How to calibrate your monitor

How to calibrate your monitor
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Walthrough: Profiling your monitor with Windows 7

Step 1:

Make sure there are no light sources shining on your monitor and give your screen30 minutes to warm up. Ensure it’s set to its native resolution. When you’re ready,you can reach Windows’ colour management settings through the Display option inthe Control Panel: look for “Calibrate Color” in the bar on the left-hand side. [Click on pic to enlarge]


Step 2:

Before you start adjusting software settings, set your monitor’s brightness to maximum and choose a neutral white point. Monitors use a frustrating variety of ways to describe white points, so you may need to consult the manual. A neutral white point is around 5000K or 6500K; many monitors ship set to 9300K. [Click on pic to enlarge]


Step 3:

The next step is to set your monitor’s gamma. Too high and images will be washedout; too low and you’ll lose detail in the shadows. It should normally be set to 2.2, butWindows’ calibration tool doesn’t give a numeric measurement. You can get close byadjusting the slider until the dots on the screen blend in with the surrounding area. [Click on pic to enlarge]


Step 4:

Windows makes finding the right brightness and contrast settings simple. Using the sample images, adjust the settings until you’ve produced a good facsimile of the reference image. Some monitors don’t let you adjust the contrast if the screen is hooked up to your PC via a digital connector such as DVI or HDMI. [Click on pic to enlarge] 

Step 5:

Next you need to find a neutral white point for your monitor by adjusting the levels of red, green and blue. Juggling the bars can take some time, not least because moving one often means you’ll have to move another to compensate. This step is very important, as it will ensure you’ll see an accurate display of colour on your screen, so it’s worth the effort. [Click on pic to enlarge] 


Step 6:

The final screen shows you the before and after versions of your monitor profile – and the Color Management panel provides more options. You can view all the colour profiles associated with your monitor, as well as profiles for printers etc. The All Profiles tab shows all the profiles installed, useful if you need to add a profile for an external printer. [Click on pic to enlarge] 


Hardware calibration

Although Windows 7’s calibration tool is free and easy to use, dedicated hardware will do a better job. When you use calibration software, you’re relying on your eyes to make decisions about contrast and brightness. There are two problems with this. First, different people perceive colour and brightness differently, introducing a significant margin of error. Second, the apparent brightness of your monitor will depend to some extent on the lighting in the room – which in turn is affected by the age of the bulbs, the amount of light coming through the window, and a host of other factors.


LaCie blue eye pro Proof Edition

Hardware calibration devices are inherently more accurate, and because they attach, limpet-like, to your monitor screen, ambient light isn’t a factor. However, some calibration software, such as GretagMacbeth’s i1Match software (www., can also measure the colour temperature of ambient light, which will give you another significant accuracy advantage when it comes to your editing environment.

Hardware calibration doesn’t have to be expensive. LaCie’s easy-to-use Blue Eye Prois at the top of the scale at around $400, but you can get hold of devices such as Pantone’s huey colorimeter for less than $150.

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