How I calibrate my monitor with DisplayCAL


Categories: Photography Tags: calibration displaycal colormunki color management

In this article I will give you some details on the procedure I follow in order to calibrate my Dell U2515H monitor for optimal photo editing results.

Please note that I am very far from being an expert in this field and that the following information is what I have understood after a whole year of trials and errors.

My hardware and software configuration

My setup is very complicated comparing to the average photographer’s one. My main OS is Archlinux. For my photographing editing needs I use Windows 10 on a KVM virtual machine with GPU Passthrough. This means that although Windows 10 OS runs on a virtual machine, I am able to use a real isolated GPU with that.

So, every time I need to calibrate, I do the procedure twice: one time for Archlinux/Intel onboard HD 530 and one time for Windows 10/Nvidia 1050TI.

Hardware and software I use for calibration

Both of them perform fine under Windows and Linux.

My calibration targets

Although the following values may vary depending on one’s needs, they are a safe choice for everyday use:

Note that many photographers who focus in printing, prefer lower temperatures, ex. 5000K or 5500K. I print my photos too, however I find these settings to be too “yellowish” for everyday use, so I prefer 6500K, which is a safe and widely used value in the digital world.

Regarding the brightness, most of the articles online suggest a value of 120cd/m2. However I find it extremely bright, and after a lot of trials and errors I found 90cd/m2 to be more than enough for my needs.

Using DisplayCAL

DisplayCAL is probably the best software for monitor calibration. It offers a really extended and useful documentation that covers almost everything you need to know.

However, a good idea for the average user is to begin with reading the quick start guide

Below I will show you my current settings, divided per tab:

Display & Instrument

DisplayCAL Display & Instrument tab

In Correction, I chose the suitable correction for my monitor based on its specs. You should do a research about yours and apply the appropriate profile.


DisplayCAL Calibration tab

I chose 6500K, 90cd/m2 and Gamma 2.2. (See the section below regarding the calibration targets), while I set the claibration speed to Low.


DisplayCAL Profiling tab

I set the profile quality to High and chose the Auto-Optimized (175 patches) testchart.

Note: I’ ve done tests with up to 3400+ patches and I did not see any noticeable difference comparing to Auto-optimized, so I stuck with the latter as calibration takes much less time with it(1 and 12 comparing to 4 hours).


DisplayCAL Profiling tab

Here, I choose the extended verification testchart and sRGB IEC61966-2.1 as this is the standard I want to verify my monitor profile against.



After making sure that all the above settings are correct, I press the button Calibrate & Profile.

The procedure begins and after some initial calculations it’s time for the hardware part of calibration.

I press Start Measurement and when it finishes, I navigate to custom color settings and brightness menu of my DELL U2515H monitor, and I change various values for brightness and R/G/B values until everything becomes green like below:

DisplayCAL Interactive Display Adjustment

This means that the monitor has come as close as possible to the target settings.

Now, I press Stop measurement and Continue on to calibration.

After approx 1.5 hour, the profile is ready:

DisplayCAL Install Profile

Profile installattion

I use i3wm and I just have to place this command on i3 configuration file so that it is executed every time I log in.


For the verification of the newly created profile, I navigate to Verification tab (please see the settings above), and I press Measurement report.

I choose the location of the html file and after it finishes, the report opens on the default web browser. Below you can see my latest reports for both Archlinux/Intel HD530 and Windows 10/Nvidia 1050ti: