Demo of Color Differences Between Monitors

JG_Coleman

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The issue of calibrating monitors tends to come up very often on the forum, and I think I've captured an interesting photograph that demonstrates just how different two monitors can portray the same digital image.

While bored at the pawn shop, I decided to hook up one of our monitors to my laptop as a secondary display... my goal was simply to use two screens to browse the internet. Although I had done this many times before, I somehow failed to notice the drastic difference in colors between the two displays!

When it dawned on me, I took a photograph with my cell phone as a reminder of just how severe the differences can be between two displays. Wow!

The interesting note is that, without the side-by-side comparison, this photograph would look "relatively" correct on either display. When you see them in juxtaposition, though, it leaves you wondering which one is the most accurate... or if both are totally wrong!

Personally, I give the "More Accurate" superlative to the secondary display... I never do any final PP with my laptop display. But this little comparison demonstrates that it's all guesswork unless your display is calibrated. I imagine that if I could've hooked up five different monitors side-by-side, they all would've been noticeably different from each other.

monitor_colors.JPG
 
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I used to run dual monitors before I got a 30" display. It always bothered me that I could never get the two monitors to look exactly the same. Usually the color temperature was slightly different.

For those that do digital photography the monitor that's used for viewing and editing the photos is very important in my opinion. You look at every single photo on the monitor. It's basically the photographer's canvas. A good monitor can be just as important as the camera itself, or a lens! I'm surprised there's not more threads about monitors on TPF. Plus, I always chuckle when someone says they edited their photos on a laptop.
 
All monitors... and I mean ALL monitors... need calibration. Even the best ones made. I know people with 3-monitor PC setups and getting all 3 (same make and model) calibrated correctly not only to standard, but to each other... was a challenge.
 
I used to run dual monitors before I got a 30" display. It always bothered me that I could never get the two monitors to look exactly the same. Usually the color temperature was slightly different.

For those that do digital photography the monitor that's used for viewing and editing the photos is very important in my opinion. You look at every single photo on the monitor. It's basically the photographer's canvas. A good monitor can be just as important as the camera itself, or a lens! I'm surprised there's not more threads about monitors on TPF. Plus, I always chuckle when someone says they edited their photos on a laptop.
I use a dual monitor setup, but only calibrate the monitor I use for image editing. The second monitor is for my work pallets and desktop display, thus maximizing my editing monitor image display real estate.
 
I use a dual monitor setup, but only calibrate the monitor I use for image editing. The second monitor is for my work pallets and desktop display, thus maximizing my editing monitor image display real estate.
Exactly what I did. I called my 2nd monitor my 'toolbars' monitor.
 
I use a dual monitor setup, but only calibrate the monitor I use for image editing. The second monitor is for my work pallets and desktop display, thus maximizing my editing monitor image display real estate.
Exactly what I did. I called my 2nd monitor my 'toolbars' monitor.

Same thing here but I did calibrate both monitors with an eyeOne and they're *still* different. Drives me batty.
 
The interesting note is that, without the side-by-side comparison, this photograph would look "relatively" correct on either display. When you see them in juxtaposition, though, it leaves you wondering which one is the most accurate... or if both are totally wrong!

Or what if both are totally right?

One of the things people forget is that the biggest differences between the two screens you've shown there is not the relative differences between the colours, but rather the colour temperature itself. Have you ever worn bright yellow sunnies and then taken them off you'll think the entire world looks wrong.

A lot of people endlessly fret over getting 100% perfect colour temperature when in reality the best performance of your monitor is when you don't change the colour temperature at all. Instead let your eyes adjust to it. If the monitor is the brightest thing in the room then white will typically be white (within reason).

Here's a trick you can try. Jump on your screen and set the colour temperature to 9300K and use the monitor for 20min or so. Then switch it back to it's default white balance and you'll think OMG my default was soooo damn orange.

The only time you should really calibrate the white balance is when you're using 2 screens side by side, have a really bright room and your eyes won't adjust to the screen, or you're comparing to a print in a calibrated environment like a lightbox.


But yes in general every monitor could do with some calibration.

It would also be interesting to note that not all screens are equal: http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/...-ips-display-vs-laptop-warning-lots-pics.html
 
You would think with all the bells and whistles on upscale DSLRs that you could calibrate your monitor through the camera for an exact match with the camera.

Or would that be too much like; oh, I don't know, a plan?!?
 
But what's the camera set at? Is it a perfectly linear recording device or is it some psycho coloured contrast boosted toy created by marketing people? When you open a RAW file who's interpretation do you trust, Canon's DPP or Adobe CameraRAW? Take a Nikon and a Canon and shoot the same subject in the same light conditions the results are different.

So that leaves you with the problem. A calibration device is a device set in an unchanging way by the vendor against a known target. You start spending more money and each individual unit is calibrated separately. You don't get that in cameras, where even a different lens will introduce slight variations in colour.
 

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