Color Management: Calibrating a Dell 2408WFP Ultrasharp 24" Display

UPDATE (November 2011): Although the information here is still useful, I wrote this a while ago. I stopped using this monitor for several months an only recently pulled it out of storage to give it new life. I wrote a new post on how to calibrate a Dell 2408WFT monitor with new information. I suggest you read both.

I have to start by saying that calibrating this monitor was really hard, but doable. I’m quite happy with it now after using it for a bit over a week, and having printed several photographs I can testify that this monitor does calibrate well and it’s really nice for photography.

However, out of the box it is absolutely horrible.

It’s so bright that it hurts just looking at it up close. If you’re like me (and I would think most photographers are in this regard) you like looking at your screen very closely when you’re editing, and having a ridiculously bright screen is no fun.

The colors are also super saturated, especially the reds, so skin tones look terrible. I searched all over the web for tips on how to get this monitor to calibrate and found a lot of conflicting information. As with everything on the web, everybody has an opinion but it seems many of them come from people that don’t even own the monitor. So, I decided to write this with the hopes of helping anyone that gets this monitor.

I spent several hours going through every possible option until I got what I wanted. If you bought this display I recommend you do a few searches to see why it’s so hard to calibrate (ie. wide gamut) just so you understand what’s happening. Also, note that I did my calibration with an eyeone Display2 (i1Display2) color calibrator.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I lowered the RGB colors to 50 to bring the saturation and brightness down. Do this from the monitors menu by going to Preset Modes > Custom (R, G, B)
  2. In the same Preset Modes menu, I selected Gamma - Mac (I’m obviously using a Mac) and Color Setting Mode - Graphics.
  3. Lowered Brightness to 50 from the Brightness & Contrast menu.
  4. Then ran the i1Display2 in Advanced mode with the following settings:
  • White Point: 6500k
  • Gamma: 2.2
  • Luminance: 120

By doing this, I ended up:

  • Increasing Contrast to 100
  • Decreasing Brightness to 50
  • Increasing Red to 51
  • Lowering Green to 47
  • Lowering Blue to 49

The result was as close to my prints as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m very happy!

If you're struggling with calibrating this screen, have a go at doing what I did and maybe it'll work for you. But remember to calibrate YOUR own screen with a calibrator, don't just copy my settings as every monitor is different.

UPDATE (May 2010): I've been resisting posting this update since Snow Leopard came out, but it's been long enough and I don't think things will change.

Unfortunately, X-rite's i1Display2 doesn't support Mac OS X and requires you to install Rosetta to run it. Which in itself is just disgraceful is you ask me. It's been 9 years since Mac OS X was launched and today I don't use any applications that require Rosetta except for iMatch, the software required to calibrate your monitor using the i1Display2. Rosetta is there only to run obsolete software that's no longer supported.

Anyway, Snow Leopard is the first Mac OS that doesn't install Rosetta by default. I see this as a clear sign that, after 9 years, it's time to move on. Sadly, I couldn't because of the i1Display2. After complaining way too many times about this and being told by X-rite customer service that they won't release a version of their software that runs natively in Mac OS X, I gave in and installed Rosetta.

Haven't been able to calibrate my Dell since.

I've been using it as a secondary monitor, but it's time to get it back into production. I'm now on the market for a new calibration solution and I sure won't buy from X-rite ever again.