Where Can I Learn More About Monitor Calibration Basics?

Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
edited October 2013 in Daz Studio Discussion


In a prior thread, a question was asked as to whether or not I had calibrated my monitor. As it turned out, that particular issue had nothing to with monitor calibration, but I did make a mental note for future reference.

Well now just over a day later, the future is here and I would like to learn more. I have four monitors on my main workstation and another one on my Asus laptop. One of the workstation's monitors is a very nice Asus IPS screen that was factory calibrated. That screen's colors are just a bit more brilliant and colorful than all the others, and is actually close to the Asus laptop's color settings.

I would like to check all four screens, and the laptop too while I'm at it, and set them all to a consistent and correct color.

After that, I would like to check and correct two flat-panel TV screens I have in my house. Why not fix 'em all, right?

Some Questions:

1. Where can I learn more about the basics of color correction?
2. How can I ensure that my monitors more closely represent...
... a. colors as represented on web pages or web galleries?
... b. colors that my printer produces?
3. There are a number of color correction tools and software available. Are there any good-to-great tools available for under $100 USD? For Under $50?

Additional Info:

A. I run Windows 8 Pro 64 bit on all of my systems.

B. I may be getting a MacBook Pro with Retina sometime in the next year; so ideally whatever I get should also work with Mac.

C. I also have an iPad 3 and iPhone 5, both with Retina display. Maybe with apps they could be used as tools for adjusting my monitors?

D. My TV sets are older flat panels; one is a Sharp that I bought in 2004, and the other is a Westinghouse that I believe I bought in 2001 or 2002. I don't yet know what capacity they have for being adjusted or if it's even worth the bother.

E. In addition to 3D art and animation, I also do photography and I want to do video editing. I think it's time I started seeing things more clearly in my software!

Post edited by Subtropic Pixel on


  • srieschsriesch Posts: 3,948
    edited October 2013

    There's a brief article at this link: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/pages.php/tutorials/monitor_profiling.shtml

    You can try searching Amazon.com for the Datacolor Spyder, or one of it's competitors I don't remember the names of offhand. I see there is an "express" version which is "cheaper" at about $100 compared to their other units, but I don't know if it is missing something you might want. I think LaCie also make one.

    I have used the Pantone ColorVision Spyder, then had to upgrade when I got Windows 7 and picked a newer model, the datacolor Spyder 3. It seems fine and colors seem more realistic afterwards, although I have nothing to compare it to to know for sure, and my monitors aren't quite good enough to be adjusted as far as the device wants me to do so. One monitor ends up looking just a tiny bit different, but the other monitor looks far better. (Note that if you use multiple monitors at once, as far as I know you can't calibrate them both at once unless you have two physical graphics cards, or one specially designed graphics card that can handle two separate color profiles at the same time. I therefore only have one monitor calibrated on my 2-monitor system)
    My only complaint with those products is that it asks you to manually adjust the brightness, but that seems very subjective. I would end up with a different brightness setting if I tried it during a sunny day compared to at night. EDITED TO ADD: Actually I have a second complaint, the Spyder3 suction cup doesn't work, so you have to hold the unit against the screen for several minutes straight while it does it's thing; annoying, but not a show-stopper.

    Post edited by sriesch on
  • Richard HaseltineRichard Haseltine Posts: 49,983
    edited December 1969

    With multiple monitors you can adjust the colour, brightness and contrast to get closer to the ideal but only one of the monitors attached to each video card (at most) can be profiled (essentially have a list of what actual colour it produces when sent a particular RGB value, with the driver switching from the values sent to the values needed to get the colour the incoming RGB specifies in the desired colour space). If you had a dual video chip system, as some laptops in particular do, I think you'd need to profile one of them and ignore the others.

  • Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
    edited December 1969

    Hi and thank you both for replying. Sean, I'll read that article in a few minutes, but right now I have a question.

    I can only profile one monitor on each graphic card? I thought I would be making the calibrations to the monitors themselves so that the graphic card won't have to care which monitors are plugged in, turned on, and/or "active" in Windows.

    But what you're saying leads me to believe that the adjustments would be made to the graphic card driver settings instead?

  • VaskaniaVaskania Posts: 5,926
    edited October 2013

    I've used this site before for some things: http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

    If you're really intent on it though, invest in a Datacolor Spyder. I haven't yet, but I plan on it. http://spyder.datacolor.com/display-calibration/

    Also, when you say factory calibrated, calibrated to what? Movies, gaming, web, print, photography, etc... This is also where color profiles come in. Different work/media require different coloring so you can get better accuracy.

    Post edited by Vaskania on
  • srieschsriesch Posts: 3,948
    edited October 2013

    I thought I would be making the calibrations to the monitors themselves so that the graphic card won't have to care which monitors are plugged in, turned on, and/or "active" in Windows.?

    At least with the Spyder, changes are made both by you manually to your monitor settings AND to Windows to change the colors sent to the monitor via the color profile placed in C:\Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color\ .
    I'm not an expert on the "why" of needing to do both, but am under the impression that some monitors simply don't produce the correct colors by default across the entire color range, and (at least in CRTs) color values drift as the monitor ages anyway, and need to be sent the exaggerated values to compensate and result in the correct values being displayed in the end. For example, during the test the color green might be displayed on the monitor, and the sensor stuck to the monitor knows what value is SUPPOSED to be sensed, but maybe it's a little too blue-green or whatever, so it calculates what different color value should be displayed that would then result in the expected original green value being displayed.
    Unless your monitors were exactly identical in model, settings, age, and every single electronic component within it had coincidentally exactly the same tolerance (won't happen), they won't be EXACTLY the same, and thus the color profile measured from one monitor wouldn't make any sense to try to apply to the other one. I suppose it's possible they could be close enough and good enough that you could get lucky and run both using the same color profile or even with no profile and just running on the manual monitor setting changes, but I'm guessing that's very unlikely.
    The exact manual adjustments depend on your monitor, since different manufacturers of monitors have different menu settings. One of my monitors you could actually adjust the intensity of the three different colors separately, but the other monitor is much more limited and you can't do that at all.
    That reminds me, Windows 7 might have some sort of color adjustment option if you want to read up on it (don't remember what it's called or where). Never looked at it closely since I had the Spyder already.
    Post edited by sriesch on
  • Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
    edited December 1969

    Yeah, I've been reading up. I see what you're getting at now and I also understand the lookup table limitations (one per GPU chip). I'm not willing to put a second GPU card into this system, so I'll have to live within that limitation. Which means that I won't be able to "automatically" adjust all four monitors on my system.

    I'll have to decide on a "primary" monitor for color work, which would likely be the Asus because it is an IPS screen and is designed for this type of work. In fact, I may have received some sort of profile information with it in the box...such as an ICC profile document or something. But that will require that I move things around on my desk.

    Even though I understand this limitation, I think I still need to try to adjust the other three, even if it means I adjust them manually after the profile has been applied for the Asus. The goal would be to get them as close to each other as possible with manual tweaking so as to avoid an annoying "patchwork" appearance when sitting in front of them. I have that now and it looks a bit like my grandma's quiltwork. :lol:

    Of course, if I had any sense, I would just replace the non-Asus monitors with the same model; but I don't have $900 just laying around. Oh wait, let me check the freezer....nope, no $900 next to the Ben and Jerry's. :roll:

  • StratDragonStratDragon Posts: 2,799
    edited December 1969

    I've calibrated multiple LCD's and before that press ready CRT's. It's very common to have two monitors of the same model come out with slightly different calibration results, even with a spectrometer. The lighting in a room can drastically change a monitors calibration results, and if sunlight is part of the equation (i.e. it filters into the room through a window) then that will also change the visible calibration. Video cards, video cables and power supplies can also change the results. It's horseshoes and hand grenades, in other words how close you can get it with the tools you have.
    the Mac OS has a very good and very simple calibration tool in the system utilities and it's the least intimidating one I've seen for beginners that explains a little of the science behind it but it is still a science.

  • Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
    edited February 2014

    Hello again. Yep, it's time to wake up this thread. It's my thread anyway, LOL!

    So here it is; I am debating with myself over the following Datacolor options:

    Spyder Capture Pro calibrates monitor, cameras, and lens autofocus (but not printer, ink, and paper).

    Spyder Studio calibrates monitor, printer, ink, and paper (but not cameras and lenses).

    Spyder Print is just the printer calibration equipment, and does not come with the Spyder calibrator.

    The camera and lens kit (which is included in Capture Pro but not Studio above) is basically a focusing card and like the Spyder Print above, is also available separately (with no calibrator) and I've seen it for anywhere from $60-80 USD. (EDIT: added a link)

    I think my best option right now is to buy the Spyder Studio and then later buy the camera and lens calibrator separately. Still gonna be over $600, ouch!

    Maybe I can charge a few people to calibrate their monitors and printers and recoup some money so I don't have to skip too many meals! :roll:

    Post edited by Subtropic Pixel on
  • StratDragonStratDragon Posts: 2,799
    edited December 1969

    Almost all OS's have some built in calibration tool and most displays are incapable of being precisely color matched. In the 100's of users I supported over the years in the Graphic Arts industry I had a total 4 clients that required calibration and it was only when we brought in press ready displays that were a fortune to begin with. Calibration is a very specific tool for a very small group of clients.
    So Is there a specific reason your trying to do this or do you just want your monitor to matched to a bunch of levels on a spectrometer because it sounds theoretically nifty? If so what kind of equipment do you have? Will it take full advantage of your calibration methods? What will be the cost benefit?

  • Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
    edited February 2014

    I just want my cameras, monitors, and printer to be as accurate and true as possible for my art.

    Not unlike using a ruler, square, protractor, or compass (or similar built in features of modeling, posing, or texturing software) to ensure accurate sizes, shapes, and angles. A woodworker might use these tools to ensure level furniture, or a jeweler to ensure that stones and clasps stay secure and stable. :cheese:

    In other words, I want to take a somewhat less casual approach and step up my game to produce the most professional results that I am capable of.

    Post edited by Subtropic Pixel on
  • StratDragonStratDragon Posts: 2,799
    edited December 1969

    "capable of" is the key phrase here. A jeweler and a draftsman use simple tools to achieve precise results. As a digital photographer those types of tools may not readily be in your repertoire. I'm not tying to steer you from doing this but this is something I've been exposed to in a professional setting, but I don't profess to be a professional at it. I will applaud your efforts but; in my own experience; unless your gear is really high end stuff, don't expect it to deliver anything much better than what you have doing it now. I also suggest you ask around on some photographers forums if you have not done so already, and see what they know that I dont, and I wouldn't doubt it if could fill volumes.
    good luck.

  • Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
    edited December 1969

    Points well made.

    I have noticed that every time somebody (anybody) mentions color, contrast, or brightness problems here, in the Commons, or in the Carrara forums, somebody ELSE asks if the monitors have been calibrated, which only makes sense if user A wants user B to see the same things that user A himself sees.

    Or in my case, I want what's on my monitor to match what comes out of my printer and to match what comes out of the large format printer at my local photography shop that makes large reproductions, should I decide to do something like that. Or if I make something and want to have a T-shirt, ball cap, or jacket made.

    I understand that this all assumes that the photo shop and t-shirt maker have also calibrated their equipment.

    The secondary benefit (my first point above) is that if YOUR monitor also happens to be calibrated, then what you see on your screen will (should) match what I worked so hard to texture and render.

    Again, it's just part of improving MY game. Personal decision, sure.

  • StratDragonStratDragon Posts: 2,799
    edited December 1969

    ...The secondary benefit (my first point above) is that if YOUR monitor also happens to be calibrated, then what you see on your screen will (should) match what I worked so hard to texture and render...

    it should be closer but pure calibration could only be done in an environment that's more or less a vacuum. If someone has a light on on the room the colors would not be a true match. While your monitor is a light source once another light source is added it will adjust colors. Second problem I've run into: My red is someone else magenta and another burgundy. Many times I've calibrated with spectrometers and someone wants a manual adjustment made because they 'see" it differently than I did or the hardware did.
    And it does not appear right to them when we did a calibrated color match proof or just gut feeling, or we changed the ink in a printer and it changed the color due to chemical change, paper type, or solar flare.

    Hey if nothing else you learn a lot of cool things about color and equipment.

  • Subtropic PixelSubtropic Pixel Posts: 1,510
    edited December 1969

    I dig the learning part, that's for sure! :P

    Thank you for the conversation.

  • Mr Gneiss GuyMr Gneiss Guy Posts: 462
    edited December 1969

    This may not be exactly what you are asking for, but go to someplace like Anandtech and read some of their monitor reviews, they tend to go very in depth, and one of the things they test is color accuracy and how they can be calibrated. I suggest it, because it's a fairly "real world" example of how you go about it, the problems you can run into, and the gains you can make. I learned quite a lot reading those.

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