Have you ever taken that perfect photograph?  You know, that one that as soon as you’ve hit the shutter release button you know that it’s a good one?  You can’t wait to get it up on the computer screen to see it in a larger size and just to make sure it’s all in focus?  And then having done all that and finding that it really is the perfect photo of your subject, you spend some time in Photoshop lovingly removing dust spots and tweaking the colors until it’s just right only to find that when you excitedly print it out the colors don’t match the colors you saw on your computer screen?  Disappointment takes over.

Why?  Why does it look so good up there on the screen but down here on the paper it just looks dull and lifeless? or over saturated?  And how do we fix it?

The answer is simpler than you think and it has nothing to do with your camera.  That part of your equipment is perfectly fine.  It also, most likely, has nothing to do with your printer.  Although certain printers will print out photos better than others, usually the answer lies within your computer.  More specifically, your computer screen.

“But I’ve played with the brightness and contrast controls” You say “…and nothings changed”.

Have you ever calibrated your screen?  The answer lies in screen calibration.  The monitor you use to view and process your images is a fundamental part of your photography kit.  If your screen has never been calibrated then the chances are that the colors you see in your shots will appear different on paper.

Accuracy is essential to all photographers because without it you will most likely make adjustments to the colors in your photos so that they look good on screen rather than on paper causing printed copies (or copies viewed on a properly calibrated screen) to be dull or oversaturated.

There is really only one way to properly calibrate your screen, and that is with by using a calibration kit. There are many makes and models available out there but they all essentially do the same thing… calibrate your computer screen so that the colors you see on your monitor are accurate examples of how they will be seen on other monitors or when they have been printed.

They range in price from about US$50 right up to about US$500 and the most expensive kits will usually do the best job, but these are really only for the true professional who needs extremely accurate color representation in their work.  The cheaper versions will still do a very good job for the rest of us.

The kit contains software that you install onto the computer, and a color meter that you place directly onto your monitor for the calibration process.  Once the software is installed you only have to follow the prompts and… voila!!  Your screen is properly calibrated.

It’s that easy!

Now you may be thinking “Why should I spend all that money for only a quick 15 minute process?”  And you would be right.  It is only a quick process, and once done, it’s not really needed again for a while.  But it is needed to be done again.  For the professional photographers or graphic designers, screen calibration should be done at least once a month.  For most other people calibration should still be done every 6 months or so to make sure your colors are still being seen properly.

There are a number of calibration kits on the market.  They all do the same thing but at different costs.

Top end kits include the X-rite ColorMunki.

Mid range kits include the Spyder3 Elite.

And cheaper kits include the Pantone Huey Pro

All of these calibration kits are very good at what they do.  The only reasons for choosing one over the other is your budget and professional level.

Happy shooting!!

Pics By Nick - Umbrellas

Pics By Nick - Cactus

Pics By Nick - Temple Roof