Monitor Calibration: What's your recommendation?

cayenne

EOS R6
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Mar 28, 2012
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Hi all,

I'm thinking of buying gear to calibrate my monitor, for just wanting to have it more 'true' for editing and to try to get it close to what I'll see when I print, as that I'm toying with buying that $59 Canon Pixma-100 on sale.

Anyway, I don't know much about monitor calibration....I'm looking and researching the X-Rite Color Munki options and they seem to be popular.

Do any of ya'll use this? If so..which one?

I've also seen a Datacolor Spyder5 system.....any thoughts on this or which is best between the two?

My set up currently, is an older MBP late 2011....16GB ram...SSD hard drive, etc. It is hooked to thunderbolt to DisplayPort adapter to my older Dell 27UltraSharp U2711.

I'm hoping in the near future to get an iMac pro, but for now working with what I have.

Can ya'll make some recommendations on what calibrations hardware/software to use and how well it seems to work for you?

Thanks in advance,

cayenne
 

Mikehit

EOS R6
Jul 28, 2015
3,332
533
I've got the Spyder 3 pro and find it does a good job - I use the Canon 8750 printer and don't have a problem with colour calibration. But then I am far from being the most critical of printing in that people seem to complain about casts and balances on pictures I can see no problem with.

Anyway, I can imagine that the Spyder 5 would be even better that what I have at the moment.

I have looked at reviews a far bit over the last 3-4 years and every system seems to have its advocates (Spyder used to be the flavour of the day, now it seems ColorMunki), but colour calibration is a whole new learning curve and so much depends on things like ambient light and how (and when!) you view the prints. But I think any of the modern systems will work well and I think you can choose either the Spyder or ColorMunki with total confidence.

Note: I have a Dell 2412 screen and post calibration is barely any different to the factory settings.

I don't know from your post if you have printed your own pictures before, but assuming not:
One of the biggest questions you will see on the net is 'why are my prints darker than on screen'? And this has little to do with calibration and is more about the screen brightness so you can adjust the brightness of your screen to give you something very similar to a test print and/or you can apply a standard as part of the final step to printing.
There is a lot of talk about always set it so that Photoshop manages the colour, but I have always used the 'let printer manage colour' has given equally good results. Try both.
Some paper manufacturers (such as Permajet) offer a free profiling service for their paper with certain inks used in your printer and this can really help.
When you have printed the image the temptation is to critique the image straight from the printer - but the computer and the printer are often in a corner or against a wall which may affect colour balance so take the print to well lit area (window or under a daylight light bulb) to assess it.

I hope this helps.
 
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cayenne

EOS R6
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Mar 28, 2012
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I've got the Spyder 3 pro and find it does a good job - I use the Canon 8750 printer and don't have a problem with colour calibration. But then I am far from being the most critical of printing in that people seem to complain about casts and balances on pictures I can see no problem with.

Anyway, I can imagine that the Spyder 5 would be even better that what I have at the moment.

I have looked at reviews a far bit over the last 3-4 years and every system seems to have its advocates (Spyder used to be the flavour of the day, now it seems ColorMunki), but colour calibration is a whole new learning curve and so much depends on things like ambient light and how (and when!) you view the prints. But I think any of the modern systems will work well and I think you can choose either the Spyder or ColorMunki with total confidence.

Note: I have a Dell 2412 screen and post calibration is barely any different to the factory settings.

I don't know from your post if you have printed your own pictures before, but assuming not:
One of the biggest questions you will see on the net is 'why are my prints darker than on screen'? And this has little to do with calibration and is more about the screen brightness so you can adjust the brightness of your screen to give you something very similar to a test print and/or you can apply a standard as part of the final step to printing.
There is a lot of talk about always set it so that Photoshop manages the colour, but I have always used the 'let printer manage colour' has given equally good results. Try both.
Some paper manufacturers (such as Permajet) offer a free profiling service for their paper with certain inks used in your printer and this can really help.
When you have printed the image the temptation is to critique the image straight from the printer - but the computer and the printer are often in a corner or against a wall which may affect colour balance so take the print to well lit area (window or under a daylight light bulb) to assess it.

I hope this helps.


Oh my, THANK YOU!!

This was VERY helpful!!

Ok I'm gonna do a bit more research. I might go with the Color Munki, as that I have an Xrite color card thing they sell and at times (when I have it with me and remember about it) I'll take an image of it where I"m shooting. So, I think it works maybe in conjunction with that CM tool.....

Anyway, I'll look into it.

Right now, my monitor is likely in the worst set up...my room is dark, but behind my monitor is an open window, so there is daylight shining behind it...I may need to at least shut the hurricane shutter behind it at times for serious work....to make sure I'm "seeing" things more properly.

This might could help me with my video correction and grading too.....

Again, thank you for your comments and info.....all help greatly appreciated here!!

Cayenne
 

LDS

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 14, 2012
1,715
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Hi all,
Anyway, I don't know much about monitor calibration....I'm looking and researching the X-Rite Color Munki options and they seem to be popular.
Do any of ya'll use this? If so..which one?
I've also seen a Datacolor Spyder5 system.....any thoughts on this or which is best between the two?

You should choose one that matches your need. There are devices that can only profile monitors, others that can also profile printers (projectors, etc.). IMHO for basic needs, using a non high-end professional monitor, the ColorMunki, i1 Display Pro and Spyder5 will yield good enough results. Sometimes there are more limitations in the software than in the device itself - AFAIK Datacolor has a tiered offer, depending on what you're going to pay. Look for some special offers and rebates.

I bought a ColorMunki Photo some years ago (now it is replaced by the i1 Studio, IIRC ), because it can profile printers and the price was acceptable, I could have got a Spyder as well.

As long as your monitor doesn't have hardware calibration - for which you usually use the software that comes with the monitor (in this case check what devices it supports) - you calibrate/profile through the software which comes with the device, higher-end devices usually come with more sophisticated software, but it could also be more complex to use. Usually, they come with Windows and Mac software. For Linux, you need some third party tool.

Hardware resources don't matter much, it's not heavy processing. Still, how the video card handles color management may matter, especially if multiple monitors are used.
 
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Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
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Nov 7, 2013
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You should choose one that matches your need. There are devices that can only profile monitors, others that can also profile printers (projectors, etc.). IMHO for basic needs, using a non high-end professional monitor, the ColorMunki, i1 Display Pro and Spyder5 will yield good enough results. Sometimes there are more limitations in the software than in the device itself
Not much more to add to this.

I have a spyder4 pro and I am fully happy with it. I prefer its full auto tuning SW and I see the benefits and better results.
But I only do little printing at home. But prints that come frome professional companies are looking fine for me.
I suppose that other tools like ColorMunki or else do the job as good as. So look at the fine print and specs and decide what fits your needs most.

Of course going for a high end editing monitor would be killer but high price and not really needed by most.


Edit: Doing our hobby on that level that most do here on this forum and not working on a calibrated monitor is somehow ... funny.
It's the first thing I'd advice to most of my friends in photo. ;)
 
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Durf

Picture Taker - Image Maker
I bought a Spyder5 Pro a couple months ago and I'm glad I did!!!!. I always order prints once a month of a few of my most recent best shots through Mpix and since using the Spyder 5 Pro almost all my prints are spot on and I see a major improvement when it comes to Mpix matching the digital file colors that I send them.

Before using the Spyder5 Pro it was always a gamble ordering prints; I sometimes had to re-adjust images and re-order prints. Those days are over with now. (I should of did this years ago!!!!!). dah

As Mikehit mentioned, I did have to go back in my settings and dim my screen a little bit to prevent certain types of files coming back to me as prints a little bit too dark.
 

LDS

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 14, 2012
1,715
248
As Mikehit mentioned, I did have to go back in my settings and dim my screen a little bit to prevent certain types of files coming back to me as prints a little bit too dark.

Many monitors have default brightness levels very high, great for movies or games, too much high for photo printing - as papers, even with OBAs (Optical Brightening Agents), can't obviously reach those levels.

IIRC the setting should be around 100/120 cd/mq, but it also depend on ambient light. Some calibration devices can also meter ambient light to assist in setting the proper brightness. You don't want anyway a too bright environment with walls that can create a color cast on the monitor.

Another setting is to use the proper white point. Many monitors have a default of 9000-9500K - too blue. For printing you need at least 6500K (or even 5000K, it's too long to explain here).

When you lower both setting, the monitor will look "dull". Let you eyes get used to it.

For images to be used on screen, on monitors with the usual default settings, you may want to "proof" with them anyway. So having presets to switch quickly is handy.
 
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2n10

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Aug 25, 2012
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I bought the Pro-100 printer a few months ago. I use the included programming to print my photos and even with the calibrated monitor found that most times the photo printed too dark. The included programing has a color adjustment section and it has a brightness adjustment that I use to over come the darker prints. I have found that the amount you will need to adjust for the prints may vary some by paper type.

I am using Red River paper. It is decently priced, of excellent quality, with a very wide selection of paper types and the photos look very good on it.

The printer does every bit as good of a job as any online printer and I believe you will be more than happy with the printer once you get your parameters figured out.
 

privatebydesign

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Jan 29, 2011
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I have the ColorMunki Display and its as much as I'd recommend for general home printing. It profiles displays and laptop screens absolutely fine, though trying to get them to both match can be more complicated than you might imagine with any calibration system.

I also use Canon printers and in general they are easy to use and give good output, but beware color management is a massive and complex subject and getting your settings right is imperative.

I'd recommend a couple of articles to get a background, this would be the first http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/why-prints-look-wrong/ and he links to follow on articles that go ever deeper into the rabbits warren.

Have fun, printing at home is not cost effective but it is the most fun, and in my opinion the only logical conclusion to the investments we make in all the time and gear.
 
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stevelee

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Jul 6, 2017
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I use default settings on my iMac, and use Epson's driver's color management to print to my R3000. The prints look great on first try. I'd be surprised if a Canon printer that uses multiple ink cartridges wouldn't be in the same class.
 

privatebydesign

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Jan 29, 2011
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I use default settings on my iMac, and use Epson's driver's color management to print to my R3000. The prints look great on first try. I'd be surprised if a Canon printer that uses multiple ink cartridges wouldn't be in the same class.
Out of the box I'm sure both the Epson and Canon will work fine, that is what they are designed to do. But when you start to dig deeper, print some test images available from the site I linked to, critically analyze the shadows, gentle color transitions and vibrant saturated colors you start to see the differences between screens and ink and then, well, it just depends on what kind of person you are......... most will be more than happy without jumping down the rabbit hole :)
 
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Zeidora

EOS RP
Feb 15, 2015
667
10
I got the color munki with projector calibration option, as I own and use a projector for talks. I ran into problems with the software, which just refused to communicate with the spider. Eventually, I figured out that there are two separate apps, and that are linked with a common interface, and if you just ignore that common interface, it works well. Hopefully either you won't run into the issue or they have fixed it. Was on MacPro 2013 (soup can) with a couple of displays and also on a macbook air 2013, running 10.10.
Otherwise, very happy with it. Even on identical displays (had dual Apple cinemas) they profiled a bit differently, and I really noticed the mismatch when assigning the "wrong" profile to each display. With correct profile to correct display, it looks seamless.
 

zim

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Oct 18, 2011
2,129
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I have both Colour Munki, and Xrite colour passport. the CM is extremely easy to setup and use. It also compensates for changes in ambient light so although you are absolutely correct to try and make your working conditions constant you may not need to be too extreme!. I don't do my own printing so have to go through a check process with the company I use. I'd expect to still have to do that with home printing.
 

stevelee

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Jul 6, 2017
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Out of the box I'm sure both the Epson and Canon will work fine, that is what they are designed to do. But when you start to dig deeper, print some test images available from the site I linked to, critically analyze the shadows, gentle color transitions and vibrant saturated colors you start to see the differences between screens and ink and then, well, it just depends on what kind of person you are......... most will be more than happy without jumping down the rabbit hole :)
I've mucked around with profiles and using Photoshop to manage colors. I've never got any better results in prints, and definitely never as good on the first try. I have 13" x 19" prints on my walls that were straight out of the Epson on first try. I can't see anything I would change about them when I am also seeing my edited versions on the computer screen at the same time. Others might disagree with me, and they are probably more knowledgeable, etc., than I on such matters. But they are my pictures, and they should look like I want them to, and I am basically trying to make the give the same look and feel that the original scene had at the time for me, at least as I remember them. So that's a cop out from a gearhead perspective, but it works for me. I'd rather spend time chasing other rabbits.
 

LDS

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 14, 2012
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I use default settings on my iMac, and use Epson's driver's color management to print to my R3000. The prints look great on first try. I'd be surprised if a Canon printer that uses multiple ink cartridges wouldn't be in the same class.

Depends what you mean for "driver color management". Most printer have a "photo" setting that will try to print a photo bright enough and with vivid colors. Often, the result is pleasant enough. Canon printers too have an "auto" setting that does that.

Things becomes a little more complex when you select OS color management, or bypass it at all using the application color management (i.e both Lightroom and Photoshop can use Adobe own engine). These are designed for a proper color management, but to work they require the correct profiles for the devices, and devices correctly calibrated. That way you know how colors are mapped along the process, and how to manage out-of-gamut ones (i.e. perceptual vs. relative intent), and how to deliver the result you wish or need.

I routinely print from Lightroom using Adobe ACM, because that's what used for proofing inside the application, and I have a reasonable preview of the final output, and matching, within the limitation of the inks/paper combination is not difficult to achieve.
 
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stevelee

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In printing from Photoshop, as I usually do, the dialogue window has a check box labeled something like "Printer manages color." That's what I've wound up using these days. Then from the print settings dialogue I choose the settings that match the paper, including the choice between matte black and photo black. That choice picks the color profile, resolution, etc., and gives the choice to tweak and override settings.

I've gathered from other threads that some folk like to underexpose three stops and then brighten the shadows by five stops to bring out details of spider webs lurking in the corners and such. That's not my method or style, so maybe at least in part that is why, once I'm done working on an image in Photoshop, I can print with defaults in the printer driver and the result looks good to me. Someone else might wonder why they can't see the spider.
 

privatebydesign

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Jan 29, 2011
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In printing from Photoshop, as I usually do, the dialogue window has a check box labeled something like "Printer manages color." That's what I've wound up using these days. Then from the print settings dialogue I choose the settings that match the paper, including the choice between matte black and photo black. That choice picks the color profile, resolution, etc., and gives the choice to tweak and override settings.

I've gathered from other threads that some folk like to underexpose three stops and then brighten the shadows by five stops to bring out details of spider webs lurking in the corners and such. That's not my method or style, so maybe at least in part that is why, once I'm done working on an image in Photoshop, I can print with defaults in the printer driver and the result looks good to me. Someone else might wonder why they can't see the spider.

Thats the point, there is the 'good to me' route and the detail orientated best I can get with the time and equipment I have route. Neither is right or wrong we just choose to put our time where we want and where we see the advantages. Some swear by the 35 f1.4 L, some are more than happy with the 35 f2 IS, what is 'good enough'?

I shoot with the 35 f2 IS, for me that is good enough, I also run a fully managed color work flow, I have profiles for my cameras, my screens, and a custom profile for my printer paper and ink set. I also have a full spectrum print viewing station that is matched to my screen brightness, to me that is good enough. I can well understand others thinking that is overkill.

Anybody interested in printing more than the cursory fun print at home I implore you to read the articles I linked to earlier, Keith is a fantastic tester and resource and occasional poster here. Once it is explained where to look for the differences in printer output those differences become obvious, just like cameras they are all capable of close to anything we want, but getting the best out of them, rather than the good enough, takes a little understanding and time.
 
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I have a 2017 5K iMac and one of those Canon pro 100's that I got for "free" as part of a bundle. I tried color calibrating the iMac and honestly I preferred apples stock calibration. (i reduce the brightness of the iMac display by about 40%-50% depending on room brightness when I'n prepping to print) I primarily use the iMac for an all-digital workflow so I don't personally feel like calibration is an advantage since the output is probably going to end up on an uncalibrated TV or such. I think that the Canon pro 100 delivers pretty consistent results that are good enough for personal friends and family type output using the Canon paper profiles and the Adobe print engine for color management. The print engines today are light years ahead of where they were a decade or so ago.

That being said, I also have a separate workstation (2008 MacPro) that I use just for prepping images for print output that is fully calibrated between input devices, monitors, various papers, my epson printer as well as offsite printers that I may use. I find that's about the only way to get consistent results once you start using multiple printers and papers. I don't print or scan that much these days however so I'd probably have to re-calibrate everything again if I was serious about it since the profiles have to be updated fairly regularly. It's a lot of work and if you get something wrong you can get some seriously crap output.

That's why I mainly just use the iMac and the Canon for my personal use. We are increasingly living in a post-paper world. But, if you have customers that are paying you for paper deliverables, you ought to have a color managed workflow.
 
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LDS

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 14, 2012
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a check box labeled something like "Printer manages color."

That means Photoshop won't manage colors, and will perform no transformation on its own before sending the data to the printer.

Thereby, what is chosen in the printer's driver settings will be used. Usually, photo printer drivers, besides the choice of paper and color/BW output, let you choose how the printer actually manages color.

It could be some automatic setting (sometimes different types of image can be selected), using the OS color management system, or manual setting where it may give access to brightness/contrast and color channels settings (mostly useful for graphics work).

There should be also an option to avoid any management which is needed for profiling, and when the application manages colors - otherwise the image will be "double-managed", and colors won't be correct.

Be aware that often the automatic settings may expect an image in sRGB (sometimes AdobeRGB is also supported), and if an image is sent in a different color space (i.e. Prophoto RGB) they may not work as expected, unless the driver software understand color profiles and performs the required transformations.
 
Nov 3, 2014
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Yes, I think it's broadlly accepted that letting the Adobe print engine manage colors yields superior results. I'd be very surprised if you didn't see significant improvements in your prints if you switch to letting Adobe manage colors and switched off OS and printer color management. It should help open up your shadow areas which is where I usually notice the difference. Save you from having to lift them 5 stops :)
 
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