Buyer's Guide 2006: Monitor Calibration
Achieve accurate color on your screen using these tools
If you've ever been frustrated with prints that don't match what you see on your monitor, you understand the importance of color management. Having a calibrated monitor allows you to make changes to an image with confidence because the colors displayed on the screen are an accurate reflection of the file. In addition, it helps ensure that the color values you see on the screen will closely match your output.
The first step in a color-managed workflow is to calibrate your monitor. While there are software solutions such as Apple's Color Calibrator Assistant and Adobe Gamma, these simplistic methods rely on your eyes and judgment—meaning the results will be a compromise.
Several options are available that remove the human factor and deliver highly accurate results that will improve your workflow and reduce the amount of time it takes to get that good print. These packages range in price from less than $100 to more than $1,500.
Calibration packages are either completely software-based or include a colorimeter, which attaches to your monitor and measures levels of brightness and color values. If you might create your own printer profiles, some packages include a spectrophotometer, which measures color values off of a color chart produced using your printer. There also are bundles that include both the colorimeter and spectrophotometer.
For a basic color calibration system, ColorPLUS from ColorVision includes the original Spyder colorimeter and wizard-based software. ColorPLUS is the lone product that works on Windows only. It's designed for ease of use and doesn't include customizable settings, as do other systems. List Price: $99.