How To Calibrate Your Monitor for Photography (Simple Answer!)

How To Calibrate Your Monitor for Photography

In today's post you'll learn all about how to calibrate your monitor for photography and see your photos as real as they get...

Who wouldn’t love seeing their photos as real and as accurate as they could be? This is not only possible, but it happens quite often. Your monitor can be incorrectly reproducing the colors and shades and this will interfere with any editing and post-processing you plan to do with your photos. Plus, it can end up being counter-productive when the colors are not even showing up accurately on your monitor.

First Step: Adjust Your Brightness and Contrast

How To Calibrate Your Monitor for Photography brightness contrast

The first thing you should do is to adjust the monitor’s contrast and brightness. This will not require any color profiles for the monitor, so it is best used if it is for a hobby or something as casual. It is also a quick step you can take when you are using a computer you do not own. However, take note that you should give the monitor 10 to 15 minutes after switching it on to let it warm up properly. 

The most important goal is to calibrate the mid-tones. To do so, start off with the default contrast of your LCD monitor, which is about gamma 2.2 (max if you have a CRT one). 

However, while putting up the brightness should help, you should know that setting the screen too bright will negatively affect its life span. Thus, if the room around is not too bright or the display is not back-lit and old, then you should avoid putting the brightness at the maximum setting. 

Next Step: Calibrating Your Monitor

Adjusting the contrast and brightness is just one step, and you need to calibrate your screen to make sure the photographs look their best so that they can be viewed online and in print in the best version ever. The process you need to do, color calibration is necessary to make sure the colors are as accurate as they could be. 

Every monitor is calibrated differently, which is why one image does not look the same on your phone versus on the laptop. It might then appear that the picture looks a bit off. Thanks to color calibration, the picture will look as similar as possible across various devices. However, when you use a device that has not been calibrated, you can expect variations in the colors. 

Still, this process is the best way to ensure that your prints will appear the same as what you see on the monitor. The last thing you want is the black and white parts of the picture look greenish when you have it printed out. Beyond the color, incorrect color calibration will affect the lightness and darkness of the images. 

When You Should Do Color Calibration

How To Calibrate Your Monitor for Photography color calibration

This process does not need to be done every day, so you should know the right times when you need to do it. These are basic guidelines, so a monitor might need to be calibrated more or less often compared to other displays.

The first time should be done after you purchase the monitor. Even a brand-new display can be uncalibrated or inaccurate. To be on the safe side, you should just do the calibration as you set the screen up. 

Another sign that color calibration is necessary is when you notice your printed images appearing inconsistent with what you see on the monitor. The same goes when there is a variation between your and a friend’s computer. 

In certain cases, having the most accurate colors in your display is of huge importance. For example, artists, designers, and photographers should do a calibration on a regular basis to ensure their work is always at its best quality. The more critical accuracy is for your line of work, the more you should do it. 

Moreover, an older screen requires more frequent calibrations compared to newer models, simply because electronics give out eventually. The point is, it is a task that should not just be done once.

How To Calibrate Your Monitor

Basic color calibration is not that complicated and you do not need any extra equipment beyond your computer. For a more thorough calibration, though, you might need some third-party devices which are placed directly on the display itself and will communicate with the monitor to calibrate it. An external device is also the best way to calibrate more than just one screen at a time. 

  • Free Tools

If you are not a professional, you might find free or built-in calibration software enough. In fact, the most recent Windows software comes with a monitor calibration tool. It might not be as accurate and objective but it is still better than not calibrating your screen at all. You need to go to Start, then Control Panel, press on Appearance and Personalization, then Device, and finally, press on Calibrate Color. The program will tell you a rough approximation of a calibrated screen.

  • Online Tools
How To Calibrate Your Monitor for Photography online tools

If you do not want to invest in any special calibration device, you can try out online tools. It will help adjust your display’s contrast, brightness, gamma, and white point. Once it customizes, the new color profile is saved so you can apply it to your screen. Some of these tools include Calibrize, Photo Friday, and Lagon LCD Monitor Test Pages. Some are more basic than others, and might not give very specific instructions on how to adjust the display’s settings but others are more thorough.

  • Calibration Devices

Third-party color calibration devices are the best choices for professionals who need their screen to be as accurate as possible. They are not as expensive and they even come in a range of prices. You can get details on how each version differs from another, and you can decide exactly which one you need.


Does your work rely on your monitor having the most accurate color settings? It might seem insignificant but it can really mean the difference between the shades being off or strange once the pictures are printed out. This is where color calibration comes in. While images will look different across displays, what matters most is that yours is as accurate as possible all the time. Only then can you come up with the best quality pictures consistently.

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