If you work with a multi-monitor setup then you might have noticed a slight variation in the colors. In some monitors, the colors may appear bright or dull or more/less saturated. well, it may not be a big deal if you use your monitor for casual gaming or watching youtube videos. But if you do graphics related work – calibrating your monitor is one of the first things you should do.
Next thing you know is you are opening up settings and playing with hue, saturation, brightness, and contrast but still not satisfied with the results. Whether you are a creative professional or an enthusiastic gamer, a bad display can be a real bummer and ruin your multimedia experience. In this article, we would try to find out why monitors show colors differently and how they can be corrected.
Why do monitors display colors differently?
For better understanding, we need to take a look at the color spaces.
The human eye can see a certain range of colors which is represented by a colored portion of the graph in the adjacent diagram.
Our screen is only capable of showing a certain portion of the color space. There are various types of monitors in the market with different color capabilities.
Almost all the content we watch over the internet is in sRGB. Most of the consumer grade monitors and television show colors in sRGB space.
Adobe RGB covers a larger spectrum of the color space. It is mainly used by graphic designers and digital artists to get a more accurate color representation of their work. It is also used in print as it is capable of showing all the colors of CMYK color space, hence the color of print matches the color on the monitor.
As of now, only professional grade monitors are capable of showing Adobe RGB colors.
Main Reason for inaccurate colors
Very often our monitors are unable to show all the colors within the sRGB color space due to inaccurate calibration. So of the monitors may show accurate colors initially by down the line its screen needs to be calibrated again.
What does monitor calibrators do
Monitors calibrators have an optical sensor which measures the color on the screen. The first thing a monitor calibrator does is it finds the range of colors your monitor is currently showing. Then it makes a custom profile for your monitor with customized settings.
then it applies the settings trying to bring your monitor as close to standard color space as possible. It results in your monitor showing the accurate colors.
Why do you need to calibrate your screen?
- Better multimedia experience
Whether you are a casual movie lover or a die-hard Gamer. Color correcting your screen will give you more vivid and immersive experience. Many televisions come with an off-color by default which needs to be corrected.
- Multiple screen synchronization
When you are working on multiple screen setup, monitor calibration becomes a very essential requirement to display correct colors across all the displays. Calibration also comes into play when you go back and forth through multiple devices like desktops and laptops to maintain consistency.
- Professional uses
Nothing hurts more than when you are designing a logo or color correcting your videos and they appear off-color when viewed on different screen. When you are in a professional environment color correcting your devices is a must. It can save you a lot of time and effort.
If you are doing print related work then it will make sure the colors of the print will come out as it appears on the screen.
How to calibrate your monitor?
- Free Tools
Both the Windows and Mac have their default color settings, which gives you control over your monitor. But we have to rely upon our own senses to get to the perfect settings. which is not the best way to color correct your screen. These tools are as accurate as checking the correct temperature by putting your hands in water.
There is other third-party software like calibrize which has the same inherent issues and relies on guesswork which can be highly inaccurate.
- Monitor Calibration Devices
Monitor calibration device is the best way to correct your monitor. They have a physical device to measure the color produced by the screen and accompanying software to make changes in your monitor. These solution weeds out the guesswork from the equation and gives an accurate and consistent performance every single time.
Best Monitor Calibration Devices
Spyder 5 Elite – Most Popular Monitor Calibrator
Spyder 5 Elite is one of the easiest and most reliable methods of color calibration. It comes in three variants Datacolor Spyder 5 Express/ Pro/ Elite with varying price ranges (check out latest price). It is very simple to use and the whole process takes just a few minutes.
How does it work?
The device consists of a sensor and software. The device is placed on the screen and the software flashes the standard set of colors. The color is read by the sensor and the data is processed to give out the perfect colors.
How accurate is it?
The Spyder 5 is a very accurate device and sets your screen color to the official standard. For achieving this level of accuracy it first measures the ambient light in the room. It then makes recommendations for your background light before measuring the actual screen. Then it makes a custom profile for each of your monitors and finally implements the required settings.
Now you may be asking is it worth to buy a device for a single use. The answer is YES, because you will need to use it more often than you think. Like a race car needs frequent fine tuning to perform at the maximum capacity. similarly, you monitor gets out of tune more often than you would expect it to. A constant weekly or fortnightly maintenance is recommended for the top-notch colors.
X-Rite i1Display Pro – Professional Calibration
X-Rite makes devices for the full professional level devices. It can be often seen in production houses and VFX-studios. It is priced slightly higher than the above mentioned Spyder model but it has greater customizations.
The device comes with a calibration sensor and a supporting software. It works the same way as Spyder Elite. First, you need to put your sensing device on your monitor. Then it flashes some lights and reads the output generated by your monitor. The software makes the required changes and that is how you get your perfect screen.
The real power of X-Rite i1Display Pro lies in the software. It enables you to make custom profiles for different work environments and lighting conditions. It can be very helpful with devices like laptops. Other than that it has two modes Basic and Advance. The basic mode requires no color knowledge and is ideal for quick calibration. The advance mode is for pro users and gives full control of your display.
It supports all the display technologies which include LED, Plasma, RG Phosphor, OLED and Wide Gamut and Broadcast video standards support – NTSC, PAL SECAM, and ITU-R Rec.BT.709.
Unlike other Monitor Calibrators, it has full support for mobile and tablet devices, With support for Android, Windows, and Mac.
X-Rite ColorMunki Smile – Pocket Friendly
Maybe you are a student or someone who doesn’t want to spend massive money on a screen calibration device. In that case, the X-Rite ColorMunki Smile is the best way to get your screen to near perfection. It is the cheapest reliable device you can get in the market and has all the essential features to get you going.
In its description, it says ” It delivers simplified display calibration process for your laptop and desktop displays using the same color engine technology found in X-Rite’s industry-leading professional level color calibration solutions.”
It also works in the same way as other devices. ie. stick it to monitor, software flashes colors, device reads the color output from the screen, then it makes changes in the settings and your monitor is ready to use.
It is compatible with Mobile devices and Ipads with accompanying Android and IOS apps.