David Cardinal: Profiling a Curved Monitor or TV with Datacolor’s Spyder4
Jan 2015 28

My first thought when I saw Dell’s awesome-looking 34-inch curved monitor at CES was, “Wow, that’d be amazing for photo editing.” Price tag aside, the idea of having a single screen — with its viewing angle optimized from edge-to-edge by the slight curve of the display – to replace the two monitors I have wedged next to each other in a “V” is quite appealing. However, my second thought was, “How can I profile it?” Fortunately it turns out that it is quite possible to calibrate and profile a curved monitor using Datacolor’s Spyder4 hardware and software – with just a little bit of extra effort.

It Starts With the Ambient Light

Even though the monitor is only slightly curved, because it is not flat, a colorimeter like the Spyder4 will not rest completely flush with the display. While that won’t make a major difference in the colors the Spyder4 reads from the display itself, it does open the door for stray light from the surrounding area to leak in under the Spyder4 sensor and contaminate your readings. This excess ambient light needs to be managed to get an accurate profile. That requires darkening the room (or putting a shade or hood over the monitor itself) while the Spyder4 is measuring colors off the screen.

However, it is also important to generate a profile that is optimized for your actual working conditions – including your typical ambient light level. That’s at odds with generating a profile in the near dark. Fortunately, the Spyder4 allows you to get the best of both worlds. You can first measure your actual ambient light – and use it to set the target brightness level for your display. You can then darken the room to get accurate color readings when the Spyder4 is measuring the display.
When you measure your ambient light, the Spyder4 software will calculate the appropriate target brightness for your display. You simply save that setting, and make sure not to over-write it later when you have darkened your room for measuring color. The Ambient light screen where you save your target brightness should look something like this:

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Now Darken the Room to Get Good Color

Once you’ve got your brightness level calculated using your typical ambient lighting, then darken your environment as much as you can – even masking off the display’s screen from stray light if possible. At that point you’re ready to perform the rest of the calibration process. If you’ve done a good job of blocking off light from the display, your profile should come out just fine.

Remember, though, that if you aren’t happy with exactly the results you get, if you have Spyder4ELITE, you can use the SpyderTune tool to tweak the brightness, white point or gamma of your profile:

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Tuning a Curved TV With SpyderTV

The same principles apply for curved TVs. The idea is to make the room as dark as possible before adjusting the settings. The trickiest part may be finding a good way to make the web-like attachment for the SpyderTV hardware get the sensor as close as possible to the surface of the TV.

Special thanks to John Walrath of Datacolor Technical Support for his suggestions on how to make this work.

is a veteran travel and nature photographer who specializes in Southern Africa and Southeast Asia as well as North American mammals and birds. His images of creatures in the wild help communicate the importance of our natural heritage and our responsibility to preserve it. You can learn more about David on our Friends with Vision page, or on his own website, Cardinal Photo, and its sister site, Nikon Digital, which are both full of tips, reviews and forums where photographers compare notes and tips. Or you can follow David on Facebook or join him on one of his Photo Tours and Safaris for plenty of experience