Not everyone has the resources to buy a professional monitor for $1.100 and up like the Viewsonic VP2780-4K with SuperClear® IPS Panel Technology however, even the cheapest monitors can be improved up on to break free from the frustration of your prints not matching your on-screen image.

Why calibrate your monitor?

It is essential because it is the starting point to get the best results out of the post processing you do on your images. Your eyes are unable to accurately support you in the post processing if the monitors colors and brightness are too far from true.

The following three steps will get your monitor colors closer to your prints.

​Connecting the monitor

The HDMI or DVI port, on the left, is the one you want. Avoid using the standard analog VGA connector, on the right. An HDMI or DVI connection guarantees that the signal between your display and pc is a pure digital one, with no analog impurities or noise being introduced along the way.

The second step

​Complete the monitor calibration process that came with your computer operating system and only takes a few minutes to complete.

There are three sections: gamma, brightness – contrast, and color balance adjustments

The gamma adjustment is straight forward, adjust the slider until you have a good gamma.

Using your monitors controls adjust the brightness , making sure you can distinguish the shirt from the suit. The suit should be black, not gray. If you see an X, turn the brightness down until the X just disappears. We want to see the deepest possible blacks on our display, without losing details in the shadows. If your monitor has a gamma adjustment, using it will bring out the nearly-black details on the shirt more effectively than adjusting the brightness.​

Using your monitors controls adjust the contrast, set the contrast as high as possible without losing the wrinkles and buttons on the shirt. we want to see the brightest white details on our display, without blowing them out.

RGB Color Balance. If there is a color cast in the grey bars, move the slider until the bars are a neutral grey.

The third step

Tweak the monitor controls so that it matches prints as close as possible. You could use a printed test image for that but there is a way to get test images and sample prints at no cost.

SmugMug is in the business of selling photo prints using some of the major print labs like EZ Prints, Bay Photo, and WHCC. Prints not matching monitors is a frequent occurrence so they have a Sample Pack Request Form to request a Calibration Print and Sample Pack from these labs (US, Canada and UK only).

Here is the link to the request form: Sample Pack Request.

They will email you 7 digital photos and when you receive the sample prints mailed to you from the labs you can tweak your monitor to match the prints as close as possible. You will notice that brightness and color temperature require some adjustments.

Did not get an email back from them? Here are the sample test prints digital images:

Bay Photo Calibration and Sample Prints

EZPrints Calibration and Sample Prints

Performing a display calibration with a monitor sensor.

If you want what you see on your monitor (IPS panel technology) to perfectly match your prints, the only way to go is with a calibration device which is much more efficient than our dear human eye.

Using a calibration device of some sort like the spider 5 pro is fast and easy.


Essentially what they are is this small mouse USB size device, that hangs over your screen and comes with software that runs colors on your monitor, and compares the monitors colors to the ones in its database. If there are any discrepancies  it creates a profile to correct the monitors colors so that reds, greens and blue is actually red green and blue so you are not having a discrepancy.

Out of experience, when you calibrate your monitor its going look a little odd at first, something is going to look more green or red and that is because your eyes have adapted to what it was seeing for so long. But within a few hours and definitely by the next day you are going to look at your screen and you are not going to be able to tell the difference, that’s how much your eyes have adjusted. This will significantly help  get the colors that you see in your prints to match the colors that you see on your monitor.

If you actually print the image yourself or have it done by a print lab, usually with sRGB as the color profile, always save your image at the highest quality possible 100% and color bit depth of 16bits if possible.

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