"Calibrating" your screen


I use a retina MacBook Pro 13" for postprocessing. Yeah, I know.

Without spending tons of money on a real screen calibrator (I plan on buying a larger separate monitor later anyway)… is there anyone else using a MBP and if so, what have you found are your optimal settings?

Because I did some prints recently and they were a bit warmer and darker than I was hoping to. What I did then was run the OSX calibration tool, and also decreased the screen brightness slightly (maybe a retina MacBook at max brightness is a lot brighter than your average display/print) by 4 steps or so.

But now it just feels kind of weird. For example, when I do auto exposure in Lightroom it still feels waaay too dark.

I know it varies a lot due to ambient light differences and a lot of other stuff, I’m just curious on what I should do to make the best of what I’ve got, in order to have a LR environment where things end up as close as possible to what people will see on their smartphones, when I print, on your average PC et c.


I also use a MBP 13". I set everything to either Adobe RGB or to sRGB (all cameras, software and computer) and just hope that the companies on whose gear I’ve spent a lot of money stick to those standards.
The problem I found with the Color Sync Utility is that most camera manufacturers call their SD cards ‘untitled’ or ’ NO NAME" or variants thereof. Re-naming them usually only lasts until the next in-camera re-format. Therefore it is almost impossible to to check for consistency using that tool.
Ergo I rely on the simple step described above.


Thanks for the reply! Can I also ask how you handle brightness specifically - do you generally trust LRs Auto Exposure adjustment or do you do it manually, and if so, what brightness have you set your screen to?


Usually I switch all the fancy stuff like auto brightness and night shift and whatnot off and just set the screen brightness to as near 50% on the slider as I can manage, there not being any numerical value or other indices to aid adjustment.
By ‘Auto Exposure’, do you mean the little Auto button on the right of Tone in the Basic box in the Develop tab of LR?
If you do, then, when I do use it, I usually take it as a starting point. Either I then leave it or just make minor further adjustments but mostly I do not mess around with too much post-processing. Nasty tongues say that it shows in my pix, but I do my stuff to satisfy me primarily and then my ‘audience’.

If this has been useful - GRRREAT

Have a good one,



Welcome to the wonderful world of printing @hampusk :grin:

Because I did some prints recently and they were a bit warmer and darker than I was hoping to.

Screens are shipped with a white point near the D65 standard, without going into the whole history of white balance, this point was set for television and all that, i.e. screen applications.

Pre-press people tend to use a warmer white point (D50) because paper is not as cold/blue as a screen is.

You have two solutions here, either calibrate your screen to D50 and hope that your paper is going to be close enough to that white balance or get an ICC profile for the paper that you will be using and apply it as soft proofing in Lr or Photoshop.

Since you also use your computer for other things than printing you should stick to D65 but make use of the soft profiling options in Lightroom.

NB. I am oversimplifying this to the absolute minimum to get you started. When I get ready to print an image I calibrate my screen to D50, softproof the image to a known ICC profile for the printer AND paper, print a test chart and then scan it with a colorimeter on an appropriately illuminated and controlled viewing surface…

This video gives you a good primer on why your images appear too dark: why are my prints too dark?

http://digitaldog.net/ is a very good ressource in setting yourself up for success when printing images.

But now it just feels kind of weird. For example, when I do auto exposure in Lightroom it still feels waaay too dark.

This might be because your images are really under-exposed, that your eyes are still getting used to your new screen brightness, or that your ambient light level are quite high. The latter is other the reason why other people screen brightness settings are meaningless to you because their ambient light level is most probably different than yours.

A good tool is looking at your histogram in Lightroom, it will be your best indicator as to whether a picture is properly exposed until you can just judge by eye and calibrate your screen.

A word of advice, Auto adjustments in Lr are just absolute rubbish. Don’t use them.

EDIT I just want to add that US$155.- for something like a colormunki display that will tremendously help you when bringing images to print is a small price to pay when you consider how quickly the price of prints rises.


Thank you so much for the thorough answer. I recently ordered another print, what I did was just adjust the white balance and exposure a liiiittle bit to compensate for how the last print turned out (I used the same place) and we’ll see :slight_smile:

When I buy the real monitor I will probably invest in a real calibrator at the same time as well…


Depending on where you are getting it printed and what type of paper there might be an ICC profile to make your life a bit easier if you are still unhappy with your print.

For Inkjet Epson/Canon/Hahnemühle/Canson have them readily available online.

If you are getting stuff printed on a sublimation printer like a Fuji Frontier/Noritsu you can get more information there: https://www.drycreekphoto.com/icc/using_printer_profiles.htm

Anyways, hope you’re happy with the reprint!


Smyger in ett, fina bilder Hampus! (Kollade din IG!) :smiley:


Smyger in ett tack! :slight_smile: