Monitor calibrating *without* hardware?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Riku7, May 8, 2014.

  1. Riku7 macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    I found no luck trying to do research on this, so I'll have to ask for advice. Bear with me. :confused:

    I have an Eizo ColorEdge CG223W. And, hands down, yes if I wanted to make a calibrated profile for doing my visual work, I'd absolutely use a hardware metering tool, not my subjective and opinionated perception!
    Eizo has preset modes. The mode called "custom", which is currently calibrated for my work use, is the only mode that the monitor allows the user to hand-adjust with the hardware buttons. The rest of the modes are common context presets (irrelevant for me), and then there's three empty slots for some more custom presets. Great, I thought, I'll just create an extra profile on one of those so I can switch between work mode and other modes by the push of a button. But apparently those additional custom profiles can only be created by using Color Navigator AND a hardware calibration tool, which I don't own. And even if I owned one, they're built for creating *faithful* profiles – something that I already have and don't need. It's strange that Color Navigator just can't allow you to purposefully make a profile without hardware, even when you know what you're doing or aren't looking for scientific measuring.

    What's my point? Well, when I'm done with the day's visual work and the night falls, the flashing brightness is killing my eyes. I used f.lux ( which seemed really smart at first, but after a few weeks I found myself disabling it once its effect started to kick in in the evenings; Yes, the orange overlay makes it so much easier on the eyes if you're looking at a white page with black text, but for everything else, it's plain annoying. I usually study in the nighttime, I use a lot of colour indicators among text and graphics to comprehend things better, but as you can imagine, the orange overlay distorts the colours completely so you can't tell blue from green and so on. I'd need something more sophisticated. With a proper night mode profile I wouldn't have that horrible flashing screen stuck in my retinae long after I've left the workstation. :eek:

    Mac's built-in color calibration assistant only leads horribly astray (although it does an OK job if you're actually trying to calibrate some basic screen to look somewhat nice). But for this, its step by step wizard makes it impossible to keep track of an *entity* as it only lets you to adjust one parameter at a time – parameters that it doesn't even literally explain to let you know what you're doing an adjustment for! It's just a vague "testing for the monitor's native luminance response". Doesn't mean much.
    When you blindly adjust those sliders one by one and think that it might be fine, the gamma adjustment step finally messes the previous settings up anyway and when you save the profile, it turns out as yet another surprise. I even tried adjusting the sliders randomly in numerous ways to just see if it would accidentally produce a bearable outcome, but that brought no luck either.
    Adjusting Eizo's hardware settings by buttons isn't an option because I require to switch between the modes every day. Also, creating a software-based profile would allow me to automate the profile to switch according to the time of day. Set it up, leave it and have a nice life.

    If there was a way to create and save a profile for easy switching.
    To adjust an entity instead of step-by-step-and-don't-go-back.
    To see what's changing while I'm still adjusting.
    To have the freedom to "adjust it all wrong" instead of faithfully.
    ...And this is only a hypothetical metaphor, but I wish I could do this by using something like the Photoshop curves tool. That kind of non-linear precision. Because the linear sliders (and the lack of them) have a major downside: When you get one tone right, move onto the next slider to adjust some other tone, the second slider will mess up the first tone again because nothing locks in place and the adjustment is not a "curve" but a meter.

    I'm not expecting to get the perfect solution that answers every problem but do you have any ideas that might be helpful for getting at least closer to the goal? Software, tools, hidden features, something I missed.
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    You missed the part where you buy or borrow a calibration tool and profile your monitor. You have a nice little screen there, with access to the LUT through colour navigator. The only piece of the puzzle missing is a calibrator. I just set up my Spectraview 241 monitor tonight (ex demo unit) and the first thing i did was to borrow an Xrite i1 display pro and calibrate the thing. Otherwise there is little point in having a colour accurate wide gamut monitor.
  3. Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    I know. Like I said, I don't adjust my real work tools by my own opinions.
    I do keep track of the quality of the actual profile that I'm using for work, and I have borrowed Spyder for those. But those hardware calibration tools are meant for measuring conditions to make *accurate* and *faithful* profiles for *graphic and print work purposes*. Currently I do not have access for borrowable hardware, and the guided wizards with preset targets don't help when I'm purposefully trying to adjust the screen to subjectively look calming to my eyes. And that would never look even close to acceptable for graphic works. I'm trying to draw a line between strict graphic work vs. other stuff.
  4. MrGIS macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    Ontario Canada

    Calibration without hardware is a complete waste of time. Trust me.. don't even bother trying. Adjusting it "all wrong" is wrong. At a minimum get something like a Syder 4 Express, which is actually a very good solution for a single monitor setup.
  5. Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Sigh. This is such a forum classic: Whenever someone asks how to do X or where to get X, people get so fixated on details that the conversation just ends in "don't do X, X is stupid". I did not ask whether I should use hardware or software to calibrate my screen for making the colors look accurate. Just let me worry about the results. Using software calibration to create a new profile isn't going to do any harm as I'm not intending to touch the settings of the current profile that I use for work. Two separate profiles, one for the night and one for the day.
  6. MrGIS macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    Ontario Canada
    I didn't say x is stupid, I said x is wrong. The colours you get from going down this road will be wrong. But you can do what ever you like. Knock yourself out.
  7. Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Yes, indeed. I want to intentionally create a profile where the colors are wrong, and save it as a profile that I can switch to when I call it a day and no longer require the colors to be right. Now we're getting somewhere.
    So we're back in the beginning again, I'm still asking the question that the topic title refers to.
  8. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    You haven't defined what your idea of a "proper night mode profile" is. If f.lux doesn't do it, what are you looking for?
  9. Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    The problem of modern monitor screens is that we're directly staring at a bright light source for hours and hours, one that is insanely bright and high in contrast compared to the surrounding room at night. In normal conditions, the brain adjusts our perception of white balance but a screen calibrated to display whites as absolute whites will start to look painfully blue when the white daylight disappears and the indoor room is lit by artificial lighting that is much more yellow than the calibrated screen's white point. That's the major headache. Too much blues for too long time strains one's eyes and sleep pattern and I still care about mine. Tech is adjustable so why not help yourself to cope with it.

    "Proper night mode profile": In a nutshell, I'd decrease the contrast and brightness and warm up the whites. I want a way softer overall look. Vaguely something that resembles the look of color film photos that lose contrast and turn orange as they age. That's significantly more eye-friendly.

    -Why not do it with the native profile calibrator?
    -Because its linearity is way too coarse.
    If anybody here is a professional photographer (which is not a synonym to a photography fan/enthusiast), you know how terrible a photo looks if you use Photoshop's coarse brightness/contrast sliders and drop them both down. Dropping the contrast also strips the pixels from their color making everything turn grey, and dropping brightness makes you lose details because the setting affects the entire spectrum, mudding the dark midtones to a shapeless black chunk.

    -Why don't I just increase red if I want more of it?
    -Because that too is way too linear.
    The unintelligent wholesome redness was exactly what made Flux not an optio – I only want the reddish tint to affect pixels whose luminosity value exceeds a certain point so the color overlay doesn't distort the midtone hues. With Flux on, I can't tell colors apart properly and that's disturbing my study program. (Identifying colors – in an approximated color label recognition way, not in the fine analytic graphic work way, of course.)

    This is why the tools for adjusting brightness, contrast and tones should have smarter and more precise parameters. The linear method adjusts every pixel simultaneously so there is no such thing as a setting that would make the entire spectrum's far ends look good – if you get one end right, the other one is already way off. Keeping certain values locked in place while adjusting other nearby values would be ideal – quite like PS curves does, for example.
  10. Evil Spoonman macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2011
    I am able to target whatever I want with my calibration hardware/software. It is an i1Display Pro using X-Rite i1Profiler.

    I could target D50 at roughly 0.348 by 0.360. I could also target a contrast ratio significantly lower then native, say something around 500:1. That would be significantly warmer than normal and significantly less contrasty. Coupled with lower brightness values on the display itself, it seems like it would get you what you want. This would be saved as a colour profile and could be selected from within OS X System Preferences. Harder with Windows because Windows is not as aware of colour at a system level.

    The real question is, why would you want to do that? Standard illuminance of D65 with native contrast (on my display about 900:1) at 160cd/cm2 is exactly what I'm after and exactly what I always calibrate for across all my hardware.

    If you are having issues with the brightness of the display, calibrate to 120cd/m2 instead, or increase the ambient light in the room. Eye fatigue comes from having to dilate your pupils constantly when viewing the display vs the desk, the wall, or just your peripheral vision. If your ambient light is as bright as your display output then you won't have to dilate your pupils and you won't get tired. Plus white areas won't seem too bright. Trust me, it's dimmer than you think.

    I think it is unwise to calibrate for something other than standard.
  11. Riku7, May 10, 2014
    Last edited: May 10, 2014

    Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Apparently the software alone isn't doing anything more than Color Navigator which was included with the screen; Hardware calibration only, unless I'm missing some setting there?

    Please read what I've written above. The want to feel more comfortable and healthy at everyday activities shouldn't need justification or explaining.

    Back to the beginning, could I not do this with a software calibrator? Because this topic is about whether someone has suggestions for software calibrators as my monitor doesn't allow the creation of custom profiles without a calibration device. And Mac's native calibration assistant has turned out to be useless, please read above because I also explained that already.

    Well, getting the ambient lighting luminance to match the brightness of the white on my screen would require some insane stage lighting. The room has very dark furniture which don't reflect light back, and no it's not a good idea to keep bright lights on all throughout the evening because that's the biggest reason why computer workers get so insomniac and restless in the first place. The light that enters your eye is crucial to melatonin production in your brain, which adjusts your sleep cycle. Unnaturally long durations of blue light wavelengths don't just trick your tired brain to believe it's forever daytime, it's also too much for the photoreceptors of the eyes, which actually require a certain pattern of light exposure versus deprivation to even work. My eyes are hurting and my sleep is disturbed during tight projects but I still probably have decades of computer screen staring left during my lifetime, which is why I'm writing this topic.

    It'd be unwise and very unprofessional to calibrate to non-standard and then do graphic work. But for anything else, seriously what does it matter? What physically feels easy to look at is a completely subjective matter. Visual work with a wrong calibrated screen will definitely hurt your business and your client, but tell me where it hurts if I create a separate standard unfit profile that has nothing to do with visual content creation?
    Please read what I've written, I've stated multiple times that my work profile is fine and not the topic of my question, and I'm trying to create an additional, separate, non-work profile so I can switch between the two depending on what I'm using the computer for. The non-work profile is not going to replace the correctly calibrated work profile, they are not a threat to one another and they definitely aren't a threat to you.

    The topic's actual question still remains open.
  12. MrGIS macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    Ontario Canada
    You're not listening, simply talking. To calibrate properly you use hardware. If adjusting for ambient light, then in general, reduce screen brightness to what is perceived as comfortable and calibrate with hardware. Period. Software solutions simply don't work very well, period.

    The approach you are asking about is senseless and will only result in a garbage profile. So if you're not going to take advise from members, why bother posting a question? Get over it..
  13. Evil Spoonman macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2011
    There is no such thing as "software calibration". What you can do is approximate what looks sort of correct or feels right to you based on a series of test images. This is precisely what the Mac's calibration assistant does. Adjusting "to taste", as it were. You won't get any application better than that which is pure software.

    Hardware calibration systems can be set to any white point, brightness, and contrast target. I guess there is no inherit advantage of doing this if you don't care about correctness for this profile. It would merely get you to a "known" setting. That known can be D50 and a lower contrast ratio, which are both attempting to accomplish what it seems you are trying to achieve.

    Switching profiles is pretty easy, you will have multiple profiles in System Preferences > Display > Color and you can just pick the one you want at the time.

    This all may be true (I am not questioning it specifically, or taking the time to verify it). However, the fact remains that your illumination levels must be generally comparable between the display and the local environment for you to remain comfortable. Displays should be against a wall, ideally a neutral coloured wall. Both that wall and the desk surface itself should be lit roughly as bright as the display. If you have to drag the display brightness down to match then that is okay.
  14. Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Yeah... Like I said about Mac's calibration assistant, I really wish it was better i.e it told the user what you're doing because most steps it leads you through are untitled. Some names or graphs to indicate what the slider affects on would be a big help for keeping up with the holistic process. And I still don't get why the profile I get by following the wizard turns completely different once it gets saved.. Something happens there.

    Yes, switching is really easy so if I ever in my lifetime get that night profile done, I'll definitely find out how to automate the profile switches according to the time of day or which applications are open, so I won't have to think about it. ;)

    My desk and wall are both white and the screen is by a wall, the place is as good as can be in these conditions.
    But like I said, I'd rather take down the brightness of the screen than to over-illuminate: I do like to have a brightly lit environment when I'm working in the daytime because the lighting really supports my wakefulness. In the daytime with the work profile active, the room's windows are brighter than the screen so my eyes are just fine. The problem starts from the evening on, and in the winter time the sun is up for like 6 hours, its orbit being so low that the overall luminance of a day isn't even close to what a bright summer sun up in the sky does. Using artificial over-illumination to extend the bright+blue light periods up to twice the duration that the brain+eyes are developed to deal with isn't having a positive effect on the overall quality of productivity and well-being. I spend most of my days at the computer so I've also invested in perfectly adjustable chair+desk to put an end to back pain. Making it easy on the eyes too is next on the list. This is similar to why a construction worker would wear ear muffs, a chemist would wear a respirator or a skateboarder would wear wrist and knee guards. :)

    So if I use hardware, is the process always guided and restricted to prevent the user from creating a "weird setting", or would it allow me to hand-adjust the values "wrong" once I first let it to "think that I want to create a measured profile" just to get to adjust something in the first place? Because this is one of the big questions here. If the hardware calibrator is merely the "gate", a requirement for getting into the world of all profiling and then you can create any type of profile, then I'll just look for a hardware calibrator to borrow again. But you understand that if hardware does not allow complete freedom, it's not what I'm looking for to solve this particular problem.
    Also, I don't think numbers are going to give me much –*yes I know what numbers technically stand for, but having multiple values that refer to different variables, won't really help me to imagine what kind of setting would physically feel pleasant to the eye. Adjusting values while seeing the change in real time would be ideal so despite of hardware, can this be done?

    I also tried playing around with an image file in Photoshop just to see what kind of look I'm truly after. But not that I know of, there is no way to "translate" image data to the kind of values that could be useful for inserting numeric values to create icc profile based on it. Which is why the real time sliders are a necessity for this type of subjective adjusting. Unless there's a trick that I don't know of.

    By the way, (if I'll manage around this), is there a difference whether the profile switching should be done from the monitor hardware or from software settings? Profiles saved to system preferences would allow the switching to be automated, but pressing the "mode" button from the monitor's front panel is just fine if the profiles are saved as fast access presets. Are there any cons on one or the other option, that might shorten the lifespan of the monitor?
  15. Evil Spoonman macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2011
    Good calibration tools will let you target pretty much whatever you want along a few axis.

    D65 is the standard illuminant for sRGB and general use, 6504K colour temperature. It is designed to represent "average" daylight or "noon" daylight. Plotted against the CIE 1960 spread you can see it better represented.


    D65 is there, and as the line moves further along you get into afternoon light (D55), and then into horizon light (D50). As you can see there are coords along U and V and most decent calibration tools will let you pick your coords directly so you can plug in anything you want and the tool will build a profile for it.

    Regarding luminance and contrast. You can nominate contrast ratios by number, as well as luminance quantity. I tend to target 160cd/m2 and maximum (native) contrast. My office and home are well lit and it seems to work well.

    What you can do is say alright, I want 80cd/m2 and 500:1 contrast ratio. You can then set up a profile that meets these targets. It will be dim and "washed out" compared to how it would normally look but again, these are the targets you're looking for. Some software may not allow this level of control, but most should let you set:

    - Color Temperature X,Y values.
    - Target contrast ratio numerically.
    - Target brightness numerically.

    There should allow you to get whatever sort of display look you want.

    To the best of my knowledge there is no way to directly tie the display buttons to a software profile change. It is possible to configure custom white balances on the display itself if it has hardware calibration and a configurable LUT. Then you can pick between white balance presets. Perhaps even full config presets on some displays.

    Regarding investing in proper office ergonomics, wholeheartedly agree. I've gone all-in on the Herman Miller chairs, nice adjustable display (and calibration equipment for said display), headset, lighting... looking at a standing desk presently... transitioning between sitting and standing throughout the day to work would be nice.
  16. Riku7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Yeah, I don't think there are ways to map monitor preset controls to software changes, nope. The only connection there seems to be the fact that to create a hardware CAL1(or 2 or 3) profile to the monitor, you need to use software to create it and then transfer it to the monitor via USB... But no, I'm not expecting to get the monitor hardware to change its preset when I change a software-based profile. Well, I can always create the CAL profiles and transfer to the monitor and into System Preferences, they both will be accessible in both world but they won't cross-correspond, it's one or the other. Well, that won't be a problem.

    Thank you for the reference, that seems reasonable and I'll get back to it when I get that calibrator. I'll borrow/rent the hardware but I have Color Navigator 6 to drive it. CN6 came with Eizo so I would be really surprised if it turned out to be a joke.
  17. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    I have a bunch of Eizo's.
    Three steps:
    • Put the Eizo on sRGB (or AdobeRGB if you have a wide gamut one and like that extreme colour space) preset.
    • Turn on the brightness-sensor (to have the brightness right in daylight and at night)
    • Put OSX display profile on ISO standard sRGB or AdobeRGB

    Never looked back, never had a strange print.
    Eizo does its presets so good in factory, I don't dare to make a messy workflow if I don't need too.
  18. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I'm concerned that you have a misguided view of what it's trying to achieve under the hood. If you're curious, I'll post a link to ICC profile specifications for viewing devices. They implement a description of the hardware gamut, which should be measured by a colorimeter device, and a set of matrices by which the input values should be multiplied to achieve the desired mapping. It attempts to map all possible input values to the subset of the measured gamut range that coincides with your actual target in terms of gamma and white point temperature. There is no way to set brightness via that method without some seriously ugly results, and the others still achieve a vastly inferior result to what you would get by just going through color navigator.

    The other thing I want to point out is that calling profiles *faithful* is not very meaningful. Canon does that with their digital camera profiles for whatever reason, or at least they used to do so. The settings and/or ranges that many of these displays are optimized for coincide with semi-ideal ranges for graphic design. By that I mean that it's possible to get similar results when viewing printed media under a print viewer, which provides highly diffused light at a specific temperature. The display brightness still has to be adjusted appropriately for a match, but it works. You're not adjusting for such a setup, so the words are meaningless. I would simply pick a comfortable brightness level and set color temperature to native. I don't think Color Navigator allows you to set gamut to native, but 2.2 works fine. That isn't exactly sRGB, but the point is to allow for a reasonably maintainable target, where what you see today won't be drastically different a year from now. Setting brightness to change based on lighting always changes the appearance. The only way to be completely consistent there is to maintain a consistent working environment. If you were trying to match prints, you would use a dim working environment and a print viewer.

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