Hardware Monitor Calibration
Strictly speaking, the most accurate definition would sound like “a hardware calibration of an image reproduction system consisting of software, graphics card and monitor” but the phrase is too long and, on the practical level, the monitor is the only component of the three to be imperfect. The graphics card and software do not bring about any distortions by default. Thus, it is quite reasonable to shorten the phrase to just “monitor calibration.”
Why hardware calibration? Because the monitor is calibrated using a special device called calibrator. It is a sensor you can hang on the monitor’s screen for measuring color and brightness.
In the process of calibration the software included with the calibrator outputs fields of different colors under it. It is usually white, black, sometimes a few levels of gray, and a sequence of black to red, green and blue with a certain step. The calibrator identifies what color is actually being shown and thus allows to calculate the correction that would adjust the monitor’s characteristics to your requirements.
It is logical that we use an individual device for that. Without the calibrator we can only send a certain signal to the monitor but cannot get any feedback about the monitor’s reaction, i.e. what color it displays.
The calibration process is simple from the end-user’s point of view: you just hang the calibrator on the screen, launch the included software and answer a few questions regarding the desired parameters of the monitor. The whole process is automatic and takes 10-15 minutes. Then you can take the calibrator away until you need to calibrate the monitor anew, for example if the monitor’s settings or the ambient lighting change.
Calibration can be used for three purposes. I will discuss them in order of ascending complexity.