Display Calibration on a Budget

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Today’s Question: I am now wanting to purchase a calibration product and wondered whether I might get your advice on this subject. I am only an amateur photographer and would welcome your advice on what to purchase towards the budget end of the range.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do highly recommend calibrating and profiling your monitor display, and I certainly understand preferring a tool at the lower end of the price scale. In this case I would recommend the X-Rite ColorMunki Smile (https://timgrey.me/smile), which sells for about US$99.

More Detail: When you calibrate and profile your monitor display you are ensuring that what you see on your monitor is as accurate a reflection as possible of the actual image data in the photos you are viewing. That, in turn, helps ensure you are applying appropriate adjustments to a given photo, and that when you share your photos the intended appearance will also (hopefully) be maintained.

A display calibration package includes a special instrument (a colorimeter) that measures the output from your monitor display. Between applying adjustments to the display settings based on measurements, as well as building a custom display profile based on additional measurements, the display can be adjusted to a more accurate presentation.

I generally recommend the ColorMunki Display package (http://timgrey.me/colormunkidisplay), which sells for about US$170. However, you can also get excellent results with the ColorMunki Smile package, which sells for about US$99. There are some minor limitations with the ColorMunki Smile package compared to the ColorMunki Display package, but for typical workflows that is a complete non-issue. To learn more about the ColorMunki Smile you can follow this link:

https://timgrey.me/smile