Monitor Calibration

Reading the photography websites, you come across forums posts from time to time regarding monitor calibration. I never thought too much about it since I figured that the screen on my laptop or desktop didnt seem to be out of calibration. In post-processing pictures from my Canon 30D, I figured if the picture looked good on MY monitor, it’d probably look very very similar to everyone else. WRONG.

I actually purchased a Spyder 2 Express a while back. It’s remained brand new in the box for about 3-4 months. Yeah, I bought it but never used it. That’s how unimportant I thought monitor calibration was.. until this week.

About a week ago, a friend of mine asked me to help put together a web site for a friend’s restaurant (Jack n’ Jill’s Creperie on 3rd and Robertson in Los Angeles). We were discussing various colors and trying out different color schemes. My friend said, “dude, what’s up with the salmon pink?”.. to which I replied, “uh, no bro, its more like a dull pink, your monitor must be screwed up”.. I said ti with such conviction, I convinced him that it was his issue. At work I use an IBM T60 laptop with a 20″ wide Viewsonic as a 2nd screen. The IBM T60 is my main screen. Today, to check how the site would look at higher resolutions, I dragged my Internet Explorer window to the 20″ Viewsonic.. and that’s when I saw it.. the salmon pink background.. in fact, I wouldn’t even call it salmon pink.. it was almost like a flourescent orange. So when I got home from work today, I figured before I grace the internet with any more of my oddly colored photos and images, I better check my monitor calibration.

Spyder 2 Express
I paid about $50 on Amazon a while back.. I wanted the Spyder 2 Pro but I couldn’t justify the additional $100+ for the differences, which, for the record are:

Gamma Choices – Express is Fixed, Pro is Unlimited
Color Temp – Express is Fixed, Pro is Unlimited
RGB PreCal – N/A in Express
Ambient PreceiseLight – N/A in Express
Multiple Monitor Support – N/A in Express (I really wanted this)
Front Projector Calibration – N/A in Express
Custom Response Curve Targeting – N/A in Express
ICC Profile Support – Express has ICC2 only, ICC2 and ICC4 in Pro

Anyhow, after removing the colorimeter from the box and installing the software, everything was pretty simple. After starting it up, it went through a few questions asking about the type of monitor you’re using. It then displayed a picture of the Spyder 2 colorimeter on your screen and told you to position your colorimeter on the screen in that spot. From that point on, you pretty much don’t do anything. It checked the blacks, reds, greens, blues, and grays. It took about 5 minutes. Then it saved a new monitor profile in your WINDOWS/system32/spooler/drivers folder (something like that). Then it showed a montage of photos and a button that you could click to see your “before”. Prior to clicking the “before”, I already noticed the colors were much warmer. It made the monitor look “dimmer”.. not as bright. I was immediately thinking I wouldnt like it. Then I clicked the “before”. Damn, HUGE difference. The “before” was much “brighter”, but everything was more washed out. I clicked back and forth in amazement then decided I should head over to my Flickr to make sure my post-processed pictures didn’t look too crazy. Luckily, they looked OK. But looking at my IE, the top bar is actually gray. It was more silverish/whitish before. Now that I’m getting used to the colors, everything just seems more colorful. Was it worht $50? Hell yeah. Even if I never did any Photoshop work or anything, just looking at stuff online, everything is more vibrant, warm, and colorful.

Anyone thinking that they don’t need monitor calibration, think again. If you’re serious about your images, graphics, or photographs, or just plain want to see things on the internet as they should be, then definitely calibrate your monitor.

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