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This article deals with what is known as 'Software Calibration' using a hardware device - the Gretag Macbeth Eye One Display (version 1 or 2) and calibrating/profiling using the LUT in your video card - that is, the way 99% of people calibrate their systems. This includes those using Eizo Flexscan or Flexscan Premium screens.
If you are using a very high spec. screen like the fantastic Eizo Coloredge screens, these offer 'Hardware Calibration' direct to the LUT inside the monitor itself, using their own custom software (Colour Navigator) so you should instead follow these instructions.
Disable any other calibration software
The first thing to do is uninstall any other calibration software you may have used previously. If you were using Adobe Gamma, you need to delete this from your startup folder. An article on this is below.
Disable any 'smart' monitor features
If your monitor offers 'smart' features - such as dynamic contrast/sharpening, or 'ambient light compensation' - make sure you turn these off! This includes many recent Mac machines/laptops and Eizo monitors. These features will interfere with your calibration.
Set all video card adjustments to zero
You should also go into your video card's software (if it has any) and make sure there are no adjustments in place in there. In Windows, right click on the Desktop, choose Properties, then the Settings tab, and go into Advanced - you may find your video card has a colour control panel - make sure everything is set to factory default conditions in here!
Once you've removed all calibration software, and reboot your machine.
Now follow the rest of these instructions.
The goal is to make your monitor a useful device for simulating prints, NOT to make your monitor its prettiest. Accuracy is the goal
First of all, it is important to understand the goals of calibrating your monitor. The goal is to make your monitor a useful device for simulating prints, NOT to make your monitor its prettiest. Accuracy is the goal - not some subjective idea of what's pretty. If you watch videos, play games etc, your screen will look much better if you jack up the brightness, contrast and saturation WAY beyond what you want to do if you’re trying to use your monitor as a proofing device for prints.
A lot of monitors come with software that allows you to create multiple scenarios (often called profiles, which can be confusing if you're using real ICC profiles). You can set up one mode for Photoshop (often the monitor can be made to switch automatically to this mode when you run Photoshop ), and another for movies/games or whatever. This varies monitor to monitor so you'll need to look at the software that came with your monitor to see if it is possible (Eizos can do this on the PC using the supplied Screenmanager Pro software).
X-rite update the software regularly and usefully the updates are free. Go to the X-rite website and register using your device serial number. You can then download the latest version of Eye One Match (n.b. the Mac OS 9 version is no longer being developed - version 3.0 is the last release).
On both the Mac and the PC, you must run the setup program off the disc that comes with your calibrator (or you can run the package you directly download off the X-Rite website).
Please note on the Mac you can not just copy the application to your applications folder - you must run the installer to install the software by double clicking the installer application on the CD.
The only application you must install is Eye One Match, but please feel free to install Eye One Share and Eye One Diagnostics as well at this time.
Once installed, start the Eye One Match program.
We’ll talk about this more in the calibration instructions later but for most situations, the best settings to use are:
LCD (the flat ones)
CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) Screen (the older monitor type)
As per the basic LCD settings above but you will find most laptops can't reach that sort of brightness - try for something like 90 cd/m2 instead. I'd suggest you try both the LCD and laptop mode in Eye One Match as some laptops respond better to one mode than the other.
Once we’ve told the software what we want to calibrate to, we kick off the calibration process.
We are in fact doing two things during this process.
If you're interested, you can read more about Calibration and Profiling.
Please note: if you're a MAC OS user, during this process you must not enter the system preferences. You must use hardware and/or keyboard controls to change all monitor settings (eg. brightness is typically changed with F14 and F15 on most desktop macs, and F1 and F2 on laptop Macs). If you go into the system control panel during calibration, the whole process will get thrown off!
Always use the Advanced Mode, as there’s no point doing this if you’re not aiming for the best possible result
Make sure you plug the Eye One device into a properly powered USB port. USB ports on monitors and keyboards usually do not provide enough power to run this device, and we suggest you plug it into a port that is part of the computer proper. If in doubt, or you don't have a free port, a $20 Powered USB hub is available in pretty much any computer store and makes a good alternative.
This will vary depending on whether you have a typical LCD (which has only one true physical control - brightness - although many cheaper models pretend they have 'contrast' and 'colour' controls, unless you know your display supports true hardware adjustments, you should avoid these controls), a high quality LCD (such as an Eizo which has more true hardware controls, specifically Red Green Blue gain controls) or a CRT (which can have many physical controls, including individual control of the RGB guns if it is a good CRT).
The first thing to do is put your monitor into its basic, 'not souped up' mode. That means, if it has a ‘video’ or ‘games’ or ‘superbright’ type mode, make sure this is not turned on. On something like an Eizo monitor, you want use the ‘custom’ mode, with the white point controls off, and the gamma set to 2.2. Basically, you want to turn off anything fancy and get your monitor into its most ‘vanilla’ state. Generally there is a button labeled 'reset to factory defaults' or similar.
(If your monitor has any software that comes with it and runs at startup (eg. LCD Screenmanager Pro), make sure you turn off any of its auto adjustments as well).
So, on with the process.
Choose you screen type - LCD, CRT, or Laptop.
(If you have trouble calibrating an LCD, and get an overall colour cast, try the laptop mode even if you don’t have a laptop)
Now put in the settings you are going to use:
White Point: Native White Point
Gamma: 2.2 (Recommended)
If you want to measure how close your working environment is to ideal, tick 'perform ambient light check'. This will tell you how close the lighting in your work area is to the ideal lighting around a monitor for digital imaging work - in both colour terms and brightness terms. This is information only - it will not affect your calibration in any way, but provides a useful guide for setting up your work environment correctly. You can read more about setting up your work environment in the Digital Fine Print notes.
Next, the device calibrates itself, just follow the onscreen instructions.
Now, when prompted, attach the Eye One to your screen. If it is an LCD, tilt the LCD back about 30 degrees and, using the counterweight) just lie the device gently on the screen. If your screen is a CRT, give the device a firm push so the suction cups hold the device in place.
For each stage from now on, follow the instructions in the center panel and only when complete, hit the right arrow to move on to the next screen.
We’ll follow an LCD calibration through as that is likely what most of you are using these days.
There is an instruction that comes up to set your monitor's contrast to 100% - if you're using a CRT, you should follow this instruction. However, with LCDs, we recommend leaving your monitor set at it's factory default contrast instead as this will almost always give better results with LCDs.
Click start. The screen will flash and the system will locate the Eye One. Generally you shouldn't have to do anything, the contrast should be fine, but if not adjust the monitor’s contrast control until the black bar is in the green section. Then click stop:
Click the right arrow to go on to the next stage.
Note: If you're a Mac user, change the settings using keys or physical controls on your monitor, but do NOT use the display preferences.
We will now adjust the brightness using your monitors hardware controls to reach the desired luminance.
Click start and follow the instructions – then click stop once you’re nicely inside the green band.
If you cannot reach the luminance figure you need, then you have a problem. Typically, for CRTs, you may not be able to get things bright enough. Go back and change the luminance setting at the beginning to a lower figure and try again. If you can’t get to 80 or so reliably, it is time to ditch that CRT and get a new screen.
With good quality LCD screens, you have the opposite problem – out of the box many are brighter than the sun, so getting them down low enough can be hard. If you can’t get to 100, the only option is to retry for a higher luminance. Don’t be afraid, or surprised, to see your brightness setting at about 5% when using a luminance of 100, this is fairly normal on a modern, bright screen. If you have to set the brightness below 10%, and certainly below 5%, you may struggle to get well behaved colour later on, so you might want to go back to the beginning and tell the Eye One system to aim for a luminance of 120.
That was the last step in calibration if you specified 'Native White Point' at the beginning. If you chose to specify a whitepoint, you will now get a whitepoint adjustment phase.
During this phase, you should use the Red Green and Blue gain controls on your monitor to achieve the whitepoint you have specified. (On Eizo screens with true RGB controls, enter the main menu (by hitting Enter), go to the RGB menu, then use the right arrow to move to the 'Gain' controls, hit enter again).
Adjust the RGB controls on your monitor to achieve the whitepoint you have specified (and of course remember that each control has some affect on the other, so some balancing across all three colours will be required). You may not be able to hit the whitepoint 100% but being a couple of hundred kelvin out will be almost imperceptible to the eye, so don't worry if this is the case.
To move on from the calibration stage, click the right arrow.
The screen will go black and then for about 5 minutes colour patches will flash up on screen.
When finished, you will get a screen that looks like this:
Except, most likely, your curves on the left will be more wonky than that. If not, great, because that basically means your colour is in great shape. Gentle curves aren't a big problem, big jagged peaks and troughs, however, are a problem and indicate that something may be wrong – i.e. a settings screw up somewhere or simply a poor quality screen.
If you think you have a problem, or want some more analysis of your results, feel free to take a screenshot of this page (or print it out) and send it in to us - we'll let you know what's going on.
So, lets analyse the results:
To finish off, give your monitor profile a name.
Click save, and the profile will be automatically installed as the default system profile for your monitor.
Finally, lets check if it is working. Open Photoshop CS2, go into Edit -> Colour Settings and click on the RGB working space. Near the top you will see ‘Monitor RGB – XXX’ where XXX is the name you gave your profile. This is the only place PS identifies the monitor profile it is using. (NB Do NOT set the monitor profile as the working RGB space though - this should be AdobeRGB or sRGB in most cases).
Proof is in the pudding, of course, so use your monitor with the new profile for a while and see how well it works in practice – that is, once you’re using a complete system of colour management, this should let you use your monitor as an accurate print proofing system.
My colour is bang on in terms of tones, but I still find my prints a little darker/lighter than what I see on my screen!
Not surprisingly, the default suggested settings are not completely perfect for everyone. Try re-calibrating with a lower or higher luminosity, which should give you a better perceptual match in terms of brightness between screen and print. And remember, no matter how well calibrated, a screen is backlit and has light flowing through it, while a print is a reflective image. Also, colour management is based around viewing your final prints under very bright, D50 lighting. This lighting is much brighter than typical room lighting, and you may have to factor this in to your calibration if you want to proof for dimmer lighting.
Try calibrating to a lower white point of 5000 to 5500 K - this should give you a better match for the warm whites. You can easily create two monitor profiles - one for regular use with photographic papers and another with a lower whitepoint for warmer fine art papers, and switch between them using Display Properties (PC) / Colorsync (Mac).
This process is generally only required for really warm fine art papers - and really should be handled by the measured white point in your printer profile and advanced soft proofing with paper colour simulation on (see article on right for instructions) - However some people find that they need a monitor calibration at a lower white point and an accurate printer profile when using very warm papers.
Broadly speaking, calibrating two monitors means making a decision about how you want to use those monitors:
Lowest common denominator approach - Calibrate & profile your worst screen, then bring your others down to match this level. This is how you achieve the best match possible between multiple screens. This involves running a calibration for the lowest quality screen you have, and working out the best settings for that screen (in terms of luminance, gamma, whitepoint etc), and then applying those same settings to your other screens.
Each screen at its best approach - Calibrate & profile each screen independently to the best of it's abilities. You can still broadly match settings (i.e. you should use the settings you use with the best screen for all screens), but of course one screen will simply not be capable of the same results as another.
There also some hardware requirements in terms of your video card that your system must meet. Each video output port on your video card must have it's own LUT (look up table). Some older twin headed video cards do not have this, and therefore can only load one calibration table.
In principle, you simply run through your calibration software (i.e. Eye One Match) on each screen (using either of the approaches above). This generates a profile for each device. Next, you must convince your operating system to load each profile into the correct video card for that screen.
You must use the Colorsync utility to load each profile for each screen.
The easiest way to get multiple monitors working under Windows XP (Service Pack 2) is to download the Windows Color Control Panel applet.
Once installed, you must remove any other calibration loading programs from your startup folder (eg 'Logo Calibration Loader', 'Adobe Gamma', 'ColorVision Startup' etc). Following the instructions provided with the Windows Color Control applet, install it such that it runs at startup (with the /L switch).
In short, you create a shortcut link to the Color Control applet, and add this to your startup folder. You need to right click on this shortcut and choose properties to add the '/L' switch such that it looks like this:
"C:\Program Files\Pro Imaging Powertoys\Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet for Windows XP\WinColor.exe" /L
Once installed and running at startup, this utility will load your monitor profiles for each screen.
Note: Each time you calibrate, you should re-visit this applet and manually check (on the devices tab) that each monitor is using the correct profile:
- Adam B -
Thanks so much for your detailed answer. I'm sure you hear it all the time, but you guys really are so wonderfully unique in your ability and willingness to help.