype, or the love of tech - but it's an expensive game. For me, lenses are tools. I buy and use the ones I need. As an enthusiast, it is great to be able to have a bit of a range in your arsenal - something to experiment with, and experience. I would consider a wide zoom, a medium telephoto, a macro and a prime as basic tools in the kit. That doesn't necessarily mean 4 lenses - the macro feature can be coupled with a telephoto or prime. I can't remember what you shoot with - if it is a full frame body, then what I would consider a nice basic kit would be a 24-70mm, a 70-200mm, and a 100mm macro. I shoot with Canon, but there are equivalents in all brands.
When it comes to 3rd party lenses, I have had better luck with Tamron than Sigma. That is purely personal experience. a 17-50mm wide zoom on a 'crop sensor' body is (for all intents and purposes, and a complex subject in itself) equal to a 24-70mm on a full-frame. A very quick definition - 'full-frame' is 35mm sensor, based on 35mm film size. 'Crop-sensor' is smaller - which gives you a tighter (apparent) FOV (field of view).
With regards to the 50mm prime - always ok to play around with a cheap prime in my opinion. My advice is - buy used. You will lose a lot less when you want to sell it again
3 - Indoor and night photography. A whole different kettle of fish.
I think that one needs a segment on its own, if you're really interested
Sorry if that's a bit wordy. I'm not always glib