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Colour calibration for monitors and printers

14/08/11

Colour calibration for monitors and printers

Permalink 07:52:24 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles

Do you get headaches from spending too much time looking at the monitor screen ? Do colours appear too vibrant or contrasts too sharp ? Do your prints seem drab compared with what they look like on the screen ? These are problems typical of a monitor that has been taken out of the box and switched on without any calibration. Calibration is the practice of making the screen adjustments just right for you. Your eyes will be different from other peoples' and the monitor will probably have been set up to look as bright as possible at the factory so that it is appealing in a brightly lit showroom. But your house is probably darker and therefore adjustments are needed.

Calibration can be done with hardware costing a three figure sum or for a less good but quite acceptable alternative, software for anything from free. And the free software that is bundled in with Windows 7 is really quite good. The first step, assuming you don't have a bargain basement monitor that comes with few controls, is to set the white point appropriately - somewhere around 5000 Kelvin is often considered best. Now, make sure daylight is not affecting your view of the screen - either from reflections of by causing you to squint to avoid the sun poking around the screen.

Make sure that the monitor has been on for at least 30 minutes so that it is up to operating temperature (unless you have LED back lights which reach full brightness immediately). Set the computer to match the native resolution that the screen should be set to for best performance. Now from the Control Panel choose Display, Calibrate Color. You will be taken through a series of steps to help you set the gamma, contrast, brightness and saturation for best effect. At the end you are led through a procedure to enhance text using ClearType.

Note that high end printers can be calibrated too. This ensures that the best pictures are produced and is necessary as printers display colours using the CMYK gamut whereas monitors use RGB so a translation is necessary.

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