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Cheap monitor calibration?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by NicolasB, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Having lots of fun with my shiny new Dell 2405FPW monitor. But I can't help feeling that, even though it's never going to be anywhere near perfect, it could look a bit better than it does, simply by tweaking the monitor controls (brightness, contrast, R, G and B intensities) and the standard Windows colour management settings (gamma and per-channel gamma, etc.)

    What options exist to callibrate a monitor without spending significant amounts of money on it? I'm mostly looking for a way of making digital photos display a bit more accurately. If I mess about with a picture in Paint Shop Pro and then take to an external photo printing shop then, assuming the external printing shop is set up properly, I want the final printed photo to look roughly the same as it did on the screen.

    For example, at the moment (I think) the monitor is making colours too saturated, so if I made the picture look right on my screen, it would come out looking faded when printed.

    I would consider a dedicated hardware solution, but I don't want really to spend a huge amount of money - £10, £20, maybe £30. Free would be good. ;)

    At the moment I'm not interested in synching with my own colour printer, as it's too old to be accurate anyway(!).

    What are my options?
     
  2. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    I've spent the last few weeks messing around with monitor calibration and without external hardware this site:
    http://epaperpress.com/monitorcal/

    is quite comprehensive, it took me ages to notice the menu on the side though. :blush:
     
  3. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    I am going through the process of setting up my projector and htpc at the moment so I have been looking at all kinds of calibrations.

    On the display calibration front I found two good sources of info.
    There is this website with plenty of useful tools:
    http://www.displaycalibration.com/

    There is also a thread that discusses screen calibration and talks about the above website and others (a useful site there as well if you are using VMR9).
    You can find it here:
    http://htpcnews.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=12296

    HTH,
    Jack
     
  4. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Thanks for the tips, guys.

    I wasn't hugely impressed with http://www.displaycalibration.com/ - so far as I can tell, the only useful test it has is for brightness and contrast. The rest is simply explaining about how different resolutions work, what colour depths are, and allowing you to download a now-obsolete Windows 98 tool.

    I've downloaded the wyziwyg software from praxisoft (click here) and it has some useful stuff in it - gamma adjustment of red, green and blue channels independently. It also has some scanner and printer calibration stuff that I haven't looked at yet. And it's free. :)

    The thing I'm finding hardest to get right is the colour temperature, or (to put it another way) the relative red, green and blue intensities. I can't seem to find anything to calibrate that other than looking at a large area of white and thinking about whether it's too pink (or blue, or green, or whatever). Not the easiest thing to judge precisely.

    There's also a problem with my Dell monitor that there is no brightness setting at which it is impossible to distinguish between black and one-level-above-black, so I've no idea what the brightness should be set to. :blush:

    I'm wondering if it might actually be worth the expense of investing in some colorimeter hardware. Mostly these cost £150 and up, although there is one called Pantone ColorPlus which is "only" £80 or so. Don't know if it's actually any good, mind you.
     
  5. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    I know its more than you want to spend but I've got a colorvision spyder 2 (£180) and its great. you may be able to get one second hand on ebay for less though.
     
  6. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Yeah, the ColorPlus system is the cut-down version of that - Spyder rather than Spyder 2 colorimeter, and slightly less fancy software too, I think. I don't know what the practical difference is, though. There's also a "Spyder 2 pro" with fancier software. :)
     
  7. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Doesn't your graphics card have software to change brightness/contrast/gamma? All of mine previously have although obviously doing it in software isn't much good within a DOS environment but you can have different presets which is great. I find that having my CRT monitor properly calibrated makes it far too bright for web-browsing but have a different setting for games. :)
     
  8. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Yeah, I'm using a rather elderly graphics card at the moment - GeForce 3 with no DVI output. (Go on, laugh :blush: ). It does have its own brightness and per-channel gamma system, although curiously no satisfactory test for contrast.

    My PC at work has an ATI Rage Pro 128 graphics card, which was four years old even when the machine was new :eek: - I'm using wiziwyg there, as it doesn't seem to have any utility of its own.

    Mind you, either piece of software is highly dependent on the monitor settings. If the monitor contrast is set too high it crushes the whites in a way that the graphics card can't compensate for. And the first time I ran wiziwyg at work it turned everything pink, because the monitor's alleged 6500K setting is actually well into the red. It's only after you set the monitor controls correctly that video card software can do anything useful.

    And it's not enough to have software that lets you tweak gamma, etc. - you need to have something that tells you what value to tweak it to!
     

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