X-Rite Photo Blog
Color Perfectionists Unite!

The First Step | Calibrate and Profile Your Monitor


by Brenda K. Hipsher – January 30th, 2012

Color management is a must for the digital photographer.  It is the only way to get an image from camera to paper or even camera to website with any degree of confidence that what we intended is what others will actually see.  Today we’re going to talk about the first step…. your monitor.  If you only calibrate and profile your monitor, you’ll be well on your way to a color managed workflow that will save you time, frustration, and money.

X-Rite Monitor Calibration

Different devices produce different collections of color or "color gamuts." Calbrating and profiling your monitor can account for these differences.

Why is the monitor the place to start?

Simply put, your monitor is the starting point for color management because it is the beginning and the end of what we used to call the “finishing” process.  When we open a digital image file in a program like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Elements we usually evaluate it for brightness or exposure, contrast, and color and often we crop or straighten or make other adjustments.  If our monitor is too bright, the prints we make from that monitor will be too dark.  Sound familiar? If we darken that file until it looks “right” on an uncalibrated screen we’re making the file too dark to compensate. Before we worry about color and contrast, this one issue is perhaps the most critical one for solving your workflow challenges.

Why can’t I use my eyes?

We’re often asked “why can’t I just use my eyes?”  Because eyes are easily fooled.  Sometimes we really can’t believe out own eyes because a variety of things interfere with our color and luminance vision.  If we stare at a color for even a few seconds our eyes begin to compensate and shift our color vision. This is why we ought to take care that we control what color our eyes see in the background when we’re doing critical color correction. For instance if I sit in a green room all day, my eyes will naturally try to correct that color out and my vision will shift adding more magenta to the scene to compensate.  If we send files the lab for printing when we’re not seeing the added magenta… guess what? You’ve got it! Magenta prints. So profiling the monitor is using an instrument to evaluate the color, contrast, and luminance enabling us set our monitor to an industry standard. This way we can have some degree of confidence that our lab will open that file and see what we saw or if it’s going directly to print in our studio or at the lab, then we can have confidence that what we see will be what comes out of the printer.

Where do I start?

If you’re new to monitor calibration and profiling its best to start with an easy to use solution. X-Rite offers you the newly designed ColorMunki Display device and software. This little affordable solution comes with software that will evaluate your ambient light and even correct for the flare or glare that may be on your screen in less than optimal conditions. ColorMunki Display has been reviewed by many. This week a brand new review from TechRadar.com once again gave it high marks for ease of use and affordability. Read their review here: X-Rite ColorMunki Display: Monitor calibrator ideal for both novice and intermediate users.

Getting bad prints from your printer or lab is a costly endeavor. Not only do we waste paper and ink which is very expensive, it’s hard to put a price on time, creative energy, frustration…. and in the end simply settle for “good enough.”  Just calculate how much you’re throwing away in paper and ink and you’ll quickly find that a good color management device like ColorMunki Display will pay for itself in no time and start saving you time and money.

Check it out today at www.xritephoto.com.  And have a look at this short video to give you an overview of what ColorMunki Display is all about.


For more about color management click on the “Complete Guide to Color Management” tab at the top of this page. There’s a LOT more for you to enjoy and learn at www.xritephoto.com.  Be sure have a look at the Webinar Archive. Remember to follow X-Rite Photo on Facebook and @xritephoto on Twitter.

color management, color profile, calibration, ICC, x-rite, xriteCalibrating and profiling your monitor is essential for viewing your digital images accurately on any monitor.

Stop Guessing. Start Knowing. Get your color workflow under control with color management solutions by X-Rite.

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