Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

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Updated on June 17, 2017

Calibrate a TV screen or a video projector

Photographers are aware of the importance of monitor calibration for a long time and know how essential it is to edit their photos. Beautiful images lovers, they're also often well-equipped in their living room with a nice home cinema set. The question is thus raised to know whether it is interesting to calibrate your TV monitor, your plasma screen or even your video projector. Is it interesting? Is it possible? If it is possible, with what equipment, what calibration colorimeter?

Key points if you're a beginner...

Here are the key points to remember about HD TV, plasma monitors or video projectors calibration. The rest of this page is aimed at those who want to learn more.

iMac Apple 2013New TV screens are often correctly set when they leave the factory. When I set mine, the result wasn't spectacular but was visible however. Since I'm sensitive about that, I highly recommend TV screen calibration to beautiful images lovers...

Caution! TV screens, plasma monitors or video projectors are not plugged directly on a computer, so you can't calibrate them like a computer screen with an ICC profile. You can only set them accurately, still using a calibration colorimeter but the process is different though. You can't properly talk about calibration but rather accurate setting. To set your screen accurately, there's only one calibration colorimeter.

However, if you use your video projector to display images from your computer, then you'll be able to calibrate it and you'll have a broader choice of calibration colorimeters. To calibrate your TV screen or your video projector, there is thus only one solution on the market: the Spyder4TV HD colorimeter. If you use your video projector to display images from your computer, then you'll be able to calibrate it properly by creating its ICC profile but you'll have to read your DVDs and BluRays directly on your computer all the time.

This accurate setting can only be performed using a measuring tool: a calibration colorimeter, the same that can be used to calibrate your computer monitor; only the software is different. Indeed, human eye is definitely bad to see, but excellent to compare.

The process is very easy: you'll manually display focal points on your TV screen that your colorimeter, controlled by your laptop, will read. By comparing the image displayed to what the colorimeter "should" see, the computer will ask you, still manually, to change the settings on your TV screen. The setting is thus not automatic. You won't be creating an ICC profile, just making an accurate setting of your TV screen. It doesn't really matter, and it's still highly efficient. On your TV screen or your plasma monitor, you'll be able to set accurately:

colors (shade);
color temperature.

The big asset of "calibrating" your screen is that you'll now have a reference for further comparison and above all test images, very convenient to optimize the display of your home cinema!

Reference images before calibrating your TV

Because they're not controlled by your computer but directly linked to a tuner or a DVD or Blu-Ray reader, your TV screen can't be calibrated the same way as computer monitors. This page is dedicated to this use of your TV screen or video projector. You won't create them an ICC profile but "just" make an accurate setting. With that in mind, it is still very efficient and above all useful, even if it won't always be spectacular when it just left the factory and already has a very satisfying setting quality.



Calibrate your TV screen or video projector: what for?

Calibration of a TV using the colorimeter Spyder4TV HDBecause just like any other device displaying images, your TV screen, your plasma monitor or your video projector can't do it perfectly by default. Calibration will thus be used to set them accurately. This calibration or rather this accurate setting will be performed using a measuring tool, a calibration colorimeter. Your eye isn't accurate enough to do it right.

Basic principles of TV screen calibration

Test imageIt is theoretically very simple: the colorimeter and the calibration software will enable you to measure a set of different color patches displayed on your TV and help you choose the "ideal" settings directly in the menus of your TV or video projector. With the only calibration colorimeter on the market, the Spyder4TV HD, your computer is connected to the colorimeter, which is placed on the TV. At each step, you'll have to choose manually the patch to display because the software can't control it directly. Then, you launch measurement on your computer and you'll change the settings on your TV screen manually using the software's instructions, after each measurement. Then, you can set your TV screen even more accurately thanks to test images, essential. As a general rule, you'll be able to set accurately:

  • Luminosity,
  • Blacks,
  • Contrast,
  • Colors (shade),
  • Saturation,
  • Color temperature.

Accuracy of your TV screen's settings

Reminder: In the case of your TV screen, you can't really talk about calibration but rather about accurate settings because the computer can't control it using an ICC profile. On a computer, you create a "real" ICC profile, that will be loaded into the graphics card. Colors displayed in real time will be "corrected" by this profile on the fly. On a TV screen, you'll just set, using the colorimeter, its colors, its blacks, etc. It can be as accurate as a profile, but it's still much better than a setting to the naked eye.



Special case: video projectors and X-Rite colorimeters

Video projectorAs I already said several times, if your video projector is used to display images from your computer, then you'll be able to calibrate it, meaning that you'll be able to create its ICC profile and not just set it accurately.

In these circumstances, you'll be able to use X-Rite Colormunki Display or i1Display Pro colorimeters but not the Spyder4TV HD colorimeter anymore. However, you can still use this colorimeter if you choose the pice of software Spyder4Pro or Elite.




How to calibrate your TV screen?

The process is detailed in the review page of the only calibration colorimeter for TV screens or plasma monitors on the market: the Spyder4TV HD. To start with, here are the different possible configurations:

Calibration equipment


Several configurations with Spyder4 colorimeters

Spyder4Elite1 - Either you already own a Spyder4Pro or a Spyder4Elite colorimeter: you just have to purchase the Upgrade TV HD kit which costs about 60 euros. You can thus calibrate your monitor, your TV screen and also your iPad!

2 -You only want to calibrate your TV screen or your video projector: you have to buy the Spyder4TV HD colorimeter.

3 -You want to calibrate your computer monitor and your TV screen: you need to purchase the Spyder4Pro or Elite colorimeter AND the TH HD Upgrade kit.

Substantially, here is how it goes...

You'll need your TV screen (!), your DVD or Blu-Ray reader, your computer, preferably a laptop so you can take it close to your TV screen and the Spyder4TV HD colorimeter.

1 - Fasten your colorimeter - Fasten the Spyder4TV HD colorimeter (or the Spyder4Pro/Elite) on your TV screen using straps (only sold in the Upgrade or the Spyder4TV HD kit but not with the Spyde4Pro or Elite colorimeter) or on a tripod facing your video projector.

Connect your colorimeter to your laptop2 - Connect the colorimeter to your computer - You'll preferably use a laptop to be able to perform the calibration where your TV screen is. With that said, you can still bring your TV screen and your DVD reader next to your desktop computer if it can be carried..

3 - Put the calibration DVD (series of images or color focal points to display on your TV) in your DVD or Blu-Ray reader - the DVD features a whole series of calibration images full of colors as well as test images that will be used to improve the setting of your TV screen even more. They're very convenient, especially to set accurately the difeerent menus that won't be taken into account by calibration software, especially in dynamic content menus, etc.

Chart Spyder4TV HD4 - Install and launch the program Spyder4TV on your computer - you just have to follow the instructions step by step. Every time, you're driven to the next step: the software requires you to display on your TV screen or video projector an image or a window using the remote control of your DVD reader. Then, you can launch the measurement on your computer. After the measurement, the software will tell you which setting to make. Progressively, you'll set accurately the "images" menus on your TV...

5 - Finish the setting of your TV screen with test images - it is a setting image for whites, blacks and colors. They're very convenient to set accurately the plethora of menus with names sometimes esoteric which fill our TV screens and plasma monitors.


Images before and after the setting of your TV screen


And enjoy your favorite gigs and movies with an optimized image. In my own situation, even if the change was not dramatic, it wouldn't cross my mind to go back to default settings or even to previous settings.

To be remembered!

Above all, I want to recommend you to calibrate your TV screen, your plasma monitor or your video projector because it makes a real difference. It is not always dramatic, of course, because it depends on the screen you've bought, but it is still noticeable when you're sensitive about it. Beautiful images lovers will enjoy!

You don't have much choice since only the Spyder4TV HD officially enables to calibrate a TV screen. However, it is possible to calibrate your video projector with the same kit, but also with X-Rite colorimeters: Colormunki Display and i1Display Pro at one condition: your video projector must be controlled by your computer.



Read my tutorial and to buy colorimeters from this site...


Box Spyder4TV HD

Spyder4TV HD colorimeter - New!

The Spyder4TV HD by Datacolor is the most complete calibration colorimeter to calibrate a TV/video projector set, unlike its competitor which only allows to calibrate video projectors. You'll be able to set contrast, luminosity, colors, shade and color temperature of your TV screen and to note the influence that can have all other settings of our never-ending menus. Very educational!

Now reviewed on this site!

Excellent value for money, especially if you already own a Spyder4Pro or Elite (the upgrade costs 60€).

Read my review

Buy your Spyder4TV HD from...

  Price Seller
Buy from
£88.00 Buy from
CDN$220.06 Buy from

Buy your Spyder4TV HD Upgrade from...

  Price Seller
£50.21 Buy from


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