Don’t let a deceptive display fool you. Calibrating your computer monitor lets your photos’ true colours shine through. Here we’ve rounded up six of the best monitor calibrators on the market and tested them to see which offers the best capability.
You’d have thought all monitors would come pre-set to display at their best. To be fair, an average user viewing holiday snaps will be usually be happy with default display settings.
However, imaging enthusiasts demand more – any colour casts or contrast bias just won’t do. At the very least, you want other people to have the best chance of seeing the same colours as you see.
This is where monitor calibration comes in. By sticking an ‘electronic eye’ (a colorimeter) on your screen and firing a selection of colours at it, any colour discrepancies can be detected and your computer programmed to compensate its colour output for the traits of your monitor.
You can then edit your pictures knowing others will see what you see. What’s more, it needn’t cost big bucks to get great colour accuracy.
Best monitor calibrator for photographers: 01 X-Rite ColorMunki Smile
Price: £67, $90
It may be named like a toy for a pre-school child, but the ColorMunki Smile is also child’s play to use thanks to software that trades advanced options for excellent clarity.
A couple of oversized buttons stand between you and the calibration process, then kick back as the gizmo does its thing.
In a shade over four minutes you’ll have a fully-calibrated monitor without needing to know your white point from your gamma.
There’s no scope to measure ambient light, but the ColorMunki Smile does nail the basics as it performed well beyond its budget price tag and generated the most accurate colour profile of all the colorimeters on test.
4 minutes 15 seconds
Colour accuracy after calibration (Delta-E, lower scores better): 0.58
Pros… Simple, amazingly effective and well-priced.
Cons… Doesn’t measure ambient light, limited customisation.
WE say… Great performance at a reasonable price.
PAGE 1 – Best monitor calibrator: 01 X-Rite ColorMunki Smile
PAGE 2 – Best monitor calibrator: 02 Kodak Color Management Check-Up Kit
PAGE 3 – Best monitor calibrator: 03 Datacolor Spyder4Elite
PAGE 4 – Best monitor calibrator: 04 X-Rite i1 Display Pro
PAGE 5 – Best monitor calibrator: 05 X-Rite ColorMunki Display
PAGE 6 – Best monitor calibrator: 06 Color Confidence Studio Photo
PAGE 7 – Five things to look for in a monitor calibrator
Best photo editing software: 7 Photoshop alternatives tested and rated
Color Theory: best color combinations for photography (and how to take it further)
Color Management: fine tune your kit for the most accurate colors possible
10 common camera mistakes every photographer makes
Adobe Lightroom: everything you need to know about the ‘alternative Photoshop’