ColorMunki Review – Stuck in Customs

ColorMunki Review

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ColorMunki Review

What a crazy name eh?  Why would anyone want to put a “ColorMunki” on their screen?

I’ve started using it just recently, and I’m impressed.  I had another one (by another company), but this one is better… I only review stuff I actually use, by the way.  That keeps things simple.

Now, do you NEED a ColorMunki?  I won’t go so far as to say “yes”.  It’s really one of those “nice-to-haves”.  Moreover, it’s very hard to describe the benefits until you actually see them in action.

Essentially, if you don’t have one, then you don’t know what you are missing.  And maybe that’s not so bad!  For example, I remember a simpler life before tabbed browsing.  I didn’t know what I was missing!  Okay maybe that analogy is horrible because tabbed browsing is really awesome and now you can’t live without it.  Maybe it’s like Sea Salt.  I remember a simpler time, when there was only one kind of salt.  Morton.  It was in a nice blue cylinder and a little girl in a raincoat and umbrella was being covered in salt.  Ahh the good old days.  Now my cabinet is full of sea salt, and I am always aware, generally, of when I’m about to run out of sea salt… and it makes me a bit nervous.

Okay, let’s dispense with these stupid analogies, because you can’t say ColorMunki is like sea salt or tabbed browsing.

What the heck is ColorMunki?

It’s a hardware device that you attach to your screen that calibrates the color for you.

It works on Windows and Mac, and I got mine up and running — fully calibrated in less than 10 minutes.  I calibrated my Mac Pro monitors (I have two 30″ displays) and my Macbook Pro computer.  Now they all actually look the same!

And that’s the thing.  I didn’t realize HOW different they were until I used ColorMunki.  I had a really strange situation too because one of my 30″ monitors was a Samsung and the other was a Apple Cinemadisplay.  But now, ColorMunki made them the same!

Thanks to Brian Matiash who kept on asking me to try this thing, by the way…

What are you missing?

It’s so hard to say!  I am REALLY into colors.  Regular fans of the site know this.  I’m also extremely sensitive to colors, so you would think that color calibration would really be a HUGE issue for me, but it is not.

Here’s why.

Note this is a half-baked theory.  I bake the other half with my ability to rationalize almost anything.

I think that people’s brains auto-calibrate colors in a scene.  For example, if your red is a little bit off, your brain will compensate and give it a value compared to all the other colors.  The same thing happens with “white and black” — I did a little crowd-trick experiment with this during my talk at Google.  If you haven’t seen that bit, you’ll know what I mean.

So, after calibration, you can look at a before-and-after — and YES, you can see that it is good NOW and it was bad THEN.  But, you did not have any basis for comparison beforehand, and you brain was able to auto-adjust.  This is why, for example, if you are looking to get a date in a public place, you should go with a friend.  The friend doesn’t have to be ugly… just different.  People don’t know how to judge something until they have something very close by for comparison.


So, this is all a very long way of saying that:  Yes, ColorMunki is great and I’m glad I have it.  But, I’m not sure everyone else in the world needs it to make their lives complete.

If you do a lot of printing and home and you want to make sure everything is 100% accurate, then this is probably a very good idea. I don’t print at home, so this is not a concern for me.

There is one other very important consideration.  The people that are looking at my photos on their monitors are totally uncalibrated!  And that is over 99%!  That means that I went through all this trouble for people that will be seeing the results with janky colors.  But, again, this doesn’t bother me because I do indeed believe that people’s brains auto-calibrate the colors.

Sample Image

It’s so hard to show a sample image — but I can tell you for sure that this looks better to my eyes after calibration… and I thought it looked pretty good before calibration!  So, if you think it looks good on your uncalibrated screen, imagine how awesome it looks on mine!  hehe….

Maybe this is like trying to show what an HDTV looks like while watching a regular TV.  Yes, that seems like a pretty good analogy.