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Why print before calibrated?

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Hi Damion/Guys

I'm a little stuck. I've got prints from my usual lab but what I can't seem to understand is:

These phosos were edited on my uncalibrated screen and then printed. Now I should calibrate and compare those prints to my current callibrated screen? And it should almost match? I don't understand. Isn't the calibrated screen supposed to be different (better) than the uncalibrated one? How can I then compare it to photos edited and printed on the uncalibrated one? 

Sorry if this a dumb question. But I can't seem to get my head around it. 


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The prints are the standard.  You sent files to your pro lab, and the lab printed those files.  If the prints come back and your screen is off from them, that means your screen is not showing you what the file truly looks like.  "What the file truly looks like" is determined entirely by how the lab printed them (assuming you didn't ask for color correction, and assuming they're a reputable pro lab and didn't mess up the print).

So the purpose of calibration is to fix your screen so it renders your files the way they truly look.  You calibrate and make sure the calibration is correct by checking your screen against the prints -- which, again, are the true indicator of what the files actually look like.

Once your screen matches the prints, you can be confident that what you see on the screen is in fact what the file actually looks like.  Now you can edit the files knowing that what you see as you edit is in fact what will come back when you print.

Also: calibrating your screen only changes the way your screen renders the file.  It does not change the file itself.  So if you send a file to print before you calibrate your screen, and then send the same file to the same lab to print after you calibrate your screen, the lab, having received the exact same file again, will send you back the exact same print.  So it's a waste of money to send the same file to print a second time. :)

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