I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to observe the same image being displayed on two different monitors or televisions, positioned side by side. It is easy to notice that the tone of the colors is slightly different. Some monitors display images with more saturation, others with more muted colors, and still others tend to show yellowish or bluish images.
These discrepancies in the display of images are mainly due to the monitor calibration. There are other technical aspects involved, such as the type of panel used (TN, IPS, AMOLED, etc). But the main factor is really the calibration of the monitor or TV.
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In this article I will show you why it is important to calibrate your monitor image. Especially if you work with images. This is the case for photographers, video editors and designers.
Why is it important to calibrate the monitor?
Calibrating the monitor image is important especially for those who work with images. Photographers, video editors, designers, illustrators and other professionals in the field need to have their monitors very well calibrated. This is not only a requirement for them to be good professionals, but it also avoids a lot of problems.
I will cite just one example. Imagine that you are a wedding photographer. After having all the work of photographing the event and editing the photos chosen by the couple, you send the files to the printer to assemble the album. When it reaches your hands, you are faced with yellowish or bluish images. Only then do you find out that your monitor is out of calibration and you’ve done hours and hours of hard work.
Now all you have to do is calibrate the monitor, redo all the work and try to deliver the photos on time. In other words, an almost impossible task. Monitor calibration is to make sure that the colors you are seeing on screen are the same colors you will see on print..
What if the professional does not work with printed images? Even so, it is important to calibrate the monitor. This way you ensure that your work is seen as accurately as possible.
How do I know if my monitor is properly calibrated?
The easiest way to do this is by analyzing the highlights (white), shadows (black) and contrast of the images. Fortunately, there is a very simple way to do this check.
Take a good look at the image above. It is divided into eight blocks with shades of gray with a white stripe in the middle, where we read “Imaging Resource White Point Checker”. Note that each block has a number. It indicates that each block has the same amount of red, blue and green pixels. The difference in numbers results in the different shades of gray.
Ideally, you should be able to distinguish the boundary between the central white line and each block. On a perfectly calibrated monitor you can see the difference in tone between the white line and the 254 block. On a monitor with “ok” calibration, you can easily distinguish the difference in tones between the white line and blocks 250 and 251.
Now let’s do a similar test, but to check the calibration of the shadows (black points). However, for the test to be performed correctly, you need to make your room as dark as possible. Turn off lights and/or close windows.
Then download that image and open it in an image editor like Photoshop, Lightroom or another one of your choice. The idea is that you observe the image on a black background.since the white background can also interfere with the correct visualization of the shadows.
Once that’s done, let’s get to the test. A perfectly calibrated monitor lets you see the split between the black centerline and block 5. This is the block with the color closest to the center strip, but it is not the same color. An “ok” monitor, on the other hand, allows you to see the division up to block 15. On the other hand, monitors with unadjusted calibration only allow you to see the division of block 30.
Finally, we come to the contrast item, which is also super important when we talk about color calibration. This time the test will be a little different. Look at the image below:
The square in the center of the image is nothing more than several alternating black and white lines.. However, if your monitor’s contrast is well calibrated, instead of seeing black and white lines, you will see a pattern in the same shade of gray as the outside of the square. Especially when you look at the image from a distance or when you try to blur your eyes.
If you keep seeing lots of black and white lines, it means the your monitor is not properly set to 2.2 gamma. This gamut is used on the vast majority of monitors that use the sRGB color standard. Unfortunately, adjusting this aspect will require a monitor calibrator. And by the way…
Can I calibrate the monitor “in the eye”?
The short and thick answer is no! At least not perfect calibration. You can even try to calibrate the colors in the eye, but you will probably be fooled by them. Or rather, through the brain. Because we are used to identifying patterns, our brain is often tricked easily.
See the image below and answer me if the color of square A is the same color as square B.
Obviously not, right? After all, square A is gray and square B is white but under the shadow of the cylinder.
Wrong! Wrong ugly, wrong badly! Download the image to your computer and open it in an image editor. Using the color swatch tool, view the color reference. In both hexadecimal and RGB you will see that all squares have the same color.
If you don’t have an image editor there, go to the site Image Color Picker, upload the figure and see the color code of the board. In fact, even the green cylinder has the same color! Congratulations, your brain is deceiving you!
Therefore, to calibrate your monitor professionally, you will need professional equipment. The most common are colorimeter it’s the spectrophotometer.
Does the notebook screen also need to be calibrated?
Yes, it must. As long as you use your notebook for work, of course. Many professionals have a desktop computer for working in the studio and a laptop for working outside. Sometimes you are traveling or covering some event outside and need to use your notebook.
To maintain the visual quality of your work and avoid the problems mentioned in the first topic of the article, it is interesting that the notebook screen is also calibrated. Thus, you will maintain quality and level in your work no matter where you are.
However, it should be noted that the screen of some notebooks, especially the cheaper ones, does not have such a good quality. See the notebook’s technical sheet and if it has TN panel (Twisted Nematic) already discard as a call option. The best notebooks for those who work with images are those that use an IPS panel. Too bad these models are more expensive.
Don’t just calibrate once
Another mistake that many people make is thinking that just calibrate the monitor once and that’s it, problem solved forever! Unfortunately it is not so. With use, the monitor’s calibration becomes out of adjustment, making it necessary to repeat the process from time to time. But how often should I calibrate the monitor? The answer to this question depends on a few factors.
For example, if the monitor is less than 3 months old but is used in a print studio or for long hours during the day, you should calibrate it once a week. But if you only use it for image editing, you can calibrate it every 3 months. And after 1 year of use, the process must be done monthly.
For slightly older monitors with more than 3 years of use, it is recommended that it be calibrated every 2 weeks. Of course, these times are estimates. Each manufacturer and each monitor model has its specific time to be calibrated.
As you can see throughout the article, calibrating the monitor is very important. Even more so if you work with images. This is a process that cannot be done on the eye, let alone once lost.. It is necessary to use professional equipment and that you repeat the process at least once a month.
Therefore, it is not difficult to conclude that monitor calibration is much more important for photographers, video editors and other audiovisual professionals. For ordinary users, I venture to say that you shouldn’t worry too much about this point.