Digital Photography Quick Tips

Calibrating a monitor

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Improve colors displayed on a computer monitor without the use of special hardware.

NOTE: Color management and calibration are complex subjects. They are discussed briefly here with the focus on the most basic calibration without using special hardware.

The way colors in an image appear can vary from computer monitor to monitor.

Digital images are in fact chunks of data and it’s the monitor, or more specifically your CPU, that translates that data into visible colors based on a certain color profile. Because of this different monitors can interpret the same image file differently. The same image may look different on two different monitors and the same monitor may display the same file differently as the monitor ages  over time.

Printers use color profiles to translate image data on to different colors to be printed on paper. Unless your monitor is calibrated to display colors correctly, the photo of the beautiful red sunset you sent to the printer may turn out to be orange or a bright yellow.

Calibrate your monitor

The best way to avoid this problem is to calibrate your monitor often. There are several free software programs that you can use for this as well as several expensive advanced calibration tools. Some computers have a built-in step-by-step wizard to calibrate the color of your display. Check the help files for how to calibrate the monitor of your own computer.

The tool you use is up to you but make sure to use it often as monitors tend to change colors. They do this ever so slightly but continuously. If you have a properly calibrated monitor the photo that comes out of the printer will be almost identical to what you saw on the screen.

Note: if you are interested to learn more about color profiles, some print services will let you download their printer profiles so you can use a program like Adobe Photoshop to soft proof the photo for highest accuracy. Soft proofing allows you to display an on‑screen preview of how a photo’s colors will look when printed.

Online color calibration tool

Free monitor calibration software

An overview of color management.

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