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Thread: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain.

    Colin, I have seen you say this a number of times on the forum and have never understood exactly what the difference is and why it matters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    .......... what you're talking about is primarily monitor profiling, not monitor calibration (people often confuse the two, but they're actually different things.
    I wonder if there are others here who are also puzzled over this and thought a dedicated thread might be useful.

    Can you please give us a mini-tute on the ins and outs of this?

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Hi Kit,

    No worries

    In essence, calibration is a "hardware" thing where the monitor controls are adjusted to get as close as possible to the desired output, where as profiling is a software solution where a lookup table translates "what you asked for" into "what it needs, to give you what you wanted in the first place". So a profile "picks up the slack" for any errors in calibration.

    As usual, both come with "warts and worms" ...

    If you can CALIBRATE a monitor perfectly, then the profile has nothing to do (which is a good thing because you'll have the full range of levels available for display AND images that are tagged sRGB will display correctly - even on a non-colour managed browser like IE) (I might also add though that if it's calibrated incorrectly - and all monitors have some degree of mis-calibration - then it'll display images INCORRECTLY even if displayed via a colour-managed browser like firefox if the computer doesn't have a correct profile loaded for that particular monitor) (but I digress, again!)

    The problem is though that most people struggle to calibrate a monitor properly (and can actually make things worse) and hence the reason manufacturers of the likes of the Spyder III colorimeter just say to "set the monitor to it's factory defaults" (better the devil you know etc). This way wastes more potential levels, but gives a more consistent result.

    Colorimeters like the Spyder III can assist you with calibration (ie helping you set black and white points and colour temp if you wish -- although they actually discourage this), but mostly they just generate a profile for on-the-fly correction.

    Perhaps a good analogy might be a young person sending txts to an old person like me. If they type "helo Colin tx 4 yr hlp lst nite" I won't have a clue what they're talking about. If this were run via a "profile", when the profile saw "helo" it would substitute "Hello" and when it saw "tx" it would substitute "thanks" etc etc etc - so when it's finished doing it's thing we end up with "Hello Colin thanks for your help last night". If the young person was "calibrated" though then they'd just send "Hello Colin thanks for your help last night" in the first place, so no "correction" would be needed.

    Does this help?

    It's not a biggie, just one of those little things I like to correct (like "HDR from a single image") because if I don't, then it just gets accepted as "the norm" and makes it harder to "un-teach" at a later date.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th January 2011 at 03:01 AM.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    I have a dual monitor set up so in essense I have twice the ares to calibrate & profile. Unfortunately, my second monitor's menu button, the one used to access the settings, doesn't want to work. So, needless to say, my primary monitor is corrected as well as I can and use it only for the main PS window.

    I picked up this little item called Huey Pro. It recalibrates the monitors according to the room light. I found that my pictures weren't having a consitant output when they were printed at the lab. The lab tech suggested I use a monitor calibration tool for just the purpose. I thought it was a good idea since the light here ranges from full-on sun, to indirect sun & obviously dark. I find it helps to be truthful.

    Does anyone else have something like this? Does it work? Did I waste my money? lol

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Does this help?
    Yes, Colin, it does, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Colorimeters like the Spyder III can assist you with calibration (ie helping you set black and white points and colour temp if you wish -- although they actually discourage this), but mostly they just generate a profile for on-the-fly correction.
    Now, I have an HP 15 1/2" laptop. Someone on another forum said, quite snippilly, that it is useless trying to calibrate a laptop as they will always show images incorrectly. I have also been told that I won't be able to see the full range of black to white. But I can see all 17 shades on this image:
    The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain.
    Going by your experience, should an lcd monitor that is displaying correct black & white also display correct colour (as long as I don't alter my point of view too much)? I know this is a question that may just fly off into the dark as unanswerable, but your experience is way better than my guess.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Laptop screen are a little "challenged", but there's no reason you can profile them just like any other screen, and still get acceptable results. The biggest thing to watch is the viewing angle; if it's a design that changes wildly when the viewing angle changes then you need to look at it exactly perpandicularly for colour / level critical bits.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    So... I guess the test would be to print from PShop and if the colours come out as the monitor shows, we're all OK.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Erk!! Too much to think about just atm. I'll put it on the back burner for a bit.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Great way of explaining it Colin

    You are obviously an educator/teacher???

    Nasseem

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by maloufn View Post
    Great way of explaining it Colin
    Thank you

    You are obviously an educator/teacher???
    Aren't we all?

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    So... I guess the test would be to print from PShop and if the colours come out as the monitor shows, we're all OK.
    Yes I fully agree with you...

    I am following this principle since last so many years, and GOT THOUSANDS OF PRINTS CORRECTLY

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    I have used this site in the past for monitor calibration. It might also help to visualise what Colin is talking about when he says it is a hardware function.

    http://www.photofriday.com/calibrate.php

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    I have used this site in the past for monitor calibration. It might also help to visualise what Colin is talking about when he says it is a hardware function.

    http://www.photofriday.com/calibrate.php
    Thanks Peter. That is very helpful.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    So. I finally did it. Dragged the 2nd hand Spyder2express out from under the bed where it has been hiding ever since I bought it. (Don't ask!)
    Have calibrated the monitor, using Peter's very helpful site and profiled it as well. I did have a bit of jiggery-pokery to do to get Windows XP to accept the new profile and load it each time it starts up, but that seems to be OK now.

    The result is that the monitor now looks quite a bit warmer than it did previously when I run Photoshop, as does Firefox. The prints, managed from Photoshop, are coming out much, much better than they have ever been and skin tones have lost the nasty grey areas that they used to show in shadowed parts of a face. It ain't perfect yet, but it is a whole heap better than it was before.

    So....my grateful thanks to all those who gave advice and helped the process along the way. You know who you are.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Well done Kit!

    Told ya so

    By the way, you're now responsible for replying to anyone who tries to convince themselves that a colorimeter like the Spyder isn't really necessary, for the next 2 weeks

    For what it's worth, the remaining issues are probably due to the printer needing to be profiled as well (more $$$ I'm afraid) - but once you get that done then (excluding doing camera profiling which is probably going a wee bit too far!) the only other source of "dissatistaction" will come from having to learn how a 6 stop additive device (monitor) translates images to a 4 stop subtractive one) (ie getting to know how to adjust images onscreen so they print well).

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    My issue is related, but a bit off topic. I'm having some issues getting my monitors colors just perfect. What tools are you guys using? Is spyder III an external hardware that you attach to your monitor?

    Also I bought an LG 23" e2360v LED monitor thinking the colors would be awesome, but instead they look a bit over exposed no matter what settings I change. I really wanted an IPS monitor, but after my new computer setup I just did not have enough. Can anyone help me get my colors as close to perfect? I've tried using the color calibration software windows 7 provides, but it just doesn't seem right.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Hi Pat,

    The link I gave in Post # 12here is a good one to calibrate your screen and it will get you sloe but there are not enough controls on your monitor to fine tune your screen. Spyder 3 does have at attachment you sit on your screen while it profiles your screen but once done you take it off. This part is an essential second step. I only use a Viewsonic screen but get very good results with it calibrated AND profiled – read Kits comments above.

    Kit – my 2 weeks are up, over to you.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Hi Pat,



    Kit - my 2 weeks are up, over to you.
    Hokay!

    Colin - I have had a look at printer profiling, but until/if/when I start to need to have 100% acurate colour, that isn't going to happen. Once we get back to living in a proper house and have room for a decent printer and dosh for one, I may consider it. But for now, I'm one happy chick.

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    Re: The Difference between monitor calibration and monitor profiling - please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    until/if/when I start to need to have 100% acurate colour
    Ha - I wish!

    It's never 100% because monitors and printers are so different technology and dynamic ranges, but at least the difference is consistent.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 14th February 2011 at 11:00 PM.

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