Calibrate Your Monitor
Once you’ve found your best shots, it’s time to edit them for printing, right? Well, not
quite. If you spend a few moments adjusting your monitor before you fiddle with your
pictures, you’ll be that much closer to ensuring that what you see on your screen will
look like what comes out of the printer.
Calibrating your monitor means that you want it to display colors and tones so that
they match a set of standard settings such as gamma and color temperature. By working
with standard settings for color, you’ll have more confidence that the edits you make to
your photos will be reflected accurately when you output them. Keep in mind that an
accurate monitor is only part of the equation. Your output device needs to accurately
interpret the information you send to it. But good color management begins with a
calibrated monitor.
Color management
Mac OS X Windows XP, Vista
Fair Stock monitor profile in
Displays Preference pane
Stock monitor profile in
Display Properties
Better Built-in monitor calibrator in
Displays Preference pane
ird-party software tool
such as Adobe Gamma
Best Hardware colorimeter Hardware colorimeter
Monitor calibration options
If you’re already using a screen calibration device, such as Pantone’s huey ($89; http:// or X-Rite’s eye-one Lt ($169;, you’re in great
shape. But if you aren’t, don’t fret. ere are a few workarounds for both Mac and Win-
dows users that can help you calibrate your display. ey aren’t as accurate, or even as
easy as a good colorimeter, but they are free.
Mac OS X includes some handy built-in tools that can get you off to a good start. ere
are a handful of preset monitor profiles in the Displays Preference pane. Go to your Sys-
tem Preferences, click on Displays, and then click the Color tab. You’ll see a list of profiles
that you can use for your photography, such as Adobe RGB. You can also create your
own profile. While you’re still in Displays, click the Calibrate button. Your Mac will walk
you through the basic steps of visual color calibration. It’s not as accurate as mechanical
calibration performed by a colorimeter, but it’s a giant step in the right direction.
Calibrating your monitor will help to ensure that the colors you
see on your screen will render beautifully in your print too.
After you finish the process, you will have created an actual color profile for your moni-
tor that you can choose from the list of other profiles in the Displays Preference pane.
You can see the difference between the profile you just created and a stock one included
with your Mac (such as Color LCD) by clicking on the two different profiles and noting
the differences in how your screen renders colors. It can be quite remarkable.
Windows users also have stock monitor profiles available. If you go to Display
PropertiesSettingsAdvanced and click on Color Management, you’ll see the moni-
tor profiles available for your computer.
Even though Windows doesn’t have a built-in calibrator, you can use third-party soft-
ware to help you create a profile. e Adobe Gamma application, for example, that
comes with Photoshop is a useful tool for checking the accuracy of your monitor.
XP users can learn more about Adobe Gamma by visiting Adobe Tech Note #321608
( Vista users can try it too, but with a little more fiddling around.
See the weblog post on All ings Adobe (
php?post_id=230489) for more information.

Get The Digital Photography Companion now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.