Calibration Kits

Monitor-Only Or Full System Profiling Kits

There are now two different ways to control your color, by using a kit that profiles only your monitor (a GREAT start) or one that profiles your monitor AND your printer and your projector too. With the release and our testing of the new Colormunki system from Xrite, we are proud to announce that a new day has dawned in professional photography color control, more info on our Colormunki test results here.

Our Testing:

We’re very fortunate to have a wide variety of monitors ranging from one last 6 year old LaCie Blue 21 CRT to a 2 year old Eizo CG210 LCD screen, to our highly recommended LaCie 324 that gets used everyday. We even test (just for the heck of it) on low-end LCD screens that are not capable of reproducing accurate color just to see how close we can get them. This provides a wide range of monitors, fitted to PC’s, Macs, and their various video cards to test out the different profiling products. We also work closely with a few well respected labs to help them with some tech issues, so we get to see this issues form all angles.

Which Kits Do We Recommend?

EyeOne / Xrite is tops in our book for profiling just your screens, but the new ColorMunki is our top pick.
With that said, here’s what we recommend:

Profiles for...

Eye-One Display 2:$219
This is a simple yet powerful way to get great color from your monitor, and it’s the best profile maker I’ve ever seen for laptop monitors. If you need a low-cost, all-purpose profiler that can be installed on as many computers as you own, this is the guy. Compatible with Macs, Windows XP and Vista.
Performance: 8 out of 10
Ease Of Use: 8 out of 10
Value For The Money: 10 out of 10

Colormunki PHOTO Version:$449 (retail)
Here’s the best all around solution for profiling your monitors, printers, and even your projectors for really terrific color that could not be easier. More on our recommendation of this product here. Compatible with Macs, Windows XP and Vista.
Performance: 9 out of 10
Ease of Use: 9 out of 10
Value For The Money: 10 out of 10

LaCie Blue Eye Pro:$328 (retail)
Talk about simple… this pricey little kit allows you to profile your LaCie LCD or CRT with great accuracy with (basically) one click. It only works on LaCie monitors though, and the tech support at LaCie stinks, one of the worst in the photo biz, but this product really works well. It only profiles monitors, not printer nor projectors. Compatible with Macs, Windows XP and Vista.
Performance: 9 out of 10
Ease of Use: 9 out of 10
Value For The Money: 5 out of 10 (it’s overpriced)

If I have a Monaco Optix XR, or Pulse System, should I upgrade?

If you want to profile your projector or printer – yep. Make a beeline to the Colormunki. : )

DO I NEED TO PROFILE MY CAMERA TOO?
Nope. For 99.9% of all the pro photographers, camera profiling is a complete waste of time. Only if you are shooting super color critical work (artwork repro / scientific projects) will you benefit from camera profiling and in those instances you should not be using a DSLR anyway because they are not color critical tools. Leaf and PhaseOne backs are made for accurate color and have their own set of camera profiles included in their software. If someone tells you to profile your camera for your portrait or wedding work – run! Don’t waste your money. : )

How about the Huey Pro?
The Pantone Huey is a really nice little color adjustment tool for photo hobbyists but it will not compare to the results from a “real” monitor profiling system. It has no place (yet) in the professional world.

Buying Advice:
If you’re interested in one of the “monitor profile only” products like the EyeOne Display 2; but if you are looking for good color from your monitor + projectors+printers then the Colormunki is the only $200 more and one HECK of a great tool. We suggest you buy it from your local dealer just in case you have a few questions or need some help with it. If they don’t have these products (or if they seem undereducated on them), we recommend to buy from the color experts at ColorMall and they will offer you great tech support at no extra charge.

by Will Crocket
updated June 2008

Will Crockett is a professional photographer from Chicago, Illinois who runs and contributes to ShootSmarter.com. He has been educating photographers for years through online columns as well as live seminars. Diversified Lab is proud to have Will contribute a few of his educational and interesting articles to our own website. We hope that in doing so this will help spread useful information to those who wish to better their knowledge in the photographic world.