How To Dramatically Improve Your Calibration Results By Creating Profiles in CalMAN

Are Low-Cost Colorimeters Compromising Your Calibration Results?

November 24, 2017

Colorimeters age and become unreliable after a few years. Learn how to extend the life of yours, using CalMAN Profiles and a reference colorimeter.


Testing The XRite Colorimeter Against More Expensive Colorimeters

Do you want to do more, for less? Or to put it another way: Do you want to ‘punch above your weight’?

Of course, you do. We all want to get better results for less money. And in my 25+ years in this business, the long trend line is exactly in the direction of ‘doing more for less, with less’. The power we have in the modern versions of Final Cut, Premiere, Avid and Resolve totally eclipse the capabilities of the most expensive suites I learned from, in the ’80s and ’90s. And even without comparing inflation-adjusted costs, the purchase price for a modern post-production suite is a dime, for every dollar we spent back then.

And the super-niche skill of reference display calibration is following this historic trend line.

10 years ago, even if you could buy a low-cost colorimeter – it was amazingly expensive to buy the rest of the gear you needed: the test pattern generator plus the analysis software. Of course, today, even the free version of DaVinci Resolve has a built-in test pattern generator. And as you know from our earlier series on profiling your reference display, you can download and use free versions of CalMAN and LightSpace. And you can buy a low-cost, reliable colorimeter for under $300 (the Xrite i1D3 OEM).

But if you go the route of the relatively inexpensive i1D3 OEM (or it’s close relative, the SpectraCal C6 HDR2000), are you giving up calibration accuracy for low cost?

Are low-cost colorimeters compromising your calibration results?

In this Insight, we’re wrapping up one bit of business from our previous Insight in this series and we start testing the accuracy of the low-cost colorimeters:

  • We start by finishing our 1D and 3D calibration LUT tests. You see the results of a full 6,000 patch calibration, after loading a custom 1D LUT – and compare that calibration to the 6,000 patch calibration without the custom 1D LUT.
  • We end by using a 4-year-old colorimeter to determine if it’s still accurate. And you learn how to create a custom profile in CalMAN Studio and if that makes the colorimeter any more accurate?

Next In This Series: Calibrating With A Low-Cost Colorimeter

We use the SpectraCal C6 to create another set of calibration LUTs and see if the results are equal to the results from the much more expensive Colorimetry Research CR-100. And we’ll discuss the implications of what it takes to get a low-cost colorimeter to match the results of something like the CR-100.

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Homepage Forums Are Low-Cost Colorimeters Compromising Your Calibration Results?

  • Hi Patrick, your presentations have helped me a lot understanding these puzzling color reproduction issues. I’m one of these people who do a lot with very little. A color grading monitor or spectrometer is out of reach for me. What I got is a Dell UP3216, which looks beautiful seems to be accurate enough for Web or TV release, and an iDisplay Pro. I don’t get good results using it on different monitors, because as you demonstrated, the default offsets are not a good match. Without access to a spectrometer and no factory support I was thinking of how I can get the offset so I can finally trust my display. What about getting an Xrite color chart and manually entering offsets by visually comparing the chart against the display? Are you going to do poor colorists display calibration tutorial?

  • Patrick Inhofer

    LOL. I hear you. And short answer is yes, I’ll be doing a ‘poor colorists display calibration tutorial’. Specifically, I’ll be doing a calibration series for those of you using a computer display – and not an external reference display. BUT – it’s going to take a little while to get there. I have at least 2-3 more Insights to do in CalMAN for external reference displays. Then I’ll be doing this series for Light Space. Then I’ll tackle using computer displays. So figure, it’ll be a few months before I get to it – but I will get to it.

    Oh – and somewhere along the line we’ll get into calibrating consumer OLEDs. And I know recently I’ve been all-calibration-all-the-time. Pretty soon I’ll be alternating between a calibration Insight and then other topics… so it doesn’t feel like I’m only talking about one thing for months on end.

  • Can’t wait for It!
    I banged my head trying to calibrate anche eizo cg series until i gave up, saved as much as i could and bought an fsi monitor.
    Now im Happy but still buggered that i couldn’t get anywhere After i bought the xrite and lightspace


    Will be eagerly awaiting the Poor Man’s Grading Suite episode …

  • Willian Aleman

    I can not wait for the next insights on display calibration

  • Patrick Inhofer


    On the right-sidebar is the list of the Insights in this series, oldest at the bottom. There are quite a few more for you dig into 🙂

  • douglas d

    Hi Patrick and and thanks a lot for this series!
    I was wondering if the regular i1 display pro probe would work the same as the one you mentioned? I’m not sure if OEM is a different flavour or not.
    Many thanks

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