Workflow - Monitor Calibration
Joe Kegley | E-Mail | Updated 02-03-2011
Eye One Match 3 Advanced Calibration Dialog
Before evaluating and optimizing your images you should make sure your monitor (display) is calibrated and profiled. This is especially important for printing and to a lesser degree also important for displaying your images on a web page. Obviously you can't control the hardware or software other folks use to view web pages. They may be using high quality equipment/software or may be using cheaper arrangements. You can be sure the average internet surfer will not be using a calibrated monitor. Regardless, calibrating and profiling your display will ensure the most accurate representation of your images.
Calibrating your display is usually done using a combination of software and hardware (colorimeter or spectrophotometer). Some of the fancier displays come with monitor calibration software and hardware, though most folks I know use calibration packages that were purchased separately. Two popular colorimeter calibration packages are X-Rite's Eye-One Display 2 and ColorVision's Spyder3Pro. I use the X-Rite Eye-One Display 2 (i1Display 2) package. The package comes with the Eye-One Display 2 colorimeter and associated software called Eye-One Match 3 (i1Match 3). Currently the package is priced around $200.
The overall process goes something like this. You plug the colorimeter into your computer's USB port then hang the device over your monitor with the sensor against the display. You then run the software and create a color profile for your monitor which enables the display to accurately represent colors. It's very easy to use. If you decide to purchase this package be sure to check for software updates and install them if necessary.
Screen 1 - Select the device you wish to profile
After attaching the colorimeter to the computer and positioning on your display, run the Eye-One Match 3 software. On the initial screen select the device you wish to profile (your display) then select the "Easy" or "Advanced" radio buttons. I usually choose "Advanced". Click the next arrow.
Screen 2 - Monitor Type
Next select your monitor type. Most folks are going to be using a LCD monitor. I select "LCD" then click the next arrow.
Screen 3 - Choose Calibration Settings
At this screen you need to enter values for "White point", "Gamma", and "Luminance". I set them to the following values: "White point = Native White Point", "Gamma = Native Gamma", and "Luminance = 120 LCD recommendation". Click the next arrow.
Screen 4 - Place your Eye-One Display on the Monitor
I usually have the colorimeter already set up against the monitor before starting the program, so I just click the next arrow at this screen.
Screen 5 - Set the Contrast
Contrast Indicator popup window
This is a manual step where you physically adjust the contrast of your display. First you must manually adjust contrast to 100% on your monitor. Next click the "Start" button and the program initializes a routine to locate the colorimeter's position. Once the routine has finished initializing a popup window will appear showing a gauge with your target contrast (green shaded area) and your actual contrast (black bar). You now manually adjust the contrast on your monitor until the black bar comes to rest in the green shaded area (as close to zero as possible). Click the "Stop" button in the popup window when you are satisfied. Click the next arrow.
Screen 6 - Set your luminance
This is a manual step where you physically adjust the brightness of your display. There is no need to adjust your starting brightness to 100% like you did with your contrast. Click the "Start" button and wait for a popup window to appear with a gauge similar to the contrast gauge. Adjust your brightness until the black bar comes to rest in the green shaded area (as close to zero as possible). Click the "Stop" button in the popup when you are satisfied. After adjusting your luminance (brightness), click the next arrow and the program starts the calibration process.
Screen 7 - Save ICC profile and summary screen
At this step you can view a before and after image by clicking the "Before & After" button. You can also check the "Activate reminder for monitor calibration" checkbox and select your timing in the dropdown (I select 4 weeks). Click the "Finish Calibration" button to save the profile and exit the program.