Calibrating Monitors Using an i1Display Pro

In this guide we walk you through using your i1Display Pro from what to do before you begin, unboxing, installing the software, plugging your calibrator in, using the software - including setting the display settings, profile settings, creating a patch set, measurements and ICC profiles.

Note: If you're using your i1Display Pro with a direct hardware calibration system, then we have separate guides you should follow for SpectraView and ColorNavigator.



Before You Begin

1. Remove all other calibration software if possible - different calibration systems don't tend to play nicely when installed together.

2. Clean Your Monitor - you need to make sure your monitor is clean so it can take an accurate reading. this is because your calibrator's sensor only measures a small part of the screen, and this area is dirty it will mis-read the colour. Use the Eizo Screen Cleaner Kit if you don't want to damage the coatings on your monitor's screen.

3. Warm up your monitor - most monitors are not that stable when first turned on. Eizos and NECs become stable pretty quickly (about 5 minutes from being turned on), but lower classes of monitor (Dell, Apple, Samsung etc.) usually exhibit quite significant variance in colour and brightness for at least the first half hour. Warming your screen up for a good half an hour before profiling (and also any colour critical usage session) is a good idea.

4. To understand monitor calibration in general - it is important to have a basic understanding of monitor calibration or a lot of this article won't make sense. Please read the following articles - they discuss software calibration using an i1Display Pro device.

It's important to understand that when calibrating a monitor you are aiming to get your monitor to match some particular values as closely as possible. It may be that these values may not actually give you the best match for your particular printing scenario, especially if you use default recommended values like 6500K, 120 cd/m2 and full contrast.When using a calibrator like this, there is an initial iterative calibrate - test, adjust values, calibrate again, test, etc. etc. - loop to go through so that you can determine how best to get your monitor to be an accurate predictor of your prints.

5. Be mindful of the what you are doing - You are choosing a target to calibrate & profile your monitor to. Once complete, use your monitor for a while and if you experience significant variance between your screen and your print, modify the target values of your calibration and re-calibrate, then use your monitor for a while again. Repeat if necessary until you find the right target for your environment/conditions - that is, the target that gives you the best match from screen to print - i.e. makes your monitor the best predictor of your final output. To get really great matching, you may find you need to define multiple calibration targets for different working scenarios (such as aiming for very warm fine art papers in normal room lighting, versus high gloss papers in exhibition lighting, for example).

Unboxing - What you get and what to do with it

The contents of the i1Display Pro package are simple:

  • i1Display Pro unit - it's light weight and compact size, which makes it perfect to taking out in the field with you. There is the sliding weight on this USB cord that is used as a counter weight when hanging the device over your monitor.
  • A software CD - it is VERY important that you install this before plugging in your device so that your machine has the drivers available - this simple rule of pre-installing drivers will solve more than 90% of all your USB/driver issues!
  • A 'Quick Start' guide, which is simple but enough to get your started with the physical side of the device.
  • Warranty is 12 months

Installing the software

DO THIS BEFORE PLUGGING IN THE DEVICE!

Ours shipped with X-Rite i1Profiler V1.1.1 (and included Pantone Color Manager during the install). Upgrades and support information for the product are available here. The program self-updates to the latest version when you start it up, and we recommend you do this the first time you run the software.

Pretty standard install process - insert and double click the setup tool to get it running.

(The ReadMe file you will see at the end of the install process is for i1Profiler as a whole, not just the the i1Display bit of the software, which will confuse some people - i1Profiler is a much larger package in all that can also do printer calibration amongst other things. I am surprised they didn't create a cut down ReadMe (or indeed a cut down version of the software itself)).

Restart the computer if it asks you to.

Plugging in the device

Plug it in to any full powered USB port. Calibrators can be power hungry devices so if you have an device recognition issues, it's probably an under-powered USB port. Make sure you try the main ports on your computer in this case (or a properly powered USB hub) as they tend to reliably supply the full power amount the USB specifications indicates they should.

PC Note: Note in Windows Device Manger the device will be listed as an i1Display 3

Using The Software

When you start the software you will get an initial registration screen to fill in:

You will then get the main window - I imagine this will say i1Profiler - Display for most people. Note there is a training video section built in, so you might want to explore that in addition to this guide - the videos are actually quite good.

The first thing I do is immediately put the application in advanced mode:

The advanced mode is considerably more complicated but it's also the only way to get the best calibration from your screen, so it's worth using. To get started, in the panel on the left hand side choose 'Display Profiling':

This will take you to the main screen:

Important things to note about this screen - in the bottom left you have a little panel that allows you to (from left to right):

  • Maximise the application to full screen size (it behaves best in full screen mode)
  • Engage help mode - this can answer your questions about the other elements. Turn it on then hold your mouse pointer over the bit you don't understand and an explanation should pop up in the left hand panel. Click the question mark to turn the help mode back off when you are done.
  • Go back to the Home Screen

Down the left hand side of the screen, you have a rather confusingly named 'Assets' panel. This makes more sense when you use the printer profiling side of this application (i.e. if you bought i1Profiler Publish). You can essentially save presets for each stage of the process using this panel, and entire workflows as well.

At the bottom, you see workflow icons that allow you to move back and forth between the stages.

Let's go through each of these stages in turn...

Display Settings

In this panel, you need to answer some questions about your monitor.
In this panel, you need to answer some questions about your monitor.

Type of Display

You should see an icon representing each of your attached monitors. Choose the monitor you want to calibrate by clicking on it. Underneath the monitor icon is a drop down box where you specify the type of display you have:

i1Profiler will attempt to detect this for you, but in our experience, it's best to manually choose the right one. I have chosen Wide Gamut CCFL as both my attached monitors are wide gamut monitors with a fluorescent back light source.

The options are:

  • Generic - Try this if you really don't know your monitor's type
  • CCFL - Choose this is you have a standard gamut LCD with fluorescent backlighting
  • Wide Gamut CCFL - If you have a wide gamut model with fluorescent backlighting
  • White LED - If your monitor is LED backlit and uses white LEDs (this is nearly all standard LED monitors)
  • RGB LED - If your monitor is LED backlit and uses RGB LEDs
  • Projector - If you're calibrating a digital projector
  • OLED - Organic Light Emitting Diode - if you're lucky enough to have an OLED display, choose this.
  • Plasma - For plasma TV displays
  • RG Phosphor - We've never needed to use this one!

If you don't know, check your monitor's manual - it's usually mentioned in the specifications section.If you can't work it out, you can ask us and we can try and find out for you, but it's worth experimenting with these if you get any weird visual results post calibration as this is the area most likely to go wrong.

White Point

The industry standard is D65 (6500K) - this is fine if you're using labs and not doing your own printing, this is generally what your lab will recommend. If you're doing your own printing however, we suggest starting with a whitepoint of 5800K which is usually a better match for current inkjet printer papers. You can experiment with different white points for the best possible matching - lower values for warmer papers, higher values for cooler papers - there really is no right and wrong here, it's up to you to try different values to find what works best in practise.

Tip: If you find that you consistently get an obvious colour cast (e.g. strong pink or green_ after calibrating your monitor, you may need to try 'native' whitepoint as some LCDs do not react well to whitepoint changes.


Luminance

We suggest starting with 100 cd/m2 if you have a monitor that can go this low (you will find out during measurement later). 100 is a good luminance level for print production work. Again though, there is no absolute standard and you may need to calibrate several times, trying different luminance values, to find the right level for your particular working environment.

Tip: Remember, after calibration is finished, you should use your monitor for a while and if you are still having difficult between screen and print brightness, you can re-calibrate to a different brightness later - use a lower brightness if your prints are consistently too dark, and use a higher brightness if your prints are consistently too light, with respect to your screen.


Contrast Ratio

If calibrating just a single monitor, we recommend using the native (i.e. full) contrast ratio of your display. While this will most likely mean your monitor remains significantly more contrasty than your prints after calibration, software calibration involving manipulation of contrast in the video card often induces significant banding in tonal scales in the calibrated monitor. This is usually a bigger issue in practise than the higher contrast issue, but you can experiment with both native and a defined contrast ratio to see which you prefer with your monitor. If you do set a contrast ratio, 250:1 works well for most scenarios, although you might want to go lower still if you generally use lower contrast papers like fine art matte rag papers (say 150:1).

However, if you are trying to match multiple displays to each other in a studio for example, set a specific contrast ratio - try 250:1 or thereabouts. This is a good way of getting disparate hardware to match better.


Flare Correct

Until we have investigated the side effects of this more thoroughly, we recommend turning it off. It is recommended by X-Rite for users without a monitor hood but we have found it to over-compensate for flare and we strongly recommend buying a hood instead.

SKU Price (inc) Qty.
PCHood Monitor Hood for 15 to 25 Inch Monitors PCHood Monitor Hood for 15 to 25 Inch Monitors
HD_PCHOOD24 $85
PCHood Monitor Hood for 24 to 36 Inch Monitors PCHood Monitor Hood for 24 to 36 Inch Monitors
HD_PCHOOD30 $200

Ambient Light Smart Control

We recommend turning this off - it's much better to practise light control/fix the lighting quality in your work area than have the calibrator dynamically adjust your monitor to try and compensate for lighting changes. In practise this is VERY distracting and difficult for the eye to cope with. It's very easy to set up an accurate print viewing area these days.

Profile Settings

Now, move onto the next stage using the workflow panel:

We recommend you use the following settings. Note: these are not the default settings.

  • We recommend you set the profile type to V2 as a lot of software still has issues with version 4 profiles and there's really no practical benefit to them for monitor calibration.
  • We recommend you use the Table based profile type which is slower to produce, but generally more accurate, especially with middle and lower quality monitors.

Patch Set

Now, move onto the next stage using the workflow panel:

For Photographers: We recommend using the large patch set - 462 patches. This will take a long time, but will be the most accurate. If you need this application to run more quickly, then choose a smaller patch set.

For Illustrators/Graphics Designers: You can load specific images, or spot tone sets, which will be used to optimise your profile for accuracy in those areas. This can be really handy when working with a particular brand's colours, for example. You can load the most relevant Pantone library in as your patch set to know the profile you are building will be optimised for accuracy with those tones. To do this - when you installed i1Profiler, it installed the 'Pantone Color Manager' application. In this application choose the fan deck you want, and then export it to i1Profiler.

To Export:

Then in i1Profiler, click on the pantone swatch button in the menu at the top of the patch, and choose 'Load spot colors' and you should see the exported list:

Note: adding this many patches (fan decks have many thousands of tones in them) will mean that your calibration takes a lot longer to run.

Measurement

Once you have chosen/created your patch set, move into the next stage using the workflow panel:

If 'ADC' is available, the i1DisplayPro will automatically perform monitor adjustments for you, so you definitely want to leave this ticked in theory. However if you find you're getting strange things happening (e.g. your monitor ends up on strange settings) - then disable this and proceed manually.

Kick off the actual measurement process by using the button under the calibration squares:

Now, follow all the on screen instructions carefully. With any luck you'll have ADC available and you won't have to touch any monitor buttons! Make sure you tilt your screen back and lay the i1DisplayPro flat (but gently) against the monitor surface.

However, it may be that you manually have to adjust brightness, contrast, and your Red/Blue/Green balance (often called Gain in monitor menus) - when instructed. Look through your monitor menus to find these functions (it's different on pretty much every monitor so we can't provide many tips here) - or consult your monitor's manual.

Note: if you have to use the monitor menus and it pops up in the centre of your screen, then almost all monitors have an option within their menus for moving the menus to another part of the screen. Alternatively, just shift the i1 to a less central location.

ICC Profile

Now, move into the next stage using the workflow panel:

On this page, you give your profile a sensible name. The 'System Level' box should always be ticked on the PC, but NOT on Mac - tick User Level there instead, the profile reminder set to 4 weeks (once a month should be plenty with any decent monitor), and the ambient light monitoring mode we recommend turning off (it's far better to have light control in your work area than have your calibrator attempt to dynamically adjust your monitor to compensate for changing light - this does not work well in any calibration system we've tried).

To create your profile, click 'Create and Save Profile' on the right hand side. Wait a minute or two and you will get a gamut locus diagram for your monitor. You can also investigate the curves created, and the before and after display of lots of test images (using the icons about the created profile).

Done! Now What?

We suggest your go through and complete the Display QA section of the software, which performs a check on the post calibration accuracy of your screen.

At this point you have completed a basic calibration with your i1Display Pro. We suggest giving your eyes a few days to adjust and trying it out with your printing workflow. If you experience good screen to print matches, you're finished. If not, then you can go back and adjust the white point (for white colour) and the luminance (for brightness) and contrast ratio to get a closer match.

Repeat the calibration with your new settings and then again try it for a few days and see how you go.