How to - Calibrate your display using a colorimeter
| by Rossi Fernandes
When you go out to a large TV showroom to shop for a new TV, you’re often looking at the image quality trying to judge which of the TVs in front of you offers the best performance. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as that. Firstly, there’s the judgement of what looks best - some people assume that the TV or monitor with the gaudiest colours is the best, or maybe the brightest one. The TVs in a showroom in most cases are set up poorly. The room lighting is poor and all the TVs are setup in their default configurations with brightness, contrast settings and all kinds of colours enhancements set through the roof. When you get a TV back home, you’re most likely going to leave it at those default settings and quite honestly, that TV is not going to look the best it can.
In a professional environment, graphics artists work on PCs, where the displays have been calibrated to reproduce colours accurately. The same is done by professional teams for televisions and projector rooms. We’re going to show you how to calibrate your TV or monitor at home. The installation and setup is really simple. It takes no more than 10 minutes to calibrate your display for the first time. After that, re-calibration is much simpler. In order to do this, we’ll first start with using a colorimeter - a Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite. Now, the Spyder 3 is available in a few variants. Datacolor sent us their top-of-the-line Spyder 3 Elite that has advanced features that give readings that are useful in gauging the performance of displays. There’s a new Spyder 4 product out now, so you can find more information on it here.
The Spyder 3 Elite is a small mouse-like looking object that connects to your PC using a USB port. There’s a weight on one end that lets you hang the colorimeter on the screen from behind the display. The display has a sensor on the top that detects ambient light and on the back, there’s a suction cup that lets you stick the sensor to your display. You have the option to hold the sensor in place over the display if you want to, as well.
Step 1. The first step is to install the Spyder 3 Elite software after attaching the USB connected colorimeter to your PC. There’s no need to attach the colorimeter to the screen just yet. The latest version of the software is freely available on the site or you can simply use the installer bundled with the product. If you’ve bought the Spyder 3 recently, an updated version of the software - Spyder 4 might be bundled with it. Enter the serial key bundled with the product and enable the software.
Basic checklist before calibrating the display
Step 2. The software can be run on a few modes. The first run usually is the Wizard mode where simple questions are asked. Once you calibrate the display you have - a TV, monitor or a notebook, you can re-calibrate every couple of weeks if needed. The re-calibration can be done a lot easier then. The first step will be check all the necessary steps before the calibration itself. Make sure that your display has been running for at least half an hour and that there are no bright spotlights pointed at your display. All the default settings for the monitor should be enabled.
We recommend using a Standard profile that allows changes to be made to the settings. Also, in the case of a television, turn off features such as colour and contrast enhancement features. There should also be some noise reduction features that should be disabled.
Enabling RGB controls for the calibration process
Also, enable the RGB sliders control for finer control - you’ll find this under the Preferences > Advanced Settings menu in the Spyder 3 Elite software. Do this only if you have a television or monitor that has RGB controls on it.
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