Colour Management and Monitor Calibration

I started researching this topic over the Xmas hols – as I was getting frustrated with the limitations of working with only one monitor.  I have a venerable old CRT which works fine but is only 19″ and its hard when you are trying to view and edit a lot of photos, there isn’t enough space and it gets all scrunched and annoying.  Partly one of the reasons I haven’t posted any of my shots for a while *sigh*

So I started looking at monitor options and stumbled across this whole arcane world of colour management.  This appears to mean setting your monitor and any related colour output devices (like a printer) so that a few certain things happen:

1:  that the colours on the image viewed are as accurate as possible
2: when you (somehow mysteriously) link your colour management profile to your printer it prints out exactly what you see on the screen

I am not particularly bothered about printing images at this stage, I am a long way off having any worthy of the cost, and I don’t have a decent photo printer to do the job at the moment.  But it would be nice to know that the images I am viewing and editing are as correct as possible.

However I also know that the majority of the people who view the images I upload to Flickr or here are probably viewing them on an standard grade monitor with no calibration.

My problem is that the technology behind different grades of monitor panels means you have to buy an expensive IPS one to get the best performance.  But according to reviews I have seen you can still spend $500 NZD or more and still not get the best option!

There is an amazingly informative (and quite daunting) sticky post about it here http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=39226  (if it doesnt open to the correct forum its the first post in the Video Cards and Graphics discussion)  It tells you all about the different panel technology and why, if you want to do ‘proper’ image editing with a calibrated monitor, you need to get an IPS one (or a good wide gamut in the other options)

Other than the initial cost of a monitor – the cheapest IPS I can get in NZ is $500+ – there are only a few of the range available in NZ, so thats a big limitation.  And then there is the cost of the monitor calibration kit – you need a hardware device paired with software

Spyder 3 Pro Monitor Calibration Kit

The Spyder product is the one I see mentioned most often and is available in NZ but you are looking at $200+ for the Pro unit.  And apparently because the LCD panels degrade over time you really do need to *buy* the thing, because you should check your calibration once a month or so *flails wildy!!!*

And now Im stuck!  I could get just a standard 22″ monitor for about $300 and just go with it.

But should I go for the IPS monitor for the bit extra? I can probably borrow a calibration kit for the inital one and hang on as long as possible til I can afford my own.

I don’t know if its really worth the extra money. And I don’t really have it right now, but I’m getting really frustrated with working on my single smallish monitor.  And I post most of my pix to the web anyway.  Am I being too anal about this?

This Dell 2209WA monitor is the one lots of people rave about – its available in NZ and they just dropped the price by $50!

What to do????

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About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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4 Responses to Colour Management and Monitor Calibration

  1. Craig says:

    Due to the number of photos I was taking I took the plunge a year ago. All I can say, once you see IPS/PVA.. never go back 🙂

    Sure my 24″ PVA Cost me a grand (and the new model has a IPS and cheaper due the US$), but its the bees knees for photo editing/production. Literally the same as 2 17″ side by side.

    I have the 2408WFP. PVA is most certainly a good option if IPS is out of range, but not a TN

  2. forkboy says:

    An English friend of mine and I have discussed this very issue at great length for over a year. He purchased a monitor calibration tool because he wanted his monitor to be “right”, regardless of the fact he wasn’t printing pictures. At all. And that, as you state, other folks viewing his pics on Flickr probably don’t have calibrated monitors. And by probably I mean none.

    So it begs the question: why does one need a calibrated or professional monitor?

    I agree with Craig (above) that once you acquire one of those pro-level monitors you’ll never want to go back, but to what end are you spending the money for either the calibration device/software or the fancy monitor?

    You could easily make an argument for such devices if you were printing pictures for a job/profession. Or editing them and passing them along to others for printing. But is that where you are or where you are going in the near future?

    Personally, I think you should spend the money or more lenses. Or lighting. Or a faster memory card.

    Until you really have need for a ‘perfect’ monitor why not expand your everyday equipment?

    • lensaddiction says:

      Yes this is the question I am asking – do I really need this kind of hardware now? But its a case of – if I am spending $300 now why not spend $500 and get the good stuff?

Love to hear your thoughts on my post!

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