How to Calibrate a Monitor for Photo Editing

On April 8, 2016, in Calibration, by Harry Jackson

Dell UltraSharp U2711 27-inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor2If you have always wanted to know how to calibrate a monitor for photo editing, now is the time to rest that wish. Because it is the topic of discussion of today’s guide.


Contrary to popular opinion that calibration is meant for serious imaging professionals only, it is just as important for anyone who requires some sort of color accuracy for their work. As it is important for photo experts.


Whether you are a photographer who just wants to view accurate photos, or a photo editor who requires excellent color reproduction, you need to calibrate your monitor every once in a while.


So let’s dive in and discuss the process. But before then, let’s understand how important is is. And why you should always consider doing it once in a while.


Asus PA248Q monitor review image ergonomic Design quickfit virtual scale functionImportance of Calibration

Calibration is certainly a critical part of your workflow if you are a photo editor.


Basically, calibrating your monitor means you are adjusting it to meet certain known standard or specifications.


Without calibration, it is impossible to determine whether the colors your monitor displays is close to the actual colors of your photos.


Hardware Calibration


Usually, the colors that the screen displays need to be analyzed and compared with actual colors if your intention is to accurately profile your monitor.


It comes with Eizo's special ColorNavigator software for simple and quick calibration

Eizo ColorNavigator software for simple and quick calibration

To do this, you need a hardware device and software. Which is what is referred to as hardware calibration.


Hardware calibration is the method we are going to use to show you how to calibrate a photo editing monitor in this guide.


Here’s the actual process below;


  • Preliminaries


  1. Set your screen resolution to the native resolution. The native resolution is the default resolution of a monitor.
  2. Check that your monitor is on the highest bit depth possible. To ensure that enough color is available for calibration.
  3. Ensure that the calibrating environment has no direct light or reflections. Because it can interfere with the process. The strongest source of light in your calibrating environment should ideally be the screen.
  4. Give the monitor enough time to warm up. Mainstream monitors take between 30-45 minutes before the display’s brightness and color temperature can stabilize. It is recommended that you wait for the monitor to fully warm up before you calibrate.


  • However there are high-end professional grade displays that now feature significantly reduced warm up time of about seven minutes like the CG line of Eizo ColorEdge monitor series.


Calibrating a Monitor for Photo Editing: the process


It correlates very well with external calibration sensors like ColorMunki

An external calibration sensor like ColorMunki

Attach the colorimeter to the screen and run the software program.


The software will ask you to set certain parameters that you want it to achieve with the calibration.


These are also called the target settings. They may include white point, luminance, gamma, black depth, and gray balance.


The following are some of the recommended target settings;


  • Gamma is usually set at 2.2 which is the default for PCs, monitors, and windows
  • White point/Color temperature is to be set at 6500K. Which is equivalent to daylight temperature
  • Target luminance should be set at 120cd/m2. Which is the standard for LCD displays under normal lighting conditions.
  • You should aim at a Black depth of 0.0cd/m2. Which is the real black. But in practice it’s not possible for LCD monitors to achieve this.


It comes with a Built-in SelfCalibration sensor

Some Eizo line of products comes with a Built-in SelfCalibration sensor

With the calibration device attached to the screen, the software displays color swatches which the device records and uses to compare the differences between what’s displayed and what the graphics card requests.


The process then attempts to reduce the deviations to what is practically possible under the given calibration environment.


The colorimeter and the software also strive to achieve the target settings as close to the required values as possible.


color calibration of laptop using 220px-Spyder4Elite_calibrating Wiki

Calibrating a laptop screen using Spyder4Elite.
Image source: Wikipedia

After calibration, the profiling function enables you to save the color profiles. A color profile describes the monitor’s color behavior.


These may include the colors the monitor can display, the ones it can’t, how the numeric values are to be converted to ensure accurate display of colors, etc.


Basically, once you define the target settings and made the necessary hardware adjustments like brightness, contrast, and RGB values in the OSD guided by the device, the colorimeter will run the process automatically to the end.


That’s it!


With this, you are now equipped with the knowledge of how to calibrate a monitor for photo editing.


Its self calibration feature works even when it is off

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