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So I got a second monitor and it's color greatly differs from my current one. The new one is a Samsung PLS monitor, the older one an ASUS model (no idea which); both have a Full HD resolution, the first one is connected over HDMI, the latter over DVI. Both are in a ~200 € price range, so no professional design monitors with fully adjustable displays.

At first sight, my old monitor looked better in comparison (much more vibrant, generally a bit brighter; also, this might have just been the force of habit). However, this one has several display modes, of which the 'scenery mode' was selected. In the 'standard mode', the overall look is much closer to the new monitor. So I'm assuming this scenery mode just adds some vibrance and similar adjustments to make the picture look better for consumers - which might not be what I want for design work.

By adjusting both monitors manually, I got both to look somewhat similar, which means less vibrance and saturation than I'm used to. However, I'm kind of confused now, I'm actually not sure if these settings are actually better for design work than the 'scenery mode' which subjectively looks better to me.

Not sure how to put it into words, but here are my questions:

  1. Is it beneficial to adjust my two monitors so that both look roughly the same? Or should I adjust both individually so that they 'look best'? (This way, I would actually see how my design looks on different monitors, wouldn't this be beneficial at least for screen design? I don't do print design anyway ...)
  2. How do I know which settings are 'best'? I can of course adjust my old monitor to fit my new monitors appearance, but how can I know what are the correct settings - if such a thing even exists - without some kind of reference? How far can I trust my subjective perception? (I ran the 'calibrate display colour' helper provided by Windows 10 on both monitors, but that didn't help that much. I've cranked up the brightness of my new monitor, but the background of this page, for example, still looks kinda grey-ish even though it's close to white ... or that might just be my perception, because I'm used to the vibrant and brightened scenery mode of my old monitor ... I'm so confused.)
  3. I have an nVidia GTX 970. In the Control Panel's colour options, I can choose between 'Other applications control colour settings' and 'Use nVidia settings'. If I choose the latter, I can adjust Brightness, Contrast and Gamma on OS-level (as opposed to the monitor settings itself). Is that a good idea or should I always leave the other applications in control, as to not interfere with Creative Cloud Software?

Sorry I know those questions are kind of convoluted, I'm just confused because I never had a second monitor to work with and now I'm not even sure I can trust my own perception, so I have no idea how to find optimal settings ...

Thanks!

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This is a pretty long question and I also believe that it is one that could receive several different, opinionated answers. That being said, I'll answer this accordingly, with my opinion and the way I have always worked with dual monitors.

  1. Working with two monitors, it's almost inevitable that you will wind up using one as a primary and one as a secondary monitor. I would set your primary to whichever monitor is the better one and has a better picture. Adjust your settings on that monitor to your liking and then get the secondary one to look as similarly as you can.
  2. As far as "best" settings, most people tend to keep their monitors as-is and select one of the factory presets, maybe making some minor adjustments to brightness/contrast. Personal preferences and sensory perceptions vary so greatly with digital displays that it's hard to really come up with a "best" setting - most people set it to what they think looks best. This means that no matter how you calibrate your monitors, it's pretty much guaranteed that everyone else looking at your designs on theirs will see something slightly different. There are some professional tools and softwares that will calibrate your monitor much more precisely, but since you don't work in print and likely aren't doing video color grading, there is no point in spending the money. By the way, the background of this site IS gray, gray with a line and dot pattern.
  3. As far as how you adjust your monitors, I have no really good information for you on that one. I have a Mac and I do my adjustments on the OS level. When I open my calibration utility, it tells me to set the monitor's contrast all the way up and then adjust the brightness until the onscreen image appears correct. The fact that my computer tells me to do this and that our OS even has settings to begin with makes me think that doing changes on the OS level will allow for finer tuning and adjustment of more details.

settings

There are tons of calibration guides and images online that will aid you in the process. If you have a laptop available or even just a phone, you could use one of those as a baseline to adjust your desktop monitors to.

  • Thanks for your help! I pretty much overdid it at the first try, it ended up looking pretty curious .. and f.lux messed with it ... now I reset both monitors to the factory settings and only adjusted them slightly, looks pretty decent. Thanks! – MoritzLost Oct 16 '15 at 18:44
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I don't do print design

Then it doesn't really matter. Since no matter what you do to your monitors, there's no correlation to what everyone else does to their own monitors.

As such, I'd say, set it the way you like. Whether that means they are the same or different is really up to you.

  • Thanks! Isn't it a good idea to set it to something like what the 'average' user who doesn't bother with color settings will see? Even though that different devices, especially mobile, have different displays, color ranges and such ... – MoritzLost Oct 16 '15 at 22:42

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