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How Should Real Estate Photographers Calibrate Their Monitor?

Published: 23/03/2018
By: larry

Last week I got two questions (Justin and Patrick) on the subject of how should I calibrate my monitor for real estate photography?

Here is Justin's:

I haven't seen a lot of talk about monitor calibration on your site and was wondering if anyone has any recommendations when it comes to post-processing. At this time, I am using a Spyder4 Pro which is several years old. I am eyeing the Spyder5 Elite but if there is something better out there, I am all ears.

What is the standard to calibrate to? The only thing I can do to try to see what my clients are seeing is… not doing anything. Pull a monitor out of the box and start using it. Yes, I use sRGB--because that’s probably the default for everyone.

The fact is that well over 50% (perhaps as high as 70% depending on where you get your statistics) of your clients and their clients will be viewing your photos with an uncalibrated smartphone or tablet. So if you want to see what your work looks like to your clients just use that uncalibrated smartphone in your pocket!

Delivering photos in the sRGB color space is important because that is the color space that everything on the internet is.

Of course, this smartphone/tablet trend will continue. It won't be long before no one but professional people will use a desktop or laptop.

11 comments on “How Should Real Estate Photographers Calibrate Their Monitor?”

  1. I have used the Spyder and currently use Xrite. We need close color but I'm not a real fanatic, I prefer pleasing color. BUT it is important that all screens in the office be calibrated as close as possible to each other. I bounce around between 2 desktops , each with 2 screens and 2 laptops and the laptops also have external screens. They all 8 screens have to as close as possible if your work is to be consistent.

  2. I use the Spyder to calibrate all my monitors about once each month. If you are serious about your work, you need to be working on a calibrated monitor. While many of your customers may not have even heard of color calibration, some of them will, especially the more sophisticated and if your colors are off, your work won't be considered up to scratch.

  3. I have been using the X-Rite i1Display Pro, which reminds me to calibrate every 4 weeks.

    I was told when I switched from a PC to a 27"I-MAC, that it was very important to do a calibration on my new MAC.
    X-Rite informed me that MACs are usually overly bright and contrasty, to make the images pop and look very impressive in the showroom and on the sales floor.

    But in the real world, for important editing, they need to be calibrated.

  4. Little to none of your clients will be viewing your images through your calibrated monitor. I would even say hardly any client will be viewing your images through their calibrated monitor. Even then, we all see color differently. The best advice here is to view your work on as many devices/monitors/TVs/watches? as possible to get an idea of what the range of your work looks like to the general public. Sure, having your monitor calibrated isn't a bad idea but it is definitely not necessary. Especially if you are starting out... Most of you are not selling these as works of art and you are most likely not even printing them. Think about your target audience and how they will be viewing your photos. You want to cater to them, not your calibrated monitor.

    If you are concerned about the color and you want to go beyond simply calibrating/viewing lots of devices, I would urge you to start reading the numbers and understanding how color builds and profiles work. After years of design/print print work I could work on a black and white monitor and produce accurate color by reading the CMYK color percentages... Knowing how the colors interact with each other and when/how to remove the dirty colors makes for a much, much better print and helps immensely with my understanding of color correcting, processing and manipulation... Fun basic color info here if you are new to the subject- https://99designs.com/blog/tips/the-7-step-guide-to-understanding-color-theory/

  5. Working with a calibrated monitor is professional photography 101. It's cheap and easy. I use the Spyder also. Who cares what device your client is using, don't you want to know it left your studio correct?

  6. I calibrate my monitors once a month - I use a dual monitor setup. For calibration I use a Spyder 5 Elite and calibrate to sRGB.

    As I am photographing real estate, which usually is for sale or rent I target my results to depict the property as it is. This way prospective tenants/buyers don't get any (nasty) surprises. On the other hand, if my client wants a different result then I will adhere to his/her wishes. After all, they are paying for my time and work.

  7. I use two monitors. One monitor is calibrated, the other is not. This allows me to see both calibrated and non-calibrated at the same time. This works really well for my purposes.

  8. I do think important to at least make sure your images are created with correct color. I use my old iMac 27" as my monitor and have found during its 9 years of life that I have not needed to calibrate it. I have produced an abundance of print publications on everything from high quality glossy brochure to low quality local magazine publications and the photos all look as they show on the iMac screen.

    But we all have to acknowledge that for decades, anything that is designed to be published and viewed on computer monitors will always look different from the photographer's monitor. Different manufacturers, different user settings and so on. Same with audio. So all you can do is make sure that what comes out of your computer is correct. From that point on you have no control and thus no responsibility on how the images will look. Client education is very important. Happily todat's cell phones and tablets are so much better than earlier computer monitors and lap top screens.

  9. I would put the number of people that use calibrated monitors at under 1%. However, that is the reason you should calibrate your monitor. Imagine plotting the red/green, blue/yellow mid value of all monitors and display devices. You will find that the monitor, as a group, are centered around the proper calibration point. However, some will be on the red side, others on the green. Some will be more blue, others more yellow. By calibrating your monitor at the proper point, your photos will look their best for the largest number of people.

  10. As others have mentioned, every monitor/screen, even the exact same manufacturer can be calibrated by the same calibration device and they will still not match 100%. The ambient light in the room you are in will affect our perception of colors. Close one eye and then switch to the other eye. Sit down and look at your screen and then stand up without adjusting the angle of the monitor. If a customer says anything about color, my first question is "when did you last calibrate your monitor?" That usually ends it but I also ask them to find something in the photo that they know should be white, is it bluish, yellowish, orange. Or after I get some actionable idea of what they mean (ie, my couch cushions are not that orange), I can use white balance, saturation, vibrancy, or HSL to tweak the detail of specific color(s). However, when it is all said and done, if my monitor is not calibrated, I am off the mark, to begin with, and that variance from the mark is going to do nothing but get worse. At least I have a firm foundation to stand on if I keep my monitor calibrated.

  11. Calibrate your monitor. I don't think it makes any difference which calibration device you use. Get a reputable calibration tool and use it periodically.

    Without getting technical, let me quickly explain why.

    Let's start with your monitor NOT calibrated. Without any attempt to speak in real terms, let's say that one of the parameters of your monitor is off of where it should be by -5 units (could be any value whatsoever). And for arguments sake, one of your clients' monitors is off of that same parameter value by -4 units. Your client will see the image with a parameter value that is 9 units away from where it should be.

    If your monitor IS calibrated, that value should be 0 or very close to 0. That same client will view the image with a parameter value that is only 4 units from where it should be. Four is better than nine.

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