is monitor calibration essential for photography?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by whitedragon101, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. whitedragon101 macrumors 65816

    Sep 11, 2008
    I have a MPB 15" bought on the very day of release. I am now using it to edit photos for selling to various publishers. Do I need to get a monitor calibrator like the Spyder3 Pro?

    I went to this link to perform 'by eye' checks on my screen:

    my monitor is uncalibrated, yet it passed the tests with the following scores:
    white test: 253 is distinguishable from white
    black test: 7 is distinguishable from black
    hue test: the two samples are clearly distinguishable
    gamma: standing back the middle grey matches the outside gray

    These tests were seemingly meant to show how bad an uncalibrated monitor would fare. However it came out very well.

    Is there more to the story than this?
    Do I need to get a Spyder?
  2. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    It only becomes essential when you think you need it.
  3. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    If you do any type of print/photo/video/color correction work you'll need a calibrator, especially if others are seeing your work.

    Of course for video work you'll have an external display designed for such a task, while critical photo work will be done on an external IPS panel. The internal Macbook Pro LCD will fare better calibrated and will allow you to tweak your shots to make them look as accurate as possible, but the color depth is dwarfed by the higher end displays like any of Apple's Cinema Displays, Lacie LCDs or Dell's Ultrasharps.
  4. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    IMO visual calibration is all that 98% of us need. You'll probably be wasting your money. If you run a large enough or important operation where that kind of precision is necessary, the price of a screen calibrator won't even matter to you.

    If you have to ask the question, you don't need one.
  5. NewMacbookPlz macrumors 68040


    Sep 28, 2008

    My input is that visual screen calibration is beneficial even for day-to-day usage of the machine. The factory profiles typically aren't too good anyways IMO.
  6. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    Are you being paid for the photographs? If yes, then you must calibrate. If no, then optional. Personally, I do but it's a choice not a requirement.
  7. ventro macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2006
    Apple displays come out of the box with TERRIBLE colors. Calibration is a must. Going between the two profiles I cringe to think there are people out there with uncalibrated displays.
  8. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    Just find a profile someone already created for your screen. Go to Sys prefs -> displays -> color -> Color LCD -> Open Profile -> Apple Display Make and Model Info and search for the model number without the zeros, mine is 9C81. Find a profile that looks good and use it. It might not be perfect, but it will be far better than uncalibrated, and it will probably still be better than what you can do by eye.

    That website is useless for telling you if you need calibration. If you can't see all the shades of black or white, it probably just means you have a bad display. All MBP displays are what I would call a bad display IMO because they use TN panels, which is a cheap low-quality technology. If you are buying a desktop LCD, it is worth paying extra for a PVA, MVA. or IPS display if you care about quality and color. Most manufacturers don't list the display type, but you can tell by viewing angle. TN will be 160-170 degrees, while the others will be 178 degrees (or 89 if they divide by 2). All laptop LCDs that I know of ate TN, so there must be some kind of technical limitation.

    Another reason that site is useless is that calibration will remove any wrong color cast to the monitor. For example, if grays are a little too yellow, like the stock profile often is, your eyes would never notice it because they adapt extremely well to slight color changes (think of how much difference white balance makes on a camera even though you probably barely notice a difference in color in different lighting unless you are really looking for it), but when you calibrate you will see a big difference. You might get some improvement visually calibrating, but there is no way you can match a real hardware calibrator. Like I said, search for a color profile for your panel (on this forum), and that will be 99% as good as getting a hardware calibrator but a lot cheaper.
  9. pknoot macrumors newbie


    Apr 7, 2009
    Northern California
    I second Eddy's advice on the external monitor. While you could calibrate the MBP, it is not up to publication standards. I use my MBP display for basic sorting and field work; the serious editing and printing/publishing is on an external monitor. I get the impression that you're just starting out? If so, might as well do it right the first time!
  10. dotcodotuk macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2009
    Well, I wouldn't bother with the Spyder3, but a good hardware calibration device is essential for any serious photographer.

    I totally agree. The supplied profiles are awful.

    This is an accuracy test for the profile that ships with the 17" anti-glare:


    The graph is designed to show the difference between the desired colours and those actually shown by the monitor. This is represented by the bars for each colour, with lower bars being preferable. The lower the DeltaE reading (shown along the Y-axis), the better, in terms of colour accuracy.

    And this is an accuracy test for the profile created by a LaCie Blue Eye Pro:


    It's easy to see that the MBP screen can be accurate once calibrated. But I'm shocked just how inaccurate the display is in its 'default' state.

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