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MonacoOPTIX

Calibration System

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for

LCD & CRT Displays

By: - Ian Lyons

 

 

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A Computer Darkroom Review

 

There is no doubting that many in the graphics and photographic imaging industry are finding that LCD type displays are more than just pretty desktop furniture. However as they will also tell  us - LCD displays present conventional CRT display calibration systems with a unique set of problems. Such are these problems that many vendors have found it necessary to develop a whole new set of profiling tools.

 

What is MonacoOPTIX and why is it required?

In concluding my review of MonacoEZcolor I made the following remark "It's a pity that the application doesn't support the calibration of  LCD displays, especially since MonacoEZcolor 2.2 is primarily aimed at Mac users and we all know that Apple are pushing LCD displays with all the marketing hype they can muster." I think someone at Monaco Systems must have reading my review because that shortcoming has now been addressed.

MonacoOPTIX is a new monitor calibration system from the same stable as MonacoEZcolor and is purpose designed to facilitate fast and accurate calibration of LCD and CRT type displays. At its heart we find a brand new dual-purpose colorimeter developed by Sequel Imaging a company renowned for producing good quality display calibration hardware. Conventional colorimeters such as the Sequel Chroma IV as supplied with previous versions of MonacoEZcolor utilise a suction cup arrangement to secure the sensor to the display surface. However, securing the sensor using suction will cause serious damage to the sensitive surface of most LCD's. So instead of attaching the sensor to the LCD we use a soft felt faced attachment and suspend the combination over the display using its own weight to apply sufficient pressure to ensure minimal extraneous light ingress to the sensor cell. The new sensor is supplied with removable components that have been designed to ensure contact between the display surface and the sensor is not liable to cause damage. We also find that the normal sensing cell response for CRT type displays isn't appropriate for LCD's, especially with the luminance range extending well over 200cd/m2. Again Monaco Systems have utilised improved electronics with the aim of providing a colorimeter that is more responsive and accurate than the previous CRT only - MonacoSENSOR.

 

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  LCD and CRT attachments

 

The following summarise the features and Benefits of MonacoOPTIX:

  • The MonacoOPTIX colorimeter utilises intelligent electronics for both LCD and CRT display calibration
  • Patented "Light Tunnel" technology ensures accurate LCD profiles
  • Unique pulse-period timing for accuracy at very low light levels
  • The colorimeter is factory calibrated to National Institute of Standards (NIS) standards
  • Attractive design features including removable components for profiling of LCD and CRT displays
  • Software is intuitive with a wizard-like interface for fast and easy profiling
  • User-selectable white point and gamma settings
  • Hardware-assisted brightness and contrast adjustment for greater accuracy
  • Compatible with Microsoft Windows plus Apple Mac OS9 and OS X

 

Putting MonacoOPTIX to Work

As with MonacoEZcolor  we find this new application makes extensive use of a wizard-based interface (Figure 1); making it very intuitive and easy to use. As a result, the steps involved in creating a display profile very straightforward.

Integrated on-line help is always available and easy to follow. If you need more help an Adobe Acrobat user guide is installed to the computer hard disk.  The guide even includes chapters on colour management and a short section covering frequently asked questions. Monaco Systems also provide a wealth of information on their web site - http://www.monacosystems.com

 

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Setup

At Step 1 we begin the process of building the display profile by choosing between either LCD or CRT. It is important that the correct display type is selected otherwise you'll end up with some surprising calibration options and the resulting profile (assumes you get that far) will not be accurate. Please remember to read the on-line instructions!

The next screenshot shows Step 2, namely fixing the correct attachment. The attachments can be secured released by a simple quarter turn twist. If you're going to make a mistake don't make it at this step - the damage to the surface of your very expensive LCD display may not be repairable.  Also note that with CRT type displays we usually need around 30 minutes before everything is stable; LCD's reach maximum brightness within only a few minutes and so the process of calibration can begin much sooner.

 

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Figure 1

 

Step 3 shows the options available for the Target White Point (sometimes referred to as the Colour Temperature). Unless you have good reason it's probably better to choose 6500K.Once the target white point has been selected you should adjust the display colour temperature controls to match this value so far as it is possible to do so. It is worth noting that some monitors have RGB gun controls, others have a range of presets and high-end  LCD's typically have no control. You should establish the type of control provided on your display (Apple LCD's have no controls for white point but are instead preset to 6500K) and proceed with the appropriate adjustment.

Step 4 shown on Figure 1 above relates to calibrating the OPTIX sensor itself. This is an important step and involves setting the sensor on the desktop and pressing the calibrate button. The colour of the desktop shouldn't matter - just make sure that no light gets to the sensor cell.

NOTE: the remaining steps describe the process of calibrating a CRT type display!

 

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Display Calibration

Figure 2 shows the main steps involved in calibrating the display. Following the on-line instructions is essential from this point onwards. At Step 5 we are adjusting the CRT Brightness and Contrast controls to 100% (maximum) and measuring the lightest black.

In Step 6 we measure the darkest black and this is achieved by setting the monitor Brightness control to minimum. If your display can't reproduce a dark enough black the software will provide a warning message and give you the option to make a visual adjustment.

 

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Figure 2

 

Step 7 requires that we adjust the monitor Brightness control so the reading falls within the "Good" (Green) band. Typically this will mean a few attempts at adjusting the brightness value so don't worry if the first attempt fails. Once you have achieved the optimum brightness level it is important not to make any further adjustments otherwise the calibration is void.

Step 8 is the point were MonacoOPTIX determines the colour characteristics of the display by cycling through a series of 33 different coloured patches. Typically this will only take a few minutes and requires no user input.

Continued on Page 2

 

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2002 Ian Lyons All Rights Reserved