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Mark Sincevich

Professional Photography Expert

Monitor Calibration

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Having a color management strategy or system comes down to this piece, having and generating consistent color throughout your digital photography system. You want to have the image seen match the final print or image posted to your photography blog. Without the benefit of having a constant of some sort (I often use a 35mm slide as my color comparison constant), you must have some sort of color management in your system to make sure that the image you just imported from your memory card looks correct on your computer monitor. Also the resulting image on your display needs to match the final output from your photographic printer.

Whenever you power up your computer monitor, whether your monitor is an LCD (liquid crystal display), a CRT (cathode ray tube) or is part of your laptop, you should be in the habit of recalibrating your computer display at least once every 30 days. While your operating system has built-in software, such as Apple’s ColorSync Software, you definitely need a USB dedicated display-measuring device to correctly calculate your unique monitor profile. Every single monitor is slightly different and by measuring your monitor specifically, you can take ambient room lighting and other lighting factors into consideration.

The longer monitors are turned on, the more that their colors ‘leak.’ This is not only true of your computer monitors, but it is also true of your television, LCD projectors and even your digital cameras. For example, over time the navy blue you are used to seeing may change slightly to a lighter navy blue and this will affect how you see the images on your screen. And, more importantly, this is why you might print something that looks different from what you see on your monitor.

Once you create a custom monitor profile called an ICC profile, it will allow more of your devices to communicate with each other and allow you to generate more of a color constant from image capture to the final print. Your goal is to have ICC profiles for all of your display devices, your digital cameras and certainly your photographic printers.

All of the top three Best of the Best products are from Pantone, the same company that started out with its infamous Pantone color wheel for correct color matching. They have teamed with GretagMacbeth to provide for proper display device calibration. The absolute Best of the Best product, the Pantone GretagMacbeth Eye-One XT can measure spot colors for the exact color needed for RGB, CYMK displays, or for ANY device. This product is intended for the photography professional or independent color lab. When you want the assurance of having the same image color from capture to print, you will definitely need a reliable monitor calibration system or device.

Best Color Monitor Calibration Systems by Mark Sincevich

The Best You Can Get

  • Pantone GretagMacbeth Eye-One XT

    Mark says: The Pantone GretagMacbeth Eye-One XT allows you to measure the color management for ANY device from digital cameras, scanners, displays, printers, and projectors. You can calibrate and profile all of your monitors (both LCD and CRT) including your laptops, and you will get editable profiles. You can measure spot colors for the exact color needed as well as ambient lighting. The Eye-One XT gives unlimited monitor gamma and temperature control choices. The software package also gives RGB control calibration, multiple monitor matching, and increased CRT synchronization.

    • Minimum monitor resolution = 1024 x 768
    • Measuring Device = Eye-One Beamer Kit
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.2 (with ColorSync 3.03) or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP with Pentium II (266Mhz) or higher
    • Target Customer = Serious professional or color lab
  • Pantone GretagMacbeth Eye-One Photo SG

    Mark says: The Pantone GretagMacbeth Eye-One Photo SG allows the measurement of emissive, reflective materials, and ambient light. It can calibrate in RGB easy, CMYK easy, and RGB test chart mode. The product also includes calibration of digital projectors, digital cameras, and scanners. The Eye-One Photo SG product includes a spectrophotometer, an ambient light measurement head, flat panel and CRT holders, positioning target, scanning ruler, Eye-One Match 3.0 software for monitors and a digital Pantone library. The Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer peripheral device is powered through the USB port.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = 1024 x 768
    • Measuring Device = Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.2 (with ColorSync 3.03) or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP with Pentium II (266Mhz) or higher
    • Target Customer = Serious professional level photographer or color lab
  • Pantone GretagMacbeth Eye-One Design

    Mark says: The GretagMacbeth Eye-One Design is an entry-level management solution for profiling and editing monitors (both LCD and CRT) as well as printers viewed from a professional level of photography. It includes the highly accurate Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer, an ambient light measurement head, Eye-One Match 3.0 software and many others accessories. Allows unlimited gamma choices for displays.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = 1024 x 768
    • Measuring Device = Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.2 (with ColorSync 3.03) or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP with Pentium II (266Mhz) or higher
    • Target Customer = Entry-level professional or basic color lab
  • Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite

    Mark says: The Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite allows consistent color from capturing images to their subsequent output. Allows the user to create specific color profiles for a greater level of work control. The Spyder3 colorimeter has a 7-detector color engine, a filter array and an ambient light sensor. It can also calibrate LCD projectors and notebook displays.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = LCD and CRT monitors
    • Measuring Device = Datacolor Spyder3 colorimeter
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP 32/64, Vista 32/64
    • Target Customer = Entry-level professional and photo studios
  • X-rite i1Display2

    Mark says: The x-rite i1Display2 features many automated tools to correctly profile your monitor (LCD or CRT) or laptop. It features color controls that include Workgroup Match, Ambient (light) check, Push Button Calibration (for ease of use) and Monitor Calibration Validation. The i2Display colorimeter has a high sensitivity in dark areas for better control of shadow detail. The product can also be used with multiple workstations.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = LCD and CRT monitors
    • Measuring Device = i2Display colorimeter
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP, x64
    • Target Customer = Entry-level professional

You will be happy with any of these

  • Datacolor Spyder 3 Pro

    Mark says: The Datacolor Spyder 3 Pro is for serious photographers who expect and demand a high degree of color accuracy. It has a seven-detector color engine with a large light aperture and embedded ambient light sensor. The Spyder 3 Pro can also calibrate notebook displays.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = CRT and LCD monitors, 1024 x 768 or greater
    • Measuring Device = Datacolor Spyder3 colorimeter
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or later
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP 32/64, Vista 32/64
    • Target Customer = Serious photographers
  • Pantone hueyPro

    Mark says: The Pantone hueyPro features a unique ambient light sensor and True Color from monitor to print. True color adjusts to the light of the room at any time and automatically adjusts for screen brightness and accurate on-screen viewing. Multiple monitor calibration increases color matching and the product also includes enhanced LCD calibration. The product also includes professional-grade optical sensors.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = CRT and LCD monitors, 1024 x 768 or higher
    • Measuring Device = hueyPro USB Measuring Device
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP and Vista
    • Target Customer = Serious amateur photographers
  • X-rite i1Display LT

    Mark says: The USB-powered i1Display colorimeter is ideally matched with the i1Match Software in order to profile your monitor in its Easy Mode. There is a feature for before and after comparison and a push button for industry-leading displays. The i1Display has a removable light head for ambient measurements and it has interactive training modules and a built-in Digital Pantone Library.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = CRT, LCD, and laptop displays
    • Measuring Device = i1Display colorimeter
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP, Vista and higher
    • Target Customer = Photography enthusiasts
  • Datacolor Spyder 2 Express

    Mark says: The Datacolor Spyder 2 Express helps you calibrate your monitor in three easy steps. It will work with LCDs, CRTs, or your laptop and it gives you a before and after feature to compare results.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = CRT, LCD, and laptop displays
    • Measuring Device = Datacolor Spyder2 colorimeter
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP, Vista and higher
    • Target Customer = Photography enthusiasts
  • Pantone huey

    Mark says: The Pantone huey allows you to calibrate and profile all sorts of LCD and CRT monitors. Includes an HMD (huey measurement device), which is an emission only colorimeter. The HMD has ambient measurement capabilities and software for monitor calibration.

    • Minimum Monitor Resolution = CRT and LCD monitors, 1024 x 768 or higher
    • Measuring Device = huey emission only colorimeter device
    • Apple Macintosh system requirements = OS v.10.3 or higher
    • Windows system requirements = 2000, XP and Vista
    • Target Customer = Photography enthusiasts

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