Video – Monitor vs. Printer Calibration

Hi all. A while back I created a video on the non-Lightroom (but still very important) topic of calibration using a hardware calibration device. From what I can gather out there, a lot of photographers have heard the message loud and clear – use a hardware calibration device. I don’t really care which one, just use one. However, from being out on the road I have seen a bit of confusion surrounding what type of calibration you need. There’s monitor calibration to create a color profile for your screen, and there’s printer calibration to create a profile for your printer. Which do you need? Watch the quick video I created to see.

Click here to download the video to your computer. [Right-click and choose the "Save As" option]

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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22 Comments

  1. Thanks for an interesting video on an important subject. While I agree that using the ICC profiles provided by paper vendors for a specific printer model is a great start, you can typically get another step in color control from building an ICC printer for your own printer and for the specific batch of paper you are printing on (as opposed to the ‘average’ printer of a given model and the ‘average’ batch of a given paper). It is for this reason that our HP Z-series Designjet printers (e.g., the 12-ink Z3200) have an on-board spectrophotometer, which removes the need to manually scan color patches and instead prints, measures, builds and registers ICC profiles in our PC or Mac – ready for use in Photoshop or Lightroom.

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  2. Hey, Matt,

    Thanks for that video. It is all very confusing knowing that I don’t need a printer profile device for my Epson-Epson-Epson configuration is welcome news.

    Keep up the great work.

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  3. downloaded video, but it wont play.

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  4. Great info.
    Wow, the quality of the video was KILLER!!!

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  5. Great video Matt..

    Ok I’ve calibrated my monitor and use the correct ICC for my printer/paper(s) etc with good results. But what happens when I send pics to say mpix, I’ve notice that my prints from my printer more closely match the screen but my mpix pics tend to be less vibrant,darker and lack the tonal range.. I knows it’s me but I have no idea what to do.

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  6. Agree this is really important. Personally I’ve often found the profiles provided by 3rd party paper manufacturers to be quite poor. I tend to always get better results from a custom print profile produced. I really recommend the Datacolor Spyder 3 Studio set which produces print and monitor profiles. You can also slightly tweak the print profile if you think it’s not quite right.

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  7. Hi Matt-

    One cool feature you forgot to mention about the ColorMunki is that it allows you to calibrate your LCD projector. This is very handy if you use a projector for client presentations or speaking to groups and you want to get the same great colors on your screen as you are getting on your monitor.

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  8. Hey Matt,

    Could you do a video on the actual calibration process?

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  9. I have calibrated my Dell wide gamut monitor and achieve good results for html galleries and printing, unfortunately Flash galleries look terrible. Adobe tells me Flalsh 10 supports color management, then there might be a Lightroom problem. Are you aware of that ?

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  10. Jan M has a great point on the Z series HPs. I use a Z3100 in my print repro business, and I love the fact that I can create accurate ICC Profiles for the printer and papers. I recalibrate everything every 2 weeks. When clients see the screen (calibrated) they know what they’re getting in the print.

    The big surprise. I always hear, “Well, it didn’t look like that on my screen.” I then explain calibration, hardware options, etc. My regular clients now understand screen calibration, and it’s improved their edits!

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  11. Thanks Matt! This is really a great tip. This needs to reinforced with many of us I’m sure. I almost bought the ColorMunki, but I see now that it may not be necessary to spend so much.

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  12. I have the X-rite color One but I cannot use the advanced calibration on my iMAC 27′ monitor. Although I can change the brightness (it came from factory with over 400 lux) there are NO controls to change the contrast or individual RGB values. You can use the Easy calibration method, but why do so if you are attempting to really calibrate the monitor. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions…….thanks

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  13. Hi Matt

    Thanks for the useful info.

    Just some friendly feedback. Not everyone has access to large download limits. Normally your videos are/contain screen demonstrations which help people learn. To me personally, the info in this (much larger than normal) video could almost as effectively been in the form of a audio file, for a much smaller download.

    Sorry to sound like a ‘hater’/angy old man. I like your site and all your other videos very much.

    Regards

    Des

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  14. Hi Matt,

    great stuff. Thanks for posting this! Hope you are doing well.

    Kajo

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  15. Hi Matt,

    Color control when printing is very important. I personally have been plagued with color management issues from monitor issues, local printer issues, and out of house printer issues. I have never gotten the results from out of house printing that I get when printing in house. I use an Epson printer and paper but I also calibrate my monitor and printer (on that paper) and have not seen the color issues I have when printing out of house. In fact, I can reproduce exactly what I see on my screen on my printer now.

    I would recommend users making the investment into something like the Spyder3 Studio SR to have better color management. You will find that you will want to print in house versus sending out because you know you have control of color and how it will produce on paper.

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  16. Hi Matt,

    Recently, I found myself in need of a new device to calibrate my monitor. I had been using an older Eye-One Display. My research, at the time, revealed that I could get the X-rite ColorMunki for about the same price as a standard colorimeter (such as the Eye-One Display 2) when I factored in the $50 rebate they were offering last year. So, I sprung for the “Munki”.

    Having now used it many times to calibrate my monitor and to create custom paper profiles, I can assure you that the paper profiles generated from this device are MUCH better than any profile downloaded from the paper manufacturer’s website. The difference in color fidelity is easily recognized. True, I do tend to print on many different types and makes of paper, but I’m finding that I prefer the ColorMunki profiles even to the “pro” profiles provided by Epson for their paper.

    Another aspect of the ColorMunki which I don’t see mentioned too much is that the screen calibration software “talks” to the monitor. If your monitor supports commands sent to it by the ColorMunki, the software will adjust monitor brightness, for example, to the correct level for providing a very close screen-to-print match. After 10 years of working on supposedly calibrated monitors, I am now producing prints that are as close a match to my monitor as I’ve ever seen. For me, the ColorMunki has been a VERY GOOD purchase decision.

    Just thought I’d toss in my 2 cents…

    Thanks for a great video!

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  17. Hi Matt,
    I am continually having problems matching my monitor (ViewSonic 2000VPS) with my prints (Epson R1800) when printing from Lightroom 2.6 on a MacPro, OS X 10.6. I have calibrated my monitor using a Monaco Optix spectrometer and software. I have selected the calibrated monitor profile under displays in system preferences. Questions as follow:
    1. In Lightroom, is the “page setup” dialog for the printer/computer interface?
    2. In Lightroom, is the “printer settings” dialog for the printer driver?
    3. In Lightroom, are the settings under “Print Job” in the right print panel the settings for LR to control the printer?
    If this is correct, then it is important to turn off the printer control found in the “printer settings” dialog and use only the setting found under “Print Job” on the print tab in LR, correct?
    I’ve done this and I tend to still print dark with loss of yellow and gain of blue and red.
    I have also downloaded and tried printing some of the standard calibration images with the same results.
    Any advice on what to try next? Your help and assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Dave Stevens
    Long Beach, CA

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  18. Matt, what happened? The video is not available now.

    Paul Porter
    Oakland, CA

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  19. I love the website, Matt, but like Alan Huntley, I can’t agree with this video. In general, the color munki profiles are better than the ones provided on the Epson site for the R2880. The Epson profiles tend to be a little better in regard to dark blues, but the Color Munki seems better at everything else, especially yellows. I have a shot of a sunflower, that I had to edit a lot just to get it to print properly with the Epson profiles. I printed it with the Color Munki profile without any edits in Photoshop, and it was a visibly better print than the Epson profile print.

    Now, while softrproofing, I compare the Epson and the Color Munki profiles and choose the best one. The Color Munki usually wins.

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  20. I downloaded the video and tried viewing it on the site. I keep getting glitches and out of sync audio with both methods.

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  21. hi Matt-
    thanks for a great video. i bought color monkey (previewing this video, unfortunately), but the results lead to an annoyingly dark monitor. i can’t stand it and can’t imagine using this calibration. did i do something wrong? any advice?

    MJ

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  22. I am having difficulty download the videos from the site. For some unknown reason, I can’t save as nor command-S after waiting for the video to complete. What am I doing wrong? I use a Mac with OS 10.4.11.
    Thank you for any advice.

    JM

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