How to Calibrate your Monitor

Why Calibrate Your Monitor?

Learning how to calibrate your monitor is probably the single most important component of your color correction workflow. If not done correctly, your monitor will only frustrate you and result in costly mistakes. The most accurate calibration is achieved by using a plug-in sensor and software package. Affordable monitor profiling kits, such as the Datacolor “SPYDER” or similar unit will save you many times their initial cost in lost time, money, and frustration. We have these calibration units available through our Amazon Affiliate Shop, just search for “spyder”.

While a few higher-end models may work fine, most laptops can be problematic when calibrating due to their lack of screen controls which are usually required during setup. It should also be noted that laptop and tablet screens generally will display variable brightness levels depending, on the ambient brightness and/or battery or AC power source.  Using a conventional external monitor with the device will provide the most reliable results.

We recommend that you visually confirm the accuracy of your calibrated monitor to the output on one of our devices by downloading the “Calibration Target File” (below). We will supply you with a free “Target Sample Print” which will enable you to more reliably “soft-proof” your own images.

How to Calibrate Your Monitor

The following procedure assumes you are using Adobe PhotoShop but can be adapted to other programs.

  • Ideally, use a commercially available calibration tool to set up your monitor. If this is unavailable you may be able to achieve a “limited” calibration by manually adjusting your screen to match the provided sample print.
  • Launch Photoshop and open the “Target Print File” on your computer.
  • “Fine-tune” your monitor screen controls (contrast, red, green, and blue) to match the reference print. It is important that the print is viewed under an ambient light source that is close to “daylight” color balance.
  • When the print & monitor are in close agreement, send us a corrected file for test printing. Once you receive the print, compare it to the screen image and “fine-tune” the screen as necessary. The images may not EXACTLY match, rather they should closely approximate each other. Once this has been completed and the screen and print are in close agreement, any prints we make for you in the future should be a reasonably close match to your screen.

This monitor calibration Target Print File can be downloaded and saved to your device. First, click on the image and a new window will open, then “right-click” on the full-res image and select the “Save Image As” option in the pull-down menu. Specify the location where you want to save the “Target Print File” and click “Save”. Once you have this image saved on your device, open it with a program like PhotoShop. We offer a printed copy of this file, free of charge, that has been produced without any correction. When you compare this photo with the image on your monitor, you will be able to visually determine how close the two samples match. This will provide confirmation, one way or the other, of how well your screen is calibrated.

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