How to Calibrate a Monitor
With an i1Display 2

Part 1 - The Aim of the Game

i1 Display 2The purpose of monitor calibration is to get your monitor to accurately reproduce colour.  Your monitor is a critical part of your image making process. If you don’t regularly calibrate it you stand little to no chance of getting colour accurate prints or colour accurate output of any kind.

When we say we are calibrating a monitor we are actually calibrating and profiling a display. What's the difference?...Calibration and profiling are two separate concepts. Calibration is the process of optimising the controls on the monitor (and the computers video card) to achieve certain parameters. Profiling is the process of measuring the exact behaviour of the display system across a range of colours and making very precise adjustments to the output of the display. These adjustments result in a colour accurate display.

Display is the correct word, over monitor because it is the entire display system that is being calibrated and profiled including the video card.

Display Calibration with a Colorimeter is essential

In a perfect world monitors and video cards would leave the factory perfectly colour accurate and would stay that way for the life of the equipment.  Reality is at the opposite end of the spectrum (‘scuse the pun). Some high end graphics monitors are nicely hardware calibrated in the factory, but as the electronics burn in and the back light or phosphors dim so the colour accuracy begins to wander.  Now that’s the best case scenario...

The majority of computer monitors leave the factory in a less than colour accurate state (horrendous in many cases) and will wander from there.  The rule of thumb is: The cheaper or older your monitor the more frequently it is going to need calibrating.  The good news is that calibrating a cheap or old monitor can turn it into a very useful imaging tool!

In a perfect world you could trust your eyes and tweak the contrast, colour controls etc until things are right.  Unfortunately while some eyes may see colour accurately the other part of our visual system, the brain, often does not.  For example we usually don’t notice that things look more blue in the shade than they do in bright daylight.  Our visual cortex filters it out for us. We are just not impartial enough to calibrate a monitor by sight.

The only way to get totally accurate colour from your display is to use some precise measuring equipment...  Step in the Tristimulus Colorimeter, (Colorimeter for short). My personal choice and recommendation for the job is the X-rite i1Display 2 Colorimeter.  I have chosen it because it is both robust and very accurate. Indeed it is the de facto industry standard amongst professional image makers.  It’s simple to use and if you want, you can verify a profile once it has been made.

The Calibrating procedure.

A quick overview: