What Is Monitor Color Calibration and Why Is It Necessary?

If you're a professional designer, photographer, or even a video game developer, you need to have a calibrated monitor. But what does it mean to calibrate a monitor? And why should you do it?

Here's a quick rundown on monitor color calibration and how it can benefit you.

What Is Color Calibration?

When you look at a photograph on a piece of paper, you know that the colors printed on it will look the same. As long as you're using the same light source, it will have the same tone and hue no matter who's looking at it. This is because everyone is looking at the same piece of paper.

However, when it comes to digital photos, it's not a guarantee that other people looking at the same image on their screen will see the same colors as you do on yours. This is because not all displays are made the same, even by the same manufacturer.

Each monitor produces a slightly different color output. On some screens, a photograph may look warm, but on others, it will look cool. Other screens will show a green tinge, while others have a reddish cast.

It all comes down to how the manufacturer made the display. And to solve this, professionals devised ways to calibrate their monitors.

Color calibrators are miniature spectrophotometers that hang in front of your screen. The calibrator's companion app will generate different grays and colors for the calibrator to measure when activated. It will then correct the colors your monitor shows via its software, and then save it as a color profile.

Related: What Is a Color Gamut?

Even LED monitors shift their color output over time, so you should calibrate it every so often. The minimum requirement for professional color correction is once every six months, but it's advisable to do it monthly. This ensures that your work will have the most accurate color possible at all times.

The Importance of Color Accuracy

If you don't calibrate your monitor, there's a big chance you're not seeing things as they really should be. For example, maybe your display shows you a perfect sunset; it has just the right amount of yellow and orange hues, offering the warmth of the setting sun.

But if your screen isn't calibrated, the actual photo might be bluish and cold, thereby ruining the sunset mood. So if you print it or show it on a different screen, you might be surprised that you didn't capture the effect you were looking for.

And while you might think this is solely the purview of professional photographers and videographers, that cannot be further from the truth. As long as your work requires precise and accurate color reading, you must have a calibrated monitor.

Related: How to Find the Hex Value of Any Color on Your Screen

How Is Color Calibration Used Professionally?

Photographers and videographers must have a calibrated screen when they're editing their work. This ensures that they achieve the color and mood they want to convey in the final product. An uncalibrated display can lead to weird skin tones, undesired color cast, and washed-out images.

Even game developers have calibrated monitors. They need the most accurate colors to get the effect they're after–whether life-like or surreal. After all, it would be no good if you're in a survival game in a post-apocalyptic ice age with a warm tinge.

But aside from those creative fields, even scientists need to have color accuracy. Chemists need to see the colors of their solutions with accuracy. This is especially true for experiments aimed at discovering new compounds and describing their properties.

Some members of the medical field also require a calibrated monitor, especially doctors and specialists who diagnose conditions virtually. When a doctor consults a specialist on the other side of the world, it may not be possible to bring the patient or specimen to them physically. Color-correct images and video is paramount for correct diagnosis.

Even the engineers at NASA have color-calibrated displays. This ensures that the scientists here on Earth are making accurate measurements based on what they see.

How to Calibrate Your Monitor

The best way to calibrate your monitor is to get a spectrophotometer. These devices hang in front of your monitor and connect to your computer via USB. It has a sensor at the bottom that detects your monitor's color output. It then uses software to create a color profile that will adjust your monitor automatically.

But if you don't want to spend money on a dedicated device, both Windows and Mac computers have a built-in solution. Although it's not as accurate as using a spectrophotometer, it will at least help get you the right colors.

Monitor Calibration on Windows 10

To calibrate your monitor on Windows 10, click on the Start Menu, and choose the Settings icon. In the Settings window, click on System, and then select Display. Scroll down to the bottom of the Display subwindow, and choose Advanced display settings.

Under advanced display settings, in the Choose display dropdown list, pick the monitor you want to calibrate. Once you have done so, click on Display adapter properties for [name of your monitor].

A small Graphics Properties panel will pop out. Click on the Color Management tab, and then select the Color Management button. A new Color Management window will open. Go to the Advanced tab, and under Display Calibration, click on the Calibrate display button.

A Display Color Calibration window will open. Just follow the instructions on the screen, and you should get a relatively accurate monitor color after the process.

Monitor Calibration on Mac OS

If you're using a Mac, go to your System Preferences​​​​​​, and then choose Display. In the Display window, select the Color tab, and then click on the Calibrate button. A Display Calibrator Assistant window will open.

In the Display Calibrator Assistant window, tick off Expert Mode, and choose Continue. Follow the on-screen instructions, and once done, you can save it as a profile to get accurate colors.

Why Getting the Right Color Matters

Humans see the world in color. Colors more than just emphasize mood and bring out emotions. They're also crucial in the field of medicine, science, and engineering. Minute changes in tone and hue can impact the way that doctors, scientists, and engineers do their jobs.

And while physical colors will stay the same hue and tone under similar lighting, virtual colors require a properly calibrated display to see them accurately. As our world digitizes more and more each day, we must ensure our screens give us the colors that we are meant to see.

Author: Jowi Morales

Source: Jowi Morales.” What Is Monitor Color Calibration and Why Is It Necessary?”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/what-is-monitor-color-calibration/

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