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As a newish but serious photographer (hobbyist not pro), I decided to buy a high resolution wide gamut monitor that wouldn't totally break the bank but is expensive (~$650) and well-reviewed. I ended up getting the ViewSoinic VP2770 2650x1440 IPS panel to work with my macbook. I bought it because it had the best out of box color calibration and overall reviews for its class (save Asus).

However, though it seems fine to the eye, when I look at my photos on it, via lightroom, they look all wrong, and do not compare to any of my devices (macbook, iphone, ipad). The colors are ok, but they seem to run very hot, like the whites are up too high or they over-saturated in some cases. I tried fiddling with contrast and brightness and color manually, but I just haven't been able to come close to my macbook. And my photos look the same on all my devices but not this monitor. This is a huge problem for me as I bought this expensive thing specifically for my photography (non print).

Now I know that in most cases (especially with wide gamut screens) an external color calibrator, like colormunki or spyder is often necessary to get everything calibrated, but they are really expensive so my questions are these:

1) Is it worth sucking it up and shelling out the dough for a calibrator, especially if don't print? Do these calibrators usually fix all issues like colors running hot and will my monitor be perfect after using one? Are they essential investments?

2) If I do get one, what level do I need (e.g. The Spyder express or the Spyder Pro)?

3) Is there something wrong with my monitor? Should I return this monitor and get a better one or a mac display (which may work better with my other devices)?

I will happily buy the calibrator if it will fix the problems with this monitor, but if it won't then maybe I should just invest in a more expensive monitor.

I only have 15 days to decide what to do before I can't return it anymore.

Any advice or experience for a color newbie?

  • Is your macbook calibrated? What makes you think it is a good reference? – PlasmaHH May 26 '14 at 10:20
  • 1) Yes, 2) Mid eg Spyder Pro, 3) For that level of monitor after calibration if things still look “bad” then that would be a warranty issue, you can exchange it, etc. Remember you have to use the colorimeter on your other devices (as far as possible) otherwise they will look too different from each other. – SaltySub2 Jan 18 '18 at 1:19
  • Is there a shop in your area that rents lenses and cameras? Maybe they also have a calibrator you can rent. – Roel Schroeven Jan 18 '18 at 8:51
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Yes - you need to calibrate your monitor. One option, which is what I did, is to buy a relatively cheap colorimeter, at the time the Huey Pro was generally available. I used it as a travel colorimeter. Later, when I wasn't traveling as much, I bought a more expensive colorimeter (Lacie Blue-Eye Pro) for my home IPS monitor. I found that the cheaper colorimeter, Huey Pro, worked perfectly fine, almost as good as the more expensive one.

In your case, you may consider a cheaper travel colorimeter to start, I think the Colormunki Smile or Spyder Express might serve that purpose. Later, buy the more expensive if you think you need it.

Also, note that most common-use-monitors' settings aren't configured for color management. So, it's no surprise that you see a difference between your wide gamut monitor and the others.

In that regard, some monitors provide different settings e.g. "Cool", "Warm", "RGB", "Adobe RGB" - you may notice that one of those settings matches the other monitors.

Lastly, you should be aware that Photoshop has a different way of handling color mgmt than other apps. So, be careful how you handle color calibration when using Photoshop. Your calibration tool should provide instructions - look for LUT vs. Matrix in the instructions.

  • Agreed, but I would say NEVER go for the most basic model eg. Spyder Express, Spyder Pro is fine. – SaltySub2 Jan 18 '18 at 1:18
  • @SaltySub2, never say never. All Spyders have identical hardware (though starting from 5, I think one lacks the ambient light sensor, which is hardly needed anyway); the only difference is software. Express is already sufficient for most users, but if not, one can use independent free software (such as DisplayCAL). Finally, some professional monitors such as NEC or Eizo use their own software and for them, only the cheapest Express makes sense. – Zeus Apr 29 at 0:42
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Why do you think your Macbook or IPhone & IPad has the calibrated screens or why are you trying to achieve those colors. As you have adequately put, you have did your research and bought the "best out of box color calibration and overall reviews for its class".

Regarding your question, firstly you should use DVI, HDMI or even better DisplayPort port of your monitor. VP2770 has average 1.2 DeltaE factory calibration for sRGB mode which is quite good considering 1 DeltaE value is the lowest value that a human eye can distinguish (empirically JND value is 2.3 DeltaE). Furthermore you can even improve your monitor's calibration by changing RGB, contrast and brightness values from OSD menu without using a calibration device. Monitor reviewers have used appropriate hardware to calibrate this monitor and values of

  • Brightness = 20
  • Contrast = 70
  • Preset Mode = User Color
  • RGB = 98, 100, 90
  • Gamma = Standard

will provide you of an average 0.3 DeltaE value which is extremely good considering your usage. There would be some difference of your own monitor panel but that difference would not exceed %20 error.

Finally, you do not have to buy any other hardware for your calibration.

You can check this page for additional info for your monitor.

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1) Is it worth sucking it up and shelling out the dough for a calibrator, especially if don't print? Do these calibrators usually fix all issues like colors running hot and will my monitor be perfect after using one? Are they essential investments?

Yes (a), no (b), yes(c). a.) As as serious hobyist it is key that the color you see while editing your photos are as close to the color standard you are publishing your photos (web/sRGB, Print/CMYK etc). If the monitor you are using is not calibrated, you are not guarantied that others will experience the picture as you intended.

b.) It will not solve all problems. If your workflow is Shoot RAW -> Import Lightroom -> Edit Photoshop -> save back to lightroom -> export to web, print, etc. Lightroom use (as far as I know) Pro RGB as default color space/profile. When exporting you need to pay serious attention to the convertion to for instance sRGB for web publishing as the color space is narrower. The key her is to understand soft proofing.

2) If I do get one, what level do I need (e.g. The Spyder express or the Spyder Pro)?

I consider myserlf as a serious hobbyist and find Spider5express meets my requirements. It is however limited to one screen.

3) Is there something wrong with my monitor? Should I return this monitor and get a better one or a mac display (which may work better with my other devices)?

There is probably nothing wrong with your monitor. Working in wider gammut colorspace has some challenges, but it is worth the effort.

PS! It is my understanding (Personally im not using Mac), but the new version supports 10bit output to external monitors. I highly recomend enabling it if your display supports it. That will significantly increase the display quality.

  • Agreed, though get a mid-range colorimeter like Colormunki or Spyder Pro (NOT Express). – SaltySub2 Jan 18 '18 at 1:15
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Comparing colors from any single uncalibrated display to any other uncalibrated display or print process will cause you all kinds of problems. It's best to begin to get all of your color processes calibrated. Then compare them under good light, meaning the same light you have set the white point of every color calibrated display. So if that is D50 then use a 5000k light source to compare everything under.

Adobe Photoshop and LR do not have vastly different ways to handle color management. These softwares use the Adobe CMM or color management module. That CMM is slightly different that Apple's but most people wouldn't notice any difference. Both the OS and the applications use ICC profile based color management. All you need to know about that is to create and use ICC version 4 profiles. LUT profiles are not as accurate for display profiles.

Calibration your monitor may or may not solve the problem. The display you have purchased has a LED backlight panel and your Macbook uses a thin film florescent backlight. So this usually caused cheaper calibration tools to "Get close" but not be able to produce a visual match between these displays due to metamerisem issues. If the Viewsonic has extra software controls to adjust the white point before you profile the display do that first, then calibrate. Chances are your inexpensive calibration tools will not get them very close otherwise.

  • I did manually calibrate both monitors at the same time and created new ICC profiles for my new monitor, but though there was definitely improvement, there still seems to be slight tonal differences that Ic an't get right. The ViewSonic is slightly yellower and the apple is slightly more purple. It's not just warmth. Anyway, so you think I should go in for a more expensive external calibrator? – Skunkness May 25 '14 at 21:23
  • @Skunkness the real solution is both a more expensive actual spectrophotometer to calibrate your display, and software adjustments that allow you to adjust the displays colors and white point to remove those differences caused by the different light sources. – R Hall May 25 '14 at 22:33
  • @Skunkness - just so you know, I support what R Hall has described if you are interested in trying to match monitors. I would also recommend that you consider if matching those monitors/devices is your end goal. That is, if you know your audience will be using the same type of devices with the same characteristics. That type of decision might affect your approach to this. – B Shaw May 27 '14 at 4:23
  • @BShaw - I was thinking about that as well. I had never notice d a discrepancy in my photos from any of the other device I use in the household, but then again, they are all macs. I'm also assuming that at least half of mainstream users use macs as well, though the photography crowd may be more skewed to monitors like mine. So I guess I could calibrate both my mac and my ViewSonic, or I could calibrate my ViewSonic to look like my mac (are both these things possible?). The former would certainly be more pro, but now that you mention it, maybe that's not what I need. Any thoughts? – Skunkness May 27 '14 at 17:29
  • Also, @RHall - do you know if the Spyder is a spectrophotometer, or just a colorimeter? Do you have a recommendation as to which brand I should buy? – Skunkness May 27 '14 at 17:30
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I have the same screen and use a spider pro to calibrate to Match my printer.

However this then on that screen does not match my iPad, and uncalibrated laptop and net book. I have a second screen for that a cheap Asus one and it matches with minor adjustments the iPad etc.

  • Yes a Spyder Pro used for the screen, if used for the laptop and netbook as well will start to bring the colours closer together. Of course they will never be the same, but at least it will be less confusing and for mass distribution colours will stray less. Apple devices in 2016, 2017 onwards are very much Display P3 and seem very well-calibrated out of the box, so that helps a lot IMO. – SaltySub2 Jan 18 '18 at 1:14
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All calibration tools in the market (colorimeter + software) works only on your gamma tables, which corrects or calibrate the display gamma, or tonal shades, it does NOT control your wide gamut, not the gamut, not the colors reproduction.

Without controlling the actual gamut, such calibration is deceiving. To actually control/change the "GAMUT" of your display you need some sort of HARDWARE that manipulate the DVI signal to change the gamut, some displays has it built in, and some do not.

If your display doesn't have such capability (HW) then controlling its gamut is impossible without an external signal manipulator, such as TetraColors, check this web site: www.noorzena.com

  • For PC monitor workflows, a decent colorimeter will let you set the “target” Gamma. That is, one can set the Gamma setting on the monitor to be in the “middle” (whatever that is). Now, in the colorimeter, you can set the “target” Gamma, usually 2.2, but options such as 2.0 and 2.4 may be available. The colorimeter will then set a profile, that when used, will attempt (usually successfully) to ensure you see everything on the screen as close to the target Gamma as possible. I am not familiar with more “pro” approaches but for the user in question I believe what I mentioned is suitable for them. – SaltySub2 Jan 18 '18 at 1:12
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You MUST use a colorimeter to make any sense of colours across desktop screens, be they wide-gamut or normal-gamut. Without a colorimeter, it is a frustrating and painful experience, and as you indicate the situation is exacerbated with varying devices being used.

I know this is an old question, but with Apple and Android devices supporting Display P3, and 4K wide-gamut monitors becoming more commonplace, using a decent colorimeter is essential. While you cannot easily calibrate a mobile device, calibrating your computer screens at least give you a decent “baseline”.

Go for a Colormunki or Spyder Pro - a mid-range, not the basic one. Later you can upgrade, but NEVER go with the lowest-tier colorimeter - those are meant for casual users who want to see “nice colours”.

Besides streamlining workflow, with a colorimeter you get the best possible images from your investment in your monitor, and you can mitigate the usually poor screens in cheaper laptops.

As the above posters mention, you MUST set all your screen and brightness and colour settings to the default, neutral settings BEFORE calibrating. Out-of-the-box the settings can be on “Warm” instead of “Normal”, and Gamma settings can be on the lighter or darker side, find a Gamma control on the monitor itself that is like “Mode 1” or “Mode 2” etc, whichever is the middle, most neutral setting.

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