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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Match-Making

Get your monitor to accurately portray the colors of your digital photos


Getting Ready
Although Adobe Photoshop includes a utility for optimizing the output of the monitor, it's not the best solution because it's subjective and heavily influenced by many external factors, not the least of which is one's own eyesight.

Yes, it's better than nothing, but there are much more effective options. Some are strictly software-based while others include a colorimeter, a special measuring device that reads brightness and color values directly off your CRT or LCD.

Before using any of these options, you have to make sure that your monitor is in a good location. No, I'm not talking about Tahiti; I'm talking about where the display is located in your office. The monitor shouldn't face a strong light source like a window or a lamp, as that will impact the appearance of the image on the screen. Ideally, it should be in a room with minimal extraneous light or with the means for blocking light with blinds or drapes.

The surroundings should be neutral in tone, from desk to walls, as a strong saturated color affects how you see color on your monitor. To minimize the impact of ambient light and color on the monitor, consider a monitor shade, like the Hoodman E-1323 HIPPA Desktop Hood ($49).

It's also important to leave your CRT monitor on for at least half an hour before attempting calibration. This allows the CRT to warm up and reach its optimal output. While there are conflicting opinions on whether LCD monitors require this, I recommend the same warm-up time as a CRT to play it safe.

Software Calibration
A monitor has numerous controls for adjusting brightness, contrast and color, whether it's an LCD or a CRT. Although the monitor may look fine straight out of the box, no display will be perfectly adjusted for the purpose of editing photographs.

DisplayMate is an affordable software-based monitor calibration system. Using a unique slideshow that includes specialized test patterns with step-by-step instructions, the software guides you toward achieving the best display possible. At only $79, DisplayMate provides an inexpensive way to optimize your monitor. While the process is still relatively subjective, the exhaustive test patterns and instruction deliver good results.

 

 


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