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freeware monitor calibration software?

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by nailbrush, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    Now I am totally confused. You say "you are not describing the colour produced by your camera" - what do you mean? A camera can produce all (?) the colours described in sRGB I assume. Should the camera be profiled or calibrated? How do you know that the colours produced by your camera will be shown accurately on your calibrated monitor? This is, like climate change, an inexact science, it seems to me, and we seem to be getting in too deep.

    I am not a scientist, I am a photographer, why do I need to know all this science? Please, can't someone make it more simple for the likes of me?

    Incidentally, the last few posts have brought both "calibration" and "profiling" into the discussion. What is the difference between calibrating your monitor and profiling it?

    As I say, I am now totally confused.
  2. john_g

    john_g Well-Known Member

    When you calibrate something, you modify its parameters/settings such that it performs to a defined standard.

    When you profile something, you measure its parameters. This allows you to describe how it deviates from a defined standard. This information can (sometimes) be used to correct for deviations from the defined standard.
  3. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    So, does this mean I "calibrate" my monitor, say, to sRGB, being a defined standard?

    Does this mean I just set the monitor to show sRGB though the monitor menu, then use a profiling machine to measure whether it conforms to that standard?

    So, I should both calibrate my monitor AND profile it? Is that right?
  4. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member


    The sRGB colour space cannot be reproduced with absolute accuracy by any LCD monitor, because it's based on the physical characteristics of a CRT monitor. So you'd calibrate your monitor first—which generally means setting white point, luminance, and gamma—and then you'd profile it, which means characterising its unique properties. That profile is then essentially used to filter out any colour idiosyncrasies in applications such as Photoshop.
  5. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    It depends on a whole lotta factors ...

    However as a cheapo try ... go to the local paint retailer and get a couple of paint charts. Shoot them in varying light conditions, compare to downloaded files on screen and make prints. {If you have bits of black, grey and white card - or a proper Kodak grey card, then include those in the pics as well as the charts.}

    If you get lucky small adjustments will tie all three together. If you get very lucky, you may find that no adjustment is needed. :)
  6. YPhotography

    YPhotography Active Member

    I've just read through this thread, and thought I just just add weight to the recommendation for hardware-based calibration.

    Like most people, I've spent a while fiddling with the controls and looking at a selection of photos and charts to get the picture "just right". I've even played with Adobe Gamma and Quick Gamma. But, after struggling with colour and brightness mismatching from one computer to the next, as well as in print, I took the plunge into colour management theory and calibration.

    Firstly, the idea that monitor manufacturers calibrate their monitors to be "just right" is misguided. Most monitors are far too bright for home/studio use, and offer several settings for different uses; but none guarantee any level of colour accuracy. You might have to fiddle for hours with colour temp and/or RGB settings to get it anywhere near to a profiled print. It can be done, and some monitors are closer than other, so you might get lucky.

    I use an X-rite i1 Display2, which guides me accurately through setting up the monitor in a couple of minutes, then spends the next 5 minutes looking at lots of colours, to build up a monitor profile (for colour-managed programs like Photoshop) and a corrective look-up table for the computer graphics card. The first time I did it, I was amazed how much it made a good picture better. You really have to see it to believe it.

    When I started messing about with 3rd party inks and paper, I had to go down the print calibration route too, because of the variation you get with different materials.

    And, yes, I calibrate my camera too. I shoot raw, and have created my own custom camera profile for Adobe Camera Raw, which is a very noticeable improvement over the colours I get with their standard profiles and Capture NX's results.

    You might think this is all going too far, but it's really not a big deal. I calibrate my monitor every couple of months, my camera maybe once a year or so, and my printer whenever I use new ink/paper (i.e. hardly ever). I'm fairly confident my tones and colours are almost spot-on, and I know what my prints will look like before they appear, and what they should look like on a calibrated display.

    You don't need to do any of this if you're not fussy about image quality, but I am. I know what colour a red phone box is, and what colour a blue sky is, and if I'm not going for a surreal look, I want exactly those colours on my screen. I sorted all this out, and then started selling framed prints and digital stock images, so it was definitely worth the investment in money and time to get a good standard of quality control.
  7. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    Too much science.....
  8. YPhotography

    YPhotography Active Member

    Too much for some.
  9. Mosstrooper

    Mosstrooper Well-Known Member

    Too much for a lage number who just want to get on with the Hobby.
    I can remember the time when we were told our Hi-Fi could only ever be good if it sat on a 3 foot thick concrete plinth, suspended on torsional Rubber mountings in a sonically dead room with egg boxes all over the walls, now we all listen to Mp3 tracks.
  10. YPhotography

    YPhotography Active Member

    Horses for courses. I like high fidelity in my photos.
  11. PhilW

    PhilW Well-Known Member

    But the point is to calibrate your monitor is a trivial task - 5 mins ones every 6 months or so. And at around £70 for a spyder 3 considerably cheaper than installing the concrete plinth you remember form the 1980's lol

    You don't actually need to understand the science if you don't want to, just like you don't need to understand how electricity works to switch on a light.
  12. Kettering_Jeremy

    Kettering_Jeremy Well-Known Member

    You speak for yourself. I don't deny that I play MP3 tracks in places where it doesn't matter, but if I want to hear good quality sound I play CDs.

    Of course (and you knew this was coming ...) when I really want to listen carefully - I play vinyl.

    And incidentally I have calibrated and profiled both monitor and printer with a ColorMunki, it really was not difficult at all. Best £270 I have spent (except maybe on a tripod).

    Our hobby has some incredibly complex ideas, concepts and physics behind it (I still don't understand how you can increase depth of field by tilting and shifting a lens), but colour calibration isn't one of them - the language used to describe it may be, but the process and mechanisms by which it is achieved are not.
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I do listen quite a lot to (high bitrate) MP3s quite a lot, but that's because with the normal background noise, I can't hear the difference most of the time. However, that doesn't apply to this area, where it's blindingly obvious IMHO. I've also recently switched to a ColorMunki, which makes screen calibration even easier than with a Spider, and allows so much more; it is a lot of money, though.
  14. Mosstrooper

    Mosstrooper Well-Known Member

    This is getting to be a really fun thread, Am I to think now that all Calibration Systems are not equal, what might be the difference between a Spyder 3 @ £70 and a ColorMunki @ a reported price of £270 and should owners of cheaper systems throw them away and buy a real Calibration System?
  15. YPhotography

    YPhotography Active Member

    The ColorMunki does print calibration too, so it's two devices in one.
  16. Mosstrooper

    Mosstrooper Well-Known Member

    I thought Printer Calibration was just a Software excercise you can get from anywhere, no Hardware required.
  17. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Mine wasn't a Spider 3, it was a much older model designed for CRTs. I wanted to profile my printer, too, so that was that. The Spider is fine for monitors, but a little more fiddly to position.
  18. YPhotography

    YPhotography Active Member

  19. Norman

    Norman Well-Known Member

    As monitor colorimeters measure the output from your screen so print colorimeters measure the output from your printer/paper/ink combination. A series of colour patches of known values are printed and measured so that a profile can be generated for that particular combination. This is what I use.
  20. Mosstrooper

    Mosstrooper Well-Known Member

    Wow!! 419 Euros, that must be the highest yet, I have a feeling if a beginner knew all this Time, Effort and Expense was involved before you even see a Photograph they would stay away.

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