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Saturday, 02 April 2016


glad to hear others have not calibrated the monitor in years- My La Cie is still working just fine, thank you. Maybe being primarily a b/w printer has something to do with it?

I like the middle spider best.

My new Colormumki arrived Thursday and I used it for the first time yesterday. For years I used an Eye One puck, but I put in a new computer last month and there is no software support for Win 10. So another $150 off to B&H.

For better or worse, it didn't make a huge difference over what I did walking through the Win 10 visual tool. Enough to make a difference in printing, but 90% of my photos go online only and lord only knows what kind of devices or monitors people out there are using.

So the next step for me - as soon as I get some photos processed and posted - is to go around to friends, family and the public library to look at my newest photos on as many devices and monitors as possible so I get an idea of what the audience is seeing.

I use X-rite's i1 Display Pro, but I ditched its software long ago for Argyll CMS. It's lighter-weight, software wise, than the X-Rite software, and does at least as good a job of calibrating my old Dell 2008WFP as X-Rite's software did.

Argyll uses the i1 puck and a variety of other colorimeters and spectrometers, but is command line only. As I'm no good in the command line, I use the DisplayCAL GUI (fka DispoCAL gui) to drive it.

It's not quick: it takes about an hour for my old Dell, and about 40 minutes for the MacBook Pro screen, and that's on the medium setting... The glossy display on the MacBook fools the colorimeter a bit, and the calibration winds up making the screen a tiny bit bluer than the Dell, though that happened with the X-Rite software too. I've checked checked images I made on both both with my uncalibrated work monitor and both look natural and accurate-enough, so the differences are minor.

Argyll CMS http://www.argyllcms.com
DisplayCAL GUI http://displaycal.net

What is the value in calibrating my monitor when those who only view my images on their digital devices haven't calibrated theirs?

[Well, if you don't, then nobody can see your images correctly; but if you do, then some people can. --Mike]

I use and like the Spyder (4, which still looks like an homage to a spider), but I re-calibrate my monitor once a week. I have a decent monitor (NEC MultiSync PA272W), but it drifts to the warmish side. You might want to pick up one of those Cable Management bags from Think Tank to keep doo-dads like that organized.

I took so long between calibrations that I found that my version of the Spyder is no longer supported by my OS.

I think I might "rent" one off ebay - looks like there are plenty of people who buy one and use it once - should be able to get one for free, or thereabouts...

There is software out there, free software, that let's you use your Eyeball, Mk. 1 to do a fair job of monitor calibration, it works, it's easy, it may not be quite as good as a $100+ device but cheap enough that even casual users should give it a try. After I got my older model Monaco EZ Color I tried to recalibrate my monitor after using the eyeball method and did not have to change a thing. Windows 7 comes with software to do this in the Control Panel.

My favorite Spider was made by Alpha Romeo and most were fire-engine red. In my youth I owned two Alpha's they were fun to drive but a maintenance nightmare. The engines leaked oil and they refused to start on cold winter days. I switched to a Saab, no regrets, it always started.

[It's hard to remember now that that was one of the reasons Saabs were popular. Also that front wheel drive was considered so great for snow...when these days it's AWD that's good for snow and FWD that's deficient. My mother's last car was a high-end end-of-Swedish-Saab Saab and it was a very nice car. --Mike]

I use Richard Hughes' "ColorHug" which is cheap and works great on any system. With my Linux & Gnome machine it's detected automatically, but it would works as well for any Windows machine as long as you can boot the supplied Linux Live CD for the calibration process. Richard is a Gnome and Red Hat developer, and he sent me one of the early developer items.

With regard to your idea of sharing a Spyder among friends, be aware that some (but not all) manufacturers of them still prohibit this and consider it a violation of the software license they grant to the original purchaser.

In the case of my i1 Display Pro, the disc that contains the software specifically states that "unauthorized ... lending ... is not permitted" in fine print around the edge of it (although nowhere on the disc or in the accompanying manual does it explain exactly what constitutes unauthorized lending.)

Of course, as noted above, there is third-party software that can be used instead, so there are ways to do as you suggest without violating a license agreement, if one still exists for the OEM software provided with the Spyder one purchases.

(As a personal aside, I've always hated that business model and am glad to see it being employed somewhat less often than it has been in the past. I also quite dislike Adobe's pay-as-you-go software model and am sticking with CS6 instead of upgrading for that reason. But I digress...)

I've dutifully calibrated every screen I've owned with X-Rite products. Sometimes to definite benefit, sometimes as is the case with my current Eizo display to find no difference from the built in profile. It's defitately worth profiling Apple Laptops. But I also have to say that I've never known a publisher or an agency of any kind where displays were profiled and neither was any attempt made to shield the user from changing ambient light conditions. One of the biggest shocks I ever had was seeing what my lovingly prepared web site images looked like on the average PC laptop.

Some TN-type LCD monitors (such as the one I'm using on my laptop at this moment) have very restricted viewing angles - to the extent that I just have to move the laptop screen forward/back quite slightly to have a marked effect on any image I'm viewing. If you're going to use a calibration device I suggest not using it on a TN-type LCD screen - I have an external IPS-type monitor I use whenever I want to look at photos.
CAVEAT - I'm not an expert on LCD technology.

Agreed at Team Spyder.
and I really dig those first two Spider photos.
When middle age finally exasperates me and I purchase my first Miata I will pay TOPNY headquarters a visit...beeping as I sputter by with GoPro attached to the rollbar.

Next time buy the version that allows you to mount the puck on a stand to measure ambient light, and keep it plugged into the computer. Never lose it then.

Chuck Albertson said, "You might want to pick up one of those Cable Management bags from Think Tank to keep doo-dads like that organized."

My only problem with this is that I'd then lose all my doo-dads at once.

A few points:

1. If you have a CCFL illuminated monitor the colors will drift to warm as the CCFL tubes age and the blue phosphors "wear out". You will need calibration over time with these monitors. That's where the 6 month to 12 month recommendation comes from.

2. LED backlights (even though they are blue+UV LEDs with a yellow phosphors to make white light) seem to have a better lifetime (100,000 hours to 50% brightness) but the color balance can change over time.

3. Most recently companies are making the white LED backlighting from three primary color RGB LED mounted on the same chip. These can tune their color temperature on the fly and maintain a given white (D50, D65) backlight. I'm not sure how widely deployed these are but they are already in other "high gamut" desktop monitors. I wouldn't be surprised if they've been in larger iMacs for a few years. The new iPad that can tune it's color temp seems to indicate Apple have started to use them in high end portable devices (though most laptops use white LEDs)


4. Some older calibrators are no longer supported on more recent OSes pretty much entirely due to laziness/monetary reasons but they will work fine with Argyll CMS. If you have an older calibrator with broken software you can always try Argyll CMS and DisplayCal for a UI that James mentions. They support a huge range of calibrators.


5. The color filters in some (most of the cheaper i.e. non-spectrographic) calibrators also age so colors will drift. Some seem sensitive to absorbing water vapor. When you're not using the calibrator store it in a sealed bag with silica gel to workaround this problem.

6. Companies are starting to make inexpensive intergrted spectrometers now


it's only a matter of time until these appear in color calibrators though if the actively compensated RGB-LED backlighting and LCD dyes never drift in color you may not need them or anything more than the standard company provided monitor profile.

I still use(d) the Spyder2Xpress, and still know its place - I guess ;-)

Maybe my color perception is not as acute as others, but I agree that re-calibrating is rarely necessary (I have a Dell U2410). So I guess I can quit feeling guilty about not responding to the daily re-calibrate nags from the Spyder software.

That alone is worth the price of admission.

However the best part of this posting is the "Around Here Somewhere" paragraph. Priceless! It is a phrase (like "perfect storm" for example) that we won't understand how we lived without it.

Alternate method to pool the expense with a bunch of friends: rent a ColorMunki from lensrentals. :)

I have the opposite problem from you. I’ve managed to keep track of my i1 Display for so long (it’s old enough to be branded Gretag-Macbeth) there’s no software support for it, even using Argyll. So perhaps your strategy of passive upgrade enforcement by neglect is just as good.

I'm still using the more spider-like Spyder3 but I haven't used the software for years as I use NEC's Spectraview that calibrates their monitor's hardware so the puck is just a measuring device. The biggest advantage I've found with hardware calibration is you can get the luminance down really low to match print output far more accurately than I could with software calibration alone.

". For years I used an Eye One puck, but I put in a new computer last month and there is no software support for Win 10"

Not true. The installer does not work , but a little Googling will reveal how to use an Eye One in Windows 10.

Really a spider? I flew off the chair and knocked over some stuff. Not expecting that. Gack!!

I have an old Spyder (perhaps Spyder 2?). Since all of my screens (TV, projector and various monitors) run off computers (except the TV in "TV mode"), I end up doing calibrations for all of them. More often than not it results in a significantly better viewing experience - especially since many of my screens are on the low end of the cost spectrum.

However, what I would really like to calibrate is my tablet. It has a green cast to all of the yellows. Unfortunately, at present, its OS doesn't allow modification of the display output curves.

Check your local library. Mine has one to loan. If they don't, you might suggest it.

I bought the ColorMunki Photo in 2013 and I reckon I've had about 5 minutes use of it. It may as well be used as a doorstop. I had it working, briefly, but the software is so buggy that after changing computers, I simply cannot get it to work again. It's due to the serial number/login dialog which, if it doesn't like you, closes the program down. There's some fix like changing the order of loading of network devices during bootup (huh? Why? And why has the software never been updated to fix this?) I got it going once in early 2014, but I can't get it going now. So my $450 Munki is a clunky heap of garbage.

If you look at the software version dates, the last update was years ago. They don't keep it up to date. Trying to find that FAQ about the network load order is a trial. I found it a few months ago, but it didn't work, so I'm still without a working Munki/Junki. As you can tell, I'm pretty angry with X-Rite.

I specifically chose this device for its printer calibration capability. I have never got as far as being able to use that function. Pah!

Well, if you ever do get to the land of Around Here Someplace, could you look for some of my lost matching socks. Because I know they must be Around Here Someplace, but for the life of me, I just can't find all of my matching pairs.


I have to disagree with the idea the you calibrate once a year or once a device and let it go. Being from the old color film mind set where you "calibrated" (test/samples) your enlarger setup each time you changed film, paper, enlarger bulbs etc. Do you mean to tell me that you don't soft proof your prints? How do you know that what you see is really what will be printed?
I recalibrate my monitor each time there is an update to my graphics driver (yes there are differences) or every three weeks. What I do want is the best quality image I can get sent off to my print facility. I also use the published print drivers, now how can I ensure color fidelity with out knowing that what I see on the monitor is "correct"?
By the way I use the color Monki Photo too, in the days of my Nokia monitor, aging myself in computer age, I used the Huey Pro.

If you are a Mac user, you need a hardware calibrated monitor due to OS X not supporting more than 8 bits per channel (that's changed recently for very specific combinations of GPU and DP displays, but most software can't handle it, certainly not CS6).

Same, used the Spyder a couple of times. No idea where I put it. I am reminded of it when now and again ab lodge appears on the screen saying that the Spyder software has a bug and needs to be restarted. I tell it to go away. It keeps coming back though.

Another vote for eBay for this kind of material purchase-something where you don't need to buy new, and which you really don't need anymore soon after you've bought it. It's dead easy to buy something and then sell it off, minimizing costs. As you may know, eBay and the postal service provide eBay ready boxes, so the work overhead is minimal.

Here's another handy Spider that I've been using since they first came out:

I got the ColorMunki Photo because it allowed me to calibrate not just my monitor but also my printer. I didn't get my first satisfactory color print until after I calibrated the printer (a high-ish end Epson), and printer calibration solved the problem of losing the calibrator for me, since I need to recalibrate the printer every time I use a new paper...

Great article, Mike. IIRC, however, a Munki, EyeOne or a Spyder creates a profile of most displays. Most LCD displays are not, technically speaking, capable of actually being calibrated, however, they can be profiled. This applies to the majority of LCD displays in use, and, AFAIK, virtually all laptop displays in use.

The EIZO CG-series, and NEC PA-series professional displays (e.g. the NEC PA-272W-BK-SVII that I use) come with their own colorimeter purpose-made for them by XRite, as well as display control hardware, firmware, and software that performs a proper hardware-based calibration on the display to reach one's intended targets. One of the key attributes they have is that they have the requisite bit-depth and LUTs (lookup tables) that are sufficient to permit hardware-based calibration. The software makes it very easy to hit one's intended white point, black point luminance values, as well as gamma and color temperature, and they are capable of acheiving very low "delta-E" values, a key measure of color accuracy. The other advantage they have is that they are capable of acheiving a much wider color gamut than most LCD displays; the NECs approx. 99.3% of Adobe RGB. This is a considerably larger gamut than the sRGB gamut that some LCDs are capable of achieving, including the Apple Retina 27" iMac. One thing I will say about the Apple Retina display on the 27" iMac, is that Apple does a quite good job with the display calibration at the factory. Once profiled with an EyeOne Display, they are reasonably close for all practical purposes to a hardware-calibrated NEC (though cannot match them for delta-E or gamut).

I have a 24" NEC monitor. It has a built-in D6500 color temperature setting. I've been using the Spyder 3 Express for years but finally decided to just try the D6500 setting in the monitor, the same value that Spyder Express uses. I don't see any difference.

I think most good monitors have a D6500 built-in and since LCD's don't change over time I wonder of these calibration systems have run there course for most of us. For printers like Ctein who often calibrate their monitors to look like specific papers and inks it may be useful (the Express version of Spyder won't do that) but I don't really see the value of overriding a built-in setting in the monitor with a computer generated calibration.

Here's a validation target that may be of interest. It does require Photoshop to view the target at 100% magnification (people on the latest 4k monitors may need to try 200%) and also to open/close various PSD layers. The target's intended purpose is to validate how well your calibration method, either instrumented or visual, has handled the very important grey scale performance across the full tonal range. Linearity at the extreme ends of the tonal scale plus freedom from "color ripple" throughout the highlights, mid tones, and especially shadows are usually the characteristics which separate high-end monitors and great calibration software from lesser performing equipment.



Color management is rather like the graphic designers' and photographers' version of an English teacher warning, "If you can't say what you mean you won't mean what you say!".

CM gave me many expensive fits in the early days of this century. A few years ago when revising my desktop station I bought the terrific NEC PA301W to solve my display issues. It supports 98% of the Adobe RGB gamut and comes with an integrated version of the X-Rite calibration system which nags me every month for recalibration, although it doesn't really drift noticeably. (I use an X-Rite i1|Display Pro with my MacBook Pro but, frankly, I think any of the systems mentioned above would do just as good of a job...to the extent that a "job" really needs to be done at all.

I think the general color quality and consistency of displays has tremendously improved, especially with the demise of tube monitors. That, plus the great improvement in inkjet print technologies has enabled many people, particularly amateur photographers, to largely shrug at color management and be very productive with uncalibrated off-the-shelf equipment. Indeed the iPad and the Retina iMac displays have become my own reference standards for electronic (emitted light) presentation. Purists may quibble with such a standard but the naked fact remains that it represents the medium that the vast majority of my target audience use to view my images.

Anecdote: Several years ago I became acquainted with a fellow who had become the main go-to digital retoucher, color grader, and printer for an impressive number of very hot contemporary fine art photographers. When the subject of CM came up over lunch one day I was very surprised to see him whiff the subject away like a fart. He claimed not to exert himself at color-calibrating his workflow. He claimed to largely eyeball the whole process. Looking at the prints he produced and the files he often used as source material (which were often -ahem- far from finished) I was just a bit suspicious of his claim.

But today I can see that such an approach is very feasible for even the less-skilled among us. Color is all about visual relationships. If you can manage those relationships and your equipment is reliably and reasonably consistent then you probably don't need to buy into a CM system at all any more.

I'm one of those people who tried calibrating and found that it doesn't make that much of a difference for my work.

Color inaccuracy is greatly overstated as a problem. IME, it's not really a problem that most monitors have, especially now with LCD monitors. They are good enough from the factory and don't drift like CRTs do.

It's something of a fetish for some people to be constantly concerned that the color is just so.

For those people who need to prepare their work for pre-press or have specific needs to match their monitors to their prints then they have the tool to do that. I just don't think most people really need it.

...I took so long between calibrations that I found that my version of the Spyder is no longer supported by my OS..."

Nice to know that I'm not the only one that experience this!

Thanks to James for suggesting the alternate free software DisplayCal; I had never heard of it. I've been using the very simple-minded software that came with my Spyder4 Express (Express means cheap in tech-speak).The Express takes about 90 seconds and DisplayCal took about 90 minutes, profiling the heck out of my 23" Viewsonic. I've always been reasonably content with its color accuracy; my prints match the display pretty well in most cases. Looking at my photos with the new profile, it seems to me that there are more subtle shades of color visible than before. Is this possible, or is it wishful thinking? At least the price was right.

Please accept my apology for commenting here - on a different post.
The post I'm commenting on Was called "Blog Note: TOP Gets Dragged Into the Twenty-Teens".
Just this:
If your new layout supports 'reader mode' in Safari on iOS, that would be great.
I support all of the comments along the lines of - we come here for your perspective and that of the community, but ease of reading would be a nice bonus.

In reply to John Holmes post: "What is the value in calibrating my monitor when those who only view my images on their digital devices haven't calibrated theirs?"

In addition to what you replied Mike, I would also add that processing a photo on an un-profiled/calibrated monitor is like composing a song on an un-tuned piano. When the resulting score is played on either an out-of-tune or an in-tune piano then both will be aural disasters, as will any out-of-the-box un-profiled/calibrated cheapo monitor reveal all the faulty processing of a photograph that was developed with decisions based on incorrect visual feedback from an un-profiled/calibrated monitor.
On the other hand, processing with a profiled and calibrated monitor ensures that when the image is viewed on an uncalibrated monitor it will have an internal integrity that will make it look as good as anything that monitor can display. In other words, it will look great to that viewer, even if the photographer cringes at the poorly rendered image.

Next time you need to do a calibration, you could also consider renting the device. Lensrentals.com has a ColorMunki available to rent:

Since it is a higher end device (one that can do prints apparantly,) renting is cheaper than buying if you don't need it regularly.

I still find it bizarre that any serious photographer would happily drop thousands on a new lens or body and then moan about spending a hundred or so on a colorimeter, or even worse think they can calibrate to an ICC standard by eye.

Remembering that calibration is about consistency and not accuracy a hardware calibration just means you *know* your monitor is the closest it can be to the standard rather than thinking it's good enough.


Lots of good information in this series of comments. I will only add to what a few have already implied. A caution that monitors, even the most expensive and very best, do not last forever.

When I purchased my first Eizo monitor 10 years ago, I justified the expense to myself by thinking it would be the "last monitor I'll ever need". But it wasn't. It reached a point of exhaustion and wasn't able to pump out the stuff required to meet my preferred target.

My guess is that buying a calibration device in order to breathe new life into an older monitor is unlikely to be worthwhile (at least, not for very long).

Let me add my voice to those who locate their Spider calibration device only to find that, instead of offering updated software that will work on your new system, they expect you to buy a whole new Spider just to get current software. No thanks. Ctein's observations on calibration brought me joy. I'd already gone that direction, but having educated confirmation really removed that lingering doubt. The chain from camera to computer to printer is almost magical–but not always in a good way.

I'm surprised no one has come up with a way to use a D-SLR to calibrate a screen.

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