5.5. Hands-On Monitor Profiling
Although we've covered it in general in Chapter 4, let's go through the specific steps for calibrating a monitor with a monitor-profiling package. There are numerous monitor-profiling software packages and measuring instruments available to accomplish this task. Some, such as the Eye-One Display from GretagMacbeth and the Monaco Optix XR from X-Rite, come as a bundle. Others, such as basICCcolor Display, are just software and require you to purchase your own instrument. In this section, we are going to look at the Spyder 2 Pro from Colorvision solution using their hardware and software. Again, as with the other calibration and profiling sections in this part of the book, don't get bogged down with the specific interface of this software. Instead, it is important to understand the general concepts.
As discussed in Chapter 4, before you calibrate the monitor, you need to make sure that it has been on for a least an hour to stabilize. Ideally, you also want to have the monitor in a room without outside light or overhead light. A monitor hood will help keep stray light off the monitor.
With these conditions met, let's begin the actual process. After launching the software, start by setting your preferences. Pick the sensor you are going to use and how often you wish to recalibrate the monitor. In this example, we are going to calibrate and profile an Apple Cinema Display, which is a LCD monitor, and we are going to have the software automatically remind us to recalibrate after a month (which we would never forget, of course).
Now let's pick the type of monitor we wish to calibrateLCD, in this case. Moving forward, we need to select the white point and gamma, which is done in one step with this software. You'll notice that I picked 2.2 gamma and a native white point. It has been my experience that using the native white point usually results in a better monitor profile for a LCD than picking 6500K does. Still, it's a personal preference.
In addition to picking the white point and gamma, it is important to set the monitor to the proper luminance or brightness level, especially if you wish to set multiple monitors to match each other as closely as possible. This software allows us to set the luminance either Visually or Measured, and I recommend setting it as Measured to achieve more consistent results. My recommendation for LCD monitors is to set the White Luminance to 120, and for CRT monitors to 100. Because we have no control over contrast with the Apple Cinema Display, we are going to leave the Black Luminance blank.
This next window is a summary of the settings so far. Check and make sure everything is set correctly.
As you may have noticed, the software does an excellent job of walking you through the process with many explanations and diagrams. To properly set the luminance of this particular monitor, we are prompted as to the type of controls that the monitor uses. The Apple Cinema Display uses a backlight control.
Next, we are going to place our sensor on the monitor, as the illustration indicates. Warning!!! These sensors have suction cups on them, so be careful not to push the sensor on the LCD screen because the suction cup can damage it. Use the suction cup on CRT monitors only.
As we've noted, profiling the monitor is a two-step process. First, we calibrate, and then we profile. With the sensor now on the screen, the software sends a series of color patches to the screen that the sensor feeds into the software.
We are next shown the actual luminance of the monitor compared with the value that we are trying to achieve. In this case, the actual value is too high, so we need to turn down the backlit display brightness close to our target of 130. With the Cinema Display, we can reduce the backlighting by using the Brightness slider in the Displays control in the Mac's System Preferences. By reducing the brightness some, we can adjust the current value very close to the target value. (Don't worry if the numbers are a little different.) At this point, we have finished calibrating the monitor.
The next step is to actually create the ICC monitor profile. The software will send a series of different color patches to the monitor and at the end will prompt us to name and save the profile.
The software creates the monitor profile by comparing the color values of the patches displayed on the screen to the color values as measured by the sensor on the monitor and then makes an appropriate adjustment to display color accurately. At the end, this particular software application allows us to preview the monitor profile that we just created and compare it to what it looked like before the calibration. The first time you calibrate your monitor, the difference can be quite dramatic!