Monitor Calibration
July 6, 2005 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Monitor Calibration Issues - why is my 225 dollar software making my colors look worse?

Recently I bought a Greta Macbeth Eye One Display 2 monitor calibration/profiling package for use on my CRT monitor. When I run the software I consistently get results telling me to set my monitor's brightness at around 75%. This ends up totally washing out any black at all and making everything look underconstrasty (if that makes any sense - I don't know what the term for not enough contrast is). This happens regardless of what I set my target luminance at. I've tried settings of 60, 70, 75, 80 and 100 (recommended for CRT) and in each instance I'm told to set the brightness at 75 or 78%. Before the system is even done creating the profile I can tell that the monitor is going to be way off because, as I said, the black immediately gets washed out.

So, my question is, am I doing something wrong or is my software screwed? Here is some more info on my settings:

White Point: 6500K
Gamma: 2.2
Luminance: as stated above, I've triend multiple combos
Contrast: 100 (as determined by the software)

The software has no black point feature.

I work in a mostly dark room. I've used a couple of different test images downloaded from to look at my end results.

Any advice is appreciated. I've tried the Fred Miranda forums and the Chromix forums and all were dead ends.
posted by spicynuts to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Get used to "black" being dark gray, and not black like ink. There isn't any way to make blacks really dark without making all the really dark tones uniformly black.

That said, once you have your monitor calibrated right, everything looks better, and uncalibrated monitors start to look terrible.

It's almost like you like bass (black) so you've turned it all the way up, and now that it's set up right it sounds weak. But after awhile you wonder what was so appealing about booming.

Try getting the Video Essentials DVD for your TV next, I bet you've got that set way too dark too.
posted by andrewzipp at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2005

> There isn't any way to make blacks really dark without making all the really dark tones uniformly black.

On what planet? I don't calibrate my computer monitors, but on my video displays, I use a light meter and calibrate black to be very close to as dark as the display device can get, 10% grey to be very close to 10% of full luminance, etc. This usually requires making a funny gamma curve, but any good display control software should be able to handle that.

I'm sorry, black should be black.
posted by trevyn at 11:26 AM on July 6, 2005

Obvious questions first:

Have you got the sensor properly attached to the CRT so external light can't have any influence?

Does it still misbehave if you do the calibration in a completely dark room?

How old is your monitor? A really old monitor might be incapable of the necessary brightness; do you get the same problems if you use a different monitor?

Failing all of the above then I'd guess there's some problem with the sensor itself, especially since you say the selected target luminance isn't having any effect on the brightness or contrast settings. I've used the EyeOne Photo - which uses the same software - to calibrate both CRT and LCD monitors and it will for sure ask for changes in the brightness as you vary the target luminance.

If the problem is that your monitor can't achieve the necessary brightness levels then you could still generate a viable profile by ignoring that step and setting the brightness to a level you feel comfortable with. The earlier versions of the EyeOne Match software didn't have the target luminance option and the calibration process would always result in a very bright display; ignoring the suggested setting will mean you lose shadow detail but the colours should still be accurate.
posted by arc at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2005 are some answers:

I've followed the illustrations in the manual and attached the sensor the only way it can be attached, which is by the suction cups on the back, in the middle of the monitor, with the cord facing up.

I do all my calibration is a completely dark room. As I do all my Photoshop work.

The monitor is about 2.5 years old, but has never been used heavily. I only have one monitor and don't have access to another.

I guess I'll take accurate color over shadow detail. I could probably make another profile for b&w work. I'm just amazed that the thing could be SO far off with the brightness measurement. It's absurd to me that such wildly varying luminance targets would generate the exact same brightness setting recommendation.
posted by spicynuts at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2005

I doubt very much that a 2.5 year old monitor would have brightness problems, and a variation of only 3% in the monitors brightness settings for target luminances of 60 to 100 cd/m2 seems very small.

The question now is whether you're going to get an accurate profile. As part of the profiling process the software measures a range of colours at different brightnesses, so if there is a problem with the sensors ability to determine luminance then it'll throw everything off.

I can only suggest trying trying the profiling process on another computer, because this really is starting to sound like a faulty sensor.
posted by arc at 3:24 PM on July 6, 2005

One other possibility just occured to me...

Does Adobe Gamma work correctly on your machine? I once saw it completely fail to have any effect when it'd been installed on a machine that had a really old video card that didn't have a videoLUT. A card like that would probably send the EyeOne crazy as well.

It'd have to be a really old card, though!
posted by arc at 3:33 PM on July 6, 2005

arc, not sure if you'll see this as it's so far off the front page now, but as a very long shot I used a utility from Monaco to test my video card for LUT capability and it worked fine. I'm thinking it's gotta be a faulty sensor.
posted by spicynuts at 5:59 AM on July 7, 2005

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