If the question is whether you should or should not calibrate your computer monitor, the answer is yes. If you are a photographer, you should. But why?

If you have ever tried ordered prints from your favorite digital lab or printer (or tried printing yourself), you may have been disappointed in the results. Has this happened to you?

For example, most prints come back too dark. That’s because most people set their computer monitors too bright, overcompensating during the image processing by making it “darker.” You need to set the brightness to a standard. By calibrating your monitor, you will get the right setting for brightness, as well as white balance, contrast, and color fidelity. You want your computer monitor is to display these important factors as accurately as possible to the prints look as closely as possible to what you saw on the screen.

At left, you can see how the Datacolor Spyder colorimeter hangs over the edge of the computer screen and reads the color and light values from the monitor during a calibration diagnostic test.

Monitor calibration is the first and one of the most important steps toward creating a true color-managed workflow.

 

Calibrate your Monitor

Here are the three programs that I recommend for calibrating your computer monitor. Each consists of a piece of hardware called a colorimeter, a device which reads the light and color directly from your screen, and software which them evaluates that information and writes a custom device profile for your screen. It’s actually much easier than it sounds.

Datacolor Spyder5EXPRESS – Designed for Hobbyist Photographers

Datacolor Spyder5PRO – Designed for Serious Photographers and Designers

X-Rite ColorMunki Display

Monitor calibration establishes a vital link between your eyes and your computer screen. Its the first, and perhaps most important, step toward creating a true color managed workflow.

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