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Monitor calibration

Monitor calibration is a necessary preparatory stage for pre-printing photographs and images, without which all efforts to select the most suitable and spectacular colors will be in vain. Incorrect color reproduction will lead to the fact that the printed photographs turn out to be too dark or, on the contrary, overexposed, and people’s faces will acquire an unnatural shade.

Calibration of the monitor can be carried out using special calibrators designed for this, but not every photographer has such a device. In the first part of this article, we will consider those methods that will allow you to calibrate the monitor without the use of additional equipment.

Preliminary stage of monitor preparation
When choosing a monitor, abandon modern LCD devices designed for playing games, since most often their manufacturers often reduce the LUT capacity in order to increase the speed of updating the picture. The optimal solution would be to purchase an accurate monitor with an 8-bit LUT, the role of which will be especially noticeable as the device ages.

Before you start calibrating your monitor, make sure that you really need it. If you are not a computer artist, but a simple user, and your main task is typing, calibrating the monitor can only result in your eyes straining as a result of high brightness, and the monitor itself will be much faster.

Make sure the monitor is clean and not dusty. In order to wipe the screen, it is better to use special tools or, in extreme cases, alcohol.

Try to provide constant dim lighting in your room. During the day, you can mute the sun’s rays with the help of blinds, at night you should use a daytime white lamp. An ordinary incandescent lamp will not work for you, since its spectrum is narrower. For overhead light, it is recommended to use lamps that give diffused light.

Brightness and contrast adjustment
Adjusting the brightness and contrast is the easiest, but at the same time the least accurate way to calibrate the monitor. The advantages of the method include the fact that it does not require a color profile, so it is perfect not only for everyday use on your PC, but also in cases where you need to make adjustments on someone else’s computer.

The tests below are designed to help you find the optimal contrast and brightness settings. A quality monitor should be able to pass both tests. If this does not work out, decide which one will be more important for you. Before testing, make sure that the monitor is already warm enough, for which it may take 10-15 minutes.

Halftone adjustment
Halftone calibration is usually the most important task in prepressing a monitor. In the figure below, the color of the square in the center should be similar to the background color, the left square should be darker, and the right square light. If the center square looks brighter or darker than the main background, your monitor displays images brighter or darker, which will certainly affect print quality.

To set up the LCD monitor, you need to set the standard contrast for it (usually 50% or 100%), and then adjust the brightness until the central square merges with the background. For a CRT monitor, set the maximum contrast. Be sure to make sure that the monitor is set to gamma 2.2.

Increasing the brightness of the monitor can lead to the fact that its useful life will end faster. Therefore, before making changes to the brightness settings, make sure that it is not affected by excessive lighting in the room or a light source located behind the monitor, such as a window.

Details in the light and in the shadows
After you make the previous settings, all the midtones on your monitor will have the required brightness level. To confirm that the setting is correct, take a look at the images below.

Shadow Details

Details in the light

On each image, 8 steps should be distinguishable, while the extreme ones should be barely distinguishable. Before making the settings, decide what is more important for you – the illumination of midtones or the maximum of details. Too high a brightness will cause the black to turn to gray. The above settings allow you to adjust part of the tonal range and practically do not affect the color. A more accurate calibration can only be carried out using special instruments.

The easiest ways to calibrate your monitor
The more colors your monitor displays, the finer the work with images you can perform. Therefore, set your video card to the maximum color depth and set the contrast to maximum.

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