How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors


Monitor calibration is an important task for photographers. A properly calibrated monitor will accurately show you the colors in your images, so when you share or print them, you have done everything you can to ensure the final photo is seen as you intended.

However it is a task that many people don’t do, or start and then give up on. This is for a number of reasons.

First, and perhaps the major reason, is that color calibration and color management is a complex topic with a lot of terminology. As a result, it can be very easy to get lost in the details when trying to configure your own monitor, and to end up with bad results. Trust me, I have been down this road.

Next, there is a huge variability in the quality of displays available on the market, and the technology that powers these displays. As a result, tips and advice that work on one monitor might not work on another.

Finally, there is a big difference when it comes to the ambient lighting conditions in the places we work. Different light situations result in our eyes perceiving colors differently, making monitor calibration challenging, even for those of us with great vision.

As a result, many users don’t bother to calibrate their monitors correctly. Or, they might try, get lost in a world of conflicting advice and complex terminology, and give up. I have definitely been one of those people in the past.

However, if you want the images you are producing to be as accurate to life as possible, then color management is something you are going to have to get on top of. To help out, I’ve put together this guide that covers how to calibrate a monitor, as well as an explanation of some of the terminology involved.

I will preface this post with the statement that monitor calibration and color management is a complicated topic. If you do a search for how to calibrate your monitor online, you will unearth thousands of web pages and forum posts discussing the topic of monitor calibration.

I will try to keep this guide as easy to follow as possible. As a result, there may be some simplification. The goal of this post is to help people get more accurate images, rather than trying to cover the entire topic of color management. Let’s get started.

What is Color Management and Monitor Calibration?

Let’s first look at what color management and calibration actually are.

Your monitor or screen likely has some controls that let you change how it looks. This will apply for any of your devices, whether it is your desktop computer monitor, laptop screen, smartphone device, tablet, or external monitor.

The controls will vary depending on the type of screen, but in general they will allow to you change things like the brightness of the screen, and perhaps other things like the saturation and contrast.

The controls on an external monitor will likely be similar to those you might find on a TV, and are usually accessed via a button. No doubt you are aware that you can change things like contrast, brightness and color on your TV, and this changes how the image looks. This is the same for a computer monitor, and to some extent, other device screens.

There are also other ways you can control how your screen looks. These settings are normally configured and controlled through the operating system on your device, which might be Windows, iOS, Android, or Linux. Adjusting these settings is known as color management. Basically, you are adjusting how different colors appear on your screen.

The operating system reads the color management setup on your computer, and instructs the graphics processing chip inside your computer to send specific instructions to the display. The display then renders the colors, adjusting the saturation, color intensity, and brightness accordingly.

Generally, calibrating your monitor and color management are two tasks that go hand in hand, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The end goal is the same, to get your monitor to accurately display colors.

 

Why Do You Need To Calibrate Your Display?

You might be wondering why you need to calibrate your monitor or display.

Well, the main reason is for consistency. Let’s think of a photo for a moment. If a monitor is correctly calibrated, when you look at the photo you took on the screen, it should match fairly closely to what the scene looked like when you took the photo.

Once you edit the photo, of course it will likely look different to the original, depending on the adjustments you make. However, when you come to share your image, either digitally or physically, you want to be sure that what other people see matches the image on your screen.

If you plan on printing your images, then having a correctly calibrated monitor is particularly important, so you know that the printed image will look as it does on your screen. It can be very disappointing to spend time editing an image and find out that the printed result doesn’t match what you see on screen.

If you are selling your photos, perhaps as a wedding photographer, landscape photographer or event photographer, having print images that match how they look on screen is critical. The person buying the shot will want what they buy to match your vision.

For sharing to the web, or other digital mediums, color management is still important, although perhaps not quite so much. The reason for this is that you can’t control other people’s screens. If your screen is set up correctly, but someone else has their saturation set to a high level for example, your image will appear more saturated to them.

However, in reality all you can do is configure things correctly on your end, and that is the most you can do. If someone else has an incorrectly configured display, that is up to them to fix.

If you correctly configure your display or displays, then your image should look the same on all of them, and when you print it, it will also look the same.

Now, for a lot of people this may not be very important. If you are a hobbyist photographer or blogger that mainly looks at and share your photos online, you may not care very much. But if you are someone who prints a lot of photos or if you want to sell your photos, then monitor calibration and color management are much more important.

I would still say that if you plan to get serious about your photography, starting out with a properly calibrated monitor is a good idea.

 

Color Management Terminology

Before diving into the details of how to calibrate your screen, I want to cover some terminology that you will encounter when it comes to display technology and color management.

I will try not to get too bogged down in the nitty gritty, but it is definitely important to at least have a high level idea of some of these concepts if you want to understand how color calibration works.

If you just want to get on with calibrating your monitor, you can of course skip down to that part of the post.

 

Color Space

The first thing we’re going to cover is the idea of a color space.

A color space is a way to order and define colors, across a variety of applications. For example, a commonly known color space in many industries is the Pantone Color Matching System. This has a huge number of standardized colors, each of which has an individual number.

A system like this means that different manufacturers can create products entirely separately from each other, and know that if they pick the same Pantone color, the final products will be the same color. The Pantone system, for instance, is commonly used by fashion designers, cosmetics companies, interior designers, graphic designers, and paint companies.

In the world of display technology, modern displays use a color space based on the RGB color model. A color model is simply a means of describing how a color is made.

RGB stands for Red Green Blue, and this indicates that every color displayed on a screen is made up of these three colors in varying intensities. It is what is known as an additive color model, because these three colors are added together to make the final color.

If you looked very closely at your display, you would see that it is made up of pixels. Each pixel is composed of three little colored lights, a red light, a green light, and a blue light. These lights are referred to as channels.

To define each color a screen can display, a number between 0 and 255 is assigned to each of these three channels. 0 means none of that color, 255 means all of that color. For example, red is denoted as RGB (255, 0 ,0). This means to show this color, the monitor must show 100% of the red light, and 0% of the green and blue light.

White combines all three colors, RGB (255 ,255, 255), and at the other end of the spectrum you get black by the complete absence of all three, RGB (0, 0, 0).

Between black and white, and using the RGB system, a monitor can display over 16 million colors! This is because each color it creates can be represented by up to 256 intensities of red, green and blue. If you multiply each of these together, 256*256*256, you end up with over 16 million possible color combinations. Here are some examples:

RGB example

So RGB is a color model. Let’s get back to color spaces. In the world of display technology there are a number of color spaces based upon the RGB color model which are commonly in use. The two most common of these are the sRGB color space and the Adobe RGB color space. The default color space that the majority of devices in the world use is sRGB.

Both of these color spaces use the same underlying concept, in that each possible color they are able to display is made up of red, green, and blue and each of those is available on a scale from 0 to 255.

However, Adobe RGB spreads the color space out more than sRGB. As a result, it can display a wider range of colors. This range is known as the color gamut, which we will cover in the next section.

What this means in practice is that the same RGB values produce a different color in sRGB compared to Adobe RGB. So for example, RGB (227, 30, 16) refers to a different color in sRGB compared to Adobe RGB. This is why it is so important to know the color space, as it directly affects the final colors that are displayed on the monitor, as it is converting all these numbers into actual colors on the screen.

Taking the above image as an example, if this is saved as an Adobe RGB image, but viewed incorrectly as an sRGB image, it might look as follows.

RGB example muted 2

Let’s look at another example to show the difference.

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

The above image is two halves of the same image, to demonstrate how colors can change when there’s a mismatch between profiles. You can see in the left hand side of the image above that the sky is much less saturated, and the red and yellows are more muted. This commonly happens when an AdobeRGB image (on the left) is loaded into an application that is expecting an sRGB image (on the right).

This is because the browser is reading the AdobeRGB colors in the image, each one represented by codes like RGB (123, 130, 101), but actually displaying them as sRGB colors.

It is important to know what color space you are working in, and what color space you are targeting. If you are using a wide gamut monitor, you will likely be working in Adobe RGB, or another wide gamut color space.

For print, you will likely save your images in Adobe RGB, although your print shop will likely tell you what profile they work with. If you are sharing your photos to the web, you will likely want to convert them to sRGB for the greatest compatibility.

If you do not have a wide gamut monitor, you will be working in sRGB, and saving your photos in sRGB.

This all should work fine, as you can convert images between color profiles. The issues start to arise if you save an image in one color profile, but they are opened as another color profile. This is when you start to see mismatches like the image above.

 

Gamut

In color, a gamut indicates the width of colors that a color space contains. We will be using sRGB and Adobe RGB for comparison here. It’s worth noting that as they are both based on the RGB color model, they both have the capability to display around 16 million colors, with 256 values available for each of the three colors.

However, these colors are spread out differently with the two color spaces. Let’s look at a couple of diagrams to demonstrate this.

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors
Image provided courtesy of Wikimedia by creator Sakurambo

The above diagram approximately shows all the colors that the human eye can see. Now, let us compare this to the sRGB color space and the Adobe RGB color space.

sRGB
sRGB Color Space. Public Domain image.

The diagram above shows the sRGB color space. The triangle shows all the colors that sRGB is able to display. Now let us compare sRGB and Adobe RGB.

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors
Adobe RGB vs sRGB. Creative commons image provided by Mbearnstein37

As you can see from the above image, the Adobe RGB color space (black triangle) covers a wider amount of colors, particularly in the greens, than the sRGB color space (white triangle).

Again, I want to point out that both color spaces contain the same number of colors. It’s just that the colors in Adobe RGB are spread out more, so the difference between each color is wider.

If a monitor or display can support a gamut wider than sRGB, then it is known as a wide gamut monitor.  Wide gamut monitors tend to be more expensive than standard gamut monitors, and are primarily used by photographers, videographers, and graphic designers.

A standard monitor will normally support viewing sRGB, or at least, most of the sRGB gamut. When you read the monitor specifications, or reviews of the monitor, you should be able to find out how much of the sRGB gamut it covers.

A wide gamut monitor is designed specifically for content creation tasks where color accuracy is important, such as photo and video editing. A wide gamut monitor will normally be able to display 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut, which contains 100% of sRGB.

At an absolute minimum, if you are in the market for a new monitor or laptop, ensure it can display 100% of the sRGB gamut. For professional use, I would recommend a wide gamut monitor, as long as you are willing to properly set it up.

Many high end laptops and even smartphones these days come with wide gamut screens, but always check before purchase if this is important to you.

 

Color Profile

A color profile takes two forms. First, a color profile is associated with a display, and sets out what colors the display is capable of displaying.

Second, a color profile is associated with an image, and sets out the gamut range of that image, such as sRGB or Adobe RGB.

When you save an image, the color profile is saved as a part of it. This is so that when you open the image with an image viewer or a web browser, it knows what the colors should be.

When I mentioned earlier the concept of saving an image as an sRGB or an Adobe RGB image, this is done with a color profile.

When it comes to saving an image, you can think of a color profile a bit like a legend to a map—the map only makes sense if you know what the symbols mean, and the legend does that.

A color profile only works if the application you are opening the image in supports color management. This didn’t used to be the case, especially with web browsers. Thankfully these days the majority of programs and software products do support color management, including most web browsers such as Chrome and Safari.

However, some operating systems such as Windows 10, do not support color management in their native apps. So parts of the interface may appear oversaturated on a wide gamut color managed monitor, even after calibration.

This is because if an application doesn’t support color management, then it will usually assume the image uses the standard sRGB profile. This can result in strange results on a wide gamut monitor.

The solution is to only use color managed applications when using a wide gamut monitor, so the colors look right.

As mentioned at the start of this section, displays also have a color profile, which indicates the range of colors that the monitor can display. Some monitors can only display the sRGB gamut, whilst others can display wider gamuts such as Adobe RGB.

The color profile for the monitor is usually stored as a file, and referenced by your computers operating system or graphics card. It allows the computer to know what the monitor is capable of, and to output the correct information to the monitor so it displays the correct colors. Monitor color profiles are usually saved as small files with the .ICC extension.

A monitor or display will come with a color profile that your computer will use by default in most cases. Alternatively, the operating system you use will have a standard color profile which it will use as a fall back.

However, a better solution to either of the above options is to create your own ICC profile to match your monitor. You can do this either using software calibration tools, or by using a device known as a hardware colorimeter. More on this in the section below on how to calibrate your monitor.

 

Brightness

OK, we’re onto the easier parts now. The majority of monitors and screens on the market have a brightness control, which allows you to change the intensity of the light coming from the display.

Brightness, which can also be referred to as luminance, is measured in candela per square meter, or cd/m2.

Higher brightness results in more intense light, lower brightness results in less intense light. Usually, you will adjust the brightness depending on the overall lighting situation in your particular setting.

If you are trying to work somewhere where there is a lot of light, you will likely need to increase the screen brightness so you can see the screen properly. This is because in a well lit environment your eyes adjust to the ambient brightness, and make the screen seem dark. So you have to increase the brightness.

If you are working somewhere where it is darker, you can reduce the brightness.

It is worth bearing in mind that the brightness of a screen does impact how colors appear. In addition, if you edit your photos on a bright screen, you might incorrectly adjust the image brightness. The result is that your printed images come out too dark.

When it comes to photo editing, 120cd/m2 is the brightness value generally agreed upon in the photography industry as a good brightness value when working on images you intend to print. This is based upon the ISO standard for viewing image viewing conditions, ISO 3664:2009.

In reality, this brightness level is actually quite dim, and would require you to be editing your photos in a fairly low lit environment. This is the ideal situation, but is unfortunately not necessarily realistic for most users.

As a result, many users adjust their brightness to higher levels to suit the ambient light of their working environment.. Just be aware that prints can turn out darker if your monitor is set to a high brightness level. For this reason, I recommend always doing proofs of your prints before the final version if you are selling prints of your work. For the web, as most users likely have quite a high brightness setting already, this will be less of an issue.

 

Gamma

When you adjust the brightness of a screen, it equally affects all the colors on the screen. This can result in black areas becoming grey and washed out, which is undesirable. Decreasing the brightness has the opposite effect – blacks become more black, but white starts to become grey.

Gamma is a different way to adjust the perceived brightness. When you increase the gamma, it lightens the lighter shades more than the darker shades. So blacks stay black, but white becomes lighter. So instead of a uniform change to the overall image, the change is applied as a curve.

Brightness and gamma controls are independent of each other. Whilst most monitors have a brightness correction, few have gamma controls. However, you can usually control gamma via your computer, and this is usually done with a software or hardware calibration tool. More on this in the section on calibrating your monitor.

 

Saturation

Saturation is a control that many devices and displays offer us, and it affects how colors look. Increasing the saturation results in colors appearing brighter and more vibrant, whereas lowering saturation results in colors appearing duller.

When calibrating a monitor, it’s important that the saturation levels are set correctly so images appear as they should. If you have your monitor saturation set too high, then you will create images that might appear dull when you print them or share them on the web.

 

White Point

Earlier, we mentioned how in RGB, white corresponds to RGB (255, 255, 255). Basically, the three channels are combined at their maximum values to create white.

Unfortunately, there are different versions of “white”. This is because how we perceive white varies depending on the lighting conditions. Our brains adapt and adjust what we see as white, depending on these conditions.

For example, imagine you have a white piece of paper. If you hold this outside in the midday light, your brain will perceive it as white. If you were then to come inside and view it under indoor lighting conditions, which vary dramatically, your brain would adjust so it still appears “white”. However, in reality, it is likely one of a variety of whites, ranging from a warmer, yellowish white, through to a cooler, blueish white.

If you’ve ever bought a light bulb, you will have noticed that they can come in a huge variety of “white” colors. These are basically different white points.

When calibrating a monitor, you can choose a white point. This will allow you to choose what sort of white you want, from a warmer yellow white tone through to a cooler blue white tone. The white tone will vary depending on your surroundings. If you are working in an environment with cooler lighting, you will want a cooler white point, as otherwise your screen might appear too yellow to your eyes.

Conversely, if you have more warm lights in your working environment, you will want a warmer white point, as otherwise the screen may appear too blue to your eyes.

The white point is defined as a number, measured in K, or Kelvin. This actually refers to a temperature – if you’re wondering why, see this article. A warm white point would be 5,000 K or lower, whilst a cool white point would be 6,500K or higher. Daylight is generally measure at 5,500 K.

For photo editing, a white point of between 5,000 K and 6,500 K will usually work best, depending on your monitor and ambient lighting conditions. Most calibration tools will recommend 6,500 K, which is the standard if you are working in perfect conditions. However, I find that this makes my monitor look too blue, so I personally use 5,000 K.

 

How to Calibrate Your Monitor for Accurate Colors

Ok, we’ve done all the terminology. Hopefully it all made sense or you at least have a general idea of some of the reasons why monitor calibration is important. Let’s now look at how to actually calibrate your screen.

If you are using a laptop or desktop with an external screen, you have two main options for calibrating it, which are to use the software that it comes with or to use a hardware device known as a colorimeter.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, most of these do not allow for complex color calibration, although they might allow you to adjust saturation and other features. My advice would be to properly calibrate your monitor first, and then adjust any settings on your smartphone you can to make images look similar.

 

Software Monitor Calibration

If you have a Mac or Windows PC, then you will be able to use the built in software to calibrate your monitor. The process is similar for both platforms. Basically you launch the color management tool on each platform, and will be taken through a number screens where you can calibrate your monitor.

On Mac, go to System Preferences -> Displays, and then click the Color tab. This will show a list of profiles, and to the right will be an option to Calibrate. To start calibrating, choose this Calibrate option, which will launch the calibration tool.

On Windows, just type “Color Management” into the start menu, and choose the “Advanced” tab. Then, in the section titled “Display Calibration”, press “Calibrate Display”.

I will walk you through what this looks like on Windows with some screenshots to give you an idea of what this looks like. The process is very similar on an Apple device.

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

 

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

 

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

 

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

 

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate ColorsHow to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

 

Windows Display Calibration 4b

As you can see, when you go through the process, the program tells you what to look for, and you then make adjustments using either sliders in the app, or the on-screen controls your monitor offers you.

When you get to the end of the process, you will be given the opportunity to compare the original calibration and the new calibration, and then to save and apply the calibration.

Windows Display Calibration 5

Using your computer’s built in calibration is obviously an easy way to calibrate your monitor and it’s also free.

However, there are some serious downsides to calibrating your monitor this way. The major issue is that you are relying on your eyes to calibrate the colors on your monitor.

As we’ve already covered, our eyes are very clever, and are able to adjust to the ambient lighting around us. However, this also means that they can’t necessarily be relied on for creating accurate color profiles. If you’ve been sitting in a area of cooler light for a time, your monitor calibration will look different compared to if you are sitting in warmer light.

So whilst software calibration is better than no calibration at all, if you plan on doing any serious photo editing with your display, you will want to consider a hardware calibration tool instead.

 

Hardware Monitor Calibration

If you are serious about getting the right colors on your display, then a hardware calibration device, known as a colorimeter, is the best option.

These are physical devices which actually measure the light that your display emits. Unlike the human eye, they don’t change what they see based on the ambient light. So you know that when they measure a white point or any other color, the result is accurate.

For this article, I’ll be using a Datacolor SpyderX Pro to walk you through hardware calibration of your monitor.

Datacolor have been working in the color space since the 1970s, and have been producing the Spyder range of consumer focused hardware monitor calibrators since around the early 2000s. So as you might imagine, they know a thing or two about monitor calibration and color management.

The latest version of their monitor calibration tool is the SpyderX, which comes as a Pro and an Elite product. I have the Pro, which should be fine for most users. They do pretty much the same thing, the Elite just has a few extra features in the software, such as allowing you to compare monitors side by side. You can see a feature comparison in the table below:

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

The new SpyderX is the first colorimeter from Datacolor that works using a lens, rather than a light sensor. This means it is can do the calibration much faster compared to previous models. The previous version, the Spyder 5, took around 5 minutes to measure and calibrate a display. The new model takes closer to 90 seconds.

This might not seem huge, but if you have a number of displays to calibrate, it is definitely a time saver. In addition, monitor calibration is a task that should be repeated at least once a month, as monitors tend to shift their colors over time. So if it takes less time, you are more likely to do it.

Ok, on to using the SpyderX. It comes in a box which consists of the device and a piece of paper with the license code, and instructions for where to download the software. In the old days, the software would have likely come on a CD-Rom, but not everyone has these drives any more.

It might have been nice to have a USB drive with the software on it; however, doing an online download  means you definitely get the latest version of the software. The download is only around 180MB, so it won’t take much time, even on slower connections.

The software works with both Windows and MacOS, and just requires a standard sized USB port on your computer.

Datacolor Spyder X page 1

The device itself is a neat little tool which comes in two parts. These clip together, and the lens is inside the device and protected when clipped together.

For use, you unclip the two parts, and hook the part with the lens over your display, and the “cover” counterbalances it.

The two parts are connected by a USB cable which can be adjusted, and which plugs into a free USB port on your computer.

Spyder

Using the software is very easy, even if you are not a color management expert. Which, honestly, most of us are not. When you first run it, it will walk you through a checklist to ensure you have the right conditions for monitor calibration.

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

You have to confirm that you have warmed the monitor up for at least 30 minutes, that there is no light falling onto the screen, and that you have reset your display to the default settings.

Then, you will go through a number of settings specific to your setup. It will ask you questions about the type of display you have, and then give you the options to recalibrate a display, check your display accuracy, or do a full calibration.

If this is your first time, you will want to do a full calibration. It will show you the target settings, based on your screen, that it is aiming for in terms of brightness, gamma, and white point. You can manually adjust these options if you want, but for the first run I would advise leaving the default settings.

How to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

There is another feature that is quite neat, which is the room light setting. In an ideal world, we would be editing all our photos in a fairly low light environment. This means that we don’t need to crank up the display brightness. Setting a high display brightness means images looks brighter when editing than they might actually be, and is a common reason that prints look darker than the image on screen.

Of course, we don’t all happen to have a photo editing dungeon, and Datacolor has factored this in. The Spyder X has an ambient light sensor, so it can detect how much light there is in your environment. It can use this during calibration, and also to adjust the brightness of your screen on a daily basis as light levels change in your room.

Whether or not you find this useful is up to you of course. If you are in a working environment with fairly constant lighting levels, this may not be a needed. However, if you have a working space which is well lit during the day, and darker at night, then this will definitely come in useful.

You can configure whether or not the device sets up monitor profiles for different ambient lighting conditions in the calibration settings, under the Room Light and Brightness settings.

Once you have everything set, the tool will place itself in the centre of the screen, and show you where to place the Spyder. A tip – the Spyder needs to be flat against the screen, not dangling. If you have an external monitor, you will likely need to tip it back a bit to get the Spyder to lie flat. A laptop screen is a lot easier to work with as it tilts easily.

Spyder X 3

Once you have the SpyderX placed, you can start the calibration process. This is quite hands off, with the exception that you will be prompted to adjust the brightness. Otherwise, it just flashes pretty colors.

Datacolor SpyderX ProHow to Calibrate A Monitor for Accurate Colors

When it is done, it changes the color profile your computer uses and lets you set a name for it. It also shows some example images you can use to see how the profiling turned out. At this point you will have the option to toggle a before and after version of your screen calibration, and use the test image provided to see the difference.

At this point in the calibration, the screen may appear to be more blue or more yellow than you are used to. This is not unusual – if you have been using a poorly calibrated monitor, your eyes will have adjusted to this as normal.

However, ambient light and other factors can also affect how you perceive white, and it will be a jarring experience if you work in quite a warmly lit room yet have your monitor set to a cool color. Personally, I have this situation, and I found the default 6,500K that the Spyder X used to be too blue for my personal setup. So I ran through the calibration again, with a target white point of 5,000K. This yielded an excellent result for my setup and situation.

Another thing you might notice after calibration is that colors in color managed applications are a little bit more muted than you are used to. Many monitors and displays ship with relatively high levels of saturation, which is not realistic.

Once you have things where you want them to be, you can check how your monitor performs in a number of tests, including what gamut it is capable of displaying. Ideally you want it to be around 100% of sRGB at a minimum. If you have a wide gamut monitor, you want it to be over 100% of sRGB, and covering more of the Adobe RGB gamut.

Color gamut

As you can see, after calibration, the monitor I am using achieves 100% of sRGB and close to 100% Adobe RGB.

I found the Spyder X Pro to be an excellent bit of kit that finally let me properly adjust my monitor for accurate colors. It’s easy to use, and I like that it has the room light monitoring feature, meaning it stays useful even in between calibration sessions.

In summary, if you are looking to calibrate your monitor, a hardware tool like the Spyder X Pro is going to be the best option. You can definitely get results with a software calibration tool, but these are unlikely to be particularly accurate.

If you want your prints to match your screen, and to have color accurate images in general, I would recommend the Spyder X Pro as a fast and easy to use solution. It’s available direct from Spyder here, and on Amazon here.

 

How to Share Your Photos

Now you have a fully calibrated monitor. Your photos on screen should be accurate to how they will appear on print, and on other calibrated monitors. At this point you might be you might be wondering the best way to share your images with other people so you can be sure they see them as they should be seen.

This is particularly the case if you are selling your photos of an event like a wedding, where you want your clients to get an accurate preview of what they are buying.

You have a few options.

The two best options would be to send client actual proofs of the prints, printed out for review. Of course, this is going to incur a cost, which you might have to consider. Another option is to have them review the photos at your studio, or to bring your own color managed laptop with you to somewhere you can show them. This way you know they will see them on a properly color managed screen, so there are no surprises.

If the above options are not possible, then consider putting together some tips on the best viewing conditions for the images you send them digitally. Perhaps suggest they view them in a darker room, with their screen brightness turned down. You might also suggest if they have control over saturation, to reset this to a “natural” setting or similar if this is an option.

 

Further Reading

Well, hopefully this post answered all your monitor calibration questions. Before you head off, I wanted to share some more photography tips and advice that I’ve put together in the years of running this site.

  • We have a guide to how to use a compact camera, how to use a DSLR camera, and how to use a mirrorless camera. We also have a guide to how a DSLR works
  • Knowing how to compose a great photo is a key photography skill. See our guide to composition in photography for lots of tips on this subject
  • We have a guide to what depth of field is and when you would want to use it.
  • We are big fans of getting the most out of your digital photo files, and do to that you will need to shoot in RAW. See our guide to RAW in photography to understand what RAW is, and why you should switch to RAW as soon as you can if your camera supports it.
  • We have a guide to the best photo editing software, as well as a guide to the best laptops for photo editing for some tips on what to look for.
  • If you’re looking for more advice on specific tips for different scenarios, we also have you covered. See our guide to Northern Lights photography, long exposure photography, fireworks photography, tips for taking photos of stars, and cold weather photography.
  • If you’re looking for a great gift for a photography loving friend or family member (or yourself!), take a look at our photography gift guide,
  • If you’re in the market for a new camera, we have a detailed guide to the best travel cameras, as well as specific guides for the best cameras for hiking and backpacking, the best compact camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera. We also have a guide to the best camera lenses.
  • If you want a camera or lens, but the prices are a bit high, see our guide to where to buy used cameras and camera gear for some budget savings options.
  • We have a guide to why you need a tripod, a guide to choosing a travel tripod, and a round-up of the best travel tripods

 

Looking to Improve Your Photography?

If you found this post helpful, and you want to improve your photography overall, you might want to check out my online travel photography course.

Since launching the course in 2016, I’ve already helped over 2,000 students learn how to take better photos. The course covers pretty much everything you need to know, from the basics of how a camera works, through to composition, light, and photo editing.

It also covers more advanced topics, including astrophotography, long exposure photography, flash photography, and HDR photography.

You get feedback from me as you progress through assignments, access to webinars, interviews and videos, as well as exclusive membership of a Facebook group where you can get feedback on your work and take part in regular fun photo challenges.

It’s available for an amazing one-off price for lifetime access, and I think you should check it out. Which you can do by clicking here.

And that’s it for our guide to monitor calibration! If you have any questions or feedback, I’m here to listen and do my best to answer. Just pop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Guide to monitor calibration, including key terminology and a guide to calibration a monitor using free and paid options, including hardware calibration



Source link