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This is the Image Science guide to getting the best out of your BenQ SW Series monitor through BenQ's direct hardware calibration system, called Palette Master Elements. 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 SW series monitors - if you monitor's model number instead starts with a P instead, follow this guide instead!)
(Prefer a video? We've got one - see the bottom of this guide for a video of a full calibration walk-through using the BenQ SW271 and Palette Master Elements).
Before we start the actual calibration, we need to make sure all aspects of our system are Ready To Go.
Please first follow our guide to getting ready for monitor calibration - once you're done there, come back here for the rest (and don't skip this bit as this covers the areas where most folks run into issues!).
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).
Palette Master Elements is compatible with, and comes with drivers for, X-Rite i1Display Pro/Plus, i1Pro and Datacolor Spyder 4,5 and X 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 PME first opens, you will be greeted with an initial setup screen. This screen should correctly identify your monitor and the calibrator you are using (if you forgot to plug in your calibrator before starting PME, plug it in now and choose 'Check Sensor' to confirm PME can find it).
We also choose Advanced Mode on this screen as we of course want to get the most out of our excellent monitor hardware.
On this page we choose appropriate settings for the profiling and calibration to follow.
You can set the following things, and here we provide some basic recommendations, but feel free to ask for more advice if you need it.
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.
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.
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.
Black Point - (NB Updated November 2020 thanks to the new contrast feature in PME!) This setting depends on whether you want the deepest possible black, or the most accurate black. Absolute here means 'use the full native contrast ration of the panel and set the black to the lowest possible point'. However, this means your very deep shadows will be less accurate in colour terms. Otherwise, and especially if you want to control contrast (as you generally would want to do, if your goal is specifically to do print work - you want to reduce contrast in that case so that your monitor is a better match for paper) - you would set an actual black point. Contrast is white divided by black, so e.g. if you have set a whitepoint of 100 cd/m2, then if you set a black point of 0.5 cd/m2 (= '0.5 nits') - then you are specifying a contrast range of 100/0.5 or 200:1 - which is about right for most print work, and much better than using the maximum contrast.
(Setting a specific black point value is new in Palette Master Elements version from November 2020 on, so if you can't see this option, please update to the latest version!).
When you're happy with all your settings, hit Next to continue.
Now, we set up the measurement and profile settings. Here we have chose options for maximum quality and compatibility.
Note you can load two or three separate calibrations in most SW models. Once loaded into the monitor after the calibration process, you can switch between your different calibrations using the mode button on your monitor. So you can, for example, create a general target for sRGB and web use, and a separate calibration for printing, and easily switch between these as needed.
Here, we've chosen to load this calibration into mode Calibration 1
ICC Profile Name is up to you - you can go with the technical numbers the software auto generates, or you can call it something more human like 'My Fine Art Print Calibration'.
System Level - this should always be checked, I really can't think of a scenario where you wouldn't want this to be checked to be honest.
Profile Version - V2 ICC profiles are the most generally compatible and there's really no actual practical benefit to V4 profiles, so go with V2 here.
Profile Type - The most accurate is 16 Bit LUT, so we have chosen that.
Patch Set Size - We chose large, which means measure and correct more patches. It takes longer, but the final result is more accurate.
When you're happy with your settings, hit Start Measurement to begin the actual measurement process.
Follow the on-screen instructions and mount your calibrator on the screen, then hit continue to get the ball rolling. Your screen will flash various for a while, with various brightness levels and colours, and the process can take some time (up to 30 minutes - but usually it is more like 10 minutes).
When the process is complete, you will see the basic results screen.
Whilst there is a solid argument to be made that validating a calibration with the same measuring instrument you made it with is conceptually flawed (measurement errors that occur during calibration are likely to be repeated during validation), there's no real harm in it, so hit Validate Calibration and you will get a more comprehensive results screen
At this point your BenQ SW 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.
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 an SW owner, here are a few of particular relevance:
Or, browse all our colour accurate monitor articles:
Walk through of why & how to calibrate - BenQ SW271 with Palette Master Elements
- Darren W -
Just a quick note to let you know that the new monitor is now set-up and basic calibration done.
Wow, what a difference a good monitor makes.
I followed all the guides from your website that were suggested and everything went smoothly.
Thanks for all your advice today, I really appreciate you taking the time for our chat.