Monitor Adjustment Back | Up | Next

Every monitor will display images differently. How do you know that a person looking at your images on their monitor will see the same thing that you do on your monitor? If you had several different monitors set up in your own work room, and they all displayed the same image differently, how would you decide which one was correct? This is a fundamental problem for viewing images on computer monitors.

The solution is to calibrate your monitor. Calibration characterizes your monitor and brings it into compliance with a pre-defined standard that helps eliminate any color casts the monitor may have, makes grays neutral and sets it to a standard white point.

Characterizing the monitor describes how the monitor displays colors. This information tells the color management system what we are seeing when a particular color is displayed. This information is stored as an ICC profile. The profile is used when the image is displayed or printed on a different device to ensure consistent color.

Calibrating your monitor adjusts it so that you can trust it and gives other monitors a reference as to how to display it through the ICC profile that is attached to the image. Hopefully, other monitors that display your image will also be calibrated. This gives us a reasonable expectation that everyone is seeing something close to the same thing.

There are a couple of different ways we can calibrate our monitor. The most accurate is to use a hardware calibration device.

Microsoft and Apple operating systems also now come with a software utility that can be used to roughly calibrate a monitor. It is a small program that creates an ICC profile. However, it depends on the viewer's eyes and visual perception to accomplish this. Because vision can vary from person to person, and because human vision is remarkably adaptable, it is a less than optimum method of calibrating a monitor, but it is better than nothing.

At the very least, you should use the 18-step grayscale below to adjust the brightness of your monitor.

Your monitor should be adjusted so that you can see all 18 steps in the step image below.

sRGB Steps

Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor so that you can see each step separately. Pay more attention to the black steps here. The darkest step should be as dark as you can make it while still being able to distinguish it from the next lighter step.

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