PhotoLab 4 with X-rite i1Display Studio display calibrator

I’ve been using PhotoLab 4 with my iMac, which has two display screens, the built-in screen of the iMac, and my 27" Asus PB278 display. My computer is in my living room, with huge windows and doors on two walls, meaning lots of bright sunlight comes in during the daytime, and the room can be as light or dark as I want at other times.

I’ve noticed on the iMac that the screen image during the day is much brighter than the same image on the Asus. At night the reverse is true. The iMac computer has an ambient light sensor up on top, next to the built-in camera, and this makes a huge difference in screen brightness.

Following the advice of people in this forum, I purchased an X-rite i1Display Studio, the model suggested by the tech support people at B&H Photo where I bought it. The goal is to properly calibrate my screen, so when I edit my images in PL4, if they look good on my display, they will look the same way on other people’s displays.

It’s now the middle of the afternoon, meaning my room is very bright. I went through the automated calibration program, without making any changes to the physical controls on my ASUS display. The calibration software thinks everything is set up. I need to confirm some of my choices with the tech support people, but I think it is ready to use.

My confusion right now is mostly about ambient lighting. An image I worked on this morning, while viewed on the ASUS display, is very dull and dark. If I slide that image over to my iMac display, the image lights up, and looks great again. But if I put my hand over the ambient light sensor on the iMac, the image gets even darker than the way it looks on the ASUS display.

Yesterday, while learning how to set the system up, I called the tech support people, and was told this system was designed to be used in an indoor room without sunlight streaming in through the windows and doors. I don’t really have much choice, other than to close the blinds when I’m working on images, to block out some of the sunlight. I’ll wait until tonight, and make another comparison test.

The reason for posting this here in this forum, is to find out what the rest of you do about display calibration. Do all of you do this in a dark room? If not, how do you know what your image is going to look like to everyone else when you post it? Do you even calibrate your displays?

Any advice?

Disable the ambient light sensor and stick to 80cd/m2 luminance

1 Like

It looks like the sensor can be turned off.

Here’s another link:

The ASUS, where I expect I can now do my PL4 editing, doesn’t have an ambient light sensor - I think it is now properly calibrated, but I’m not sure.

I don’t know what the “80cd/m2 luminance” is, or how to set it. Is this part of the calibration procedure that I need to re-do, with that setting?

Maybe I can find a video that explains these things…

Assuming you’ve i1Studio, this is what you should see/select on the first screen.

Select Display on the left and you will get to this screen

Then this one…

Select as I have done and you will be prompted to use the sensor to measure the screen brightness. At which point, you will need to go into System Preferences | Monitors to set the brightness of the monitor. You will see one preferences dialog on each monitor - just set the one on which you are measuring.

Here’s the Monitor Preferences for my Apple Cinema display…

… and here’s the one for my MacBook Pro…

As you can see, both have the automatic brightness disabled to ensure that they don’t keep on changing and spoiling the calibration. At the appropriate point in the calibration process, you will be shown a little “light meter”, which will guide you as to how to adjust the brightness.

Thank you for the detailed explanation. I did this earlier today, just guessing what to do. Now I have real information to follow, and a few questions.

First screen - no issues.

Second screen - I will select my ASUS monitor, as I don’t want to mess around with the iMac itself. Your example screen a the left says to use PHOTO on this screen, but you have CUSTOM. I don’t understand the details of the three things you are setting - do I just copy your information for my own display? I imagine we are setting the white point to be the small white area with the tiny dot in your image. Do I move that around, or does it just go to the white point by itself, and that’s where the first data comes from? Luminance - I assume I should use your value, and ditto for Tone Response Curve? …so much I don’t know - never needed to know, although I guess I should have learned this long ago.

Then I go to “measurement”. On your screen you checked "Adjust brightness, contrast, and RGB gains manually. For now, can I let it to this automatically? For you, it says to go into System Preferences | Monitors, but I have no such control in my System Preferences Window. I’ll make a screen capture and post it:

There is no automatic brightness for my ASUS, only for my iMac, but I’m not going to mess with the settings on the iMac. I will do my image editing on my 27" ASUS.

Note: I do have lots of manual controls on the bottom of my ASUS, so if I can find the old manual, maybe I can adjust the brightness later.

Thanks for the time it took to put all that together. They ought to have sent me a user’s manual with the device, explaining all this in detail. All I got was a simple setup guide. :frowning:

For what it’s worth, the brightness of my ASUS now mostly matches the brightness of my iMac - this is indoors, with my LED ceiling lights lighting up the room.

Also, the ASUS screen color for “white” is slightly “warmer” than my iMac. The color white on my iMac is slightly brighter, but that is maybe because of the ambient lighting control. If I turn my room lights off, the ASUS is then brighter than the iMac.

Should I do the display calibration at night, with the room lights off, or ???

I went searching all over for a user manual, and found something even better. I’m following the steps now, but will work on recalibrating my ASUS display when I’m fully awake tomorrow. Here’s the link:

I wish the screen shots were in English, but I can adapt.

One more thing - I found this at the end of the review. Does the same thing apply to PL4? Do I need to enter something into PL4 so it understands the calibrator?

Both screens will need calibrating. The question is, which screen do you use as your principal screen? I only use my external monitor as principal screen because my MacBook Pro is only 16" and too small to work at comfortably.

Indeed. The photo settings they suggest will give you a very bright screen, which is tiring on the eyes and will mean that, should you want to print an image edited on it will give a very dark print. The advice you found is for those who don’t have the experience to do it right :wink:

What I have setup on the screenshot works for any display

Yes. I chose D55 because that is the usual colour temperature of lighting that prints are viewed under. It is also a very comfortable temperature to use on your monitor. You can’t move the dot around, it is there just to show where in the gamut the white point is.

Yes, just copy what you see there. The 80 cd/m2 is, once again, because that is the kind of level that equates to the average print viewing environment. Even if you are not planning on printing, it is also far more comfortable on the eyes than a glaring blue-white screen. Your pictures will also display fine when you post them on the web - or at least, can you see any problem with any that I post?

No! This would allow the screen to adjust its brightness during the calibration process. Also, once you have calibrated your screens, you should never change the brightness, otherwise you will be ignoring the calibration and your colours and tones will, once again, be wrong.

My system is in French. You need to go to System Preferences | Displays, then choose the Display tab as you have done. The brightness slider and checkbox will only appear if the monitor supports software adjustment.

You should be calibrating both monitors anyway. If your iMac is your principal display, then why not use that? In any case, you can’t adjust the brightness later because it is an intrinsic part of the calibration process.

This is precisely why you need to disable the ambient light setting on your iMac.

I would tend to do it when the sun isn’t shining directly into your room and either with lights on if necessary in the evening or off in daylight.

Just a couple more screenshots that you need to be aware of whilst running the calibration…

Capture d’écran 2020-12-25 à 09.26.20

This how I set the options for a Mac screen - you may need to check the RGB Controls box as well for your Asus only.

After an initial contrast test, the app will show first the colour adjustment “meter”…

… with which you need to adjust the RGB controls on your Asus, then it will show the brightness adjustment “meter”…

When you are calibrating you iMac, this is the only one you need to adjust. For the iMac, call up the System Preferences and move it to one side so that it is not under the measuring device and move the slider to get the cursor to the centre of the scale. In this screenshot, you can see that the current luminance is too low at 72 instead of 80. Allow time after adjusting for the display to catch up.

When you are calibrating the Asus, use the manual controls on the monitor.

In that case, you will have read the part that states to disable automatic brightness :nerd_face:

Yes, my screenshots of macOS are in French but I switched i1Studio to English before taking those.

No, at present, PL doesn’t manage colour profiles and always runs in AdobeRGB but I don’t find this to be a problem and have printed several large exhibitions of images edited in PL2, 3 and 4. The information about PS is because PS allows you to convert to and work in other colour spaces.

Final reminder - if you usually use your iMac as principal display, stick with that but you should calibrate both anyway.

In all the reading I did last night, I found a warning to not do this calibration on an iMac. I will find that warning again, and copy it here.

As long as all this calibration stuff is only working ONLY on my ASUS, I feel comfortable about this. 90% of the time my iMac is being used for other purposes, and the auto screen brightness is one tool that makes the iMac computer easier to use in my room, with the constantly changing ambient light. This brings up two choices for me:
a) to turn that function on/off on the iMac while I’m editing photos on the ASUS, and
b) to see if I can turn off the i1Studio software when I’m not editing photos. I assume I an turn the i1Studio software on/off at will.

Thank you for the ASUS user guide - I’ll search today for the monitor documentation that I ought to have saved (but I’ve never used). This is a 2014 display, and it does not have an “auto brightness” function. It also comes configured in “eco mode” which prevents the adjustments from working:

This may explain why the i1Studio setting I used (PHOTO) did not give me that “excessively bright screen” you mentioned - I need to find out if I’m in “eco mode” and if so, turn it off.

You asked which is my principal screen - without question, that is the iMac. The ASUS is larger, and that is whee I plan to do my Image editing. Most other things I typically do on the iMac, and the brighter screen may be one of the reasons I’ve gotten to prefer it.

The ASUS doesn’t seem to have the ability to adjust its brightness automatically. I don’t know if this will or won’t be a problem, but in the late afternoon when sunlight is streaming into my room, I guess my “solution” to what looks like a very dark screen is to close my window blinds, to block out the sunlight. It’s now 9am, and the screen looks fine. When I slide windows back and forth between my two screens, they are very similar. But I know that later in the day, my iMac screen will start to get much brighter.

Thank you once again for all the help. This is turning out to be nothing like what I expected, but it makes more and more sense as I understand what is happening, and why.

One last thing - I just stumbled upon this.

quick question. I am in the market for a new calibration device and looking at the i1Display Studio and the i1 Display Pro. The Studio is about 80 Euro cheaper. Is there a difference which matters in real life.

Thank you in advance


I think Joanna will give a better answer, but when I was about to buy my device, I called B&H Photo in NYC to ask which one to get. The tech person wanted to know what device(s) I want to calibrate. When I told him the device was only to calibrate my display, he said the Studio will do everything I need - the more expensive device can also do things I don’t need (maybe projectors, printers, cameras, whatever - I didn’t ask). I know they have a full system available with color charts that you can include when you capture an. image, and later their system will evaluate how those color charts appear in the captured and displayed image - but that’s way beyond what I wanted.

If you’re in the USA, and if you’re going to order from B&H (low prices, no shipping charge and no sales tax) you can ask before you place the order.

Where on earth did you find that and what did it say? We have an iMac here that we have calibrated without any problem; in fact we have been using it like that for years. It delivers the same reliably good results as on the Apple 27" display attached to my MacBook Pro.

Hmmm. I use my computers for everything, with the same calibrated settings. I can see what you mean but, if you don’t control the iMac as well as the Asus, you are not going to be able to move pictures from one screen the other.

This would mean having to try and find the brightness level that you were using before you switched on the automatic mode, which is not easy.

i1Studio is not something that you run all the time. You use it to calibrate the screen, it creates a profile and installs it and and then you close it and disconnect the device and your computer uses that profile from then on.

So I am guessing that you have a 21" iMac? In which case, it does make more sense to use the Asus with the larger screen for image editing. You could even use it as your principal monitor, so that you get the menu bar on it.

But, whichever monitor you use, you need to be aware that ambient light plays a part in how you perceive image brightness and colour balance and having a bright screen with a different colour temperature pointing at you will tend to affect how you perceive things on the Asus. Even the bright light coming into the room will tend to alter your perception of both brightness and colour balance. You can end up thinking that the colours on your editing screen are wrong simply because of the colour of the light from another screen or just in the room.

They do say that the perfect picture editing room is one where the walls are painted with 18% neutral grey paint and no windows. But, not being used to cave dwelling, we do the best we can with what we’ve got :wink:

You are going to need to close the blinds anyway if you are doing image editing, even on the Asus. IMHO, you are better off controlling the light rather than not calibrating both screens. It’s even better for your eyesight not to be working with excessively bright screens, even if you are not editing pictures.

I really wouldn’t bother with the DisplayCAL stuff - what i1Studio does is perfectly adequate for your purposes.

From their site, it is hard to tell why the difference apart from the Pro version apparently copes with more “demanding” situations. IMO, for most of us the studio is perfectly adequate.

It was a warning on this page:

…but now that I’m awake, the warning was about the auto screen brightness control needing to be switched off. My mistake.
1 Like

Yes, I assumed that I will need to only do my PL4 editing on the Asus, and do it late in the day when my room isn’t bathed in sunlight.

Until yesterday, I enjoyed working on my iMac. Ever since I did the calibration for the ASUS, things have changed. It’s now daytime, and my iMac screen pretty much matches the ASUS screen in terms of brightness. I can see everything fine on either screen, but when I look down at my real desktop, and there is a piece of white paper there, the paper looks like it has a spotlight aimed at it - bright, clear white.

If I now go to the apple icon > system preferences > display… I get a window on each display to adjust that display, like what I’ve had all these years. The tabs at the top on the iMac display are DISPLAY, ARRANGEMENT, COLOR, and NIGHT SHIFT.

The iMac was very dull, looking like the ASUS. Under the heading COLOR I clicked on “iMac Calibrated 2”. The ASUS listing vanished, and my iMac went back to what I remember it looking like yesterday, very bright - the “white” on my iMac now looks like the white on the piece of paper on my desk.

If I’m lucky, my iMac is now back to the way it was a few days ago, getting very bright as my room gets bright, and the ASUS seems to have remained the same - which right now makes it very dark, not very suitable for editing images. The display information for my ASUS still looks the same, set to ASUS PB278_20201224.icc …which is what it was set to yesterday.

My goal is to pretty much leave the iMac they way Apple wants it to look. For editing in PL4, I will only use the ASUS display, and I will either close my window blinds, or work in the evening.

Gee, I didn’t expect all this complexity. I expected to install the i1Display Studio software, put the device on my ASUS, and calibrate the ASUS. I certainly don’t want to lose the ambient light auto adjustment on my iMac for all the other work I do on it.

(…and I did find my original documentation for the specific ASUS display I bought, so I expect to be able to do the calibration as you described - and I will forget about the other software I posted about up above.)

Using my iMac in the middle of the day, it’s almost like being outside. I have so many large windows and doors, that the room is very bright. There’s probably a way I can measure this, but I can see the range of auto brightness by covering up the sensor on my iMac, then moving my hand away. Using the calibrated settings during the day, the screen is dark and dull, and colors don’t show up nicely.

Yes, I’m aware that doing this my way, all my PL4 editing will need to be done on the ASUS, and it will look better at night than if I do the work in the day - or I will need to close my window blinds. I don’t seem to have enough options. Maybe I should go ahead and buy an Apple Mini, specifically for photography, in addition to my iMac. All this is way off in the future. My goal right now is to simply get my ASUS display calibrated, without messing up anything else.

You mean sleek and shiny? :laughing: To the best of my knowledge, they don’t specify that. They just put them out there with no calibration and expect users to do whatever they want in that respect. Just like most monitors, they are factory set to be bright!!!, which is far from where you want to be for editing photos. They obviously can’t be perfect, otherwise why would they provide a calibration button on the colour tab of the display preferences?

BTW, don’t ever use it, it is truly awful.

P.S. You could always turn off the auto-brightness, just to calibrate the colours on the iMac, then re-enable it afterwards. At least, the colours should be a bit more accurate than not doing it at all.

Now I’m very confused. When I downloaded the i1Studio software, there was something else I needed to download and install - the tech person told me the other software runs all the time. I think this was “XRD_Manager+v3”. I didn’t notice this in the installation guide, but the tech at X-rite told me that was the first step before I could install the i1Studio Display software. Both downloads are listed on the download page at X-rite. None of this made sense to me - I just followed his instructions.

If I got to my Activity Monitor, I can see it running: “i1Studio Tray”.

I’m likely not describing all this correctly, just as best I can of what he told me. There ought to be a document that explains all this - I’ve found a few new things to read, and maybe that will explain it better than I can.

That sounds like the software that uses the device to monitor ambient lighting. I don’t use because it seemed to conflict with the Mac’s own mechanism and I didn’t want to leave the device connected all the time.

You don’t really need it. See how it goes and if it really does make a difference once you have the Asus profiled. But, seeing as how the Asus isn’t software controllable, I don’t see how it can work.