Written by William Algar-Chuklin
Vibrant and accurate colours are a must for any type of photography. Learn how your uncalibrated monitor might be holding you back, and how to quickly and accurately calibrate the colours on your monitor to match real world
Monitor colour calibration used to only be in the realm of professional photographers with expensive set ups, but with the advent of more affordable professional computer monitors and colour calibration tools, now everyone can
take advantage of accurate colours on their photography and videography workstations.
For me, the calibration process is all about conveying my photographs to others in the same way I see them. I put a lot of work into on-location photography, and post production editing, so it makes a lot of sense to ensure
that the colours I see are accurate in my images so everyone can enjoy my images as much as I do.
Correct monitor colour calibration also ensures an accurate baseline for others to view your image. People viewing your images are going to be doing so in different settings, or on different (and often colour inaccurate)
screens. Calibration is a way to get your images looking as correct as possible for others as well!
It may seem like a lot of work at first, but it’s worth it. With affordable tools like the X-Rite i1 Display Studio, you can automate the process and generally get
everything calibrated and ready to go within 15 minutes!
We should start with the basics though. It’s a good idea to remember that not all monitors are made equal, and don’t display the same colours the same way throughout their lifespan.
While you can still enjoy some of the benefits of a proper calibration with any monitor, it’s still generally a good idea to invest in a monitor that will give you the best colour reproduction. This can mean researching well
reviewed IPS (in-place switching) computer monitors that fit into your workflow, that have good sRGB and AdobeRGB colour coverage. Make sure you select one that will fit your future needs as a photographer as well!
If a new monitor isn’t on the books, you can still enjoy the benefits of colour calibration tools to get as close as possible colour accuracy on your current monitor. Let’s find out how!
Colour calibration tools come with the colour measurement reader that gets placed on our screen, and includes calibration software which can be found in the box, or on the manufacturers website.
Colour calibrators work by measuring colours on your monitor with finely tuned image sensors and an associated colour calibration software. This software will then create a custom colour profile for your computer that will
correct for colour inaccuracies on your monitor. This means more colour accurate colours for web browsing, image viewing, video viewing, gaming, and most importantly, photo and video editing.
The process is as straightforward as following the on screen prompts from the calibration software, and waiting for the automated calibration process to end. Once done, you’ll be often given the option to switch between the old
and new profile to judge the visual differences.
A couple of things to note is that you’re going to want to recalibrate your monitors every month or so to account for monitor panel degradation that can happen to all monitors through their lifespans. It’s not something a lot
of people realise, but it happens often enough that it’s good to be aware and account for it.
Another thing to look into to achieve even better colour accuracy would be something like the X-Rite Color Checker Classic. This tool is used on location at
your shoot to record the colour information where you’re shooting. It can be invaluable as once you’ve left a location it can be tricky to correct colour issues without that information.
With that done, you should now have a calibrated computer monitor that will help you achieve more consistent and accurate results for yourself and anyone enjoying your photograph online or on print.
Colour accuracy with a colour calibration tool is an easy and cheap way to ensure you’re avoiding any unnecessary colour accuracy issues in your photographs and videos, and something I do regularly for the peace of mind that
comes with it. I highly recommend it and the results speak for themselves!
If you need more information, check out some of our other articles on the C.R. Kennedy blog.
William Algar-Chuklin is a night and travel photographer based in Sydney, Australia. You can check out some of his work at walgarch.com and on Flickr
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