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I'm a web developer, and for a hobby I take photos and edit them on my computer. I've found that sometimes I miss stuff on my own monitor that are apparent on other monitors (aliased edges that didn't appear on my screen, for example.)

What tools/methods can I use to get the optimal settings for my computer?

Also, is it common for VGA (DE-15) cables to show less color detail than a DVI cable? I recently got a new monitor at work and it turned out that I couldn't see the difference between white and any color with RGB values above 230 or so until I switched to a DVI cable.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I find the Lagom LCD monitor test pages to be very useful for this. It's the first site I visit after hooking up a new monitor.

I've also noticed the same difference in VGA vs. DVI, but I only have personal observation to back that up, no actual data. Perhaps somebody more knowledgeable about the tech could give us a definitive answer.

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Nice! My home monitor is a good ol' CRT that's been with me for the last 7 years... Are these tests good for CRTs as well? –  Blixt Jul 15 '09 at 13:07
    
I haven't had a CRT monitor in about 6 years, so I'm not sure. They're probably still useful, but maybe not the best solution for CRTs. –  Jeromy Irvine Jul 15 '09 at 13:09

I got myself an Spyder2 Express for $120 (shipped to another country, so it must be much less on the States), and it has been a life changing experience.

Before calibrating my monitor, I was uncertain whether my pictures (I am also a photographer) will be printed or shared just as I see them. After having shared some, and people told me that they were too dark and color-casted to yellow, I got fed up and bought the Spyder2Express.

The process is really simple, just stick the device to the screen, run the calibration software, and it automagically creates a color profile according to the colors measured.

After that, I loaded up some pictures on a white background, and boy it was white. No cast whatsoever.

After having suffered for not having the correct color calibration on the monitor, I will never go editing again, without making sure you have the best possible settings on a monitor. NVIDIA tweaking or Adobe Gamma can go so far, but it is not an exact science and depends very much on the eye of the calibrator. Using a device will rule you out of the equation and can be much more accurate what you get.

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That does look interesting and I will certainly consider getting one, since both design and (especially) photography requires accurate colors! –  Blixt Jul 15 '09 at 13:24

The people at Digital Photography Review, a VERY serious photo site, used to use products from Datacolor to calibrate their monitors, but there are probably simpler ways.

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You need to calibrate your display. Tekzilla had a great episode on how to calibrate an HDTV and the same principles apply. You'll use the calibration tools available for your video card.

This basically consists of using test patterns that help you decide where to set the color levels, brightness/contrast, sharpness, etc.

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If you can get your hands on some monitor calibration hardware then that is the way to go.

Otherwise get an ICC profile from your monitor's manufacturer (if they provide one) and load it into windows. See the Color Management app in Vista's control panel. You can download an XP color management tool from Microsoft.

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