I need to buy a new monitor and I do not want to spend hours calibrating. I have an Apple pro laptop and I use Adobe Photoshop. Do all monitors do calibration? I was told that the Apple monitor does not need calibration. What would you recommend when buying a monitor?


4 Answers 4


The short answer is that yes, essentially all monitors need calibrating if you're going to do photoediting. Apple makes some decent monitors, but they're not particularly different from others, nor (specifically) any less in need of calibration than others. Keep in mind, however, that calibration isn't magic -- it won't suddenly make a really cheap monitor dramatically better. It tends to do the most good for monitors that are already quite good.

The good point is that calibrating does not take hours, or anything like it. It's more like 10 or 15 minutes. Probably half of that (or so) it does entirely on its own, so you just put the calibrator on the monitor, tell it to do its thing, and come back after a cup of hot chocolate (or whatever beverage you prefer). There is, however, typically 5 minutes (or so) at the beginning while you do some work (adjusting the brightness, contrast and color controls on the monitor).


Some monitors need more calibration than others and their color-gamut limits how close they can actually get to showing accurate colors.

For example, if a monitor can only has 80% coverage of sRGB, then even after the best calibration it will at most show 80% of colors right. Good monitors now cover 100% (at least 98%) of sRGB and a good percentage (92%+) of AdobeRGB.

The second important fact is that most regular monitors cannot be calibrated, instead you have to calibrate the graphics card. This improves the accuracy of colors but introduces banding artifacts. There are exceptions to this but those are quite rare and require graphic-card and operating system support.

You should look for monitors that can be calibrated. There is not excuse anymore since these are much much cheaper then they used to be. The cheapest color-calibratable monitor that I know of is the NEC Multisync P221W, which I have two of and one 30" LCD3090WQXi, NEC offers a number of monitors between those two.

The manufacturer site should tell you the color-space coverage and the bit-depth of the color-calibration tables. It should be at least 10-bits, but 12-bits and 14-bits are even better. If the manufacturer does not show you those numbers, then I would assume they are sub-par since otherwise these are great things to boast about.


Another factor to consider is the type of panel that you purchase. IPS or in-plane switching panels are better at all viewing angles and are also very good at reproducing colors. Typical inexpensive monitors will use TN(twisted nematic) panels which will not produce the same colors and have a smaller viewing angle.

To answer your question yes all monitors still need calibration, even IPS panels.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 It should specifically be pointed out that photoediting is best done on an IPS monitor and most serious photoeditors would agree. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2011 at 20:47

Yes, all monitors need to be calibrated.

Also, you need to recalibrate your monitor regularly since the monitor color reproduction changes over time (mostly due to "aging" of the backlight lamp).

Big monitors can even have different color representation in different parts of the screen (technically, this can happen on smaller monitors but it tend to not be noticeable) - as far as I know there's no way to calibrate the monitor to solve this problem.

You also need to calibrate your printer - for every type of paper you use, or, if you send your photos to be printed in a lab use only labs that provide a color profile.

There's actually no end to how far you can go to get better and better colors.

Or, if you are not doing this professionally and mostly edit and print pictures of friends and family you can probably get "good enough" results without any calibration and only worry about it if you actually notice any color problems.


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