Elements of Monitor Profiling

There are three basic elements of monitor calibration.

Calibration You need to configure your monitor itself to the best settings for brightness and color. A well-calibrated monitor does a good job of displaying colors; the monitor profile will only need to make small adjustments to a well-calibrated monitor. To calibrate your monitor, you will need to use the controls on the monitor itself to adjust brightness and color. Find the monitor manual if you don't know already how to do this.

Set the target color and contrast The monitor can mimic the color and contrast of a variety of light sources. You should set your monitor to mimic daylight. These values are referred to as the White Point and the Gamma. All the monitor profiling tools require you to set these.

Set the White Point to: 6500K, D65, or Daylight. (These are all the same value.)

Set the Gamma to: 2.2, Windows or TV Standard. (Even on a Mac.)

Profiling Profiling requires a software utility to display colors on the monitor and provide a way to correct these colors. The best solutions also use a hardware sensor to measure the colors displayed by your monitor and create the profile.

Turn on your monitor and let it warm up for 20 minutes before profiling it. Options for Profiling

Software profiling - Windows Adobe® Gamma is a utility for profiling your monitor visually. It is installed with Photoshop. Run it from the Windows control panel. Adobe Gamma can be run in a "step-by-step" mode that eases the process. Adobe Gamma will help you calibrate your monitor, so you will need to be able to adjust the monitor brightness.

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Monitor calibration utilities will need to set the "White Point" and the "Gamma". Hardware tools will also help set the monitor's "Luminance" (brightness).

As you walk through the Adobe Gamma, you will be asked to set the White Point and the Gamma; use 6500K and 2.2 as described above.

Adobe Gamma will also ask for the Phosphors of your monitor. This throws most users. Your monitor is likely to use Trinitron or P22-EBU (typical CRT monitors). There are no options listed for LCD monitors. Adobe Gamma does not work well on LCD displays; use the Trinitron option for LCD displays, but realize that the results may not be great.

Once you run through Adobe Gamma, you should see a difference in the color of your monitor. Run through it again to see if the color changes with a second try. It can be difficult to calibrate with type of utility.

Software profiling - Mac Apple provides the Display Calibrator Assistant for profiling the monitor. Select the Display preferences from the System Preferences. Select the Color tab and press Calibrate to access the Calibrator Assistant. This tool is very similar to Adobe Gamma; but as an integrated system, the Calibrator Assistant can calibrate the monitor color and brightness for you. The basic mode merely requires that you supply target values for White Point and Gamma; use 6500K and 2.2 as described above. The expert mode provides a five-step wizard to help profile the monitor.

Once you run through the Calibrator Assistant, you should see a difference in the color of your monitor. Run through it again to see if the color changes with a second try. It can be difficult to calibrate with type of utility.

Hardware profiling It is also possible to buy a hardware sensor (known as a puck or spider) that can be attached to your monitor to measure the displayed colors. These sensors work with a wizard that is similar to the software utilities described above, but measure the output color values more precisely that the "eyeball" technique. The result is a very accurate monitor profile.

A hardware sensor measures the colors rendered by your display to create a profile

The wizard for the sensor 34 also fairly easy to use, often one or two steps after the initial installation, so it can be easily run once a month.

If you have an LCD (or flat panel) monitor, you will need to use a sensor for accurate calibration.

Some options for monitor sensors are:

■ Eye-One Display 2 from GretagMacBeth (www.i1color.com)

■ Monaco OPTIXxr from Monaco/X-Rite (www.xritephoto.com)

■ Color Vision Spyder2™ (www.colorvision.com).

All of these products work well. They all provide a software utility that uses a step-by-step wizard to guide you through the process of profiling your monitor.

These all also have an easy or automatic mode; this mode will automatically set the White Point and Gamma values for you (to 6500K and 2.2, respectively). The more advanced modes also include steps for precisely calibrating your monitor using the sensor device.

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