Technical Bulletin:

Changes to New Lighting and Color Matching to Proofs:  ISO 3664:2009

 By Ron Ellis


Viewing conditions are an important part of any print workflow. Recently there have been changes to the ISO standard for viewing conditions, as well as to the bulbs used in most print viewing booths. This bulletin gives a brief outline of the changes, possible issues, as well as ways to work with the new bulbs.

ISO 3664:2009 and Changes to Bulbs for Viewing Booths

In 2009 the ISO standard for viewing conditions was changed. The new standard includes many improvements, including being a closer match to real daylight, as well as being in closer agreement to CIE specifications for illuminant D50. The new standard was also changed to include UV content. All bulbs shipped in 2011 were modified to meet these specifications. If you order bulbs for most standard viewing conditions they now meet these new specifications. This means all new bulbs shipped right now contain UV content.


What are the implications of the UV content contained in the new lamps? For the past 6+ years, proof to press color matching has been done in viewing booths with little UV content. Proofing papers used also contained few optical brighteners (OBAs), allowing measurements to be taken from these papers for use with color management. When placed in a booth with little UV content, a typical press sheet and a proof on paper with no OBA's would provide a good color match.


Potential Issues

Although many users may encounter no issues with the new lighting, some users may find they no longer can obtain a proof to press match using the new lighting. This is because the UV content of the new lights is exciting the OBAs in the press sheet. In this scenario the press sheet will look bright white, and the proof will appear yellow. Because the ability to obtain a quick visual match from proof to press sheet is important to many printers, this visual mismatch can be a deal-breaker for many printers and customers.


There is currently no recommended workflow for color matching a proof and press sheet with these new lighting conditions. Industry color scientists and those responsible for writing the ISO 3664:2009 standard are working on best practices for color matching with the new viewing conditions.


ISO 3664:2009 - Recommended Actions


The following are recommendations from Ron Ellis Consulting LLC for our customers:

1.     Maintain and replace your bulbs with new ISO 3664:2009 compliant bulbs. If you need help determining if your bulbs are compliant contact your manufacturer. There is also information on ISO 3664-2009 bulbs at http://www.gracol.org. Note that it is important that everyone in your production workflow (customer and printers) use the same bulbs.


2.     If you encounter problems you may choose to use a UV filtering lens in your viewing booth. Both JUST Normlicht and GTI include or make UV filtering lenses for their viewing booths. A UV filtering lens will block the UV light from passing through, and will make the new lights act like the previous bulbs, which had minimal UV content. This will allow you to have the same proof to press match that was possible prior to use of the newer bulbs.

If you do use a UV filtering lens it is important that everyone in your production workflows (customers and printers) also use a UV filtering lens so they have the same viewing condition.


You can use the UV filtering lenses and still be compliant with 3664:2009. The ISO 3664:2009 standard allows for use of a custom standard (such as 3664:2009 using UV lenses, as long as it is used in the entire production workflow. UV filtering lenses also degrade over time, so if using them realize they need to be replaced periodically.


3.     Watch for updates. At some future point industry color scientists and those responsible for writing the ISO 3664:2009 standard will provide working best practices for color matching with the new viewing conditions.


For more information:


GTI Graphic Technology, Inc.

211 Dupont Avenue

Newburg, NY 12550




JUST Normlicht

2000 Cabot Blvd W. Ste 120 Langhorne, PA 19047

Toll free: (800) 248-JUST

Direct: (267) 852-2202

Fax: (267) 852-2207




New York City Office (Operations)

25 West 43rd Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10036
Tel: 1.212.642.4900





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The above is provided with no guarantees, support, and is for education and information purposes only.

Ron Ellis Consulting LLC



 Ron Ellis is a Boston-based consultant specializing in color management, worflow integration, and press calibration. He has provided installation and training services to dealers, manufacturers, and content creators since 1986. An IDEAlliance G7 Expert and chair of the GRACoL Committee, Ron has performed over 100 G7 calibrations. In addition to calibrating pressrooms for customers such as Pantone, Ron also specializes in creating internal working spaces for brands and agencies that allow them to work more efficiently with vendors, saving both time and money. Ron is published frequently in industry magazines, and has produced training materials for numerous printing industry vendors and publishers. He can be contacted at 603-498-4553 or through his web site at www.ronellisconsulting.com.

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