Despite many people asking about calibration, I couldn't find an answer to the following (imo important) question:


Why are so many displays incorrectly or un-calibrated, in other words inaccurate, even when they can display a whole specific color space like e.g. P3?


Are all displays simply individually different in how they show colors (across the same bunch of the same model – meaning every produced monitor is different) and not just a little bit? Because otherwise they should show the right color, shouldn't they – or are different displays so different that they need different files for controlling how much electricity gets through for the display to show the correct color (yes, I have no idea what exact input the actual final monitor gets – neither that, nor where in the display/rendering pipeline the custom/default 'color assignment files' (ICC ?!) sit) that manufacturers don't care enough to do a simple calibration once for every monitor model and put that file into every one of them or their drivers? Or are they simply wrong on purpose to show the normal users those 'vivid' colors that are just wrong (and could theoretically be simply reset (somehow) to just show the actual color values the computer sends)?

Maybe someone knows more than me and/or can find actual good sources regarding this.

Sorry that I'm not entirely sure about the workings of all the connected topics.

Cheers 👋


PS: To clarify: I'm talking about the light the display emits, not what we, as viewer, perceive because of natural human and environmental influences.

PPS: Or should I ask this on https://hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com/ or https://computergraphics.stackexchange.com/ ? Kind of fits on many pages, and none perfectly.

  • Color correction isn't as simple as "set it and forget it". Ambient surrounding and general environment play a very large roll in what colors will look like on monitor. All monitors need to be calibrated for their environment, even if the factory settings are all identical.
    – Scott
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 22:17
  • Of course ambiet light as well several other things, including the eyes themselves, influence the perceived colors, but we can try to diminish all the factors before and inside the monitor so that the image that comes out of the monitor is as accurate as possible, away from anything after that ?! - That's what i want to do and understand ;) - and this question is part of understanding it Commented May 1, 2022 at 22:46
  • Well, I don't understand. 2 monitors of the same model, using the same materials, manufactured at the same factory in the same time frame will be pretty much identical. Any variation would be due ambient aspects. (Or bouncing around during shipping) And, of course, higher end monitors will typically use stronger, more reliable parts. So they maintain the factory calibration better with less overall variation.
    – Scott
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 23:04
  • 1
    @Scott but thats not entirely true. The panel making process is like making a really big gingerbread dough. There are variations in the process but that is accounted by selecting progressively different grades of monitors by binning. Now the more accurate you need to be the more bins you need to have, but this affects the number of monitors that you can get per batch which raises the price. So in practice you can get panels that are best of best, but these are rare in the process so unfortunately theres only panels like this for thousands of people.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 19:03
  • @LuckyLukeSkywalker tha light that the display emit changes over time in use, thats what drifiting means. BUt even so profiles dont talk about what light the monitor emits thay talk about the appearerance to a user. So irrespectively what you wangt a profile is only valid in standard conditions.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Each monitor is unique in how many hours its been used, where it has been stored in etc. In addition each monitor is used in different background settings.

So even if each monitor left the factory the same* they would not be the same a month from that point since the monitor will start to drift. Then on top of this the monitor would need to account for the color of your walls and the color of your lighting.

Couldn't the monitor account for this? Well sure, the monitor could self calibrate. Monitors like this do exist, they basically have a inbuilt calibrator that scans the monitor periodically (usually every day or every few hours). Its just that most people dont need accuracy like this and arent ready to pay for this as these are a order a magnitude more expensive than the monitors you speak of.

This is not all that weird. All measurement instruments need to be calibrated and characterised on a regular basis. Its just that most usecases dont need scientific levels of accuracy.

But consider a firm that makes hundreds of thousands or millions of packages might want to be sure on a entirely different level of precision, so they get paid for their work as per contract. Average web designer probably dont care one bit.

Also consider how often your calibrator needs to be calibrated.

* they dont. Theres process variation which is dealt with binning. Technically one could make exacting tolerances, but then youd get for example 10 monitors for each thousand produced. So to be economical on consumer grade stuff you need to allow for some variation.

Also consider that what you might consider expensive isnt really expensive all things considered.

Dont get me wrong situation is getting better. But still since marketting forces want brilliance over accuracy it's not entirely sure it will get fixed. Sales is what you want not color correctness.

  • True, it is kind of a niche problem, that's the thing. At least color space coverage per se getting a bit more attention these days is nice for non-high-budget professionals/creatives/enthusiasts. You're right, in the end it's economics, sales. Btw, you answered part of the question, yes, but do non-oled panels really change that much, if at all, over time? I wasn't aware of that. Commented May 11, 2022 at 11:59
  • 1
    @LuckyLukeSkywalker yes they do, also they start different form each other too.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 12:00

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