Colour management doesn’t feature in many photographers’ workflow and quite frankly they’re missing out. Calibrating your monitor is an essential first step; viewing images with accurate colour can save you hours of photo-editing that often result in grisly prints (featuring your portrait subject with glowing orange fake Tan-Go skin tones).
If you edit images at home and order prints online or in-store, then calibrating your monitor and sending files in the correct colour space will do wonders for your photos. Luckily these changes are quick and affordable: Monitor calibration options are now available for under £90 and most photo-printing labs (try PhotoBox!) like images in the sRGB colour space or can provide their printer’s ICC profile.
Spyder2 Express (Entry-Level)
The ColorVision Spyder 2 Express is an entry-level monitor calibrator that’s compatible with Windows (2000 / XP / Vista) and Mac OSX (10.3 or higher). Simply plug the Spyder2 Express colorimeter into a spare USB port, drape the colorimeter over your CRT or LCD monitor and follow the on-screen instructions! The Spyder2 Express is quite basic – the monitor gamma and colour temperature values are fixed (to gamma 2.2 and 6500k colour temperature) – but it’s an adequate solution for beginners. Enthusiast or pro photographers will get much more from a higher model...
Spyder3 PRO (Enthusiast)
The ColorVision Spyder 3 Pro brings several useful features over the entry level Spyder2 Express: multiple-monitor support (if you have a dual screen setup), multiple gamma & colour temperature options, and it’s quicker (29% for initial calibration, 64% for re-calibration). The Spyder 3 colorimeter is also more accurate – ColorVision’s tests show a 29% improvement.
The lighting conditions which you view a monitor under also affect the perceived colour. The Spyder3 combats changing light conditions (e.g. daylight to fluorescent lights) by monitoring ambient light. Just leave the colorimeter plugged-in and place it in the included desktop cradle for hassle-free micro-adjustments throughout the day.
Try our Monitor Calibration Comparison Chart to discover more options!
Monitor & Printer Calibration
If print your images at home then calibrating your monitor & printer to find the nearest possible match will yield a far more satisfying print. Perhaps your prints look good already; but the benefits are crystal clear when you compare them alongside prints from a calibrated printer.
Traditionally monitor and printer calibration products have been individual packages, which can cause a degree of frustration trying to match up settings and profiles. Luckily monitor-to-print matching is no longer a battle with ColorMunki from X-Rite...
ColorMunki Photo (Monitor & Printer)
The X-Rite ColorMunki is easy to use, yet powerful at the same time. After calibrating your screen the next step is print out the test pages with your printer, then run the ColorMunki across the colour strips. This process is far quicker than traditional printer calibration where the colorimeter must be held above each colour patch before proceeding to the next colour.
X-Rite has produced a great video (2 parts) explaining how to match your display to a printer with the ColorMunki:
The ColorMunki was voted best Computer Peripheral in the 2008 TIPA awards and user reviews echo this verdict:
Fantastic product, as a portrait photographer, I need to make sure what I see on the screen is the same as what will be printed at the lab or even at home for my clients, the ColorMunki in my opinion is simply the best calibration tool on the market, very easy to use and spot on monitor to printer calibration... – Robbie27 (Wex Photographic customer)
Excellent device works flawlessly in OSX with dual monitor setup. I can't believe how far out the colour profile of my monitors was before using this. I'd been looking at the Gretag McB i1 Photo for some time but could not justify the cost; the ColorMunki has exactly the functionality I was after at a fraction of the costs A+ – Amourr (Wex Photographic customer)
Checkout our Colour Management section or the 3 fine products in this article & get ready for stunning prints!