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Lizzy

Monitor calibrator recommendations please!

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Hi all,

 

I am currently using a laptop for editing- I know this is less than ideal, but haven't the space for a proper monitor at the moment so for a few more months it unfortunately has to do. To get the best results, I am looking into getting a monitor calibrator (I have used the built in Windows 8 colour customisation thing, but struggled with it as sometimes I just don't trust my eyes!)

 

What calibrators is everyone using? Would you recommend it?

 

I am open to brand new from store, or used on Ebay so older model suggestions also welcomed. Ideally I'd like to spend less than $100 but appreciate that most are more expensive than this, so would consider upping the budget if necessary.

 

Adorama currently has the X-Rite ColorMunki Smile on sale for $79 - This is significantly less than most other models on there. Would this do a good enough job of calibrating? 

The next most affordable are the Datacolor Spyder5 Express ($129) and Spyder5 Pro ($143)

 

Any significant differences between X-Rite and Datacolor?

 

Advice welcomed  :)

 

Thanks,

 

Lizzy

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I would think the ColorMunki Smile would do the job you want it to do but, from reading the specs, the software probably doesn't allow you to customise anything. This would very likely be more than adequate for your present purposes. I've not used Spyder but I'm sure their products are excellent and would do the job equally as well.

 

A color checker card is also a good idea or at the very least a white balance card as you still need to be able to set white points in your images. This takes out a lot of the guess work in setting white balance (the camera almost always gets it wrong I find). I think only the X-Rite software allows you to make camera DNG profiles which are very useful and very easy to create and implement. As far as I know the Spyder version requires using presets in LR rather than DNG profiles but this is also very easy. This might sound complicated but it's not really.

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Thanks MDM  :)

 

What kind of customisation is available on other ones?

 

I had to look up about the DNG profiles you referred to - funnily enough I had been reading a lot the last few days about the LR camera calibration options! Knowing now they are the same thing you are right that would be super useful, especially as I use Pentax so doesn't seem that there are any "pre-made" profiles online anywhere that I could find (so limited to standard and embedded), and would be great to be able to make my own... Unfortunately the colour passport software seems about $100 more, so not something I can stretch to at the moment but will definitely look into it in the future.

 

I don't suppose anyone has used the Adobe DNG profile editor? I looked at the instructions and the pictures just looked so complicated so didn't even bother downloading it  :unsure:

 

 

Edited to add... Just cracked open my LR book to see if it had the profile editor in there, actually looks much more straightforward than I thought. Would still need a colour chart for it to work best though... $60 for the chart alone  :blink: Ouch! 

Edited by Lizzy

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Customisation would allow you to calibrate to a specific monitor white point, brightness and maybe gamma. However, you are probably fine with the defaults with the ColorMunki Smile particularly as you are using a laptop and you may be quite limited in what you can do anyway. I have a MacBook Retina (not my main monitor)  and am very limited with what I can do with that - I can't control the contrast at all.

 

The colour charts are expensive because they are made to extremely high precision. But you are lucky in the US - here the £ prices are the same as the $ prices which means they are about 40% dearer here. You probably don't needs to start into creating camera profiles at this stage before getting a desktop monitor although, as you have discovered, it is actually very simple in LR with the X-Rite plugin or their standalone Profile Creator. They have some very good instructional videos - that is how I learned together with my Martin Evening LR book. I've used the Adobe DNG profile editor for the first time recently and it is not half as bad as it seems at first sight but initially is opaque until you find the documentation - I think the main difference is that it allows you to edit the profiles whereas the X-Rite software doesn't.

 

What is very useful though is a white or gray balance chart as this allows you to get precise white balance in LR. These are cheaper than the colour charts. You just photograph it in the same light as you are shooting and then you can synchronise all your similar images in LR. The passport has a white balance card as well as two colour charts so in the long run might be the better option if you are going to start creating your own profiles. Hope this makes sense.

 

EDIT: Just noticed that Spyder have a 24 patch colour checker for a bit less than the X-Rite classic,

Edited by MDM

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I'm thinking of ordering the ColorMunki Smile as well. It gets some very good reviews. Has anyone actually used one?

 

Thanks for mentioning the sale (same price at B&H as well).

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Thanks for the replies everyone  :)

 

A new monitor is well up there on the to buy list, but am moving back to the UK in a few months so apart from the fact it would have to live on the dining table in the meantime, I'm reluctant to buy one here only for it to explode when I plug it in at home  :unsure: Very much looking forward to getting one eventually though!

 

Will make sure I buy a colour chart before I go back though at those prices  :lol:

 

Think I'm going to go ahead with the ColorMunki Smile, but with realistic expectations it may not give the best results on my laptop. I guess thats another reason not to spend any more than necessary on a calibrator just yet, so the Smile seems like a good starting point...And will definitely get the white balance cards.

 

Thanks again!

 

Lizzy

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Thanks for the replies everyone  :)

 

A new monitor is well up there on the to buy list, but am moving back to the UK in a few months so apart from the fact it would have to live on the dining table in the meantime, I'm reluctant to buy one here only for it to explode when I plug it in at home  :unsure: Very much looking forward to getting one eventually though!

 

Will make sure I buy a colour chart before I go back though at those prices  :lol:

 

Think I'm going to go ahead with the ColorMunki Smile, but with realistic expectations it may not give the best results on my laptop. I guess thats another reason not to spend any more than necessary on a calibrator just yet, so the Smile seems like a good starting point...And will definitely get the white balance cards.

 

Thanks again!

 

Lizzy

 

Please let us know how the ColorMunki works out. Hopefully it will leave a smile on your face.

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I have a ColorMunki Smile and find it does the job well. I use it on a HP Zbook laptop and Dell U2410 external monitor. Although you can't customize it, I've found that the prints do come out the way they look on the screen, so that's good enough for me. One thing I found was that if using it to calibrate two monitors, you should have both of them on at the same time and calibrate one and then the other (the software will detect that you have two and will guide you through it). Before doing it like this I found that the computer could lose the calibrated profile for one screen.

 

Adam

Edited by Adam Seward

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Please let us know how the ColorMunki works out. Hopefully it will leave a smile on your face.

 

 

Thanks John, I do hope so! Will report back next week when I have tried it out.

 

I have a ColorMunki Smile and find it does the job well. I use it on a HP Zbook laptop and Dell U2410 external monitor. Although you can't customize it, I've found that the prints do come out the way they look on the screen, so that's good enough for me. One thing I found was that if using it to calibrate two monitors, you should have both of them on at the same time and calibrate one and then the other (the software will detect that you have two and will guide you through it). Before doing it like this I found that the computer could lose the calibrated profile for one screen.

 

Adam

 

Thats great to hear you've had good results with it Adam, thank you!

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Hi lizzy

I have a Lacie , very good.

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Hi lizzy

I have a Lacie , very good.

 

Do LaCie still make calibrators (or monitors for that matter)? I have an old BlueEye 2 calibrator which I got with a LaCie monitor about 10 years ago but the software wouldn't work after Apple dropped Rosetta and I moved on. I just tried to check it out on the LaCie site but they don't seem to make them anymore?

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The only monitor calibrator I have experience of is my own, which is the Spyder Pro (version 3 I think). It does a good job on my main PC, but on my secondary PC with a far cheaper basic monitor, I cannot get it looking right. It is likely due to the monitor itself but possibly also the fact it's using the built-in video hardware in my CPU, which MAY restrict things (although I doubt it). Unless you have a high specification laptop with a particularly nice screen, you may find you also struggle to get a decent looking display with accurate colours, brightness and contrast.

 

It's well worth forking out for a nice monitor, which these days isn't too much as 4K is taking over the world so lower resolutions (that are better for stock work) are probably cheaper now than they used to be. My Spyder has worked well on 2 decent quality monitors.

 

Geoff.

 

This week I bought two 27in Iiyama (liked their products in CRT days) Prolite 2560x1449 for just under £500 for the pair. They replace my old Samsung 24in 1920x1200 (fading backlight) and I can now reach the right illumination levels for calibration and can see detail in my shadows again! The stands go high enough as well. They are TN but they calibrated quickly (Spyder Pro 4.5) and with better match (with each other) than my aged Samsungs, just remember to use the dual-link DVI cables supllied I initially used my old in-situ DVI (single link) cables and got a very poor display—Doh!

 

I believe 2560x1440 is optimum on 27/28in monitors, 4K needs 30+in displays; see my thinking as to why: http://m-dash.com/my-view-megapixels-has-changed

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Hi lizzy

I have a Lacie , very good.

 

Do LaCie still make calibrators (or monitors for that matter)? I have an old BlueEye 2 calibrator which I got with a LaCie monitor about 10 years ago but the software wouldn't work after Apple dropped Rosetta and I moved on. I just tried to check it out on the LaCie site but they don't seem to make them anymore?

 

 

The Blue Eye 2 is the X-Rite (i1) Eye-One Display 2.

All software that works with that, will work with the LaCie.

 

wim

Edited by wiskerke
  • Upvote 1

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That's really interesting wim. I must see if I can get the software from the X-Rite website and see if I can get it working. I don't need it now but it might be worth a few cents if I can get the software.

 

EDIT:  The software doesn't work because it is not licensed. I will contact X-Rite next week to see if it's possible to obtain the software and how much it would cost.

Edited by MDM

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That's really interesting wim. I must see if I can get the software from the X-Rite website and see if I can get it working. I don't need it now but it might be worth a few cents if I can get the software.

 

EDIT:  The software doesn't work because it is not licensed. I will contact X-Rite next week to see if it's possible to obtain the software and how much it would cost.

 

AFAIK you don't need a license for the monitor module. The old one by Gretag Macbeth was certainly free. I seem to remember that if one had the Gretag Macbeth Eye One Match, the X-Rite version was a free update. This was about 10 years ago though ;-)

There are quite a few free programs too. Not a whole lot has changed over the years except for new windows versions that needed new drivers. The changes that have been made, usually just simplified (=dumb down) things. The hardware has improved though. And the devices themselves deteriorate as well and go off slightly. The worst is the white cap for the ambient light: mine were always kept in the dark, but got visibly yellow within 2 or 3 years. And sometimes they go haywire. I'm on my 3rd Eye One 2. Before that I had the original, which only did CRT. Newer devices work better with led light somehow (forgot why).

 

wim

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That's really interesting wim. I must see if I can get the software from the X-Rite website and see if I can get it working. I don't need it now but it might be worth a few cents if I can get the software.

 

EDIT:  The software doesn't work because it is not licensed. I will contact X-Rite next week to see if it's possible to obtain the software and how much it would cost.

Perhaps try the DisplayCAL software with Argyll CMS - all open source and free + optional donation. This can drive a wide range of hardware calibration/profiling devices, and often adds functions not supported by the software that comes with the hardware. I use it with the ColorMunki Display - it gives far more options than the ColorMunki software and also seems to produce a better result. 

 

Download and full instructions here: http://displaycal.net/

 

 
  • Upvote 1

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Thanks Wim and DHill but I think it's all moot as the device seems to be ready for the old blue eye in the sky. I got it working on my old MacPro which is running Snow Leopard using the original BlueEye software which came with it. I tried it on the original LaCie monitor it came with as well so it should have worked.  The software runs and it starts calibrating fine but somewhere in the profiling colour measuring stage it turns the monitor an amazing dark purple colour and produces a very strange profile at the end. It used to work fine with that software so the only conclusion I can come to is that it is damaged. So having spent 4 hours messing about with it, I think it's time to give up. I wasn't intending it to replace my ColorMunki Photo in any case but figured it would be interesting to see if it was working ok and pass it on to somebody.

Edited by MDM

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Quick update... Tried out the ColorMunki Smile this afternoon and have to say I'm pretty pleased! Especially given the price.

 

Quick and straightforward installation of software and driver (running Windows 8 on a 5yr old fairly standard laptop). Software very easy to use, and after less than 10 minutes now have a (presumably) better calibrated screen.

 

I must confess it now looks a bit odd to my eyes, but given that I haven't changed any settings apart from gamma in the 5 years I've owned it, that doesn't really surprise me. It gave a before/ after view and the amount of blue cast on the screen before calibration was quite a shock to me, even though I had suspected that was the case. Colours seem to look more true to life now. No more emailing images to myself to check colours on my phone  :lol:

 

Now to redo the images where I haven't double checked and have ended up overcompensating for the blue cast...of which there are a few. Oh dear... Wish I'd bought it sooner!

 

Thanks again everybody for all your advice and suggestions  :)

  • Upvote 1

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Hi, has anyone used the ColorMunki on an iMac screen.  I'm being tempted by the cyber monday sales out there, and I don't have a calibrating device for my monitor.  I see Adorama has a deal on a combo of the ColorMunki with the ColorChecker passport for $139.

 

Thanks,

Maria

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