Is Calibration Necessary?


Today’s Question: I have to buy a new computer and am buying a new ViewSonic monitor at the same time. I read that the display is a highly color-corrected monitor as is, but they do sell a color correction kit which is very expensive. I have been using an older Spyder 3 color calibration kit with my Samsung monitor and it was good. Would a much less expensive and new Datacolor Spyder calibration kit work as well with this new ViewSonic monitor?

Tim’s Quick Answer: With very few exceptions you can use third-party calibration tools (such as the Datacolor Spyder mentioned in the question) with just about any monitor display. Even though today’s displays are very stable and have generally accurate color with default settings, I still highly recommend calibrating your display to ensure both accurate color and appropriate brightness levels.

More Detail: There is no question that in terms of color, most monitor displays are highly accurate right out of the box. That doesn’t mean the color will be perfect, but it will generally be quite accurate. However, brightness levels are generally far too high by default, which can be a particular problem if you will be printing your photos.

Therefore, I highly recommend calibrating your monitor display to ensure the most accurate view of your images possible.

One of the most important steps of the calibration process is an adjustment to the overall luminance (brightness) for the display. You will typically find that out of the box a monitor display is about twice as bright as it should be, or a full stop too bright in the context of photographic exposure.

The color tends to be reasonably accurate in most cases, but you’ll still ensure more accurate color by using a display calibration kit. In particular, you want to be sure you’re using a display calibration kit that includes a sensor (a colorimeter) that actually measures the color and tonal response of your display, so an appropriate compensation can be applied.

Even for displays that have options for specific calibration tools, you can generally use third-party display calibration tools with the monitor to achieve excellent results. For example, the ViewSonic displays are compatible with calibration tools from Datacolor, X-Rite Photo, and others.

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