This is the Image Science guide to getting the best out of your BenQ P Series monitor through BenQ's direct hardware calibration system, called Palette Master. We take you through the process from front to back and explain all the settings along the way.
Of course if you have any questions after you've reviewed this guide, don't hesitate to get in touch for extra advice.
(N.B. This guide is only for BenQ P series monitors (PV and PG models) - if you monitor's model number instead starts with an SW instead, follow this guide instead)
First, it's good practise to tidy up in general - and that means you should remove any and all previously installed monitor calibration systems you might have used - as different calibration systems often interfere with each other.
Once you have your BenQ properly set up and calibrated, you can then re-install your other software (but we really recommend you do so only if you need to for use with other devices - e.g. to calibrate a second monitor).
(Also, if your BenQ is attached to a laptop, make sure that during this process the monitor is directly attached to the laptop, rather than through a laptop dock, as docks are notorious for breaking this process!).
Also, clean your monitor's screen - we don't want any dust or crud on there to interfere with your calibrator's measurements. (And this is a good time to point our that your high end screen should not be cleaned by a low end, potentially damaging cleaning product. Eizo offer a good choice here.)
We don't want your screen's appearance to be modified in any way during the calibration process, so at this time you should also:
Once calibration is complete, you can set them back to how they were, except you should leave the Night Light disabled - this varies the monitor colour over the day, a very bad idea for colour accurate work.
(Your BenQ has low blue light and anti-flicker features built in that already offer very high ergonomic quality for your eyes - BenQ actually invented this technology).
To properly calibrate your new BenQ P Series monitor, you must use BenQ's free Palette Master (PM) software. This is the only software that allows you to use one of the major features of your monitor - direct hardware calibration.
So, the first step is to download your free copy of Palette Master if you haven't already. You will find the specific link for this in the printed 'Quick Start Guide' that came with your monitor (see the final step).
The link varies depending on your monitor's model number (although in fact the links are all to the same software!). E.g. here's the link for the PV270.
Once downloaded, install the application as you normally would on your system.
**N.B. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT AND THE MOST COMMONLY MISSED STEP**
Palette Master talks directly to your BenQ monitor's hardware over a separate USB connection (i.e. not the video connection) - so you must make sure you have also plugged in the monitor's USB connection - ideally using the supplied cable from BenQ.
This connection also enables the downstream USB ports on the side of your monitor, and the SD card reader if your model has one.
If you fail to do this you will get a message saying the monitor is not found, or you may see something more obscure like 'Are the FTDI drivers installed?'. Plug the USB in, re-start the software, and Palette Master will then find the monitor.
Once you have made the USB connection to the monitor, then connect your calibrator.
The most reliable approach is to now connect your calibrator to one of the downstream USB ports on the monitor itself. (Sometimes the BenQ software can be fussy about recognising the calibrator if you instead have it attached to a USB port on your computer - so if you have any issues in this area, try the ports on your monitor).
Start by plugging your calibrator in. Palette Master is compatible with, and comes with drivers for, X-Rite i1Display and i1Pro calibrators. (If you don't have a calibrator yet, we strongly recommend the X-Rite i1Display Pro - it's the de facto industry standard calibrator and an excellent, reliable, accurate device).
Make sure your monitor has properly warmed up before you start calibrating - with BenQ monitors just five minutes of switched on time is enough.
When Palette Master first opens, you will be greeted with an initial start-up screen. This screen should correctly identify your monitor and the calibrator you are using. If you forgot to plug in the monitor's USB, or your calibrator, do that now then re-start the software.
We also choose Advanced Mode on this screen as we of course want to get the most out of our excellent monitor hardware.
To actually being the process, we choose Profiling in the top left corner of this screen.
The next step is to choose the settings for calibration of the display.
RGB Primaries - BenQ monitors are wide gamut monitors, and we want so see and use all that lovely colour, so we choose Panel Native here. If you want to constrain the gamut of the monitor, or are aiming to work to a video standard, you could choose e.g. sRGB or DCI-P3 here as appropriate.
Whitepoint - The industry standard whitepoint is 6500K (AKA D65). You should probably use this if you are using a typical photo lab for your printing, or entering images into your camera club etc. Alternatively, if you're doing your own printing (or printing with us here), you will probably find a warmer whitepoint gives you a noticeably better screen to print match. We use 5800K here, which has become a de facto standard for many working in fine art print.
Luminance - For most print work, somewhere in the range of 80 to 120 cd/m2 is typically appropriate. After calibration, if you find e.g. your prints are always darker than you expect, re-calibrate and set a lower figure here (or vice versa if prints are lighter, use a higher figure here). 100 cd/m2 is a good starting point, so that's what we have set here. If you're doing video work, and you are trying to simulate TVs etc, you will probably want to use a higher figure, or even Maximum for the luminance.
Gamma - For almost all still imaging work, this should be 2.2. In the video space, different gammas are often used, such as 2.4. Set as appropriate.
Contrast Ratio - this control allows us to raise the black point of the monitor to reduce the screen contrast. This is mostly used in the context of preparing files for print - typically, a contrast ratio of around 250:1 or 200:1 is used. This constrains the monitor's contrast to a level much closer to that of print. However, if you are not working with files for print (i.e. you are delivering electronically, or working on video), you will probably want to use the full contrast available to the monitor as this will give the most visually pleasing display, and be a better match for what users on non-calibrated screens will see.
Next, we choose settings for the ICC profile itself.
Version 2 profiles have less compatibility issues and V4 profiles do not offer any practical benefit as such, thus we choose Bradford Adaptation, Version 2, and we choose the more accurate Table Based profiles here.
We want to get the most accuracy from our screen, so we choose to use the Large patch set. Calibration will take longer, but the results will be more accurate.
There are a couple of special features available on this page, worth mentioning.
You can increase the calibration accuracy for specific tones if you have a set of tones that are crucial to you (e.g. logo colours). Calibration will be biased towards accuracy of these tones. You can do this either by loading spot tones, or by choosing specific colours from an existing image.
The buttons to actually load these colours are rather hidden - you'll find them in the top left corner of the patch set picture.
In most typical cases, though, you don't add specific tones here.
(Should you want to, we have more info about this in our general guide to i1Profiler - this BenQ software is based on this more general calibration application).
Now we move on to the part of the process where something actually happens - the measurement stage.
You can now choose into which of the hardware calibration slots in your monitor's hardware you wish to load this calibration - e.g. the PV270 offers Calibration 1 and Calibration 2 slots. You can then easily switch between these modes using the buttons on the monitor itself.
In another section of the software (see below) you can load additional calibrations into these modes as needed, but the monitor itself can only store two calibrations at a time for easier switching between those two modes.
Tick uniformity (unless for some reason you want the monitor's full brightness (e.g. video work) - uniformity being on will constrain the maximum brightness of the screen - which is no issue when setting the monitor up for print work).
To actually start the measurement process, click the Start Measurement button found under the patch set, and follow the on-screen instructions for mounting your calibrator on the screen.
The process typically takes around 10 minutes but may take up to 30 minutes, so be patient.
When measurement is complete, you'll notice that each patch now displays both the desired and measured colour:
The final step is to create and save your ICC profile.
Give your profile a sensible name and make sure the System Level box is ticked, then hit Create and Save Profile.
Once the profile making process is complete you will receive a summary of the results, and you can use the buttons at the top left of the summary to see curves, and compare before and after images.
At this point your BenQ P series monitor is calibrated, and you can finish here if you like, or go back and set up more calibrations for different working scenarios.
You should now be able to enjoy gorgeous, accurate colour on your now calibrated display! We recommend you re-run the calibration every month or so.
Palette Master offers further features.
You can perform a quality assessment on your monitor and track it's change in behaviour over time. Worth pointing out that verifying a calibration with the same sensor used to make the calibration is a somewhat flawed approach (any mistake in measurement is likely to be repeated in verification). But it doesn't cause harm and can be interesting, so feel free to explore.
There is also a tool for testing the uniformity of your screen. This is often useful much later in a monitor's life when uniformity performance has degraded.
For advanced users, there is also a Calibration Adjustment section. Much like similar options in Eizo and NEC software, this allows you to tweak your calibration by eye to (in theory) improve your calibration.
In practise, as with the Eizo and NEC options, this is most useful for very specific, and often rather synthetic, scenarios - such as trying to match a visual image of a colour checker to one under a particular viewing light.
Typically, though, these adjustments can do more harm than good for general work - so use with caution!
We'll let you explore these more advanced options in your own time - none of these are required for a basic calibration process.
Below we link to an article that lists some suggested calibration targets for different scenarios, such as fine art printing or video editing work.
We have lots of other content you may find useful as a BenQ P Series owner, here are a few of particular relevance:
Or, browse all our colour accurate monitor articles: