5 Simple Steps to Monitor Calibration
by Dave Mobbs – June 23rd, 2015
Profiling your monitor does not need a degree in color science, and although the more sophisticated solutions provide many ways to fine tune and control optimisation of your monitors color display, a standard monitor profiling process benefits from just the following few guiding notes:
The two main variables in a monitors settings are; brightness and temperature. The sophistication of your monitor profiling solution, will determine which of these factors can be accurately set within the profiling process and which need to be visually set through your monitors inbuilt controls.
For consistent results it is ideal to have a monitor profiling solution that includes setting a custom target level for the brightness and choice between the standard temperature targets (D50 and D65). Such options (to varying levels of control) are generally included in what we would classify as a ‘standard level’ monitor profiling solution, whereas a ‘basic’ solution may have no temperature choice and a limited or no brightness target option.
Reset your monitor to its default factory settings, connect the monitor calibration instrument and run the profiling software.
Select the required target temperature and brightness: A recommended brightness of 100cdm2
A temperature of D65 (6,500°k) is a good base point
If offered, a gamma value of 2.2 is very much the accepted standard.
This is generally the first action required within the process. If such options are not presented, this is an indication that you have a basic profiling solution that assumes maintaining your monitors current brightness and temperature levels (or may assume a default temperature target of D65 (6,500°k). For users of a basic solution it is advisable to set your monitors temperature at D65 through the monitor’s internal on-screen-display settings and set the brightness at a comfortable intensity.
Proceeding from defining these target settings the process then measures a series of colors in order to compensate for the characteristics of your monitor and create a profile. Depending on the software and the controls available within your monitor this may internally achieve the desired target values (ADC) or prompts will direct to making such adjustments during the measurement process.
The profile measuring process generally ends with a prompt to save the monitor profile, which is stored by default in the correct system directory.
After profiling your monitor to these target values, view a neutral image on your screen and compare it to its corresponding print. This will allow you to ignore the influence of color and determine if the temperature/warmth of the image corresponds to your physical print and similarly if the brightness and contrast/depth of the image is acceptable.
If not the target brightness and temperature settings can be adjusted in the profiling software and the process repeated. If the screen looks colder (bluer) than the reference print, the monitors target temperature will benefit from being reduced from 6,500°k to a lower value such as 5,500°k or 5,000°k.
If the monitor brightness/contrast looks greater than a reference print, reduce the monitor’s brightness. After making such changes repeat the profiling process with your new target values.
Once you have optimum target values the software should remember these values for re-profiling (recommended on a monthly basis), but also take note of the values as a back-up reminder.
So as you can see, the idea that color management is complicated, time consuming or unnecessary is a complete myth. In order to get the most out of your workflow and save precious time, colour management is an essential tool for anybody that values true color.
Choosing the right monitor calibrator for you
Monitor calibration solutions come in three levels of complexity and control. These can broadly be defined as Basic, Advanced and Professional. In essence, you can choose the right calibrator for you dependant on the level of ‘control’ you want over the profile you create. Invariably, the model you choose will be a reflection on your photography and how important color accuracy is to your work. i.e. a keen amateur may well have a different requirement to a professional photographer.
Here we provide a simple breakdown of products that suit your needs:
X-Rite ColorMunki Smile (Basic) – For photo hobbyists, design enthusiasts, gamers and web viewing, ColorMunki Smile is a super simple way to get more accurate color from your monitor and Apple® iOS® devices. The process is easy.
X-Rite ColorMunki Display (Advanced) – ColorMunki Display offers a quick and easy way for both amateur and professional photographers to calibrate and profile displays. It features X-Rite’s most technologically advanced colorimeter bundled with new display and projector profiling software to ensure unrivalled color accuracy and consistency for color perfectionists.
X-Rite i1Display Pro (Professional) – the i1Display Pro is the ultimate solution for demanding professionals who require speed, options and flexibility to ensure color accuracy on screen. It incorporates next-generation display and projector profiling software technologies that makes the match between display and printer more perfect and delivers full creative control over images.
Some useful additions
Ideally it is beneficial to have a daylight optimised controlled viewing light to provide a constant optimum physical viewing condition. Viewing solutions range from the compact and budget GrafiLite range of table lamps from around £50 through to sophisticated professional solutions ranging £500-£5,000.
Similarly, many professional monitors include a monitor hood. This benefits the colour control process greatly as its provides a more controlled viewing environment. If you do not have a monitor hood with your monitor, consider a third-party hood, such as the PChood Pro, which fits any monitor form 15” up to 26” format.