Calibrate Your Monitor

The first thing I always ask people when they ask me to comment about their photographs is, “is your monitor colour calibrated?”. And as expected, their replies are usually “calibrate what?”.

So if you are reading this, is your monitor colour calibrated (for photograph viewing and editing)?? No? Why should you?

There is nothing more important a properly colour calibrated monitor is to a photographer than anything else.

What is Monitor Colour Calibration?

There are more than a handful of manufacturers producing computer monitors in the market. And every manufacturers makes a few models and sizes. Every single model will produce different brightness, contrast, and colour reproduction. Even the same model from the same manufacturers from different production runs will not give you the same brightness, contrast, and colour reproduction!

And to complicate matters further, different graphic cards when combined with different monitors will produce different brightness, contrast, and colours!

So amid all these differences, whose monitors should we used as the standard when comparing exposure and colour reproduction? It may look good on your monitor but on someone else’s monitor it can be too dark or too warm!

Therefore, monitor calibration will ensure that you and me, and practically everyone else with a calibrated monitor, will see more or less the very same brightness, contrast etc.

And also later on, you will learn to use shadow details and highlights to help you determine Over/Under exposed photographs. A properly calibrated monitor will enable your monitor to produce more tones and shades so essential to digital photography retouching.

How many shades can you see on your monitor? A properly calibrated monitor should be able to reproduce all shades allowing you to see the shadow details that is crucial in digital photography retouching

I am currently using a Gretagmacbeth (now X-Rite) Eyeone II which I bought 5 years ago. It cost me about SGD$300+ from Cathay Photo back then. However, during my last calibration, I discovered that the device maybe broken because now my screen seems to be a bit magenta and there is no way to diagnose it. I think I will give Datacolor’s Sypder a try.

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Chi Siang Written by:

Hi! I am a Singaporean who used to work and live in Saigon for 6 years. I am married to my Vietnamese wife and we travel back to Saigon regularly. My years living amongst the Vietnamese and not amongst the expats community, gave me an unique insight into Vietnamese people, their culture, and their way of life.


  1. May 24, 2013

    Calibrating your monitor is quite important if you want to do serious photo correction on your computer. If you have wondered why your photos come too bright or dark out of the printer or from your photo service after you corrected them, you should consider calibrating your monitor. A good calibrated monitor isn’t absolutely necessary for using ColorWasher if you stick to ColorWasher’s default settings and don’t use the its manual controls. But it is really recommended to so.

  2. June 15, 2013

    The images below are designed to help you pick optimal brightness/contrast settings. A well-calibrated monitor should be able to pass both tests, but if it cannot, then you will have to choose which of the two is most important. In either case, make sure that your display has first been given at least 10-15 minutes to warm up.

  3. June 17, 2013

    Videographers don’t rely on the viewfinder of a camcorder to adjust the image being recorded. Viewfinders and camcorder LCD displays are often too small and have color fidelity that’s too inaccurate to ensure proper focus, brightness, and color adjustments. Instead, a properly calibrated video monitor can be set up on location to monitor the video during shooting.

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