Best Monitor Calibrators in 2020

By Robin Owens 14 days ago, Monitors

Adjust your colors properly with monitor calibrators.

top 3 best monitor calibrators

If your main task is to see the colors in photos and videos as closely to the original as possible, then you should definitely have a monitor calibrator.

If you edit or retouch photographs on an uncalibrated monitor, you won’t see the actual image, but rather its semblance disfigured by the screen’s color deviations, which can only be fixed by calibrating the monitor.

7 Best Monitor Calibrators

  1. Datacolor Spyder5ELITE - Our choice
  2. Datacolor Spyder5EXPRESS - Best for amateurs
  3. X-Rite i1 Display Pro - Professional’s choice
  4. Wacom Color Manager - For mobile devices
  5. X-Rite ColorMunki Smile - Best for beginners
  6. Colormunki Design - All-in-one spectrophotometer
  7. Datacolor Spyder5PRO - For experts in design

Nowadays, X-Rite is the leading calibrator manufacturer on the market, and it's the developer behind all the calibrator sensors featured in this article. Entry-level calibrators include the ColorMunki Smile and Datacolor Spyder 5EXPRESS models.

They don’t have a lot of color reproduction settings and calibrate the monitors to the single, most popular color standard. Mid-level calibrators, namely Wacom Color Manager and ColorMunki Display, give ф user a choice between several color reproduction settings.

Lastly, X-Rite i1Display Pro, Datacolor Spyder5ELITE, and Datacolor Spyder5PRO are the best monitor calibrators aimed at professionals.

1. Datacolor Spyder5ELITE

Our choice
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  • datacolor spyder5elite monitor calibrator
  • datacolor spyder5elite monitor calibrator

    Hardware Calibration Device: Spyder5 Colorimeter | Software: Wizard, Interactive Help, Expert Console, Suite of Expert Features | Calibration Settings: Unlimited choices, user-defined, and Rec.709 for videography

    ⊕ For monitors, projectors, and laptops
    ⊕ Several ambient lighting settings
    ⊕ Handy bonus functions
    ⊖ Not found

    This model is supplied with a 7-channel RGB colorimeter that offers state-of-the-art build quality and a very wide reading display. The software is compatible with computer monitors, laptop screens, and even projecting devices, while also offering the best monitor calibration for Mac computers.

    The initial calibration can be very long since you have to pick several options. That being said, all future re-calibrations will only take about 3 minutes.

    With all the improvements and features packed into this device, this model is a no-brainer for anyone, who needs a multifunctional calibrator.

    2. Datacolor Spyder5EXPRESS

    Best for amateurs
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    • datacolor spyder5express monitor calibrator
    • datacolor spyder5express monitor calibrator

      Hardware Calibration Device: Spyder5 Colorimeter | Software: 4 Step Process & Interactive help | Calibration Settings: Fixed (2)

      ⊕ Intuitive controls, step-by-step wizard
      ⊕ High accuracy
      ⊕ Well-designed and sturdy body
      ⊖ Subjective ambient light adjustment

      This model is the best monitor calibration tool for hobbyists thanks to its intuitive controls and two available calibration settings that are ideal for enthusiast photographers and graphic designers. Using this calibrator is very simple, as its convenient software will steer you on every step of the way.

      If you never used a similar device before, then the Spyder5EXPRESS is probably the best monitor color calibration choice for you. Another reason why purchasing this calibrator is a wise decision is that if you ever decide to upgrade to the Pro or Elite versions of the product, you’ll be able to do so without changing the device.

      3. X-Rite i1Display Pro

      Professional’s choice
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      • x-rite i1display pro monitor calibrator
      • x-rite i1display pro monitor calibrator

        Compatible Display Types: LCD / CRT / Laptop | Software: Available for OEM customers | USB Powered: Yes

        ⊕ ADC function
        ⊕ High accuracy
        ⊕ Beautiful grey tones with small tone transitions
        ⊕ Terrific neutral grey color after calibration
        ⊖ Lacks a simplified mode for newbies
        ⊖ Possible difficulties calibrating tablets

        Thanks to the ADC function, you can perform decent calibration on laptop or iMac screens that usually only allow you to adjust the brightness setting, which is very limiting.

        The i1Display Pro is a universal device. It’s perfectly suited for enthusiasts, people who treat color correction more as a hobby than a profession, while the colorimeter itself is more aimed at a professional user.

        This monitor calibration for Mac can be used on multiple displays simultaneously, meaning you can calibrate all screens in a studio to have the same settings, and more.

        4. Wacom Color Manager

        For mobile devices
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        • wacom color manager monitor calibrator
        • wacom color manager monitor calibrator

          Compatibility: Cintiq displays (Cintiq 13HD, Cintiq 22HD) and Cintiq Companion (GEN 1, 2 generation and hybrid) | Device Compatibility: Apple iOS & Android mobile devices | Video Standards: NTSC, PAL SECAM, ITU-R Rec.BT.709

          ⊕ LCD, LED, and Wide Gamut Display
          ⊕ NTSC, PAL SECAM, Rec.BT.709 support
          ⊕ iOS and Android phones and tablets
          ⊖ Possible errors working on Mac

          This compact monitor calibration device allows achieving the maximum possible color accuracy on all output devices, tying them together with a single profile, and being certain that color reproduction is on the highest professional level on all user devices.

          Wacom Color Manager is designed to display Cintiq 27QHD, but it can also work with all Cintiq screens (Cintiq 13HD, Cintiq 22HD) and Cintiq Companion (GEN 1, 2-generation and hybrid).

          Everyone, who works with design, graphics, modeling, and game development on a professional level, knows how important it is to calibrate your output device accurately, whether it’s a monitor or a Wacom graphics tablet, and this might be the best color calibration tool for the job.

          5. X-Rite ColorMunki Smile

          Best for beginners
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          • x-rite colormunki smile monitor calibrator
          • x-rite colormunki smile monitor calibrator

            Supported Profile Format: ICC | Software Modes: Easy | Mobile Device Compatibility: iOS

            ⊕ Small calibration tool
            ⊕ Terrific bang for your back
            ⊕ Can be used on multiple monitors
            ⊕ Convenient controls
            ⊖ Re-calibrating a formerly calibrated display isn’t fast
            ⊖ UI dominates the entire screen

            This calibrator is often suggested to beginners as the most affordable and simple device from the X-Rite series. It’s very simple and doesn’t require any skills or effort on a user’s part.

            Just follow these 3 steps: launch the calibrator, place it and the monitor and press go. The attractive price, as well as fast and convenient controls, makes it a great option for a lot of users, and you plug it straight into the PC’s USB input.

            If you simply need a better calibrated screen and the confidence that your screen displays the correct colors, this is the product you want.

            6. Colormunki Design

            All-in-one spectrophotometer
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            • colormunki design monitor calibrator
            • colormunki design monitor calibrator

              Supported Profile Format: ICC | Software Modes: Easy & Advanced| Calibration: Integrated Internal White Tile

              ⊕ Limitless design option
              ⊕ Access to all colors on the visible spectrum
              ⊕ Create personalized color schemes
              ⊕ Supports printers
              ⊖ Learning all the functions is difficult

              Colormunki Design monitor calibration software contains several functional elements. Firstly, it provides calibration and profiling for all types of monitors, including laptop displays.

              Secondly, this is a full-fledged studio for working with colors and palettes. You receive access to all Pantone libraries, including the latest Pantone Goe.

              You can choose colors from different libraries, combine them into user palettes by using auxiliary tools that allow picking a harmonious color, color variations of hue, etc.

              Thirdly, the program allows detecting colors on various surfaces and using them along with all the other colors for creating palettes, color specification, and identification, all thanks to the high-precision spectrophotometric sensor.

              7. Datacolor Spyder5PRO

              For experts in design
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              • datacolor spyder5pro monitor calibrator
              • datacolor spyder5pro monitor calibrator

                Hardware Calibration Device: Spyder5 Colorimeter | Software: Wizard, Interactive Help, Advanced Features | Calibration Settings: 16 Choices

                ⊕ Pop-up warning when there’s a shift in the lighting conditions
                ⊕ Calibrates several displays per PC
                ⊖ Isn’t suitable for projectors

                By glancing over the entire list, you’ll instantly notice that the Datacolor brand is featured here a lot and that’s not a coincidence. Datacolor is a reliable company that offers state-of-the-art functionality and the Spyder5PRO isn’t an exception.

                Packed with more functions than the previous models, this contender for the best monitor calibration tool title is meant for users, who strive to find a balance between a feature-heavy device and cost-efficiency.

                Even though it has an intuitive setup, the Spyder5PRO offers an array of settings, including ambient lighting profiles. Additionally, it is powered by the best monitor calibration software and allows you to use the capabilities of your screen fully.

                Best Monitor Calibrators Comparison

                Image Name Features  
                datacolor spyder5elite monitor calibrator
                Datacolor Spyder5ELITE
                OUR CHOICE
                • Compatible with monitors, projectors, and laptops
                • Several ambient lighting settings
                • Handy bonus functions
                Check PRICE
                datacolor spyder5express monitor calibrator
                Datacolor Spyder5EXPRESS
                FOR AMATEURS
                • Convenient, step-by-step wizard
                • High-precision calibration results even when using the default options
                • Well-designed and sturdy
                Check PRICE
                x-rite i1display pro monitor calibrator
                X-Rite i1Display Pro
                PROFESSIONAL
                • Calibrates laptop and tablet screens with minimum settings thanks to the ADC function
                • High accuracy
                • Beautiful grey tones with small tone transitions even on TN-monitors
                Check PRICE
                x-rite colormunki smile monitor calibrator
                X-Rite ColorMunki Smile
                FOR BEGINNERS
                • Small calibration tool
                • Terrific bang for your buck
                • Can calibrate several monitors
                Check PRICE

                How to Use a Monitor Calibrator?

                The calibration process requires minimum user involvement and is completed automatically regardless of whether you’re using the best monitor calibration for photographers or an entry-level device.

                You don’t have to organize any special conditions for the calibration such as turning off the lights or covering the screen with a dark fabric – the calibration should be done in the exact conditions you work on the monitor every day.

                Adjust the Lighting

                To make calibration as effective as possible, you need to work in a “calibrated” environment. Your workspace should be protected from strong lighting, especially if it falls directly onto the screen.

                Use average power lamps with a matte lampshade, preferably with high color reproduction and temperature index that is consistent with your screen.

                Light sources that have a dynamic color temperature, mainly windows, should be separated, preferably with dense curtains, especially during the morning and evening time.

                The field of view of your workspace shouldn’t include any bright or glaring objects. In the perfect scenario, everything is colored in a monotonous grey color.

                If you can’t avoid working in suboptimal conditions, for instance in bright light, use a monitor hood that will protect the screen from direct light rays.

                Set the Color Reproduction

                Before you start the calibration process, the device will offer you to choose the color reproduction settings – color temperature, tone curve, and brightness.

                Pick them according to your needs. In most cases, you can leave the default settings for the color temperature (D65, 6500K) and the tone curve.

                Your Built Profile Will Be Automatically Uploaded into the System

                After that, you don’t have to do anything else. You don’t need to install that profile in Adobe Photoshop as the workspace profile or apply it to photos – the program automatically refers to the monitor’s system profile and doesn’t require additional adjustments.

                The photos simply need to have one of the standard color profiles like sRGB and Adobe RGB.

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