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Monitors, calibration and viewing

When preparing digital images for print the quality of your monitor, proper calibration (using a hardware calibration device) and the lighting of your workspace and print viewing areas are the most important steps to get right if you wish to achieve predictable and consistent results.

Why calibrate your monitor?

Most monitors have a brightness in excess of any print media and will need calibrating. If you don’t, your prints will always look too dark when compared to the image on screen. The aim is to calibrate the monitor so that it mimics the characteristics of the printed page.

Different papers can have different base whites (which affects overall colour balance), so you will need to calibrate your monitor’s white point to match the paper you are intending to print on. In other words a monitor that hasn’t been calibrated won’t match any media and one that is calibrated to be a good match for an image printed on Fuji Crystal Archive wont be a good match to an image printed on Hahnemuhle German Etch as their base whites are very different.

You cannot calibrate a monitor accurately enough by eye alone. A hardware monitor calibration device (colourimeter) is as important to producing a good print as a light-meter is to producing a good image file or negative.

How to calibrate your monitor?

You cannot calibrate a monitor accurately enough by eye alone. A hardware monitor calibration device will insure accurate and consistent monitor calibration.

We recommend the Xrite Display Pro, alternatively for a wider range of calibration devices please visit Colour Confidence

When using a colorimeter the software will usually have a basic and an advanced mode. Because you will be producing a calibration that is unique to your monitor/viewing/printing conditions you will need to use the advanced mode.

The standard recommended aim values are white point 6500K and brightness of 120CD. This is only a starting point and you may have to fine tune this further using a suitable test image which is available from Spectrum.

Confirming the match between your monitor and your print

The best way to confirm that your monitor is successfully calibrated for printing is to have a test print made which includes an area of white so that you can judge your white balance and luminance correctly.