True Tone Displays

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Today’s Question: I’ve just bought a new MacBook Pro. The computer display has a new feature called True Tone, which measures the ambient light color and brightness and adjusts the display accordingly. Do you recommend turning this feature off when editing photos in Lightroom and Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For evaluating and correcting color I do recommend turning off the True Tone feature, or any other feature that will alter the color or brightness appearance of your display. Instead, to the extent possible I recommend working in a consistent environment that is relatively dark.

More Detail: In theory, a display that automatically adapts to changing lighting conditions is a good thing, ensuring that the display will appear the same to our eyes regardless of how the ambient lighting changes. In reality, this is more complicated than it may seem. Therefore, my recommendation is to try to control the environment to the extent possible, rather than enabling a feature that will cause the appearance of your display to change.

While lighting conditions can absolutely affect our perception of color, it is challenging to change the appearance of a display to correct for perception errors. Therefore, the far more reliable way to ensure you are evaluating an accurate display of an image is to first calibrate your display, and then work in a consistent and relatively dark environment.

In other words, as much as possible you want the view of your photos to be accurate and consistent, without any outside interference. Calibrating your display will help ensure accuracy, and a relatively dark environment will help ensure you are making decisions based exclusively on the actual display and not the surrounding environment.

You can read more about display calibration on the GreyLearning blog here: