What is the best Monitor calibration software

Started Sep 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
GordonBGood Veteran Member • Posts: 6,306
Re: What is the best Monitor calibration software

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 ?


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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