Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Importance of Calibrating your Monitor.

LG Flatron 24" Display Monitor.
I recently purchased a 24 inch display, the LG Flatron W248GL. The first thing I noticed is that the colors seemed a little off. I tried tweaking the settings in the menu, but just couldn't get the right feel. 

Since I plan to use the monitor for photo-editing, I was worried about color distortion. For example, I might edit the image thinking it is one color, but another person seeing the same image on another monitor might see it as a slightly different color. 

Traditionally, graphic editors and professional photographers ensure that they are always working on a calibrated display. In other words, when you see the color red on the screen, it is actually red - and not a whim of the display adjustment. Question is: How do you ensure you are working on a correctly calibrated display?

There are many color calibration tools that cost anything from a hundred dollars to several hundred dollars. A professional may use something like the Sypder 3 Studio system that costs around $500. I wanted something affordable, yet provides a high degree of color accuracy. After looking around, I chose the budget Spyder 3 Express. ($70 on Amazon).

The Spyder 3 Express is a very simple and easy-to-use color calibration tool. It is designed to calibrate only the display (the studio version allows you to calibrate your printer too). 

To calibrate your monitor:
a. Install the software that comes with the device.
b. Connect the color sensor and place it in front of the monitor.
c. Click a few buttons and wait while the device measures the color output from your monitor and then automatically creates a proper calibrated profile.

Spyder 3 Color Calibration in progress.
It takes a few minutes for the entire calibration process to complete. The program shows you the "before" and "after" pictures. Click "Finish" and the monitor automatically switches to calibrated mode.

Here's my "Before" and "After" images.

Uncalibrated Display.

Calibrated Display.
My uncalibrated display was clearly on the reddish side. You can clearly see that in the 3rd picture of the woman. Editing on this uncalibrated monitor might have given completely unnatural results in skin tones. 

So if you are a photographer, make sure you calibrate your monitor. That way, what you see is what others will see.

1 comment:

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