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In digital imaging systems, color management is the controlled conversion between the color representations of various devices, such as photo scanners, digital cameras, monitors, film printers, computer printers, offset presses, and corresponding media.
The primary goal of color management is to obtain a good match across color devices; for example, the colors of one photograph should appear the same on a computer LCD monitor as on a printed image. Color management helps to achieve the same appearance on all of these devices, provided the devices are capable of delivering the needed color intensities. With photography it is often critical that prints or online gallery appear how they were intended. Color management cannot guarantee identical color reproduction, as this is rarely possible, but it can at least give more control over any changes which may occur.
A raster image processor (RIP) is a component used in a printing system which produces a raster image also known as a bitmap. Such a bitmap is used by a later stage of the printing system to produce the printed output. The input may be a page description in a high-level page description language such as PostScript, PDF, or XPS. The input can be or include bitmaps of higher or lower resolution than the output device, which the RIP resizes using an image scaling algorithm.
In color management, an ICC profile is a set of data that characterizes a color input or output device, or a color space, according to standards promulgated by the International Color Consortium (ICC). Profiles describe the color attributes of a particular device or viewing requirement by defining a mapping between the device source or target color space and a profile connection space (PCS). This PCS is either CIELAB (L*a*b*) or CIEXYZ. Mappings may be specified using tables, to which interpolation is applied, or through a series of parameters for transformations.
Every device that captures or displays color can be profiled. Some manufacturers provide profiles for their products, and there are several products that allow an end-user to generate his or her own color profiles, typically through the use of a tristimulus colorimeter or a spectrophotometer (sometimes called a spectrocolorimeter).
The ICC defines the format precisely but does not define algorithms or processing details. This means there is room for variation between different applications and systems that work with ICC profiles. Two main generations are used: the legacy ICCv2 and the December 2001 ICCv4. Since late 2010, the current version of the format specification (ICC.1) is 4.3.
ICC has also published a preliminary specification for iccMAX (ICC.2) or ICCv5, a next-generation color management architecture with significantly expanded functionality and a choice of colorimetric, spectral or material connection space.
The aim of color calibration is to measure and/or adjust the color response of a device (input or output) to a known state. In International Color Consortium (ICC) terms, this is the basis for an additional color characterization of the device and later profiling. In non-ICC workflows, calibration refers sometimes to establishing a known relationship to a standard color space in one go. The device that is to be calibrated is sometimes known as a calibration source; the color space that serves as a standard is sometimes known as a calibration target. Color calibration is a requirement for all devices taking an active part of a color-managed workflow, and is used by many industries, such as television production, gaming, photography, engineering, chemistry, medicine and more.