Monitor Calibration

Started Apr 28, 2013 | Discussions
chironNYC
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Monitor Calibration
Apr 28, 2013

I am an experienced amateur photographer who is just at the beginning stages (finally!) of learning how to do post-processing and printing with digital editing software.

From reading some of the threads here, I know that monitor calibration is probably something I should do before I do too much editing. So I am asking for some basic help with calibrating my monitors.

I use (primarily for my day job, but also for photography) a three monitor set-up. I am probably going to upgrade my desktop computer and graphics card soon, but not the monitors themselves. I think I am also going to buy a Canon Pixma Pro-10 printer. The monitors are three Samsung 2443BWT-1 24-Inch 1920 x 1200 LCD Monitors.

I see DataColor Spyder4 (Pro or Elite, not Express) or X-rite ColorMunki Display recommended a couple of times. I also know from looking on Amazon that each of these companies make lots of variations of their calibration tools.

What would you recommend as a calibration tool and as a process for someone like me? My editing software at this point is Lightroom 4, Photoshop Elements 11, the Efex suite, and Photo Ninja. I also have (but have not tried to use) Canon's DPP. Ultimately, in a year or two, I may try to move from Elements to Photoshop itself.

Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.

Peter

Sailor Blue
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Re: Monitor Calibration
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 29, 2013

You should be fine with any of the three color calibration devices you mention - all of them allow you to color calibrate multiple monitors.

You should look up the specs of your monitors to find out if they are TN or IPS monitors.  You want to use an IPS monitor for your photo work since the brightness, contrast, and colors change much less as you change your angle of view.

If you don't know what type of monitors you have you can simply look up at the screen from a position very close to the bottom of the monitor (you can use a mirror).  TN screens will show a dramatically changed image, frequently looking a bit like a color negative image.

Don't expect to get exactly the same colors on each of your three monitors.  The colors will be close after calibration but unless the monitors are identical brands and models it is hard to get an exact match.

You have more software than many and your plan to upgrade from PSE to CSx only when needed is a good one.  Personally I don't think you really need to use DPP since you have Lightroom and PSE.

Lightroom will be where you start and finish post processing so it is vital that you learn how to use it well.  Be sure to set up a good image storage and index scheme before you start using Lightroom.

B&H - Tim Grey - Organizing Photos with Adobe Lightroom - YouTube

B&H - Tim Grey - Adobe Lightroom 4 - YouTube

Staying Organized with Adobe Lightroom 4 | Hammon Photography Photo Blog

B&H - Jared Platt - The Ultimate Lightroom 4 Experience - YouTube

Luminous Landscape-Michael Reichmann & Seth Resnick-Assets Managment-Where the #%! are my Pictures

Canon printers are fine but I suspect that most professionals use Epson.  In either case expect to pay a minimum of $600 for a professional level printer.  I am not a professional so I use a lower cost printer for up to 8"x10" and have payed for professional printing of a few larger images.

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Ysarex
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Re: Monitor Calibration
In reply to Sailor Blue, Apr 29, 2013

Couple points of clarification:

OP said he has Samsung displays. That would make the display tech PVA as opposed to TN or IPS. Samsung PVA displays are a good choice for photo editing. Eizo Coloredge displays are re-manufactured on PVA panels.

Lightroom is OK, but the OP also noted he has Photo Ninja. I make my living teaching college students to use Lightroom. When I get home and do my own work I use Photo Ninja.

OP: you can use a colorimeter (spyder) to calibrate your displays but if you do plan to get that Pro 10 then you'll want to be able to build your own printer profiles. Do it right and color mange your entire workflow with the Colormunki Photo. It will calibrate and profile your displays and it will build printer profiles for your Pro 10 which is a superb printer.

Joe

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Pictus
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Re: Monitor Calibration
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 29, 2013

I saw a review of the Pro-10 here. Now that you will have a high end inkjet, better start working in ProPhoto RGB as sRGB does not cover the print gamut, see an example here.

Between the options presented I prefer the X-rite ColorMunki Display, but with any calibrator you choose to calibrate your current monitors, I would use this way.

OBS: Your monitor panel type is TN based, next time buy an IPS model, how to choose a monitor.

If in the future you want to buy a wide gamut monitor to better preview your prints, one like Dell U2413/U2713h/U3014, then the calibrator device choice must be an X-rite i1Display Pro if you want to calibrate their programmable internal hardware LUT, see .

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Simon Garrett
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Re: Monitor Calibration
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 29, 2013

Just adding to what the others have said:

  • Most important thing is to calibrate/profile the monitor.  I currently use a ColorMunki Display, but that doesn't profile printers
  • To match prints, you need print profiles (for the printer and paper you are using).  If you use paper for which the manufacturer (of the paper) provides profiles for that printer, then they may be fine.  For best results, create your own printer profiles (I don't do that), but you tend to need the more expensive versions of the ColorMunki or Spyder to profile prints.  If you use ink other than the printer maker's then you probably need your own profiles. 
  • Most important issue in matching monitor to prints: set the monitor brightness down to a sensible level.  Depending on room brightness that will generally be 80-100 cd/m2, but almost certainly no more than 120.  If the screen is too bright then by comparison prints look dull, dark and lifeless.  Most current calibration devices will measure the brightness. 

If anyone tells you that colour management is simple, then either they have a brain the size of a planet or (IMHO) they don't know what they're talking about.  However, with a bit of reading it makes more sense.  I wrote a cheat sheet at http://www.simongarrett.co.uk/ColourManagementCheatSheet.htm and at the bottom I've included a lot of links to sites and sources of information I've found useful.

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ernstbk
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Re: Monitor Calibration
In reply to Simon Garrett, Apr 29, 2013

Simon Garrett wrote:

If anyone tells you that colour management is simple, then either they have a brain the size of a planet or (IMHO) they don't know what they're talking about.

Are you sure that this isn't a spelling mistake, planet instead of peanut ?

To add to your message, colour management can also be very expensive. To obtain consistent results over the complete workflow (input, processing, output) you need expensive tools (calibration) and expensive supplies (ink, paper).

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Sailor Blue
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Re: Monitor Calibration
In reply to Ysarex, Apr 30, 2013

Ysarex wrote:

Couple points of clarification:

OP said he has Samsung displays. That would make the display tech PVA as opposed to TN or IPS. Samsung PVA displays are a good choice for photo editing. Eizo Coloredge displays are re-manufactured on PVA panels.

My Samsung SyncMaster F2380 is a PVA panel and works well for photo editing.  I did a quick search but couldn't find out what the screen type is but based upon the viewing angles you are probably correct that his monitors are also PVA ones.  Since they are all the same he should be able to get the color calibrations very close to each other.  The Spyder4Elite software has a StudioMatch function that will help him do this.

Lightroom is OK, but the OP also noted he has Photo Ninja. I make my living teaching college students to use Lightroom. When I get home and do my own work I use Photo Ninja.

OP: you can use a colorimeter (spyder) to calibrate your displays but if you do plan to get that Pro 10 then you'll want to be able to build your own printer profiles. Do it right and color mange your entire workflow with the Colormunki Photo. It will calibrate and profile your displays and it will build printer profiles for your Pro 10 which is a superb printer.

Joe

You are right, if the OP buys this printer he should get the ColorMonki Photo.  It just makes more sense to buy a single color calibration device that can do both the monitor and the printer.  With the Spyder system you have to buy two devices, and when you do that manufacturing tolerances come into play.

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chironNYC
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Thank you for all the great info!
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 30, 2013

Thanks to each of you for the very helpful and focused information. I actually feel that I have a place to start and links to go to for more information and understanding.

I think I am leaning to the colormunki photo since it will let me do both monitors and printers. I am a bit dismayed by how much it costs.

I am willing to bite the bullet on the cost, especially since I now have a more informed direction.

But, just to be sure, in your guys' opinions, is the process of calibration a justifiable expense for an amateur photographer printing mainly for his own eyes and walls and his family's and friends' pleasure? Or would he be better off going back and forth from editing software to the printer and wasting some paper and ink?

Thanks again for the help.

Peter

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ernstbk
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Re: Thank you for all the great info!
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 30, 2013

chironNYC wrote:

But, just to be sure, in your guys' opinions, is the process of calibration a justifiable expense for an amateur photographer printing mainly for his own eyes and walls and his family's and friends' pleasure? Or would he be better off going back and forth from editing software to the printer and wasting some paper and ink?

No. Under these conditions it can be more economically to send your photos to a lab for printing.

You must be aware that there are a few expensive factors when it comes to printing: calibration instrument, printer, ink, paper. You have to create profiles for each combination of ink/paper. And if you only do a "few" prints every so often then the cost of using a lab will not be excessive.

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Sailor Blue
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Re: Thank you for all the great info!
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 30, 2013

chironNYC wrote:

Thanks to each of you for the very helpful and focused information. I actually feel that I have a place to start and links to go to for more information and understanding.

I think I am leaning to the colormunki photo since it will let me do both monitors and printers. I am a bit dismayed by how much it costs.

I am willing to bite the bullet on the cost, especially since I now have a more informed direction.

But, just to be sure, in your guys' opinions, is the process of calibration a justifiable expense for an amateur photographer printing mainly for his own eyes and walls and his family's and friends' pleasure? Or would he be better off going back and forth from editing software to the printer and wasting some paper and ink?

Thanks again for the help.

Peter

If you are buying a professional quality printer so you can produce and display or sell prints then it is definitely worth spending the extra to buy the Colormonki Photo.

If you are like me, using a cheap 4 color ink jet printer, then no.  I don't expect professional quality prints, just acceptable ones.  I have learned how to adjust my image so that the output of my cheap printer is acceptable.  I do very few prints for display so I'll pay the premium price for professional printing of them rather than buying the pro quality printer, paper, and inks.

As you can see, only you can decide if it is worth the extra expense to buy the professional quality printer and the more expensive Colormonki Photo or not.

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Pictus
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Re: Thank you for all the great info!
In reply to chironNYC, Apr 30, 2013

Glad to help, by using the manufacturer inks, probably do not need to create a custom printer profile, If needed, can use Rick Profiles for $25, see.

The problem is that the ColorMunki Photo did not got good results for monitor calibration, see.

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chironNYC
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Re: Thank you for all the great info!
In reply to chironNYC, May 1, 2013

Thank you again for the well-informed advice. I need to consider whether it is worth the money for me, with my amateur status and as an occasional printer, to get into calibration. I think the only way to finally do that is to see what my prints are like using manufacturer's paper and inks without calibration, and whether I am happy with what I am getting.

I appreciate your help.

Peter

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