What is monitor calibration?
Monitor or display calibration is the process of aligning your screen’s colors with the standards set by the RGB (red, green, blue) color model. This model dates back to the nineteenth century, but it’s also the standard for most TVs and computers. Since nearly every screen works on the RGB model, if you correct color on a properly calibrated screen, you’re giving your work the best chance at appearing how you want it to on other people’s screens.
Where to start your color calibration.
Neither online calibration software nor the calibration tools that come with your Windows or Mac operating system will help you obtain accurate color. These programs rely on your eye, and eyes are subjective.
For objectively accurate color, you need to use a colorimeter. A colorimeter is a small calibration device that fastens to your screen and works with calibration software to optimize display color for your particular screen and your room’s particular lighting conditions. Devices like the Datacolor Spyder and the X-Rite ColorMunki will measure the ambient light wherever you are and recommend optimal calibration settings.
Before beginning the process, let your monitor warm up for about 30 minutes. Avoid shining direct light on your monitor, and make sure the ambient light conditions are similar to those when you perform color adjustments on your work.
Luminance is the intensity of the light the screen emits, also known as brightness. It’s important to keep this setting consistent when you’re doing color correction, so you don’t correct one scene at one brightness level and another at a totally different level. The recommended brightness for a standard LCD screen is 120.
Once you’ve confirmed your monitor settings, the automatic calibration process will begin. The colorimeter will test your monitor’s colors against industry color standards, map the variations, and create a unique color profile (also known as an ICC profile) for your monitor. With an accurate profile, you can pinpoint exact shades of color and communicate those across devices.
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