The best solution for calibrating your monitor is specialized software used in conjunction with a colorimeter that reads the actual color values produced by your monitor. Today's top monitor-calibration systems include the ColorVision Spyder2, the ColorVision Color Plus, Monaco Systems MonacoOPTIX, and Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display.
Prices for these products vary, but if you are on a budget, consider the ColorVision Color Plus. This software-and-colorimeter system offers good value for the money for most home systems; Color Plus provides much more accurate calibration than Gamma or Colorsync for the Mac. Professional or serious photographers may opt for the more high-end ColorVision (shown in Figure 3-22), Gretag Macbeth, or Monaco products.
Here are some important points to keep in mind when using a monitor-calibration package to calibrate your monitor:
i Colorimeters read color from your monitor much more accurately than you can when you look at your monitor; they provide a precise color profile.
i All the monitor-calibration products mentioned include colorimeters that attach to LCD monitors as well as to CRTs.
i The software programs are easy to use and provide step-by-step instructions while performing the calibration of your monitor. Usually the steps to calibrate your monitor with any of these products aren't any more difficult than using Gamma or Colorsync on the Mac.
i Most monitor-calibration solutions automatically remind you to calibrate your monitor every few weeks. This is important because monitor characteristics change over time; if you don't recalibrate on a regular basis, your settings start to look like bad science fiction.
i Calibrating your monitor every two to four weeks is recommended.
i Make sure the lights in the room you're working in are dimmed and the blinds are closed when you calibrate your monitor. (Lighting candles and incense can be cool, but keep 'em far enough away from the computer so the particles they give off don't gum up the works.)
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