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Monitor calibration - CS 4

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Old Wednesday 18th January 2012, 18:57   #1
Chalky W
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Monitor calibration - CS 4

Hi All,

I hope I can beg someone's indulgence and ask for opinions on the 2 images attached.

I have recently purchased a new monitor and a Spyder 3 calibration gizmo and am a bit confused regarding the results I'm getting on the new set up. Image A was simply processed through Adobe Camera RAW on my old monitor and image B was done using my new calibrated monitor.

So my question is which looks better as both look good on their respective monitors but look awful on their alternatives. Can I ask for any opinions. I know that they might look different on other monitors but am just seeking alternative opinions on the results. They are subtle differences I know but I am looking to achieve a result that will produce 'true' images for the web and perhaps print.

Also, perhaps someone can explain (simply) what is actually achieved by calibrating a monitor.

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Old Thursday 19th January 2012, 07:36   #2
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On my (uncalibrated) monitor both images look good. The main difference is that the first one looks a lot warmer in tone. It looks alright, but for me personally, once I've looked at the other one the first one looks too peachy/pink. But you're the one who saw the original scene and only you can judge what colours you would like to capture.

The point of calibrating a monitor can be explained in simple ways, I think. It is all about colours. If you think about it then it becomes very easily obvious that there is no absolute notion of colour that's easily measured. Back in the days, surely we've all seen negatives who had a severe colour cast? Or printing: We've already known that if you give the same negatives/slides to different labs to print (or even the same lab on separate occasions) they won't look precisely the same.

Going digital has made it worse (at least slides gave us an idea of `absolute' colour for a specific image). If you go to a big electronics store and look at a wall of tvs all running the same programme you'll see that there are lots of differences in how colour is rendered. (One can assume that most of these are straight out of the box without adjustments.) Some of them will be bluer, or redder, or greener, or the colours look unnaturally saturated. If you buy one of those tvs you can then set it up at home so that it looks good to you. But how do you know whether the pink sweater on your screen shows precisely the hue of the real thing? You don't.

The same holds for other screens, such as computer monitors. So if something looks a nice red colour on my monitor, how do I know it's going to come out as a nice red colour when printed or when you look at it on your monitor?

Calibrating is trying to solve this issue. It's trying to use an external gadget (namely the calibrator) to achieve consistent colour (and monitors need to be recalibrated to maintain that). This also does help with printing, in particular if you profile your printer, and chances are if other people with calibrated monitors look at your images they see something closer to what you are seeing. It's still not an absolute thing, but it's the best there is at the moment.

Of course the vast majority of monitors are uncalibrated, so when putting your images on the web you still have no control over what exactly people are seeing, whether your monitor is calibrated or not.

You say that each image looks good on `its' monitor. But do they look the same if you have them side by side? They do have fairly different hues, so your two monitors vary considerably in how they render colour. If you calibrated your old monitor (which I realize may not be possible) chance would be that it would show the image from the new monitor much more similar to what it looks there. How about downloading such pairs images onto another device (a mobile phone eg) to test what they look like on a third screen? That might give you more confidence in what you're doing.


PS I do apologize if you knew all this - I didn't mean to be condescending, I was just trying to keep with the request of providing a simple explanation of what calibrating is trying to do.

Last edited by kitefarrago : Thursday 19th January 2012 at 07:39.
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Old Thursday 19th January 2012, 10:37   #3
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I don't know if this is the right way or not but I haven't calibrated my monitor (yet) but have used an idea put forward by a judge at the local camera club. Download a test black and white page or 21 bar mono test page (There are several on line) and print that. If there is a colour hue it will show up very easily on the printed output. If there is one that is a good time to think about calibration (of both monitor and printer to make sure).
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Old Thursday 19th January 2012, 11:50   #4
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Old Thursday 19th January 2012, 12:48   #5
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Generally Calibration is to match color profiles to printed images . Once you jump through all the hoops you can get near perfect color matches . It is huge when uploading images to a local printer / Big box stores photo center in the US.

They post icc profiles for each machine online
so its like owning the printer . See Dry creek It shows how to load all the profiles .
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Old Thursday 19th January 2012, 14:24   #6
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Ok Peeps,

Thanks for the advice and Andrea for the explanation, not condescending at all. Most of the websites I looked at were way toooooo technical for me.
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Old Friday 20th January 2012, 16:54   #7
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On my calibrated monitor the second image looks a lot more "true to life".

That in itself is a good reason to calibrate a monitor, because I see lots of images that are horrendously over contrasty/saturated/bright, and even if you're only posting images online, it's good to know that what you're putting out there is "right".
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Old Thursday 26th January 2012, 13:16   #8
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When it comes to monitor calibration, there are a lot of variables. Simply comparing the result of two images is not the answer - all it shows it the calibrated monitor has differences from your uncalibrated monitor. The Spyder 3 software has a group of sample images showing before and after comparisons for your monitor.

What you are trying to do with calibration is neutralize your monitor and make the monitor colors as accurate as possible. That still leaves a lot of variables. For example, if your goal is to print, how does your printer render colors? ICC profiles are a start, but are not perfect. Calibrating for printing is separate from calibrating your monitor.

In the two images you provided, even with a color calibrated monitor, how do you know which is "correct"? It depends a lot on your post processing software and your camera settings. Some software honors your camera settings, but not all. Adobe does not specifically use the Nikon settings, although they come very close.

Finally, you don't always want a scene rendered as neutral. You want the monitor to be neutral, so the same image on two different calibrated monitors looks nearly the same on both. But you don't normally want to neutralize warm colors of light in the golden hours, and you might want to "create" golden light in your editing.

My advice is to use your calibrated monitor and trust it. The color is more accurate and it removes a variable that has a great impact on the way images are processed. You will come up with the look you want, but with a calibrated monitor you can view that look better than with an uncalibrated monitor.
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