Calibration Frequency

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Today’s Question: In Friday’s answer you said that it isn’t necessary to calibrate your monitor “with great frequency”. How often do you recommend calibrating?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Today’s digital displays are actually quite stable, so once you have calibrated and profiled to ensure an accurate display, calibrating every few months will generally be perfectly adequate, as long as you don’t adjust any of the controls affecting the display itself.

More Detail: In the “early” days of digital photography, we were working on analog monitor displays. Not only would these displays tend to get more dim over time, they would also tend to shift color due to variable wear on the components producing different wavelengths of light (red, green, and blue colors).

Today’s digital displays, by comparison, are very stable. They tend to be about a full stop too bright right out of the box, but the luminance doesn’t fade significantly over time, until the display starts to get relatively old.

The color stability of modern displays is even more stable. That means that right out of the box the color tends to be reasonably accurate. More importantly, once you have calibrated and profiled the display, the color is not likely to shift much at all.

It is still a good idea to periodically calibrate the display, just to make sure it remains accurate. If I forgot to calibrate for six months, I wouldn’t be alarmed at all. But I would calibrate again just to be sure I could remain confident in the accuracy of my display.

One of the most important things is to make sure you don’t adjust the brightness, contrast, or color on the display. If you do, it is best to run the calibration again so you can adjust everything back to an accurate appearance, and build a new profile for the display.