There’s not much that can actually be calibrated with these screens, so the process is fairly straightforward …
Choose “LCD” or “Laptop” as appropriate.
Choose Calibration Settings
White Point: Native White Point
You may have read that 6500K is the ideal target for digital imaging, and that is possibly true. But for a screen that doesn’t have colour controls, it’s best to try Native first.
It’s probable that your screen is comfortably close to 6500K (anywhere from 5500 to 7500 is fine) without the need for altering the white point artificially in the profile. (More about this later).
It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard that Macs use 1.8 gamma. That was last century. 2.2 is the definitive standard now.
Luminance: No higher than 120cd/m²
Choice of Luminance target is subject to (a) your lighting conditions, (b) your screen-to-print matching, and (c) your personal preference.
I recommend 100, then edit some photos and get some prints done. You’ll quickly know if you need to go up or down. I’ve got my laptop at 60, and it’s great.
DON’T go above 120. I don’t care how dim it seems – you’ll soon get used to it, and wonder how you ever tolerated it so bright before.
Perform ambient light check
Your i1 device is capable of reading the light in your room, and comparing it to the accepted lighting standard for photo editing. Your room is almost certainly not up to standard, and attempting to make it so is difficult and unnecessary for many of us.
It’s important to understand that the Ambient Light reading has no effect whatsoever on the actual calibration process, and for that reason I will not mention it further in this tutorial.
Place your i1Display on the Monitor
When you click to this screen, you may notice your screen’s colour change. That’s because it’s removing the previous profile, and returning your monitor to its raw state.
Needless to say, you should place your device roughly in the centre of your screen, and make sure it’s sitting perfectly flush with the surface of the screen.
At this point, you should turn off your lights if you wish to do so. I don’t know for sure if it makes a difference, but it can’t hurt to avoid having ambient light directly on the screen while you calibrate.
Set your luminance
Press “Start”. The screen will show a series of rectangles while the device finds itself.
In rare cases you’ll get this error: “Eye-One position detection failed! Do you want to continue anyway?” This usually happens because the screen isn’t bright enough. Press “No”, then turn up the Brightness and try again. (However, my friend Richard assures me that he just presses “Yes” to continue, and it doesn’t affect the calibration at all.)
Once the device has found itself, the Quality Indicator appears in the top right-hand corner of your screen.
It’s self-explanatory, of course. You need to adjust your screen’s brightness to get the black bar as close to the centre of the green area as possible. Once you’ve done so, press “Stop”.
- You may not get it exactly in the centre of the green range. Don’t worry about it. Just get it as close as you can.
- If your screen’s Brightness is controlled by your mouse (eg via System Preferences on many Macs), this presents a small problem. You need to open your Display Control Panel, and toggle between it and the i1 software using Ctrl-Tab (or Alt-Tab on a PC).
You’ll find you have to flick back and forth quite a bit. You’ll tweak the slider, then switch back to the i1 software and wait a second for it to read the new luminance, then flick back and re-adjust … etc. It’s a hassle, but that’s just how it is.
- In some cases, your screen may not be able to achieve the target luminance. You might reduce your Brightness to 0%, but it’s still too bright. This is disappointing, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Just set it as low as you can and move on.
- With a lot of monitors, your black indicator may not stay completely still. It might jiggle around a little bit. That’s quite normal.
- During these calibration steps, you’ll find your mouse pointer is hard to manage. It disappears, and you have to move your mouse around for a while to make it come back. Then when you try to click the “Stop” button, you have to click and hold for a second before it responds. That’s all quite normal, it’s not a fault with your computer.
That’s the end of the calibration part of the process, and therefore the end of your involvement for a few minutes. Go and grab a beer or a cuppa (depending on the time of day) while the device reads a series of colours, and builds your monitor profile.
Needless to say, don’t touch or bump anything while this is happening.
When the profiling is finished, you’ll get a Summary screen that looks something like this:
On the left is the Gray Ramp. This tells us what the profile has to do to show you a perfectly neutral black-and-white image.
In the above example, you’ll see that the blue curve is the lowest of the three. This is quite common with LCD screens – they tend to be naturally quite “cool”, so the profile is telling Photoshop to reduce the blue tones in order to achieve accurate neutral and near-neutral colours.
On the right is the “chromaticity diagram” of the gamut of your screen. That black triangle is meant to represent the range of colours your monitor can reproduce. Frankly, it’s largely useless, and I usually ignore it.
If you followed my directions, this will say “Target: native” and “Current: XX00K”. This is the first time you get to find out what the native white temperature of your screen actually is.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s likely to be reasonably close to 6500K – within +/-1000K.
If it’s too far away for your liking, you are welcome to re-do the calibration process with 6500K as your target. But I encourage you to try the native result for at least a day or so, and see if you like it. Even better, edit some photos and get some prints made, then judge if you like the screen. Please don’t strive for exactly 6500K just “because somebody said so”.
Your target was 2.2, and in most cases, you’ll get this result.
But some screens might be off by +/-0.1, or even as much as +/-0.2. If this happens to you, you need to consult your inner nerd to decide whether to re-calibrate.
I usually don’t bother, and here’s why. Regardless of the resultant gamma of your profile, Photoshop will display your photos perfectly. Photoshop takes the gamma into account, and displays the pixels accordingly. You’ve got nothing to worry about.
The gamma of your screen only affects windows, web pages, etc. It might make them a bit darker, or a bit lighter, than somebody with a 2.2 gamma screen. How much darker or lighter? Buggerall. There is no way you can look at the icons on your desktop and say “They look 0.1 darker than they should be.” There are too many things to worry about in this world, don’t lose any sleep over errant gamma.
If I haven’t convinced you, and you wish to aim for that perfect gamma, it’s as simple as setting a different target. If your first result was 2.1, re-calibrate with a target of 2.3, and it should fix it.
Your “Current” luminance value should be pretty close to your “Target” value, but it’ll rarely be exact. That’s ok – again, the human eye can’t possibly distinguish a small luminance margin.
If it’s more than 10cd/m² difference, you might consider re-calibrating to an adjusted target.
Note: If you calibrated to 6500K instead of native, there’s a greater chance of luminance error. You might need to set your target at 110 to hit 100, for example.
“Minimum” is a measure of the black density of your screen, I believe. You can’t control it, so don’t worry about it.
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