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Damien Symonds

READ THIS FIRST - Posting guidelines and FAQs

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Guidelines for this section:

  1. When calibrating, please make sure you've followed my instructions to the letter.  The instructions that come from the manufacturer are feeble, I'm sad to say.
  2. If you have a question about which calibrator to buy, read this article first.
  3. For general information about calibration, read this article
  4. Refer below for frequently asked questions
  5. Search the forum first to make sure your question hasn't already been covered.
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Frequently asked questions about monitor calibration:

Q: I've just calibrated and my screen looks a lot different.  Did something go wrong?
A: Maybe something went wrong, or maybe something went right!  Maybe your screen is correct for the first time ever.  Either way, you can't know until you compare it to pro lab prints.  Please follow my calibration instructions to the letter.

Q: I've just calibrated and my screen doesn't look different at all.  Did something go wrong?
A: Maybe something went wrong, or maybe your screen was very accurate already.  The only way to know is by comparing to prints from a pro lab.

Q: I've just recalibrated, or bought a new screen.  Do I need new prints?
A: No, not at all.  The prints you already have are fine.  Your lab doesn't change the way it prints just because one of their customers has newly calibrated.  Compare the prints you have to the screen, to see if the calibration was successful.

Q: How many prints should I have, and what size should they be, for verifying my monitor calibration?
A: Half a dozen should be plenty - enough to show a range of tones.  And they don't need to be very big - 5x7 or 8x10 is ample.  More info here.

Q: My prints look horrible.  I think something went wrong with my calibration.
A: The purpose of monitor calibration is to make your screen match your prints.  Not just your favourite prints - ALL your prints.  So if your prints look horrible, your screen should look exactly the same shade of horrible.  Then you can confidently re-edit your photos, knowing that you won't make them look horrible again.

Q: My screen's brightness won't go low enough to match my prints.
A: In most cases, this means that the light in your room isn't bright enough.  But in some very rare cases, you might have to do this.

Q: My screen's brightness won't go high enough to match my prints.
A: This is exceedingly rare, and quite worrying.  Please make a new post immediately and we'll see what we can figure out.

Q: My laptop's screen changes brightness depending on its angle.
A: This is a BIG problem, of course.  If at all possible, invest in a good desktop monitor to plug in to your laptop, and edit on that instead.  If that's not possible for you at this stage, this device might be a useful solution in the meantime.

Q: Can I use prints from my home printer to verify calibration?
A: No.  Not even if it's the fanciest, most expensive printer money can buy.  Not even if you'll never ever use a lab for the rest of your life.  You still need prints from a pro lab to verify your monitor calibration.  If you use your own prints to verify your own screen, you're working in what's called a "closed-loop" environment.  Your screen might match your printer perfectly, but if they both don't match the rest of the world's standards, every photo you post on the internet will look wrong to everyone else.

Q: Can I share my calibrator with a friend?
A: Technically, yes, it will work.  Legally, it might not be permissible.  Check the manufacturer's website for more information before doing so.

Q: Can I calibrate a TV?
A: If it's connected to a computer, and acting as a monitor, then yes, you should be able to.  But remember that TVs are not meant to be monitors.  They're certainly not meant to be edited on.   So make sure you're using the TV for a legitimate reason.

Q: I have an desktop screen plugged in to my laptop.  Can I calibrate both screens?
A: Base-level calibrators such as the Spyder Express won't allow you to calibrate dual screens, but all good calibrators can do so.  It's usually a simple matter of moving the calibration software window onto the screen you wish to calibrate.

Q: Further to the previous question, do I need to calibrate both screens?
A: If you're only ever going to be editing on one of them, then no, you don't need to calibrate the other one if you don't feel like it.  But I've found that if one screen is calibrated and the other one isn't, the difference in colour can be noticeable to the point of distraction.  So it might be a good idea to take a few minutes to do the other one.

Q: I've calibrated both screens, and they don't match!
A: Alas, this is very common. It's almost impossible to make them look exactly the same as each other.  See which one matches your prints best, and use that one as the main editing screen; while leaving the other one for your windows, emails, etc.

Q: My screen doesn't look sharp!
A: Check the control panel to make sure it's set to the correct resolution.  Also, check that you're using the best cable to connect the screen to the computer (HDMI and DVI are good, VGA usually not so good, although this isn't a set-in-stone rule).

Q: The Apple salesperson said Macs don't need calibrating.
A: Yeah, they often say that. It's baloney. All screens need calibrating, if you wish to edit photos on them.

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Hi Damien - this is kind of a silly question, but in terms of calibrating 2 monitors... since the calibration process on one monitor could be affected by the light of the other monitor, do you turn off the monitor that is not being calibrated? And then once done with the first, do you have to wait another 30 minutes before calibrating the 2nd monitor (since it was off for the length of time the 1st monitor was being calibrated - about 5 minutes)? I know it's not a big deal since I only use one for editing, but I was curious what you would do. Thanks!

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3 minutes ago, Jennifer said:

since the calibration process on one monitor could be affected by the light of the other monitor

No it won't.

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but isn't the room supposed to be completely dark when calibrating?

Part 5: Lights out

At this point, if you haven’t already, turn off the lights or pull the blinds, or whatever. Strictly speaking, the surrounding light shouldn’t matter, but it can’t hurt to be extra safe.

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awesome bc I would hate to have to wait another 30 minutes! lol Thank you!

 

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