I edit my photos in a room that is painted a neutral grey. I have a blackout blind over the window and a single light-source which is a D65 bulb set in an uplighter that bounces the light off the wall and ceiling so that there is no direct light.

I have a dual monitor setup which I calibrate using a Colormunki Display.

Having read a lot of conflicting information regarding whitepoints, I think I have assertained the following:

  1. Most monitors have a default whitepoint of D65. This means that the majority of people viewing work published online will be doing so with a whitepoint of D65. This means that if I am working on images that will be published online, I should have my monitors profiled with a whitepoint of D65.

  2. D50 on the otherhand replicates how an image would look as a print under 'normal viewing conditions', whatever that means. Therefore if I am working on an image that will be printed, I should have my monitors profiled with a whitepoint of D50.

Is this the correct approach? If so, what does this mean for my lighting. If the lighting in my room is D65, does this mean that when I switch profiles from one with a whitepoint of D65 to one with a whitepoint of D50, I should also switch bulbs?].


3 Answers 3


There is no "normal" viewing condition.

D-50 (5000°K) is an agreed-upon industry "standard."

The answer to your question is YES if you wish to eliminate sources of infinite frustration.

By the way, your clothing is important too since there are reflections. That's why all of us who work in colour seriously wear black.

Alternative practical solution: What we do to avoid keeping a step ladder and extra supply of bulbs around with different colour temperatures is to keep a specialized light-shielded "viewing" booth with the D-50 illumination inside. Not only the colour temperature is correct; but, just as important is the light intensity within the booth for optimal colour judgement.

In use, you'd switch off the D-65 overhead lighting and change the monitor settings to match.

A lighting booth is an additional expense but well worth it for colour management. Place it beside your monitor shielded from spill light to isolate it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ D50 is quite visibly different (greener) than a 5,000K black body illuminant. 5,000 CCT does not specific a white but a near infinite range of colors around the black body temperature of 5,000K along the magenta/green axis. \$\endgroup\$
    – doug
    Jan 6, 2019 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ "D-50 (5000°K) is an agreed-upon industry "standard." upvote for the practical answer that was likely desired. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3, 2021 at 14:42

A display with a white point of D65 means that if you send it R=G=B=1 then the white has a CCT of 6500K (not blackbody but correlated). This does not mean that all white should always be D65; it can show all other 50 shades of white too, of course. So if everybody calibrates their white point the same then we'll all see the same white and ideally all other colors too. The only special thing about white D65 is that it is the brightest color that the display can render, because of R=G=B=1.

When the display is calibrated to D50 then R=G=B=1 gives a CCT of 5000K. If you have expectations what a print of R=G=B=1 (= blank paper) should look like under a standard (!) lamp of 5000K, then the D50 display will give you the most accurate preview.

Wit color management you can calibrate any display to match any other output device, like prints and photographs - under a given illumination ! This should save you the wasted proof prints, which is a major benefit of (digital) desktop publishing.

D50 may also be the preferred choice for viewing black-and-white movies on a color display, I learned that from Joe Kane. Or the movie could already be tuned to D50 (i.e. not R=G=B) in a color transmission, and then you should set the display to D65 in order to see D50 !

  • \$\begingroup\$ CCT of 6500K doesn't specify the "white" since you can shift color along the green/magenta axis without changing the CCT. Also, a black body at 6500K is more magenta than D65. Also, there is nothing special about D65 being the brightest white a monitor displays. For example, You can usually set the maximum luminance of a monitor higher at D70 or D75. Please don't use CCT to designate a "white." You can have very different color whites that are both CCT 6500. D65 designates a white, CCT 6500 does not. \$\endgroup\$
    – doug
    Jan 6, 2019 at 0:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the same point @doug was trying to make but D65 has a specific CIE x,y chromaticity coordinate. A CCT of 6500K is any CIE x,y value that lines on an isotemperature line (a line perpendicular to the plankian locus in UCS) that runs through the plankian locus at a color temperature of 6500K. Likewise for D50. \$\endgroup\$
    – agf1997
    Jul 20, 2019 at 0:08

Various standardize color encodings and standard viewing environments have adopted different white points. As a previous answer points out, a display can be calibrated to any of these white points. This is done by modifying the chromaticity of the light emitted from the display when the code values R=G=B are sent you the display.

The television industry, computer graphics and others have adopted the standard of using the chromaticity coordinates for D65 as the display calibration white point, as well as, the chromaticity of the viewing environment or surround.

The professional printing industry has adopted the chromaticity of D50 as their standard.

Your choice of color encoding white point, display white point, and the chromaticity of the viewing environment should be based on the standards associated with your application (e.g. if your photos are going to be printed in a magazine with offset lithography vs being displayed on a TV set)

You should refer to the appropriate standards for each application (e.g IEC 61966-2-1, ITU-R BT.709, ITU-R BT.2020, ISO 3664, etc)

It’s worth noting light sources denoted as D50 or D65 do not spectrally match those daylight Illuminants. The are usually fluorescent sources, hence very spikey in nature, but have a chromaticity close the that of the denoted daylight illuminant.

As noted in CIE 15, there are no artificial sources that match the CIE daylight illuminant’s spectral power distribution.


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