Photos By Rikki » SF Bay Area | Freelance Photographer

How to Calibrate Your Monitor

Monitor calibration can be extremely complex. You’ll often hear people say they’ve calibrated their monitors with a Spyder or a Huey. These pieces of equipment are not cheap but there’s still a simple and inexpensive way to calibrate your monitor. This particular calibration is set just so you can view photographs and images correctly. Just remember that you spend a lot of time (and money) processing your images and getting them to look “just right” on your monitor and the last thing you would like to see are dark prints when you get them back from the lab.

Mac or Windows? Ask anyone and you’ll get about a 50/50 split on what people prefer to use for their computers at home. Now ask me that question again but this time, I’ll be speaking as a photographer or graphic artist.


There used to be a time when I would have to calibrate my monitor on a daily basis – once or twice a month. It wasn’t that I bought cheaper LCD monitors and systems with inferior video cards. As a matter of fact, I’ve shelled hundreds of dollars on big, versatile systems that always failed me where it mattered the most – a properly calibrated monitor. An improperly calibrated monitor ended up costing me hundreds more as I had clients return prints due to the color rendition of the final print. I use a professional color lab through my proofing site that guarantees ALL of my prints. Thank goodness I have that option as a fall back. After that experience, I vowed never again so I ended up buying a new iMac.

If you happen to have a Mac, then you’re pretty much set. You don’t have to calibrate your monitor that often. I’ve owned my iMac for about 4 years now and I have yet to calibrate the screen. However, if you don’t have a Mac, and can’t afford to shell out for the expensive calibration tools, here’s one that you can do for FREE courtesy of Photo Friday.


Image courtesy of PhotoFriday

Here are a few calibration tools available in a variety of price ranges.

  1. Pantone Huey Pro – $69
  2. Spyder 3 Pro – $128
  3. X-Rite Eye One – $149

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of your photos you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

Try to calibrate your monitor at regular intervals to make sure that you are maintaining the look and appearance of all your images. Once again, the last thing you would want is a call back from your client saying their prints came out too dark.

Which ever tool you choose, the lesson here is to ALWAYS calibrate your monitor. So now that your monitor is calibrated, the question to ask is, what Color Space to use?


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