I am amazed that many photographers, far too many of them work on a monitor with no calibration, no profiling, and get surprised when they do not achieve the expected colors from their prints. I have made quite a few presentations on digital workflow and have been preaching the importance of color management starting with the display monitor calibration and profiling. The importance of a calibrated and properly profiled display monitor cannot be overemphasized. It is a must, period. The rest of the color-managed workflow depends on it.
Display Calibration is Essential
I have been using a Monaco Optix-XR display calibration device that I acquired about 8-9 years ago; it was one of the better devices then. It served me well over the years until I upgraded my computer about a month ago, and its OS to Windows 7. The old software, which had not been updated for many years after X-Rite acquired Monaco, did not install on Windows 7 64-Bit OS. A replacement was necessary, not for compatibility reasons only but also the availability of newer and better technology.
I sought advice from Brenda, the knowledgeable and helpful rep of X-Rite as to which one of their products would suit my needs the best. X-Rite makes close to ten different models with a wide range of capabilities and prices, and I considered the i1Display series and the ColorMunki. She recommended X-Rite ColorMunki Photo (yes, it sounds a bit hokey to me too) and demoed one on my computer. I was sold on the spot. The process could not be simpler, it’s so simple a Munki can do it (sorry for the pun!)
ColorMunki is a New Kind of Device
Install the software first; it will probably take longer than the actual display calibration. Then plug in the CM (no more Munki-ing around with the long names) to an available USB port, which will trigger the installation of the hardware device driver. After it says your hardware is ready to use, start the Photo software.
From this point on, it is a matter of following the on-screen instructions which even show a picture of the device with the correct dial setting and inform the user when it is set correctly or incorrectly. (There is one part that is not so foolproof as this fool was tripped by it. You need to open the sliding sensor cover at the bottom otherwise you will go through the entire process only to end up with an error message. I wish there were a hardware or software indicator that the cover was closed. But it is a very, very minor issue and I will not make that mistake again.)
During the initial phases of the calibration process, you will need access to the brightness and contrast controls of your display, acquaint yourself with those buttons; they are usually very hard to find, and their labels are impossible to read. At least my monitor’s controls are.
While adjusting contrast or brightness as instructed by your loyal Munki software, go in small steps as it takes a moment or two to read the new levels. After these are done, it will go through displaying and reading a series of colors on the screen and tell you that it is finished. At this point, you need to save the created profile. It suggests a name, which is fine to use. I prefer to add my monitor brand and the date of calibration to the file name, so my profile names look like this:
but any name will do. I’m from the old school of computing and try to put as much information into the file name as I can within reason. It’s a habit I developed in the days of CP/M and MS-DOS! (What do you mean you don’t know what they are?)
Compare Before-After Calibration
The next step is a visual comparison of Before-After with a noticeably better After view. You will be pleased when you see the results. I have not yet even mentioned that it can profile substrates for printers with ease and is a color picker from any surface that you can touch with this Munki’s foot.
Other utilities included in the package will be quite useful to people who need to decide on color combinations like on a Web site, or a magazine layout. On their Web site, they offer training materials, brochures, and other information that will help the user get the most out of this product.
I love this Munki and highly recommend that you get one at your earliest convenience. They are easy to train, once you learn how to remove their “eye patch!”