Why You Need to Calibrate Your Monitor

Topics   |   Free Tutorials   |   Gear

Why You Need to Calibrate Your Monitor
  • Easy
  • 15
    mins
  • Free Tutorials &
    Gear
  • Join the Phamily

As it turns out, calibrating your computer monitor is pretty important, especially for skin tones!

In this video we review the Spyder 5 Elite and guide you through the calibration process.
View Datacolor Spyder5ELITE

So, What’s the Deal with Monitor Calibration?

To be honest, I have spent years editing photos without ever calibrating my monitor and I thought I wasn’t missing out on anything. It turns out, I was wrong.

As it turns out, even a high-end monitor will degrade over time and colors won’t render properly. The calibrator we test in this video is the Datacolor Spyder5ELITE, which is an external device that measures color and light emitting from your monitor and then makes software corrections to make sure you are properly displaying color.

We have gotten so many requests to make an episode on monitor calibration that we couldn’t ignore them. We called up Datacolor and asked if they would send us one of their calibrators and sponsor a review, and we are happy they said yes, because this thing really does work.

Here is the deal. After running the calibration software on multiple monitors and a laptop, it became obvious via the before/after images that the colors on the monitors in the before were horrible, even on a $1,000 Mac Thunderbolt Display.

Most notably, the reds were washed out and rendered way too much green. This is a big deal, because people’s skin is primarily red, meaning the monitors in our studio have been showing inaccurate colors for years!

Quick Tip: Use the included software to sync multiple monitors together if you are using more than one display.

Mo Monitors, Mo Problems

Here in the PHLEARN Studio, we have many computers ranging from laptops, Windows Desktops, iMacs, and Mac PROs. Almost every project we produce is edited on multiple computers by multiple different people.

It turns out, everyone was seeing different colors!

When you do color correction in Photoshop or Lightroom using a monitor than is not properly calibrated, you could be making your image worse!

There is software that will allow you to “calibrate” your monitors, but without an external device to check what the monitors are displaying, the software only goes so far.

The Reviews are In

Hey, this is Aaron Nace. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether this thing would make a difference or not. In fact, I was pretty skeptical.

I use a ton of different computers and some of the displays I use are pretty old. I had just kind of accepted the fact that the color would be bad on the older monitors, so I don’t use them for photo editing.

I did think that the colors on my newer expensive displays was spot-on. While the color on the newer displays was better than the older displays, it was far from perfect.

Just a couple of before/after images of people and I was totally sold. The before images didn’t look that bad, but the after images were noticeably way better. After the calibration, skin tones looked natural and reds were displaying way better. In general, the images on my screen just look better after calibration.

I can’t believe I waited so long before calibrating my monitors. Now I think back to all the images I have delivered to clients that had WHACK colors.

My bad guys, my bad.

Featured

Lightroom Essentials
A smarter way to master the fundamentals of Lightroom. Find and learn the skills you need to organize, edit, and manage your photos with confidence.
Photoshop Compositing
Professional Compositing, Made Simple.

Reviews

  1. Rated 3 out of 5

    Some how I’m having a hard time believing a pro like you has never calibrated their monitor(s) – at least that is the impression I came away with. Also, all calibration systems will let you know how close to perfect the new profile has gotten you. This varies from monitor to monitor. As pointed out, don’t expect perfection on a cheap monitor. And this is something you should do monthly or at least quarterly. All others who might read this: there is also the xRite line of products for calibrating.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    I recently got the Spyder 5 Pro and I like it… I think. The thing I am struggling with is brightness issues. I had a nice HP monitor hooked up to my new computer and long story short pictures that looked good on my machine looked dark on other people’s and prints would come back dark. This was an issue on the previous computer so I thought it much be the monitor. I could not adjust things try as I might so what I saw on my monitor is close to what others saw. If I tried to lighten my picture to the point it looked normal on other peoples machines or printed well they looked horrible on my machine. Last year I decided to upgrade my monitor and got a nice 4k monitor thinking my problems would be solved. NOPE same stuff new monitor. For most pictures things are acceptable but it seems like the ones where brightness is critical it seems to be an issue. Murphy’s Law!

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great video. Long awaited. You may be able to calibrate your smartphones and tablets. https://www.color-management-guide.com/calibrate-tablets-smartphones.html

  4. Rated 2 out of 5

    I bought the pro version after watching this video and went through calibrating a few screens. In every instance, I found they all now have a red tint. Anyone else found this?

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Thank you for an amazing advice! I have learned so much from Phlearn! Question though, do we Phlearn followers get a discount when buying it for the first time? I saw the discount for the upgrade but now for the calibrator itself. Just something to consider 🙂

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wow talk about timely. As I was going through Photo Editing 101 I was really noticing how far off my colors were from those in the video. For example (in the asset download) the purples in the Alyse Neon episodes were flat, nearly pink, and barely showed over her skin tones. I use two ASUS VS 278 monitors, not top of the line gear, but far from junk and thought it couldn’t be them. I sent a question to Phlearn support, got a reply from Seth, saying to check my color settings and assignments. I double checked and everything is ProPhoto RGB as it should be. I started thinking it was time for an eye appointment maybe. I am getting up there a bit. I thought okay maybe it is the monitors so I went to Amazon (Good ol’ Amazon, always there for you) and bought the Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro and got it a couple days later. (Yeah okay, so I bought into the Amazon Prime long ago. FREE two day shipping are kidding me?) As Aaron says the setup is easy, slightly cumbersome as you have to register, do the serial number thing and download the files, but other than that, as smooth as it gets. At least this way you know you’re getting the latest drivers and software. Contrary to some stuff I have read the Datacolor software is simple to use and the accuracy, well read on. The first calibration took about 10 minutes including setting my monitor. The second monitor took a little less. The results… A truly unbelieveable difference. The colors I mentioned before are now almost exactly as the video, and now as I am going through Photo Editing 201, the colors are right where they should be. This does make a huge difference at least for me, because as I pause the video, and attempt to mimic the steps Aaron just went through, I do look to match the color he is working with as close as possible to kind of ensure I’m following on correctly. My numbers on the color sliders are alway very close. I did a photoshoot this weekend of my 1 month old granddaughter and the colors have come out amazing. Spot on to how they were shot. Sorry to be so long winded, but if you are not calibrating your monitor, even a single monitor, you will always have to question if the colors are going to be correct. This is just another awesome example of the Phlearn Pro education. Incredible, timely and awesome! Thanks for your hard work Phlearn Team!