Olli Thomson
Photography

Calibrated

Until recently I hadn’t quite managed to get round to calibrating my display for a variety of reasons. First, I don’t have a dedicated display for photo editing, using instead my laptop display. But I did acquire a new laptop recently with a much better display so it seemed like a good time to look again at calibration. Also, I haven’t printed that much over the years but I’m planning to print much more in the future and this is where calibration comes into its own. Finally, calibration hardware isn’t exactly cheap.

A couple of months ago B&H Photo has a half price deal on the Datacolor Spyder 5 calibration system so I order it. I decided to start on my old laptop first and was surprised to see just how far off it was, having always perceived it as quite accurate. Instead, it had a very distinctive yellow-green tint. This surprised me since I had always assumed that laptop displays would be biased towards warmer colours, since most people appear to prefer these. It also transpired that it was only displaying 54% of sRGB, though this was less of a surprise.

Running it on the new laptop produced a more satisfying result. There was a very slight correction — again the screen default was a little cool — but not much. It is also managing 99% of sRGB (and 74% or Adobe RGB), which is more or less what ASUS claimed. Looking back over images edited on the older laptop most are still within acceptable limits, though it was interesting to see that redder skin tones were too strong, while browner skin tones were only minimally affected.

The hardware worked flawlessly and I had no difficulties with software or hardware on either laptop. Having come across some reports on the web of people having problems when running calibration on displays utilising two graphics cards I was a little concerned since my new laptop is in this category, but there was no issue.

So now, after all these years, I have a fully calibrated display. Does it make a difference. To be honest, not really. My colours on my screen are more accurate, but once I release those images onto the web I have no control over how they look on other displays (unless they also are calibrated.) Nor can I control how my images are handled by the websites to which I post them, or the web browsers people use to view them. Where it will make a difference, though, is when I print them. Now I can be a lot more confident that what I see on my screen is consistent with what I see in a print.

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