Skip to content

Calibrate Your Monitor–You’ll Be Glad You Did

By: Todd Stabley

Monitor calibration is a simple process that can dramatically improve the appearance of the screens we spend so much time looking at every day.  Even more important, accurate color and brightness is essential for anyone who edits images and video with a view toward publishing that content and wants viewers to see it the way they intend.  If you’re a photographer looking to print the photos you edit, having a calibrated monitor is a crucial step in ensuring that your prints look the way the images do on your screen.  As Jack D’Ardenne wrote on this blog last month, OIT ITS recently calibrated monitors we’ve been comparing for use in the new MPS Lab.  This lab is currently under construction in what was known as the Technology Alcove in the basement of Duke Library between Perkins and Bostock.

To calibrate your monitor, you’ll need a simple device called a colorimeter.  A number of companies such as Xrite and Spyder make prosumer colorimeters in the neighborhood of $150.00 to $250.00.  They’re simple, usually USB, devices that hang down over the top of your monitor and come with software that reads color values as they flash across the screen.  The device measures how the color is actually displaying on your screen and compares that to the industry standard values it should be displaying.  When the process is finished, most software will automatically adjust your monitor’s hardware settings to compensate for the differences, and allow you to toggle back and forth to see the effect of the changes before accepting them.  It should be noted that the better the monitor the greater ability it will have to reach those standard values and present your images in the best light possible.

Xrite eye-one display 2
Xrite eye-one display 2

OIT ITS has an older generation unit by Xrite called the eye-one display2, which works well on PCs, but based on reviews may not play well with newer Macs, especially those running Lion.  Xrite’s newest unit, the i1Display Pro or the somewhat cheaper ColorMunki Display, generally get good reviews, and offer the option to calibrate projectors in addition to monitors and compensate for ambient light in the room.

Monitors tend to creep out of adjustment slowly over time, so it’s a good idea to calibrate periodically (weekly – monthly depending on how critical accurate color is for you).

The world of color management can be a complicated one, and there are a lot of steps involved in setting up what is referred to in the industry as a “color managed workflow.” However, you don’t have to be an expert to gain one of the biggest advantages color management offers–working with a calibrated monitor that shows your work to its best advantage.


Categories: DDMC Info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *