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CalMAN RGB In-Depth

Do It Like Tom's: Calibrating Your Monitor With CalMAN RGB
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All of the different CalMAN products are built around a core engine. In fact, if you buy CalMAN Ultimate for $2995, you get every product built in to a single interface. How is this accomplished? Through a workflow-based system.

In our monitor reviews, we show you the custom screens used to capture our benchmark suite's measurements. These screens are created using CalMAN Ultimate’s design mode. CalMAN RGB works the same way; the workflows are created beforehand and plugged in to the main software engine. The difference is you can only use the included workflows and you can’t modify them. We’re going to walk you through the Standard and Advanced monitor workflows in this article’s hands-on sections. But first, we want to give you a tour of just what CalMAN is capable of.

Starting from the top, we have CalMAN Ultimate, which is what we use at Tom’s Hardware. This is a fully-customizable application with support for pretty much any meter and pattern source available today (including some older gear that’s no longer manufactured). SpectraCal has a lot of these instruments in its online store. However, if you already have an X-Rite product, for example, the CalMAN software is all you need to buy.

If you want to create custom workflows, only the top-of-the-line Ultimate product supports that. Fortunately, the other two pro versions, Expert and Professional, come with a large group of workflows that work in pretty much any situation. The thing to keep in mind is that no matter which version you use, they all employ the same core engine to manage both meters and pattern sources.

Moving down to more value-priced products, we have CalMAN Basic, Control, and Enthusiast, geared more towards HDTV calibration with workflows to match. They range in price from $149 to $399 and require that you purchase a meter and a pattern source. If you’re only interested in calibrating monitors, CalMAN RGB is the ticket. Bundled with a C3 colorimeter, it sells for $249. If you want a little more flexibility you can move up to Control or Enthusiast. With a C3 meter, they sell for $399 and $495 respectively.

To calibrate a computer monitor, it’s easiest to use a software-based pattern source. SpectraCal addresses this with its PC Client. This module is included with any CalMAN package and installs right along with it. Running from the system tray, it manages not only pattern generation, but can provide multiple LUT-based picture modes. If you choose to calibrate using only the display’s OSD, you can turn off the LUT.

While this may seem a bit confusing, we’ll cut through that by focusing on the $249 package. We’ll run the Standard monitor workflow, which is identical to what you’d see if you use CalMAN RGB.

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  • 8 Hide
    Heironious , March 19, 2014 2:30 AM
    250 bucks? They can keep it.
  • 8 Hide
    merikafyeah , March 19, 2014 2:36 AM
    I know it's exaggerated for the purpose of demonstrating differences in calibrated views, but you have got to pick a better "before and after" pic than the one you've been using up to now. They don't even compare the same subject. Half of the image is one thing and the other half is something else entirely. It's impossible to compare something if you're not even certain what exactly it is that you're comparing. I'd argue they don't even depict the kind of differences you'd see in calibrated vs uncalibrated displays, just different preferences in regards to artistic color-grading.
  • 1 Hide
    daglesj , March 19, 2014 2:52 AM
    Are the Datacolor Spyders now properly calibrated out of the factory? Apparently quality control and specs were not very well handled with the Mk3 and befores. Basically every Spyder 3 would give different results.
  • 9 Hide
    vertexx , March 19, 2014 3:00 AM
    Hate to say it, but this one reads like an infomercial....
  • 2 Hide
    sveinan , March 19, 2014 3:21 AM
    I would recommend a review on ColorHUG (about $110), open source display colorimeter. It's fast, and worth it's money (http://www.hughski.com/index.html).
  • 4 Hide
    T1249NTSCJ , March 19, 2014 3:43 AM
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
  • -4 Hide
    T1249NTSCJ , March 19, 2014 3:44 AM
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
  • -1 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , March 19, 2014 6:20 AM
    CNET reviews TVs and they post their calibration settings that they use for the best results. Each calibration is set up with professional tools, you can look up each tv by model number. I don't know if it is as good as this but.. its free! And it made a difference for me. But others like colorHUG, displaycalGUI, etc... are good just some different options if anyone is looking.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , March 19, 2014 8:20 AM
    Quote:
    Hate to say it, but this one reads like an infomercial....
    This is simply the follow-up to an earlier story we did on Datacolor's solution that was well-received: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/spyder4-monitor-calibration-image-quality,3581.html. Both tools are in-use in our labs--I think it's useful to show our readers what we use to review monitors and how they might achieve similar results. At least, that was the intent.
  • 1 Hide
    Evolution2001 , March 19, 2014 10:12 AM
    I'd really like to calibrate my projector using more than just my eyes for perception. Using either the Spyder or CalMAN solutions, which ones offers me the least expensive path to that goal? Is it better to buy one of their all-inclusive packages, or find a colorimeter and software independently?
  • 1 Hide
    vertexx , March 19, 2014 12:35 PM
    Quote:
    This is simply the follow-up to an earlier story we did on Datacolor's solution that was well-received: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/spyder4-monitor-calibration-image-quality,3581.html. Both tools are in-use in our labs--I think it's useful to show our readers what we use to review monitors and how they might achieve similar results. At least, that was the intent.
    Agreed - I read the first and this one - both are very informative. I wasn't trying to place any accusations of bias, just on how it reads. The first article read like "Here's what we do at Tom's for calibration" and was very clearly educational. This one just read differently - a little more like a commercial - that's all.

    I'd love to be able to rent one of these for about $20 for a day instead of forking over the $250 - wonder if that's possible.
  • 0 Hide
    blackened144 , March 19, 2014 2:12 PM
    I just bought a 38.5" Westinghouse 120Hz LED-LCD 1080p TV for about $260. When I first turned it on and saw the splash screen which is a white crown on an all black background you could tell there was a super bright spot in the middle that was so bright and annoying it made me want to put it back in the box and return it immediately. Fortunately I had things to do and I had to let it ride for a few days befroe I could return it. After it being on for the entire weekend though the horrible bright spot is no longer there and its a much better picture than the last LG 120Hz TV I bought for over $1000. That being said, there is no way in hell I would buy a $250 calibration kit for my $260 TV.
  • 0 Hide
    T1249NTSCJ , March 19, 2014 4:42 PM
    Quote:
    CNET reviews TVs and they post their calibration settings that they use for the best results. Each calibration is set up with professional tools, you can look up each tv by model number. I don't know if it is as good as this but.. its free! And it made a difference for me. But others like colorHUG, displaycalGUI, etc... are good just some different options if anyone is looking.
    Each display is different. e.g. Samsung displays don't all use Samsung panels, you'll need to go into the service menu to determine you either purchased a Samsung, Sharp or Chi Mei panel. Someone with a Sharp panel might not yield the accuracy of calibrated settings posted by someone with an IPS Samsung panel.
  • 0 Hide
    10tacle , March 19, 2014 5:07 PM
    I just bought a Crossover 27" Korean IPS 2560x1440 (a steal at $315 US) and am looking for a calibration tool. Still not happy with the Nvidia tool from the video card. With all the other HDTVs, PC monitors, laptops, and tablets I have, it would be well worth the investment to spend $250-$400 to get them all up to their best specs possible as I've never been really happy with any of their display settings, usually taken from ideas from AVS Forum member settings. I can understand the rejection of paying this kind of money for calibration on one or a handful of items, but if you have 10+ items that could benefit from one of these tools and are unhappy with their settings, IMO it is worth it. Not to mention you would still be using it on items purchased in the future too (like a shiny new 4K 30" monitor for $1200 a couple years from now).
  • 1 Hide
    Nada190 , March 19, 2014 9:59 PM
    Buy another monitor or calibrate current one? What a difficult decision.
  • 0 Hide
    Steven Stuu , March 20, 2014 12:58 AM
    with that money i can just buy a new monitor.
  • 0 Hide
    Nemesis_001 , March 20, 2014 5:03 AM
    Quote:
    A while back, we introduced you to display calibration with Datacolor's Sypder4Elite. Today we look at CalMAN RGB, which is the other major calibration solution. With extensive meter and pattern source support, it’s positioned as a professional’s tool.

    Do It Like Tom's: Calibrating Your Monitor With CalMAN RGB : Read more


    Is it possible to do a similar guide using Chromapure?
  • 0 Hide
    sritri , March 20, 2014 9:04 AM
    Can I calibrate an 27" 2011 Apple Cinema Display ?
  • 0 Hide
    godlyatheist , March 20, 2014 9:04 AM
    I can't find anywhere to buy this bundle for $249 like the article suggests. SpectraCal watns $299 for the C3 colorimeter + software. Their resellers want either $299 as well or it's out of stock. So even if someone wants to get this, they can't do it. I tried the Spyder4Pro before and it was terrible. Both my laptop (WLED, TN) and Dell U2412M (WLED, IPS) got a strong green cast after calibration and the software insists it is accurate. I returned it immediately. If you are not a professional, just pay someone $30-50 bucks to do it.
  • 0 Hide
    syrious1 , March 20, 2014 9:53 AM
    Cheaper
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