I am quite aware of the necessity to properly adjust one’s monitor, and I’ve tried out several alternatives in the past. I’ve known all along that Gretag MacBeth’s Eye-One Display 2 is the right product for me, but at 280 € it is quite expensive, so at first I looked into cheaper solutions. What a waste of time and money!
I started out with Adobe Gamma, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not get my monitor at home and my monitor at work to display the same image the same way. This meant that one or even both monitors were still not properly adjusted. So I moved onto QuickGamma, which was better, but I was still unsure.
Next I bought the ColorPlus product from ColorVision, installed the software and let it “do its thing,” but prints from several different labs were still coming back too dark. So I started digging up on the Internet…
There I learned that monitor adjustment is a three-step process. First you decide what color temperature, brightness and gamma your monitor should have. Here 6500K, 120 cd/m2, and 2.2 seem to be most common. Then you calibrate your monitor by setting those values using the control buttons on the monitor’s front or side panel. Finally you use the spyder to profile the monitor. The resulting profile (the .icc file) describes how the calibrated monitor is different from the values which you chose in step 1. Of course, the closer you get to the desired values in step 2, the smaller the deviations in step 3 will be.
Armed with this knowledge I realized that ColorPlus only profiles, but does not let you choose any target values, does not tell you what values it uses, and does not assist you in the calibration. After all, how are you supposed to set your monitor to 120 cd/m2, when the brightness control shows only a percentage of the maximum brightness that the monitor is capable of? And can you really trust the color temperature settings of your monitor?
Gretag MacBeth’s Eye-One Display 2 is much better in this respect. In advanced mode the software lets you choose from a variety of target values, explains every step of the calibration and profiling process, and works together with the hardware spyder to measure the brightness and color temperature of your monitor. All you need to do is push the buttons on the monitor until the measured values coincide with the target values. The profiling step completes automatically and the newly created profile is automatically set as default.
After I did all this at home, my background image became much darker and the colors changed somewhat, but what’s more important, the images that I’ve been sending out for printing now look just as dark as the prints that the labs have been sending me back.
So I guess my monitor is now properly set up, and I can edit my images with confidence. Finally!!!