Monitor Calibration

Ok, you have your monitor and your profiling kit and you want to keep your display nice and neutral. Here’s Will’s 6 Tips for making better monitor profiles:

  1. Warm Up: Be sure you let your monitor warm up for at least 20 minutes, on both CRT and LCD displays before profiling. If you are in a cold climate, like we are in Chicago, warm up the monitor for 30 minutes or more just to be sure they are in their most stable state.
  2. Use Gray: Selecting a desktop color of gray is smart because it fires the red, green and blue guns of the CRT monitors in equal amounts so your warm up time is most effective, and the neutral gray color in the background reduced eye strain when viewing the color of your on-screen files.
  3. Use Gamma 2.2: Alright, I know the Mac faithful (of which I am one) want to use a gamma (contrast) of 1.8 for use as the “Mac Standard.” Well, only Macs think that IS a standard, the rest of the imaging world is on the PC standard of 2.2 and if you take a look at the hardware that drives your lab’s printers – it’s pretty much all PC. So if you want your images to match your labs prints, or if you want to integrate into the rest of the printing world, switch all your gamma decisions to 2.2. But if you are PC phobic, and your prepress tech/separation house is cool with 1.8 stay with it (and be pulled kicking and screaming into 2.2 at a later date). My suggestion is to switch now, you will get used to it. We have 2 big Macs in our studio and they are profiled into 2.2 gamma and look terrific, and look just like the monitors on our PC’s too. : )
  4. Use D65: Before you calibrate and profile your monitor with one of our recommended kits, get your monitor ready by making some selections through the on-screen menu options by pressing the buttons of the front of the monitor on CRT screens and some LCD / TFT screens. Set those menu settings to receive a custom profile by choosing a “custom” RGB setting, the gamma 2.2 contrast setting, and try selecting the white point to D65 or the color temp setting to 6500K. If you are working in a more “graphics” oriented workflow with your files going out to offset printing, you may want to stick with the D50 or 5000K white point, but for most photographers the D65 white point will work better, much better in fact. If you work in an area that is illuminated by a lot of incandescent light (screw in light bulbs) you may want to try the D55 or 5500K white point, but don’t get trapped in the daylight / 5500K thing. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out that way in this process. About 85% of all photographers will get great print-to-screen match using D65.
  5. Degauss: CRT monitors build up small amounts of image destructing magnetism as they present various images on-screen. This magnetism can make calibration and profiling difficult so we like to get rid of it before we profile. Use the on-screen menu on your monitor, or the software that came with your monitor to activate the Degauss function it has. It’s a violent process and make noise and funny way lines on the screen but do not panic, it’s a good thing but don’t overdo it. One press of the degauss button does the trick every or every other time you profile.
  6. You bought it so use it!: We suggest profiling your monitor every 2 weeks and it only takes a few minutes so use it. No need to do it everyday, and no, you won’t wear it out.

by Will Crockett

Will Crockett is a professional photographer from Chicago, Illinois who runs and contributes to 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.