What is the best Monitor calibration software

Started Sep 8, 2012 | Discussions
peter42y
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What is the best Monitor calibration software
Sep 8, 2012

Hello Everyone.

For me and for other people as well , photographt color accuracy is very important.

Given such fact it is also important to have a color calibrated screen monitor.

This all more important since many people do post process their pictures and without a calibrated monitor it is impossible to know which colors are right and which colors are off.

As far as I understand there is hardware solutions to calibrate monitors.
There is also software solutions.
Some are free , others are paid.

1- What is the best free software ?

1 B - Calibration with software hardware might damage monitor ?

2- What is the best paid software ?

3 - What about hardware solutions to calibrate the monitor ?

Interesting resources :

A

http://www.wikihow.com/Calibrate-Your-Monitor

B

http://www.pcworld.com/article/110070/digital_focus_calibrate_your_monitor.html

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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gwlaw99
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, Sep 8, 2012

If you really care about calibration you must use hardware calibration.

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T3
T3
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, Sep 8, 2012

If you truly feel that "color accuracy is very important", you need to go with a hardware solution. It's a lot more accurate, and takes the guess-work out of the process. I use Datacolor's Spyder4. The least expensive one is the Spyder4 Express, which is about $100. I think that's all most people need. The more expensive Elite and Pro models have additional features that the average person doesn't need. It'll last you forever, it's a reliable hardware solution, and it's definitely worth the money to get colors you can trust.

peter42y wrote:

Hello Everyone.

For me and for other people as well , photographt color accuracy is very important.

Given such fact it is also important to have a color calibrated screen monitor.

This all more important since many people do post process their pictures and without a calibrated monitor it is impossible to know which colors are right and which colors are off.

As far as I understand there is hardware solutions to calibrate monitors.
There is also software solutions.
Some are free , others are paid.

1- What is the best free software ?

1 B - Calibration with software hardware might damage monitor ?

2- What is the best paid software ?

3 - What about hardware solutions to calibrate the monitor ?

Interesting resources :

A

http://www.wikihow.com/Calibrate-Your-Monitor

B

http://www.pcworld.com/article/110070/digital_focus_calibrate_your_monitor.html

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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GordonBGood
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to T3, Sep 9, 2012

T3 wrote:

If you truly feel that "color accuracy is very important", you need to go with a hardware solution....It'll last you forever, it's a reliable hardware solution, and it's definitely worth the money to get colors you can trust.

I agree with what is written above, but in order to access whether "it's definitely worth the money" you need to understand precisely what hardware calibrators/profilers actually do. There are two parts to it as in calibration and profiling, as follows:

1) The first part is calibration, which boiled down to its essentials means adjusting the "gamma" colour response curve to a standard and attempting to adjust the "white balance" which means adjusting the "warmness" or "coolness" of the display as compared to your viewing environment. Although hardware calibrators can do this accurately if they have enough precision in their measurements, you can actually do this using software solutions to get adequate results. Calibration can be broken down to two parts, as follows:

a) "gamma" response is the response curve of the monitor so as to give a balanced response to standard steps in brightness such as the numeric RGB values from (0,0,0) to (255,255,255) appear to change in about equal size steps across their range and is very dependent on the contrast setting of your monitor and a too high hardware contrast setting may prevent proper calibration of either the brightest, darkest, or both "tones" as they will already to set to saturate or "block" respectively.

b) "white balance" is adjusted so that your monitor neither appears too warm or reddish nor too cool or bluish as compared to your standard viewing environment, and is achieved by adjusting the gain boost of the individual red, green, and blue (RGB) channels of your monitor, best done using the hardware controls most monitors have. While important, this does not require the utmost in accuracy to an absolute standard for two reasons: our human vision is actually capable of self adjusting for this over quite a range, and the "best value" is actually as compared to the "surround" environment as that is what our human vision tends to adjust toward. An absolutely accuracy white balance would only apply to viewing of a monitor in the dark or near dark so as not to have any external balance with which to compare.

2) The second part is profiling of the monitor to measure the true colour gamut colour response (including the end results of the above calibration) and record these measurements in a standardised way as a "colour profile". This can't be done except with a hardware calibration tool as it needs calibration to a standard - the calibrated hardware "puck" measuring tool. Again, this profiling is really only worth it for the better (more expensive) non-"TN" monitors as again colours are very subject to viewing angles and most cheaper monitors are close enough to the sRGB standard colour gamut so you will never notice the difference. As well, unlike calibration which applies to all use of the monitor, in order to take advantage of this profiling one must use a colour managed viewing application that will make adjustments to the viewed image to compensate for the difference between the measured monitor profile and the embedded (or implicit) colour profile of the image.

In conclusion, while using a hardware colour calibration and profiling device can be very valuable, it is much less valuable when used with the cheap "TN" monitors and the money is most likely better spent on upgrading your monitor to an "IPS" or "S-PMA" (upper end Samsung panel technology) model, as it wouldn't seem to make sense to spend from $100 up to calibrate a monitor that isn't worth much more than that in the first place.

peter42y wrote:

it is impossible to know which colors are right and which colors are off.

While this is true to an extent, the very worst problems are caused by using an incorrect colour management workflow for which a properly calibrated and profiled monitor won't help. As noted, in order to be completely accurate, one must have a proper viewing environment as well as a monitor that can be adjusted as to a low enough contrast to avoid clipping/blocking of bright/dark tones, as well as colour managed editing and viewing software on a high quality non-"TN" monitor, in addition to proper calibration and profiling.

1 B - Calibration with software hardware might damage monitor ?

http://www.wikihow.com/Calibrate-Your-Monitor

While this gives a good background, the links to software calibration sources are programs more suited to calibrating old CRT monitors due to the limitations of viewing angles with cheap LCD monitors. For instance, the following web page used to be good for CRT monitors but doesn't work well for LCD monitors: http://perso.telecom-paristech.fr/~brettel/TESTS/Gamma/Gamma.html (needs Java installed on your machine). If you run Windows 7, the built in display calibration widget is about as good as it gets for software calibration. I understand that the program ColorSync does about the equivalent for Mac OSX.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

In summary, first invest in a good non-"TN" (IPS or PMA) monitor so as to have wider consistent viewing angles if you don't have one, then get a hardware monitor then an "express" hardware calibrator and software. I use an old Spyder2, but I suspect any of the newer devices are fine.

Regards, GordonBGood

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peter42y
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to GordonBGood, Sep 9, 2012

Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation.

My monitor e a Sony SDM HX95.

Is it good enough ?
I have it for 6 years now.., but I am very happy with it.

Model NO : Sony SDM-HX95/B

Key features
Sony's Colour Tuning Technology
Sony Original High Speed Graphics Engine
Advanced ECO Mode
Gamma 1,2, or 3 modes
Special Usage Modes Game/Movie/PC/Auto
19-inch LCD Monitor (Black)
1280 x 1024 Resolution
1000:1 Contrast Ratio
450cd/m2 Luminance
12ms
Viewing angle : 170/170
2 x Analog input (D-sub 15 pin)
1 x Digital input (DVI)
Easy-to-use OSD menu

Weight and Dimensions
8.5 kg
466.5x468.0x265.0 mm

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peter42y
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, Sep 9, 2012

In Portugal it is possible to find spider pro4 , SpiderPro and Spider Elite.
My question is :

The changes in the display are automatic.
1- Is it possible for the user to reverse the changes ?

2- Or tweak them , reducing the brightness of the display..,or the contrast.
Thank You in advance for your answer.

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T3
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, Sep 9, 2012

peter42y wrote:

In Portugal it is possible to find spider pro4 , SpiderPro and Spider Elite.
My question is :

The changes in the display are automatic.
1- Is it possible for the user to reverse the changes ?

2- Or tweak them , reducing the brightness of the display..,or the contrast.
Thank You in advance for your answer.

Yes it's all reversible and changeable.

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GordonBGood
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, Sep 10, 2012

peter42y wrote:

Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation.

My monitor e a Sony SDM HX95.

Is it good enough ?
I have it for 6 years now.., but I am very happy with it.

Peter, your monitor isn't bad as it has a MVA panel from Fujitsu ( http://www.flatpanelshd.com/panels.php , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFT_LCD ) so it is considerably better than a "TN" panel. As per the Wikipedia article, some of these monitors may not be as sharp in rendering colours as some modern LCD monitors if it "dithers" to produce the full range of colours, but your model appears to have the full 16 million plus range of colours meaning it has full eight bit colour per colour channel.

Viewing angles won't be as wide as modern S-PMA or IPS monitors, but shouldn't be bad. A quick check would be to try the little Java test link that I sent you in my last post: http://perso.telecom-paristech.fr/~brettel/TESTS/Gamma/Gamma.html to see if you can assess your "gamma". Also, you might try to assess your monitor using the following link: http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/ .

Regards, GordonBGood

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drusus
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, Sep 10, 2012

peter42y wrote:

Hello Everyone.

For me and for other people as well , photographt color accuracy is very important.

I think what I am about to write does not affect your question, but I am not sure that color accuracy is important to most people. Color brilliance, vividness, saturation, and other mostly subjective qualities probably play a bigger role in making people appreciate color. After all, it is rare that someone looks at a picture and has such a clear idea or memory of what the original colors were to even notice whether they are accurate or not.

But color accuracy is indeed important if you want other people to see the same colors, on their monitor, as you do. That is, if they too have a calibrated monitor. So color accuracy is probably important to the subset of people who all calibrate their monitors. Not sure how many people those are.

But thank you for asking your question because I have been considering finally calibrating my monitors myself.

Drusus.

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Ubilam
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It easy
In reply to peter42y, Sep 10, 2012

Spend some bucks on a great monitor. Not a crappy 'sale' monitor.
Then... experiment and play until you finally print what you see with your
printer and monitor and media. Some will argue that you gotta spend more
and need this and that BS to be sure.

Its a tested and tried procedure and you have to be willing to experiment what
works with your printer, your monitor and your editing prog.

There is no simple answer for every user/printer/monitor.

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peter42y
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to GordonBGood, Sep 10, 2012

GordonBGood wrote:

peter42y wrote:

Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation.

My monitor e a Sony SDM HX95.

Is it good enough ?
I have it for 6 years now.., but I am very happy with it.

Peter, your monitor isn't bad as it has a MVA panel from Fujitsu ( http://www.flatpanelshd.com/panels.php , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFT_LCD ) so it is considerably better than a "TN" panel. As per the Wikipedia article, some of these monitors may not be as sharp in rendering colours as some modern LCD monitors if it "dithers" to produce the full range of colours, but your model appears to have the full 16 million plus range of colours meaning it has full eight bit colour per colour channel.

Viewing angles won't be as wide as modern S-PMA or IPS monitors, but shouldn't be bad. A quick check would be to try the little Java test link that I sent you in my last post: http://perso.telecom-paristech.fr/~brettel/TESTS/Gamma/Gamma.html to see if you can assess your "gamma". Also, you might try to assess your monitor using the following link: http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/ .

Regards, GordonBGood

Thanks a lot for your help.
It was much appreciated.

I start the threat knowing nothing about monitor calibration and at this point I found out what is needed to calibrate ones monitor .

Kind Regards and thanks again for your help.

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ThanksForMemories
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to GordonBGood, 6 months ago

Hello Gordon,

I'm 'green' about color management and new at DPR since 1 month. Getting started in photography since I now have the time.

Today I have been reading a lot on calibrating and colors on the web, and it is driving me mad. I'm not a technical person at all for this kind of behind the 'screen' technology. But your reply starts to make sense, so thank you for that!

I now realize I have no idea how my photos look to people on DPR and now know everyone have different monitor settings. It sounds almost impossible to make my photos look at least normal to everyone, especially in the challenges, which I enjoy.

I use a 5-6yrs old laptop Samsung, so not a external monitor. I followed the steps at http://www.silentnomad.com/chart/: 32bit, native resolution, and I looked at their grey scale image for the black-white, it seems I see all the 21 bars distinctly. To my eyes, on this monitor, my photos and other's look fairly good too, except for some washout but rarely dark.

I'm wondering if I should invest in a good monitor rather than invest in a device to calibrate since I don't know if my monitor is poor, or if it's not that bad. Do I spend $$ on a device to check, or on a good ext. monitor?

How much do you think a good LCD monitor goes for? Am I looking at $200 or $500?
Is there a brand(s) that seems to be more reliable for color than others?

I appreciate your help,

Mireille

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Camley
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to peter42y, 6 months ago

peter42y wrote:

Hello Everyone.

For me and for other people as well , photographt color accuracy is very important.

Given such fact it is also important to have a color calibrated screen monitor.

This all more important since many people do post process their pictures and without a calibrated monitor it is impossible to know which colors are right and which colors are off.

As far as I understand there is hardware solutions to calibrate monitors.
There is also software solutions.
Some are free , others are paid.

1- What is the best free software ?

1 B - Calibration with software hardware might damage monitor ?

2- What is the best paid software ?

3 - What about hardware solutions to calibrate the monitor ?

Interesting resources :

A

http://www.wikihow.com/Calibrate-Your-Monitor

B

http://www.pcworld.com/article/110070/digital_focus_calibrate_your_monitor.html

Thanks in advance for your replies.

If you really want a well calibrated monitor, you need a hardware solution such as a Spyder or some other similar device. There are many reviews on the Internet. I use a Spyder 2.

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MisterBG
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to ThanksForMemories, 6 months ago

ThanksForMemories wrote:

Hello Gordon,

I'm 'green' about color management and new at DPR since 1 month. Getting started in photography since I now have the time.

Today I have been reading a lot on calibrating and colors on the web, and it is driving me mad. I'm not a technical person at all for this kind of behind the 'screen' technology. But your reply starts to make sense, so thank you for that!

I now realize I have no idea how my photos look to people on DPR and now know everyone have different monitor settings. It sounds almost impossible to make my photos look at least normal to everyone, especially in the challenges, which I enjoy.

I use a 5-6yrs old laptop Samsung, so not a external monitor. I followed the steps at http://www.silentnomad.com/chart/: 32bit, native resolution, and I looked at their grey scale image for the black-white, it seems I see all the 21 bars distinctly. To my eyes, on this monitor, my photos and other's look fairly good too, except for some washout but rarely dark.

The greyscale bars only give an indication of the contrast range and show nothing about the colour accuracy nor the absolute brightness level.
The eye is the most easily fooled of the human senses, which is why you should always use a hardware calibration device like a ColorMunki or Spyder for calibration.
There are always a few people who claim that they can adjust a monitor "by eye" but those people are invariably mistaken.

I'm wondering if I should invest in a good monitor rather than invest in a device to calibrate since I don't know if my monitor is poor, or if it's not that bad. Do I spend $$ on a device to check, or on a good ext. monitor?

A properly calibrated cheap monitor is always going to be better than an uncalibrated one, however good the quality of the uncalibrated one is.
Most monitors "out of the box" are set much too bright and often towards the blue side too.

How much do you think a good LCD monitor goes for? Am I looking at $200 or $500?
Is there a brand(s) that seems to be more reliable for color than others?

Since I'm in the UK it's difficult to answer this question, but quite a few people like the Dell "Ultrasharp" range of monitors. The Dell UltraSharp U2414H is pretty reasonable, but personally for photo editing I prefer something with 1200 pixels vertically, rather than 1080, like the Dell U2423. I am currently using a Dell U2412M which I believe sells for around $280 US.
Previously I was using a cheap (but calibrated) LG screen. Dell use LG display screens, so it may be worth looking at the LG monitor range for a budget solution.
A budget calibrator like the ColorMunki Smile or the Spyder Express is around $80, but the ColorMunki Display or Spyder Pro are around the $160 mark.

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GordonBGood
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to ThanksForMemories, 6 months ago

ThanksForMemories wrote:

Hello Gordon,

I'm 'green' about color management and new at DPR since 1 month. Getting started in photography since I now have the time.

Today I have been reading a lot on calibrating and colors on the web, and it is driving me mad. I'm not a technical person at all for this kind of behind the 'screen' technology. But your reply starts to make sense, so thank you for that!

I now realize I have no idea how my photos look to people on DPR and now know everyone have different monitor settings. It sounds almost impossible to make my photos look at least normal to everyone, especially in the challenges, which I enjoy.

I use a 5-6yrs old laptop Samsung, so not a external monitor. I followed the steps at http://www.silentnomad.com/chart/: 32bit, native resolution, and I looked at their grey scale image for the black-white, it seems I see all the 21 bars distinctly. To my eyes, on this monitor, my photos and other's look fairly good too, except for some washout but rarely dark.

I'm wondering if I should invest in a good monitor rather than invest in a device to calibrate since I don't know if my monitor is poor, or if it's not that bad. Do I spend $$ on a device to check, or on a good ext. monitor?

How much do you think a good LCD monitor goes for? Am I looking at $200 or $500?
Is there a brand(s) that seems to be more reliable for color than others?

I appreciate your help,

Mireille

Mireille, what I said in my old two-year-old post to this thread pretty much still applies, as does the advice of others here.

Summarizing, as follows:

  1. If you don't think you have problems comparing the images you normally look at and believe that you are seeing the same colours and details of which others speak, you probably don't need to do anything - just use what you have.
  2. Your old laptop monitor probably outputs a colour "gamut" (= range of colours) close to sRGB, so if you shoot JPEG's with your phone/digital camera and leave its output colour space set to sRGB, you are probably "close enough".
  3. The main problem with the cheaper "TN" type of LCD monitors including most of those built-in for laptop computers is viewing angle (the colours and contrast change when you shift your head a few degrees up/down/left/right).  Spending a lot of money and time using a hardware calibration is hardly worth it for these monitors as the calibration settings are only correct when you view the monitor within a few degrees of straight on and you will have to shift your viewing position to view the colours in the corners of the monitor when comparing them to the center.
  4. If you can see the 21 bars in that quicky "test", then your gamma settings are likely "close enough" and if even better you can see the 26 bars at the bottom of every DPR camera review, then gamma is even closer to being correct.  A common problem is distinguishing the three brightest A/B/C bars if the gamma curve is set a little bit too high or brightness or contrast are too high; a slight tweak on these may fix that for you.
  5. A great deal is made about white balance for your monitor, but in actual fact if you view your images in a "proper" very dim viewing environment to avoid glare and flare and environment effects, you eyes have a wide range of adjustment for white balance and within a minute or two you will see whites as being white - at least until you look up to look out the window at a bright daylight or dark street lamp scene or at another area with a different white balance, in which case it will take another minute or two to adjust back.
  6. I couldn't recommend a hardware calibration device without first recommending a new external monitor of the IPS or S-PMA tuype (Samsung) and that is going to cost several hundred dollars.  Only then would you get full advantage of a hardware calibration device, but a good modern monitor isn't too bad right out of the box and you may not need to do anything.  One setting you will likely need to make is to reduce brightness for viewing in your proper dim viewing environment, but you can do that without a device!
  7. There are lots of good 24 inch monitors as others have mentioned, with Samsung/Dell/ASUS/HP all coming up in similar threads.
  8. There are lots of good calibration devices but most of the older ones are a pain and/or time consuming to use.  I have an older Spyder Pro, and it takes quite a long time to do a full calibration plus one suspects its accuracy in that runs aren't all that repeatable.  I understand that newer models are both more accurate and faster.
  9. Although I understand the calibration settings and profile modifications that my hardware device recommends, for most of my work I choose not to use them as the adjustments are slight and don't affect my use of my images or monitor comparing the images of others.
  10. One most needs a hardware calibration device when one is using different non-sRGB colour spaces (not recommended for you as a beginner), or trying to match what you see on your monitor screen with prints (very very difficult and one really needs to understand all the things that affect the different appearance).  I have done this, but find that viewing prints under the proper lighting conditions for prints and the monitor in a proper (dim) viewing environment is the most important thing, which means that generally one can't compare them side-by-side (ones eyes will adjust to one, then take time to adjust to the other).

If you do invest in a hardware calibration device, you also need to understand that you need to learn and use a full colour managed workflow including not only the monitor but your viewing, editing, and printing software, and that all must be set to use the same colour profiles.  Incorrect use of everything together can actually make you images worse!

In conclusion, if you don't think you are having colour problems, you probably aren't and don't need to do anything.  I would spend money on a good 24 inch monitor before a calibration device at a cost of perhaps $250 with the more expensive models above this level with the same good display technology having other features more than just display colour quality for the extra cost (such a built in calibration or most finely tuned factory settings).

I hope this helps.

Regards, GordonBGood

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ThanksForMemories
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to MisterBG, 6 months ago

Thank you very much.
Mireille

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farcus
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to ThanksForMemories, 6 months ago

ThanksForMemories wrote:

Hello Gordon,

I'm 'green' about color management and new at DPR since 1 month. Getting started in photography since I now have the time.

Today I have been reading a lot on calibrating and colors on the web, and it is driving me mad. I'm not a technical person at all for this kind of behind the 'screen' technology. But your reply starts to make sense, so thank you for that!

I now realize I have no idea how my photos look to people on DPR and now know everyone have different monitor settings. It sounds almost impossible to make my photos look at least normal to everyone, especially in the challenges, which I enjoy.

I use a 5-6yrs old laptop Samsung, so not a external monitor. I followed the steps at http://www.silentnomad.com/chart/: 32bit, native resolution, and I looked at their grey scale image for the black-white, it seems I see all the 21 bars distinctly. To my eyes, on this monitor, my photos and other's look fairly good too, except for some washout but rarely dark.

I'm wondering if I should invest in a good monitor rather than invest in a device to calibrate since I don't know if my monitor is poor, or if it's not that bad. Do I spend $$ on a device to check, or on a good ext. monitor?

How much do you think a good LCD monitor goes for? Am I looking at $200 or $500?
Is there a brand(s) that seems to be more reliable for color than others?

I appreciate your help,

Mireille

Mireille, GordonBGood's advice is always good. You might also be interested in

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/7270088913/color-management-a-walkthrough

which does a nice job of pulling the whole picture together.

farcus

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ThanksForMemories
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to GordonBGood, 6 months ago

It helps a lot!

The angle view is a real problem, I didn't know they made monitors that handle that problem, great to know.  I'll look into it.

Again thank you,

Mireille

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ThanksForMemories
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Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software
In reply to farcus, 6 months ago

farcus

Everything he wrote made sense to me, so I believe what you say about Gordon.

And thank you for the link,

Mireille

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