Looking for a good site about monitor calibration

Started Jan 22, 2011 | Discussions thread
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mhz888
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Looking for a good site about monitor calibration
Jan 22, 2011

Group,

I've been reading a few sites (such as northlight photo) about monitor calibration - I've been disappointed how my edited photos seem to suck after I print them/have them printed/other monitors. Now I know that no two devices will ever display the photo the same, and true color is a matter of how much you want to spend in time and money to obtain it) but I can at least do something about my equipment, in the hopes that my photos look good from professional printers and on others monitors who care about "image fidelity."

I'm thinking of buying a hardward calibrator, but I'm a bit puzzled exactly what these do? I haven't seen a good explanation as to what happens when you do this (or what the process is like). What exactly can the calibrator adjust on my monitor? Does it access controls on the monitor, or my video card? Something in the OS? For the record if it matters, I have a Windows Vista 32 PC (home built) and a Samsung SyncMaster PX2370 monitor). The monitor doesn't seem to have too many adjustments possible, and has all these "magic" modes that are supposed to fix things for you, but almost all make the images look weird to me, so I have them all turned off.

From what I've read, color calibration kinda goes like this (pardon the layman speak):

1.) You run the calibrator, and software outputs an image to your monitor that has certain colors (or luminance for B&W) in it. For example, it might output R=0, G=0, B=0 (Black) in one spot, R=255, G=0, B=0 (Red), in a different spot, etc.

2.) The calibrator device hovers over that spot on the monitor and measures the color (or luminance) that is output on all the spots.

3.) The software then figures out what adjustments to the output color need to be so that the displayed color measures correctly with the calibrator. (I assume this is a somewhat iterative process, it probably keeps changing the color commands until the measured color displays and measures correctly) For example, it may find that it has to do R=255, G=4, and B=2 to get Red to look like the correct Red.
4.) repeat for 1-3 all the required colors (automatically done by the software)

5.) it creates an ajustment file (I believe this is a .icc profile) that you can load into software that can do color managment (i.e Lightroom, Photoshop, and ACDSee), so that colors display true in those softwares.

6.) You load those profiles in that software and poof, you've got "perfect" colors, but only in whatever software programs you load that profile into.

7.) Other software that doesn't have color managment (for example, games, Quicken, etc, where true color isn't so important.) doesn't benefit from the profile.

Do I have the gist of this right? Is there some site that really explains what goes on when this is done? Happy to read other websites/posts, so no need to expound here if there's a better explanation elsewhere. I don't mind spending some money to buy one of these, but I'd really like to understand how they work before dropping a couple hundred bucks on one.

Wondering as well, if anyone's used one they liked. I could use a recommendation for a good "bang for the buck" device. I'm no professional, and just a serious hobbyist, if that helps you recommend the right thing. Any help is appreciated.

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-Kevin

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