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

CalMAN RGB In-Depth

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.

  • Heironious
    250 bucks? They can keep it.
    Reply
  • merikafyeah
    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.
    Reply
  • daglesj
    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.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Hate to say it, but this one reads like an infomercial....
    Reply
  • sveinan
    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).
    Reply
  • T1249NTSCJ
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
    Reply
  • T1249NTSCJ
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
    Reply
  • MANOFKRYPTONAK
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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.
    Reply
  • Evolution2001
    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?
    Reply