Optimising your monitor for Web design 2

by Joe Gillespie — Jul 1, 2000

The following charts demonstrate how well your monitor copes with low tones, mid tones and highlights.

This is a fairly stringent test and most monitors will not pass on all accounts. It also depends on the ambient light in your working area. In a brightly lit office, you will lose low tones because the colour of your physical screen is too bright. People who have to make accurate judgements of on-screen images - television editors and photo retouchers - work in dim or dark surroundings to minimise reflections and glare in the screen and give the best possible dynamic range.

You might not be able to adjust your monitor to pass all these tests because of your environment or the monitors capabilities, but you should at least know its limitations.

This chart has 1% steps from black and shows how well your monitor copes with the dark end of the tonal range

On a well adjusted monitor, you should be able to see all the numbers right down to 1 in your normal ambient lighting conditions.

If your monitor is too dark, too contrasty or there is too much ambient light, you won't see the low numbers.

Here are the mid-tones. The top grey panel is a 50% grey, half way in tone between black and white, and the numbers go away from that in 1% steps. You should be able to see all these easily - except the zero.

The lower grey panel is also a 50% grey, but it is made from a patten of black and white squares. Ideally, the zero numeral, which is also a 50% grey (128,128,128), should look the same tone as the pattern behind it, however the black and white checkerboard pattern could be compromised because it clashes with the physical structure of the phosphors or LED elements on your screen.

If all the numbers are significantly darker or lighter than the background, your monitor is not being truthful with mid-tones. Whether you can do anything about it without spending a lot of money is another story!

This chart shows 1% steps from white and demonstrates your monitor's ability to handle highlight tones.

Under normal conditions, you should be able to see all the numbers down to 1. If your monitor is too bright or has too much contrast, the lower numbers will disappear into the white background.

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