Prints Darker than on monitor in lightroom

Wondering if just bringing down brightness of the monitor (4k) will help. Also any recommendations on professional print shop that will actually look at the file and adjust something like brightness before they print.
Many Thanks

Have you calibrated your monitor? The luminance of your monitor is set too high. You will need to re-calibrate the monitor with a lower brightness setting. Some of the newer monitors can automatically adjust monitor brightness to optimal levels…Jim

OK thanks Jim. I ll try recal with a lower brightness. Is there a lab you use I can research?

Hi Mario,

I have not used any commercial print lab, but there has to be quite a few NPN members that have used them…Jim

Hi Mario, I calibrate my monitor for normal web viewing (120 luminance), and then edit my photo so it looks good on my screen. Then, when I go to print the image I switch my monitor’s calibration to a much dimmer setting, and then edit the image specifically for print so that now on this dimmer setting, the print looks “correct” on the monitor. Essentially that’s just brightening the image quite a bit for print. There can be a lot more to adjusting an image file for print, but getting the brightness right is an important first step.

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Thank you Brent
Do you use aprint lab you are happy with?

There is no magic one size fits all luminance setting that results in prints approximating the monitor brightness. You have to experiment on your own and find the setting that works for you. I started at 120 and worked my way down to 80 before it was right for me.

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Hi Mario. I’m no expert on print labs or print quality, but I use White House Custom Colour ( for my prints and I’ve always been happy with them.

Brent and Tony are right on. Here’s what I would recommend:

  • Initial processing for web with luminance of 120 using a neutral grey for your background in Lr/Ps
  • Then process specifically for print with a luminance of 80 and using a white background in Ps/Lr to force your eyes to adapt to the bright screen which will make you process the image brighter and result in a print with proper brightness.

For labs, I can recommend the following:

  • For prints I would really recommend trying to find someone local to work with if you can, then it’s easy to do test prints and work with them directly rather than shipping back and forth. If this isn’t an option I will say that BayPhoto does good work for photographic prints, but stay far away for fine art paper, the blacks come out dull grey. I have also heard great things about Aspen Creek Photo.
  • For acrylic I would go with Nevada Art Printers
  • For plaque mounted prints I can recommend DuraPlaq

I would also highly recommend Reed Photo in Denver. We started using them recently and have been thrilled with the results and customer service. They’re a one stop shop for prints on Canson Infinity paper, Diasec acrylic with fujiflex or canson, metal prints, plaque mounted prints, and canvas. They are more expensive, especially for prints. But if you want high quality and not have to worry if your customer is receiving something subpar, then it’s worth it.


In the past I have had the same issues between the brightness of my image on my monitor vs. the reflected brightness of a print out of my printer. I used to do a lot of printing at home with a high end Epson photo printer and would waste a lot of paper trying to get my prints looking correct. For the last 8 years I have exclusively used Bay Photo. The results work well for my paying clients (they are not ordering fine art prints) and for me, Bay Photo is close to where I live so orders come in a day. I have yet to make a fine art print for myself, can never decide which of my photos I like best :-/

When I do finally decide, I will likely use my local lab that has been around for a long time and I know they will better hold my hand through the process and the results will be worth the $ and effort.

I use an iMac, and just set my brightness to one click under half way, and it’s perfect for editing. All my prints are made on an Epson P7000. I don’t use any other sort of calibration. The iMac screens are fantastic right out of the box. I think the number one mistake people make when printing is having their monitor too bright.

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All excellent points. Only other thing I’ll add is to pay attention to the color and brightness of light in your editing room.

And once printed, choosing a well lit area, even intentional lighting for your image can help as well.

I’ve used BayPhoto and like David said, if you use regular prints, they’ve turned out well for me. I’ve also used Nevada Art for their acrylic prints…just fantastic.

So, as I understand, one should;

(I’m using a calibrated monitor)

  1. Soft proofing for color consistency (which I use)

  2. Lower the monitor brightness to, say, 80, to compensate for darks print (which i don’t use and complain all the time)

What is the color of the background of the lightroom app? By default these apps are usually black or brown. I learned from Charles Cramer to set the apps to white. You’ll find your image looks a lot darker against a white background. Brighten it to look like the way you want it to look. Then the brightness of your image will match the brightness of your print.

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Without reading back through the thread, I’ll just add a quick clarification. With all the calibration programs I’ve been familiar with for years, they have all stated that once you have calibrated, you shouldn’t change the brightness, as it will throw the calibration off. If you want to change the brightness you should re-calibrate to the desired brightness.

Interesting idea from @dan1. I haven’t had a problem with prints darker than the monitor, but I’ll give it a try for comparison. Backgrounds do affect perception quite a lot.