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What should I konw about LCD calibration?

LCD calibration is the process of changing picture settings such as color, brightness or contrast on an LCD screen or monitor. The idea is to improve your viewing enjoyment by choosing settings which are appropriate to the location where you are using the screen. While you can simply play with the settings until you find the ones which look best, there are a variety of tools which can help make the process quicker and more accurate.

There are a couple of reasons why you might need to change the picture settings from the default option. The first is that each manufacturer chooses different settings for their screens, often to show off the strengths and hide the weaknesses of their models. The second is that screens are usually set up to stand out and catch the eye of shoppers in large, brightly-lit stores. This means that default settings on LCD screens commonly have the brightness much higher than is needed for viewing in a home. This can unnecessarily shorten the screen’s lifespan.

If you are using an LCD computer monitor, you should remember that it works in a different way than an old-style monitor and may need different picture settings. One major difference is that the number of pixels it displays is fixed. This means you should set the display to the highest available resolution. If you use a lower resolution, the picture will not scale down proportionally and you may get a distorted image.

There are a variety of dedicated DVDs available which are designed to help you with LCD calibration. These contain images which alter as you change the picture settings, such as a series of boxes which become distinguishable as different shades of gray when your contrast setting is right. There are a variety of discs available at different prices and the more expensive ones may only be necessary for people with particularly large or high-quality screens.

One useful tool you may already have that can help with LCD calibration is a DVD produced by Lucasfilm, such as those in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series. By clicking on the THX logo on the DVD menus you can access a series of tests to make sure the picture and sound quality settings on your set-up are as good as they can be. Bear in mind these are designed more for television screens than computer monitors, so you may wish to try tweaking the settings of your monitor after using these tests on a computer.

The most important thing to remember about LCD calibration is that it is entirely about personal preference. While experts may suggest setting your screen up in a particular way, it is you who has to use it. Don’t be afraid to break any rules or guidelines you read about picture settings.

( Updated: 2014-04-25 )
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