1

I have no colourimeter to perform hardware calibration, but while editing some pictures I still would like to be able to get the colours appear at least slightly truthful. I know that every monitor has its own gamut (colour space) it can display and to get the screen colours to show up correctly you need to calibrate the screen.

I have two displays. I think they are both quite ordinary, gamut-wise (i.e. no wide colour gamut):

  • The first display has a manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile, which was automatically downloaded and set by the OS (Windows 10), I believe.

  • The second display does not have a manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile, although it has a "sRGB mode". The monitor came with a calibration report, indicating that in sRGB its delta-E is lower than 2. When setting the "sRGB mode", the brightness and contrast are fixed at the levels 70 and 50, respectively.

So for the first display, would applying the manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile provide colours that are in the right ballpark? Why or why not? Does theory deviate from practice here and why?

  • If indeed this is the right thinking, what colour setting does the monitor need to be set through the OSD-interface using the buttons on the monitor itself (or through DDC)?
  • If this does not work like this, what is the purpose of a manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile?

For the second display, does setting the sRGB-profile provide a semi-adequate sRGB gamut output for the monitor? So by setting an sRGB (ICC) profile for the screen would make it output semi-adequate colours within the sRGB space (or by setting no profile at all since presumably sRGB is assumed standard by the OS)?

  • If indeed this gives kind of the right colours, what happens internally when using the screen's "sRGB mode"?
  • Note: the question over here indicates that the function of the sRGB mode is to use a standard sRGB gamut when your monitor natively displays a different gamut, so as to adequately display non-colour-managed applications. This question is related but asks if using "sRGB mode" may be used for colour managed purposes.
  • 1
    When set up this way, do they then look identical? if not, which is right.. if any? – Tetsujin May 1 at 13:31
  • They don't, but that is probably because I don't know what monitor settings the ICC-profile corresponds to for the first display. – Ralph May 2 at 11:28
  • Then you're completely at sea until you get a colorimeter, I'm afraid. You have no idea, which - if either - is correct. btw, cheap colorimeters aren't worth the money. I went through 3 before eventually just giving in & spending $£€ 250 on a good one. On the upside, now every screen in the house is near-perfect, including my TV ;) – Tetsujin May 2 at 11:41
  • Well besides the ICC-profile settings issue, that monitor is at least ten years old, so I think that the second display, which is brand new, is more accurate (i.e. if it holds that the "sRGB mode" can be used for this--which is the main question here). To be clear, I'm not asking this question because I cannot or do not want to use colourimeter hardware, but I simply would like to know how well you can do without it. Hence the remarks and sub-questions about the theory behind this. – Ralph May 2 at 11:48
  • You cannot simply assume the new one is more accurate than the old. Neither is calibrated to your workflow, so neither is reliable. It's that simple. No calibration; all guesswork. There is literally no way round this. Setting a monitor to sRGB mode without also setting a correctly calibrated ICC profile, then expecting it to be 'right' is simply a false premise. – Tetsujin May 2 at 11:55
1

Can I use “sRGB mode” or a manufacturer's ICC-profile as a poor substitute for hardware calibration?

You could, but that's exactly what it would be – a poor substitute. Generic manufacturer profiles will not be able to compensate for a specific device's idiosyncrasies. It may be "off" from the factory. It may develop color shifts over time. It may not work well with your video card or software. Etc.

I have no colourimeter to perform hardware calibration, but... I know ... to get the screen colours to show up correctly you need to calibrate the screen.

A popular shopping site currently has multiple listings for colorimeters ~$35. – "Just try it. What do you have to lose?"

... would applying the manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile provide colours that are in the right ballpark? Why or why not? Does theory deviate from practice here and why? ... does setting the sRGB-profile provide a semi-adequate sRGB gamut output for the monitor?

No one knows without comparing to a reference, such as a colorimeter, which you appear averse to using.

... what colour setting does the monitor need to be set through the OSD-interface using the buttons on the monitor itself (or through DDC)? ... what is the purpose of a manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile? ... what happens internally when using the screen's "sRGB mode"?

These are device dependent. Consider referring to the manual or contacting the manufacturers.

The second display does not have a manufacturer-supplied ICC-profile, although it has a "sRGB mode". The monitor came with a calibration report, indicating that in sRGB its delta-E is lower than 2.

Depending on your needs, you may not need perfect calibration. Assuming no significant color shifts, your "second display" may be good enough since it seems to have been individually calibrated by the manufacturer.

Suppose you are on a trip and you don't have access to a computer set up for colour management and you still really need to make some adjustments.

If you bring your own devices with you (eg, laptop), they will not decalibrate themselves simply because you are traveling. You could also edit on an iPhone or iPad, and results may be good enough since many people consume content on their phones and tablets.

You could make some basic display adjustments, but they don't ensure color accuracy. Computers at hotel "business centers" are usually locked down to prevent configuration of display settings and installation of photo editing software.

See:

| improve this answer | |
  • Your answer confirms some of my thoughts. However, I think it'd be nice if somebody writes a more elaborate answer that incorporates all the sub-questions I included in the question. As for buying a colourimeter, this is not really about that, or my personal situation. I think it's useful when we have a written explanation of what to do when you have no access to colour management hardware for some reason. It happens more often than you think. (Suppose you are on a trip and you don't have access to a computer set up for colour management and you still really need to make some adjustments.) – Ralph May 2 at 11:41
  • 1
    Without a reference, everything else is guesswork. There is absolutely no way round this. – Tetsujin May 2 at 11:43
  • @Ralph 1. You have too many questions for one post. 2. Many of your questions are device specific, but you don't specify the devices you're using. 3. Some answers should be in the monitors' documentation. 4. Most people don't own colorimeters because they don't care about color accuracy. Default settings are good enough for them. 5. When traveling, you can edit using iPad or iPhone. The results will be good enough because most people consume content on phones and tablets. – xiota May 2 at 12:05
  • Thanks for your update. 1. All my questions logically stem from the main question. With colour management things get complex really quickly, so you need a proper way how to answer such a question. I hope the way I set this question up is helpful in that regard. 2. I disagree. Most monitors have an "sRGB mode" and many monitors come with a manufacturer's ICC-profile. They must be intended for similar usage, even if that's only theory. It would be weird otherwise. 3. Perhaps, but again this is not monitor-specific. 4. Agreed. 5. These practicalities aside, this is not the scope of the question. – Ralph May 2 at 14:10
1

Of course, having a colorimeter is better. But of the two options you have, I would trust the second display more.

Having a stock OEM profile (for your first display) is not much different to having no profile at all. Most manufacturers provide it, yet variation between consumer displays can be significant. I have two 'identical' monitors from the same batch side by side at work, and their settings (after calibrating with the same colorimeter) are different by some 15-20%.

In contrast, the second display does many right things which are not very typical for consumer monitors:

  • It has an sRGB mode specifically (NB you should still specify sRGB profile for this monitor in the OS).
  • It locks brightness and contrast (and presumably most other settings), exacly like professional displays. Calibration is always valid only for certain image settings.
  • It has a certificate for this mode. Whatever it's worth, it shows at least an effort.

It's hard to say for certain what happens internally in the sRGB mode. It is very unlikely the display changes its primaries; most likely, it applies a pre-defined LUT for each colour to make it close to the sRGB target. If the native primaries are not far off (i.e. this is a standard monitor), this could be sufficient. If this is a really good monitor, it could do a proper colour conversion.

| improve this answer | |
  • Sometimes the default profile just performs an identity transformation. It's only purpose seems to be to provide the name of the device. – xiota May 4 at 5:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.