Monitor Calibration Devices

With holiday sales just around the corner, this is the time of year that I tend to make a list of the things I’ve been putting off buying for most of the year so I can take advantage of discounts. Seeing as my old Spyder4Express has been giving me constant error message, I think it’s time for an upgrade on my monitor calibration tool.

Does anyone have any strong preferences for a certain brand or model and why? My processing setup includes a Lenovo laptop hooked up to a Dell Ultrasharp U2717D monitor. Thanks in advance for any insight!

I did a lot of research before finally investing in the X-Rite i1 Display Pro. The Sypder’s are adequate, but if you want something that is reliable, accurate, and fast, it’s hard to beat.

Also, consider using DisplayCal instead of the manufacturers software, it is light years better.


I use a spyder which seems to do the job.

However what helped me just as much was ensuring that my monitor brightness is consistent and is set not too bright. I use an iMac and by default the brightness changes with the ambient light in the room. Changing to manual brightness and running the monitor at bout 50% brightness has been good for me.

I have a NEC PA302 which came with it’s own calibration system, so I can’t specifically advise you on what to pick. But, if you do printing, it’s important that the device and the software allow you to set the brightness, the units of which are "Cd/m2. Most monitors are way too bright and your prints will come out dark unless you lower the Cd/m2 to a 100 or below. For my monitor, I have found 85 Cd/m2 to be ideal.

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Thanks all. Agreed that keeping the monitor brightness low is important for printing. I’ve mostly been able to dial that in over the years mostly through trial and error, but I think it’s more colors that I want to make sure are consistent. The Spyder did a fairly good job of that in the past, but didn’t account for ambient light and is now just giving me error messages to the point that I don’t think I’m getting the results that I used too.

@David_Kingham the X-Rite i1 Display Pro was one of the ones that had been recommended to me that was on my list, so good to hear that you’ve had a positive experience with it. I had not heard of DIsplayCal before though. Thanks for the tip!

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I also have an NEC monitor and it’s (proprietary) Spectraview software. The colorimeter is X-rite, albeit an older version. My point is that X-rite’s hardware is very reliable, and extremely accurate. The i1-Display Pro recommended by David, will fill the bill.

I second keeping brightness at around 100-110 Cd/m^2. Also, you don’t want a very high contrast ratio; mine is set at 200:1 with Gamma of 2.2, and white point of 6506 K (D65). ( I get a good screen/print match with these values)

@Kevin_D_Jordan If you already have good numbers, recalibrate with those once you get the new tools. You may have define new calibration target values since you’ll be using a different system.

Let us know how it works out for you.


From what I’ve read, you may need a bit more advice.

Your monitor is fundamental and only works in the sRGB color space, which may be okay for what you are doing. I did some basic research, but I could not find the mfg iCC profile for your monitor so I could not run a few color space tests.

If you are doing any significant image post-processing, your monitor should cover 99%-100 of Adobe RGB. And your post-processing would be done in the proPhoto color space. The reason is that the sRGB color space is small and your clip data in certain color gamuts.

The monitors the other guys here are quoting,( and which I own) is the

If you watch the price it will drop to $1,999 every two-three months. This monitor comes with the Xright i1Display calibrator.

Other excellent monitors are the BenQ line some of which come with a monitor calibrator. If you are interested, I could ask around and get a recommendation from a BenQ ambassador.

Finally, I owned an Apple 2005 Cinema HD Display until Jan 2018. It was my 2nd monitor, and It covered 100% of SRGB.

I used an Xright i1Display and the less expensive Xright ColorMunki to calibrate that monitor. I would recommend the I!Display over the ColorMunki, due to its size and easier to use ergonomics.

I have owned the Spyder calibrator in the past. However, I like the Xright products, they update their sw and keep current with OS revisions.

I hope you grab a deal or two because Xrite typical has some holiday sales going on.

I realize that I come late in this discussion, and take the risk to add to confusion. But I don’t agree with the advice of @Ed_Fritz. I worked for many years in R&D of a large printer company and can say that I have some experience with colour.
I own an Eizo monitor, that covers the recommended 99% of the AdobeRGB colour space. I work in AdobeRGB for post-processing. If I convert my images to sRGB and compare them side by side with the AdobeRGB images, there will be small differences, but I’m certainly not blown away. The main part of the spectrum that is affected are the light greens, however, so not unimportant for nature photographers. As soon as you print, the world is very different. Traditional wet-chemical photo papers deliver beautiful prints, but do not even cover the sRGB color space. Inkjet printers have a much larger gamut, but the colour space depends strongly on the inks. Dye inks generally have a very large gamut, pigment based inks are often weak in the light green region (where AdobeRGB has its advantage compared with sRGB) because most “cyan” pigments are more blue than cyan. If you want the best in that part of the colour space, you need a printer with a specific ink for that part of the colour space, so not only CMYK (or CMYK with “light inks”, which are just diluted inks used to improve graininess in light areas, not colour space).
If you know the ICC profile of your printer (inkjet or traditional chemical from the print provider), you can get an idea of the print result when you use the soft-proofing option in Photoshop.

ProPhoto is a very large colour space. If you do your editing in this space, many of the levels are not used, since the gamut of your photos will be much smaller. IMO this is not the best choice. You MUST do your editing at 48bit images (that’s a good advice anyhow) if you decide to use it, otherwise you will lose too much when you return to AdobeRGB or sRGB, e.g. for printing. Most monitors will not be able to display a large part of ProPhoto.

In the past, I calibrated my monitors with an X-Rite i1, at home as well as at my job. They are very good, but two of them were defective within a few years and were unreliable after that. If you contact X-Rite about that, they send you a small diagnosis app and can confirm the status of your device if you communicate the results. When the one that I used at home was broken, I decided to buy the dedicated EX3 device, that works with Eizo monitors only. Till now, it is fine.

The advice to keep your monitor brightness low, as mentioned by several, is wise if you intend to print. The room lighting should be at a low level as well.

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I’m not so sure we disagree on much :slight_smile: :smile:

  1. Use a monitor that captures 99% AdobeRGB color space. I said NEC; you said Enzio.
    The NEC monitor is a wide gamut monitor, so it goes beyond Adobe RGB. However, it can be configured for various color spaces, including sRGB or ARGB. I’m aware of the Enzio monitor, and they are very well respected. Often I’ll plot the color space of my images and compare profiles to see out of gamuts or to see where areas color fall into.

  2. Use I! Xright. I said yes, You said yours broke. I’ve owned and calibrated for ten years with Xright with no problems. Just different experiences. I also worked at a Photography College and had to calibrate around 50 monitors each week. The only equipment that I used was an Xright i!display or Color Munki.

  3. I said to work in ProPhoto Post Processing, You said to work in AdobeRGB post-processing. My opinion is that workflow limits you. When I print I can use the advantages that each color space has, sRGB is perfect people prints (it is the skin tone color space.,ARGB Skin tone in nature and foliage. ProPhoto when you want to push colors, use the gamuts for Sunsets and flowers…I could present a plethora of evidence up to printing in ProPhoto color space. However, I have also seen seminars that recommend staying in the SRGB color space. I’ll stick with ProPhoto with the realization that technology (camera, printers, internet) is headed towards larger spaces. I can always convert and go backwards if needed to sRGB & AdobeRFB.

I don’t send my work out. I have a lot of respect for quality Print Houses. Your work experiences are validation for your workflow, However, that is great for you, but I have linked my training and workflows based on working with various ambassadors of Epson, BenQue and photography instructors, many who are listed here in NPS.

  1. Everything matters, To Quote Vincent Versace at his recent B&H Event space, "Color is an essential aspect of the image editing process. If the color is off, then the image is off, then the image does not look right, then nobody wants to look at it, you have to make sure everything matches. "

I did not understand your advice about editing at 48bit. Photoshop only has provision for 8/16/32 modes. Could you provide more info?

Thanks for your info on advantages of different color printing options.

All the best

I have a BenQ SW2700PT Monitor and a i1Display Pro, I use BenQ’s color palette which calibrate the chip inside the monitor. No problems.

“I did not understand your advice about editing at 48bit. Photoshop only has provision for 8/16/32 modes. Could you provide more info?”
This is a misunderstanding, Ed. My 48b is your 16b, 3x16 for R, G and B. So we don’t disagree on this point :wink:

My problem with ProPhoto RGB is, that a lot of that space will not be used, because these colours are not generated in a camera. Because of the huge gamut (a considerable percentage of the colours in ProPhoto don’t exist in real life, and are imaginary), the levels are wider spaced apart then in AdobeRGB (or sRGB). You will overcome this disadvantage to a great extent when you edit in 16b mode. If you don’t keep your 16b images, but convert to e.g. JPG (which supports only 8b) and decide to do a re-edit on the processed image, it will be better not to have ProPhoto JPG’s to start with. So you should edit in 16b mode and convert to a smaller gamut profile before saving as JPG.

Of course you are right about different experiences with the same device, the i1 in this case. You can have bad luck. Maybe I had, 2 devices broke down. I was lucky too, because in both cases the deviation was so large that it was obvious that something went wrong. The problem is more serious when the monitor profile is off, but not enough to notice.

Everyone has his workflow, if it suits you, you should stick to it. No offence.
And happy Xmas, good holidays.