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Calibration of cameras & monitors

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Calibrite Display

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Datacolor SpyderX

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Shooting with perfect color thanks to effective monitor calibration

Knowledge around monitor calibration is crucial for any photographer to achieve excellent and predictable photo. For example, if the monitor does not reproduce shades and colors correctly, all the time you invest in image editing and post-processing may be counterproductive because the print will look quite different in reality. This article will clarify basic details regarding calibration for both amateur and professional photographers. It also covers how to calibrate a monitor, the roles of a gray card or colorchecker, and the benefits of color calibration.

Why do I need to calibrate my monitor?

Do your printed photos not look the way you processed them on the monitor? Then it's time to calibrate your monitor. Basically, in photography there is the problem that images are seen slightly differently by each viewer. This is because each photographer uses his or her own monitor. Thus, if you edit the photos on your own monitor and then print them out, there will inevitably be slight differences. Even though monitors are getting better and better over time, each monitor still has its own individual representation of brightness, colors and contrast. To minimize these differences, monitor calibration adjusts the colors, brightness and contrast so that the photos are displayed as neutrally as possible. Basically, every monitor has a certain range of issues it can display. Higher-quality models usually have larger palettes, which makes monitor calibration correspondingly easier

How do I calibrate the monitor?

This process requires a calibration device, also called a colorimeter. Basically, you first place the calibration device in front of your monitor. To optimize the results, you should turn on your monitor an hour before calibrating it. It also makes sense to have the calibration take place in a similar light in which you normally process the photos. Thanks to an included software, the device displays and measures different colors and gray tones on the screen. Afterwards, the calibration device evaluates the data and creates a kind of monitor profile, which is used in the following steps for the color representation.

In the process, the software guides you through the entire calibration process. In total, the process takes about 20 minutes and should be repeated approximately every 3 months. The reason for the repetition is that the screen changes over time, with the intensity of the colors and the brightness decreasing. Regular monitor calibrations counteract this process

Why use a gray card?

The gray card plays a role in the calibration of exposure in photography. Usually the object is a kind of small plate made of plastic or sturdy cardboard, one side of which is colored gray and the other side white.With the gray colored side the card can reflect about 18% and with the white side about 90% of the incident light. In the camera, exposure meters are normally calibrated for scenes with average brightness distribution. However, if a scene is not average, such as a white rabbit in the snow, then these values must be corrected using the gray card to obtain a correct image. By placing the gray card close to the subject, you can prevent the underexposure of the white rabbit in the snow.

What does a Colorchecker do?

As an alternative to a gray card, a Colorchecker provides color precision in digital photography. The Colorchecker is a color chart that is placed in the same light of the subject, consequently taking a photo and using software to create a color profile for the scene. Then the appropriate settings can be made on the camera in terms of exposure and white balance to avoid color deviations when taking the picture. The advantages of color calibration therefore lie in the correct representation of the subject on the camera monitor. Monitor calibration is crucial, especially in professional settings, in order to be able to view and edit photos on the monitor already, without a large difference from the printed image. In product photography and videography, this has time and thus monetary advantages.