How to run a monitor color test
The world is full of color, and when it comes to seeing the world on screen, it should be captured in all its vivid glory.
Having a 4K display is all well and good, but ambient temperature changes can affect color, brightness, and other settings on your screen. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry out a monthly monitor color test.
Why is it important to run a monitor color test?
For professional graphic designers and photographers, color accuracy is essential and there are a ton of pricey gadgets available to fine-tune their monitors. But what about the rest of us? Does color really matter for the average user?
Absolutely! And here’s why.
Nowadays, so much of the entertainment we enjoy is done via our computer screen. Whether it’s marveling over your latest holiday photos or binge-watching the new must-see Netflix special, the chances are that you’ll be doing it out on a monitor.
So, you want to see the content in the way that it was created. Imagine taking an incredible panoramic shot of a turquoise sea, only to find it reproduced in a lifeless gray color.
Let’s find out how you can ensure your computer’s color accuracy is on point without having to shell out for an expensive piece of kit.
How to run a monitor color test
Monitor color tests are a quick and easy way to configure your monitor’s color accuracy, as well as other settings, like contrast and sharpness.
Before starting any test, always do the following:
- Let your computer warm up before carrying out the test (30 mins for LCD monitors, 50 for CRT monitors and 70 mins for LED monitors). This is because monitors take a short while to reach their full brightness.
- Set your monitor to its native resolution. This is the actual number of pixels physically built into your monitor. All other resolutions are ‘supported resolutions,’ but the native resolution is the one your monitor was made for.
- To do this on a PC, go to the control panel. Then, select settings and appearance. Select personalization, then adjust screen resolution. Click the drop-down menu and tick the resolution that’s marked ‘recommended.’
- On a Mac, go to System Preferences, then Displays. Under Resolution, make sure Default for display is selected.
- Check your room’s lighting. You want moderate ambient lighting – neither super bright or dark, but well-lit.
- Familiarize yourself with your monitor’s display settings — such as color, contrast, brightness, etc. You’ll find them in your control panel, system preferences under the Display tab, or on the side of your monitor.
Now it’s time to run a test. Online monitor color tests offer you a quick, free calibration utility by showing you a series of test patterns. Then, depending on what you can and can’t see, you’ll adjust your monitor’s color settings, contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc.
BuddyCompany recommends the following color test websites:
- Eizo – a simple online test that enables you to test your monitor’s color, as well as other attributes like sharpness, pixels and optimum viewing angle.
- Lagom – a detailed yet relatively easy to use color test website. Good for those with a decent understanding of computers.
- W4ZT – a very simple test page that’s straightforward and quick. Ideal for those who aren’t quite so tech-savvy.
- Calibrize – not strictly an online color test – you’ll have to download this one – Calibrize helps you to adjust your monitor’s color in three simple steps.
How to calibrate your monitor color through your OS
Your operating system will have a built-in color calibration feature. Here’s how to use it.
PC users can find a useful calibration tool in the Windows settings menu. It works much like online monitor color tests, where you look at images and adjust your monitor’s settings accordingly.
- Go to the Start menu, then PC Settings, System and then Display. Scroll down and click on Advanced display settings.
- On the next screen, click on Display adapter properties for Display 1.
- Click on the Color Management tab, then click on the Color Management box.
- Click on the Advanced tab, and select Calibrate display.
- The Display Color Calibration utility will open. Follow the onscreen instructions, and manually adjust your settings.
For Mac users, there’s an automatic calibration tool that finds your monitor ideal color settings.
- Open your System Preferences menu then click on Displays.
- Click on the Color tab then on Calibrate. The Display Calibrator Assistant will open.
- Click continue, then on the next screen make sure the box ‘Use native white point’ is ticked and click continue again.
- At the next screen, if you’re not the only user profile on your computer tick the box saying ‘Allow others to use this calibration.’ This saves the settings for all users.
- Next, give your profile a name and click continue. Your calibration is now complete.
So, there you have it. An important yet often overlooked part of setting up your computer, monitor color tests are a simple and effective way of making sure an optimal on-screen experience.
Need more help setting up your computer? Give a BuddyCompany a call today!
What Is a Color Accurate Monitor and How Can You Check?
If you’ve ever done color-sensitive work on a computer, you know that color accuracy can make or break the deal. Outside of just making everything on your display look good, a color-accurate monitor can do wonders if you’re a creative professional.
That said, there are many different things you need to keep in mind when assessing the color accuracy of your monitor. Things like color spaces, gamut, panel technology, and Delta E values come in handy.
So, what is monitor color accuracy, and how can you check it’s correct?
What Is Color Accuracy in Monitors?
Simply put, color accuracy defines how capable your monitor is when it comes to reproducing colors and their respective shades as intended by the source. As a result, a color-accurate monitor will be able to reproduce more life-like pictures with more vibrant colors and a wider overall palette.
Image Credit: Apple
You could have the highest resolution, fastest refresh rate, or lowest response time, but if your display isn’t color accurate, you’ll be unable to get the most out of the content you’re watching on the screen.
This is true for any display you interact with every day, including your smartphone and TV. Although color accuracy in TVs is measured slightly differently.
How Is Color Accuracy Measured?
Several different factors affect the color accuracy of a monitor. Regardless of your end goal, you’ll want to focus on the following major factors.
- Color space: A color space defines the colors available in a specific subset of a color model. Three of the most commonly used color spaces are sRGB, DCI-P3, and CMYK.
- Color gamut: This represents all the colors that a particular device, in this case, your monitor, can reproduce out of a given color space. This is usually measured as a percentage of a color space.
- Delta E (dE) levels: These levels show the difference between the input (or intended) color and the one displayed on the screen. Lower dE levels indicate higher color accuracy. It’s measured on a scale of one to 100.
- Panel type: The type of panel (TN, IPS, and OLED, among others) that your monitor uses indirectly impacts its color accuracy as different panels have different viewing angles, which can have a significant impact on the perceived color accuracy. IPS panels are generally the way to go if you’re looking for color accuracy.
Of course, other things affect a monitor’s color accuracy, such as dimming zones, HDR support, panel bit depth, and the maximum number of colors the display can show. However, the aforementioned factors play the biggest roles.
We recommend paying extra attention to the color space your monitor can use. If you’re a photographer or video editor or work with digital media where color accuracy is important, it’s best to stick to your industry’s norm.
Image Credit: BenQ
Ideally, a color-accurate monitor would support multiple color spaces, including sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3, with over 90% color gamut coverage for these spaces. As for the dE value, most high-end color-accurate monitors tend to hover around the one to two range. Finally, your choice of panel, whether IPS or OLED, brings the entire package together.
A monitor’s color accuracy can also change over time, so being on the lookout for signs when your monitor needs calibration is essential to ensure you’re getting the most out of your display. Thankfully, checking for color accuracy is a rather simple process for most monitors.
How to Check for Color Accuracy on Your Existing Monitor
You can get a fairly decent idea of color accuracy for most monitors by looking at the specifications. For example, I’m currently using an MSI Optix G24 series monitor, which is capable of 100% sRGB and 88% DCI-P3. In its default settings with the factory calibration, the monitor has a dE value slightly higher than two.
Custom calibration on the monitor can bring the dE down to around one, making it a rather good choice for color-accurate work, considering it’s a gaming monitor. That said, this particular model uses a VA panel, which means it’d be less color accurate if looking at the monitor outside the recommended viewing angles.
If you can’t find the color gamut and dE values for your particular monitor, there are a number of tools available for you to test them out for yourself. If you want more detailed information, you can opt for an online test using the following:
If you’re using Windows or macOS, there are built-in monitor calibration utilities that you can use. Before you get started with testing, though, here are a few things you should be wary of
- Since monitors take a while before reaching their peak brightness, let the display warm up before testing. You should wait for at least 30 minutes if you have an LCD screen or 70 minutes for an LED one.
- Make sure your monitor is in its native resolution.
- Ensure moderate ambient lighting in the room. You don’t want your room to be too dark or too bright, as it can mess up your color perception on the monitor.
Additionally, familiarize yourself with your monitor’s settings, including brightness, color, gamma, and contrast. These are usually found in your monitor’s on-screen display menu.
Remember that you’ll be using these tools based on how you perceive your display, meaning the calibration can be a bit off. We recommend leaving the color calibration settings the way they were from the factory or using a colorimeter for accurate results.
Get the Most Out of Your Monitor
While modern-day panels are fairly color accurate for most consumer applications, a little tweaking in the settings can improve the visual quality of your monitor. If you’re stuck with a monitor and can’t upgrade to one that’s more color accurate out of the box, knowing the supported color spaces, color gamut coverage, and dE value is a good place to start messing around with the settings.
There are plenty of ways you can make your monitor more color accurate, including but not limited to built-in and third-party tools, free websites, and even hardware devices for pinpoint accuracy.
Monitor check and adjustment tests
monteon is a service for testing a computer monitor or mobile device display.
With test screens, you can easily adjust your monitor settings to get the best picture quality.
A number of tests will help you evaluate the image quality of your monitor.
Even from the first test screens, you can calibrate your monitor by adjusting the monitor’s brightness, contrast, clock phase, sharpness, and monitor gamma.
Tests are best viewed in dim or dark ambient light and in full screen mode.
When you run tests, you will automatically be prompted to switch to full screen mode.
When you move the mouse pointer, the test control panel will appear at the bottom of the screen.
Using the controls on the panel, you can select the test you need, rotate the slide (if provided by the test),
return to the main page or turn off full screen mode.
On the left and right sides of the screen, when moving the mouse, buttons for moving between tests are displayed.
For convenience, the controls disappear from the screen when there is no movement of the mouse pointer.
In addition, hot keys are provided.
To move between the test screens, use the Left, Right, or Space keys, or the mouse wheel.
To rotate the slides – “Up” and “Down”, to exit the test – “Esc”.
If you have any operating system color management systems or additional graphics card correction software installed, it is recommended that you disable them first.
First you need to make adjustments to the monitor settings so that its characteristics are as close to ideal as possible,
and only then use some sort of color management software to compensate for any small variations or imperfections that may occur.
The following describes what and how you can check using monteon service tests, what you should pay attention to and other useful tips.
This classic template is used to test the setting of primary colors and tints.
Currently, there are usually no special problems with color reproduction (especially on LCD monitors),
so you probably don’t even need to change those settings.
This test can be used to verify that the monitor displays colors correctly without any artifacts.
If your monitor supports filters (or you have color filtering software), you can use these filters to check that the monitor renders colors clearly without impurities (i.e., when using a red filter, the red band should not change hue).
Modern monitors use the RGB color model (an abbreviation of the English words Red, Green, Blue – red, green, blue) for color reproduction.
Each screen pixel consists of three channels. Mixing these three colors at different intensities gives different colors, the same intensity – shades of gray.
There are single color template screens in the color rendering test series. These tests use only one specific color channel.
Separately red screen, separately green and separately blue.
These tests, in addition to the fullness of the color of the channel, allow you to check for dead pixels or, as they are also called, dead pixels .
To check for broken pixels, you need to carefully examine the entire screen on a single-color test screen.
It should not have black dots. You need to check each channel, because. each pixel consists of three channels.
Therefore, it is not at all necessary that if everything is fine on one channel, then everything will be all right on the other.
If you find a black dot on one of these tests, then you have found a dead pixel.
Definitely, the presence of a defect even in one of the pixel channels will lead to a distortion of color reproduction in this pixel (point).
Having a few dead pixels is normal on older monitors, but a new one shouldn’t be.
This series additionally includes color mixing tests for channels: yellow (red+green), magenta (red+blue), cyan (green+blue) and white (red+green+blue).
This series of tests presents screen patterns with smooth gradients.
All gradients should be rendered smoothly, without any stripes, lines, or sudden color changes.
Streaks appear when the monitor is unable to correctly reproduce true colors and smooth transitions.
A good monitor will display a perfectly smooth transition.
On many VGA monitors, the so-called clock/phase parameter needs to be adjusted.
These test images are best viewed in full screen mode. At a great distance from the monitor, they should look gray.
When viewed closely, a fine pattern of alternating contrast pixels (black and white) should be clearly visible.
If the synchronization is not set correctly, the images flicker or the impression of “running pixels” is created.
Or if the images look solid gray (no dots visible even up close) or there are black and white stripes (vertical or curved),
it also needs to be corrected.
Most monitors have an automatic setting for this setting. It is usually called “Auto” or “AutoSet”.
Depending on the type of monitor, there may be manual adjustment options.
Sharpness is very important. Sharpness is responsible for the level of clarity of the border between light and dark areas.
For example, if you think that the letters of the text are blurry, then most likely the sharpness level is not enough.
By adjusting a certain level of sharpness on the display, you can get a picture or text that is pleasing to the eye.
But over-sharpening is just as bad as under-sharpening.
Unlike brightness, contrast, color, and hue, there is no “perfect” level of sharpness.
Since, at least in part, the perception and optimal value of image sharpness depends on a number of factors,
including display method, screen size, and how far away you usually are from the screen.
On the test example above, with a sufficient level of sharpness, you should clearly see small checkerboard patterns.
If the sharpness is not enough, some squares merge into a solid gray color.
The center circle should be clearly visible.
On another test, you should see crisp rectangles and lines without fuzzy edges, halos, or other artifacts.
Diagonal lines should also be straight.
Contrast and brightness
In this series of tests on the images, you should see clear boundaries between stripes and squares.
If some areas merge and become the same color or are not visible against the background at all, then it means that you need to adjust the brightness and contrast.
On a good monitor, you should see equal steps of brightness across the entire range shown in the tests and in all colors.
This test is a good way to check the level of overall brightness reproduction, and not a bad template for checking clarity.
The center of the screen should look smooth and clean. Further from the center, closer to the edges, the contours should become more and more sharp and less smooth.
Imaginary false concentric circles may appear closer to the edges of the screen.
If these contours are ovoid or oval, then something is wrong.
In the corners of the screen, a small, almost imperceptible drop in brightness is possible. If the decline in brightness is large or everything merges, then this is not so good.
Geometry and grids
These tests are designed to check the correct geometry and fit of the image displayed by the monitor.
Not every display actually shows you every pixel that the video card sends to the monitor.
This test will show you how part of the image is missing.
If the monitor is set up correctly, you should see a white line at the outer edge of all the numbered rectangles around the edge of the screen.
If some of the rectangles are missing the outer white line at the edge of the screen, this means that the edge of the image is being cut off.
The number of such a clipped rectangle indicates how many pixels are missing on that edge of the screen.
The test example above is designed to test widescreen displays with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Here you should see a grid of 16 identical squares horizontally and 9 identical squares vertically.
Circles of the correct form should be visible in the corners.
If you can’t see them or they are clipped or distorted, then your monitor either does not support the appropriate mode,
or you need to adjust the image scaling, which can be in the service menu of the display.
How good is your monitor? Find out with the Spyder5ELITE
Since the Spyder 5 is primarily used for calibrating and profiling monitors, many users are unaware that these devices are also capable of performing a range of specialized tests on those same monitors. These tests will help you set up your monitor prior to calibration, allowing you to get the best out of the calibration and profiling process itself. Test results will also let you know how well the monitor performs. If you have multiple monitors, you can use these tests to compare them. And if you’re worried about wear and tear on your monitor over its lifetime, you can run a baseline test on it regularly and then compare the results. Let’s take a look at the specific tests that can be run with the Display Analysis Module, how to run them, and what they measure.
Display Analysis Operation Overview
You can access Display Analysis via the drop-down menu in the lower left corner of the main user interface. When you go to this module, you will see this window:
If you have multiple monitors, make sure the one you want to check is selected. This is done via the drop-down menu at the top right. Tests include palette (gamut), gradation, brightness and contrast, monitor presets, screen uniformity, and color accuracy. If you are not sure which monitor is selected, use the Detect command. Then choose which tests you want to run. Keep in mind that if you want multiple test results to be available in one document, you must run them all in one pass. Since some of the tests will require you to work a little, it is better to run all the tests you need at once.
Later, you can use the View Report button to open any of the already created and saved reports. Once you have selected the tests you want, simply click the “Start Tests” button to get started. If you need help, you’ll find a quick hint in the right pane at any time, and the “Click for more details…” link at the bottom will take you to the full online user manual (see the section titled “Additional Analysis”).
Palette (Color gamut)
The Palette test gives the same picture you get after calibrating your monitor. It shows you your monitor’s current color gamut compared to SRGB, Adobe RGB and NTSC. This will help you, for example, to find out if your monitor displays a wider or narrower range of colors than the printing device.
A properly calibrated display should reproduce the desired gamut very closely (as its tone curve shape is called). Typically this is 2.2 (this is the exponent used to generate the output), but it can also be 1.8. This test shows how well your monitor (which you have probably calibrated and profiled before) tracks a given target gamut. If you have multiple gamma presets in your monitor’s settings menu, you can check them all here to see which gives the best results compared to the reference.
Also of interest is the report on the change in gray color temperature on the monitor as the brightness level is increased. For the HP monitor I used for testing, it fluctuated between 5800K and 4950K – a much wider range than I could imagine. It is important to perform this test in a dark room so that ambient light does not interfere with the results. Especially for not very bright monitors.
Brightness and Contrast
Whether you want to know how bright whites are on your monitor or how dark blacks are, you no longer have to blindly trust manufacturer specifications. You can check them yourself. You will know the white and black levels of your display in the range of brightness settings from 0% to 100% in 25% increments. True, magic is not involved here – after starting the test, you yourself, at the request of the software, will set the brightness of the monitor to each of the levels.
Now that we already have the black and white levels, the software can also calculate the contrast level and white point color temperature at each setting.
White point at other display settings
Your monitor almost certainly offers several presets for color, white point, etc. It may also have other settings that can be saved to a group preset. And it can be tricky to figure out which of these configurations will give you the best color. With this test module, you can check any preset or display settings and compare the effect they have on white point, white and black levels, and contrast. This allows you to select the settings that will give you the best results when calibrating your monitor.
Screen backlight uniformity
Like image sensors, lenses and monitors are not uniform across their entire surface. As a rule, only the central part of the display, the best part, passes the test. And with this test, you can check how much the quality of your monitor drops in each of the nine positions (3 × 3 grid on the screen). To do this, of course, you will have to move the Spyder5 between measurement positions, so you will need to be at your computer during this test. You may also need to adjust the position of the Spyder5 counterweight (cover) on the wire so that the length of the wire allows you to easily move the Spyder5 to the desired position on the display.
The test results are shown to you in several ways. First, when you pass the test, you immediately get the following:
For more details, you can see the full report after passing the entire test:
various brightness levels. This screenshot shows the results for an HP monitor at 50% brightness.
This test tests how accurately your monitor reproduces each of these colors. Depending on how detailed your results are, you can choose between 12, 24, or 48 field versions by selecting the appropriate test file from the drop-down menu after starting the test. After completing the test, you will receive an error message (in Delta E units) for each of the fields, which will allow you to understand which colors your monitor reproduces most accurately. You will also be able to compare with the results of this test on other displays.
Selecting Calibration Targets
The Spyder5ELITE gives you the flexibility to select targets so you can match your targets to the color space you are working in.