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How to Calibrate Your Monitor for Lightroom

Published: 10/05/2021

Suppose you shot some exterior views of a spectacular property. When you look at them on your screen, you find that the color of the sky looks purple and the grass looks pale. You spend time editing the image in Lightroom, only to find that the processed image looks different on other devices.

The primary culprit behind such scenarios is an uncalibrated monitor that displays an inaccurate representation of colors. Rather than spending loads of money on a new screen, you can try an economical, highly effective solution by learning how to calibrate your monitor for Lightroom.

How to Calibrate Your Monitor for Lightroom

Editing in Lightroom or Photoshop relies heavily on the display device, that is, your monitor. If it is calibrated, the color contrast, saturation, and tones of the image are shown accurately. Otherwise, the screen display will not be closer to reality, plus the print of these images will be drastically different than what you imagined.

Monitor adjustment is not something that should intimidate you. It is a quick, hassle-free process and worth it if you want an enhanced image quality. There are three methods that you can use for calibration. However; you need to care for a few things before starting with any of the methods.

  1. Make sure that your monitor is turned on for at least half an hour before you begin the calibration. A monitor running for some time shows better results.
  2. Check the resolution of your monitor. It should be running at the highest supported resolution, also known as the native resolution.
  3. The room in which your monitor is placed should have moderate lighting. Avoid darker rooms or brightly lit rooms, especially direct light hitting the monitor. 

Monitor Calibration Using Online Tools

There are various online tools that you can use to calibrate your monitor. These tools run tests to adjust the brightness, contrast, color range, gradient, and pixel mapping of the screen. Some highly reviewed ones are:

The Lagom LCD Monitor Test Pages

To get the best possible picture quality, Lagom conducts a variety of tests to check for the contrast, brightness, sharpness, gradient, and gamma setting adjustments. It provides test pages through which you can inspect your monitor for various things.

Besides online testing, Lagom provides test images in a zip file as well, which you can download on a USB to take with you wherever you go.

Photo Friday

Photo Friday is a comprehensive monitor calibration tool that makes sure that black and white tone transition is easily distinguished. The tool’s landing page consists of shapes and tones with simple instructions to calibrate your monitor for optimum visuals.

W4ZT

To adjust your monitor’s color adjustments, gamma, or greyscale, you can use the W4ZT online tool. You will notice a significant improvement after using this reliable monitor calibration tool. 

Monitor Calibration Using Built-in Tools For Windows and Mac

Both Windows and Mac have built-in tools with features to conduct stepwise monitor calibration. The only issue with built-in calibration is that it will be limited according to the model and display type.

Windows

On Windows 10, type Color Calibration into your search bar. Click on the result Calibrate Display Color. It will open a wizard which navigates you through the process of screen calibration settings such a gamma, brightness, and contrast controls. It also helps you with color balance.

Adjusting calibration settings for Lightroom

Follow the instructions to adjust the settings to mimic the sample image. 

In the end, you will get an option to compare your previous calibration with the current one. Click on Finish. 

Mac

On Mac OS, the monitor calibration tool, known as the Display Calibrator Assistant, can be found in the System Preferences. Simply go to System Preferences and click on Display. Select Color > Calibration. The tool will run through the calibration process to adjust your monitor. 

Firstly, you will need to check the box for Expert Mode. After that, tweak the White Point. You have an option to do it manually or by checking the box for Use Native White Point. Adjust the target gamma and native gamma.

Apple creates a profile for your calibration, which you can name accordingly. It asks whether you, as an admin, allow other users to access this profile. Once done with the settings, click on Done.

Monitor Calibration Using Calibration Devices

The best level of adjustment required for professional photography and editing in Lightroom and Photoshop can be achieved via hardware calibration. For this, you will have to buy a calibration device, known as a colorimeter, which attaches to your monitor and runs via cutting-edge software. 

Colorimeters offer a higher degree of accuracy, which results in color consistency that is a prime requirement of highly creative photographers. This is why using hardware for color calibration is advised for higher flexibility and control over image quality.

Devices like X-Rite iDisplay Pro or SpyderX system are compact devices that curb the need for manual calibration. As everyone’s perception of colors is different, the hardware calibration provides better results than methods for which you have to use your own eyes. 

This method will require you to install software for the particular device. After that, plug the device into the USB port and hang it on the screen. Start the program, and it will walk you through the steps, and you just need to follow its instructions. Hardware calibration doesn’t take much time yet does the job more effectively than the built-in or online tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Monitor Calibration Required?

To ensure a neutral white color without any shift, it is vital to calibrate your monitor. It is crucial to achieving accurate colors under ambient lighting for an improved representation of colors in an image. If you don’t calibrate your monitor, a color in the picture which appears white on your screen will seem light grey on another device.

How to Check a Calibrated Monitor?

A trick to check your monitor calibration is to print a test image from a lab that supports ICC color profiles. When you get the print, compare it with the one on your screen. If both are not matching, it is a tell-tale sign of an uncalibrated monitor.

Using this trick will also tell you whether your images are printed correctly through a preferred printer model. Another way to inspect the monitor is to buy a color-checker card. You can compare the shades of the card with the results on your screen to see whether they match or not. 

How Often Do I Need To Calibrate My Monitor?

Depending upon the level of your work, you can calibrate your monitor on a monthly or bimonthly basis. Professional photographers who habitually work with thousands of images may need to calibrate their monitors even more frequently as the monitor degrades, resulting in changing colors with excessive use.

Conclusion

Skipping on monitor calibration may harm your image output in the longer run. It is vital to adjust the monitor for editing software like Lightroom and printing purposes using any of the methods explained above. Although built-in system tools and online tools are good, better results can be obtained by using a colorimeter device for monitor calibration. 

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