Calibration Targets

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Today’s Question: Thanks a lot for addressing the issue regarding “how often the monitor could/should be calibrated”. In this relation, would you be so kind to give your view about what is a recommended set up for a calibration? Should I choose D65 or D50, Gamma 2.2 or another one, etc.). Thanks for your feedback in this direction (or do you have any video in your library about that, please?).

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend setting your display calibration to a target color temperature of 6500 Kelvin (D65), a Gamma setting of 2.2, and a luminance target of around 120 candelas per square meter.

More Detail: When you calibrate a monitor display, you can actually choose what values you want to target for color and tone. That means you could target different values depending on your personal preferences, but I recommend that all photographers use the same target values for display calibration.

The illumination standard in a color-managed workflow for evaluating prints is a color temperature of 5000 degrees Kelvin. However, if you calibrate your monitor display to 5000 Kelvin, the display will be a bit too warm (yellow) in appearance. That, in turn, means you will process your images to a cooler (more blue) appearance, which means your prints won’t look accurate.

A color temperature of 6500 Kelvin is closer to the native white point for most monitor displays, and therefore provides a better target value for calibration. This target is often referred to as “D65” in the software used for display calibration.

The other option available to you is the Gamma setting, which can be thought of as something of a contrast setting. I recommend a target value of 2.2, which provides a moderately high contrast for the display. The other common value is 1.8, but to me this provides a much too washed out appearance for the display.

Finally, you have the option to set the target luminance (brightness) value for the display. For most users I recommend a value of about 120 candelas per square meter. If you are working in a very dark environment you may prefer a lower value of around 90 candelas. If you work in a bright environment, you may prefer a brighter setting, perhaps as high as 150 candelas. In general though, I recommend 120 candelas as a good target, in a moderately dark environment.

You can learn much more about color management in photography with my “Color Management for Photographers” video course. This course is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle at no additional cost, or you can purchase the individual course on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/color