How do I get around your monitor?

Richard Charpentier Arizona Photographer, Photography, Portrait Work, Prints, RLC Design 1 Comment

Months ago I walked into the local Best Buy for something. While hunting the aisles I came across a sweet deal on a low end monitor. Under $100. Nice.

I grabbed it for the home office.  Hey, its a cheap flat panel monitor with a lot of space to work on, right?

Well, getting home that afternoon I immediately hooked up the monitor to my Macintosh at the house.  I had my Color Munki handy and ready to calibrate the monitor.  And that was my first order of business.  Calibrate.

Unfortunately cheap monitors are exactly that.  Cheap.  Calibrating with the Munki achieved very little.  The monitor has it’s own internal color settings for watching videos, playing games, etc.  And the color quality putting it right next to the Mac……  dismal.

I played a little more with the monitor.  Popped some movies up on the computer and put them onto the new monitor.  Blech!  Okay, let’s try running a video game on it…….ewww, the color was horrible.  I tried this, that, and the other for well over an hour.  Not even passable, not compared to my calibrated monitor (remember, the IMacs aren’t fully calibrated either, you get close but not dead on).

Finally I gave up.  The cheap monitor was just so far off from the true color of things I couldn’t look at it.  Best case scenario?  Use it for spread sheets and word processing.

The whole ordeal got me to thinking……

How can I sell on the web if folks visiting my site have a low end monitor?

I’ve seen my images on Ian’s laptop.  And I’ve viewed my website from other Windows platforms and un-calibrated Macs.  Clients have had me come to their homes to help calibrate their monitors and printers, and before I helped them they were WAY off.

Now I know I’m on it as far as color because I’ve tested my setup with two National labs.  The prints they send back to me match my monitor and print process.  So, I’m good.  But potential customers (99% I bet) are not.  So when the look at my portfolio, when they visit Zenfolio, and when they read this blog, are they seeing what I see?

No, they’re not.

And that leads me to a simple question.  How do I get past your monitor?

The honest answer is that I don’t.  Short of each reader, visitor, etc., understanding color calibration I’m left to depend on the manufacturer’s settings, the reader messing with brightness and contrast, and so on.  Makes it kind of hard for clients to review their images online, for potential buyers to know what they’re getting, and for readers to really understand images presented here fully.

A sure fire way to know where you’re at

Here’s a simple way to know how you’re color management is doing.  If you’ve got a little color printer for making prints, does your screen match your final output?  If not you know you’re off.  Or send off some images to MPix for print.  If they don’t match your screen, you know you’re off.

Where’s that leave me?  Well, with my print clients I always have them come into the studio to review their images and make proofs.  Local portrait clients also get the same service.  They get to visit the studio and proof with me.  So they know exactly what they’re getting.  But remote clients?  Yeah, that’s the tough part right there.

This post was inspired after viewing my images on a friend’s HP Laptop running windows.  Terrible, just terrible.  And they have many settings for their color calibration on the computer, but which one is right?  From my quick review, not a single one was accurate.

Comments 1

  1. Ive never adjusted my laptop. In fact, I didn’t even know I could. Maybe you should offer a service for locals, to adjust laptops for a fee? Others you could send a postcard print, again for a fee, for the user to compare with his monitor or laptop screen? I guess that is what MPix is doing. I’ll check them out.

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