Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: Why do all of the images from my camera look dark? Everything looks good on the camera's LCD screen but, after I transfer them and look at them on the computer screen, they look very dark (or light).A: In order to accurately view images from a digital camera or scanner on a computer monitor, the monitor must be adjusted to properly display the full range of tones in the digital photos. Getting accurate color and tone through the entire process (shooting/scanning, image browsing and editing and finally printing) can be a very complicated process called Color Management.
In order to implement a fully working Color Management system, special hardware (called a spectrophotometer or colorimeter) and software is needed to physically read the color values from the monitor or printer and then create special files called profiles which "teach" the computer how to convert from one color space to another.
A fully Color Management workflow is beyond the scope of this article, which will discuss basic visual monitor adjustment to ensure proper tones. Many times the monitors on home computers are not set properly and images always appear too dark or light even though they look good on the camera's preview monitor. If this is the case, the following instructions need to be used to adjust the monitor brightness and contrast to properly display images.
Adjusting the Monitor Color Depth
Before proceeding, verify that your computer is set to display the maximum number of colors. If the computer is not displaying the full range of colors and tones, it is impossible to properly display digital images.
Windows (all versions)
Note: Names may be slightly different depending on exact operating system (OS) version.
Adjusting the Brightness/Contrast
If your monitor has been calibrated previously or you use a hardware device to adjust your monitor, do NOT follow these steps.
Next we need to adjust the physical brightness or contrast controls of the monitor. How to do this changes greatly depending on what hardware you have. Some computers (mainly laptops) have buttons on the keyboard to increase or decrease the settings. Some monitors have dials or switches on them. Consult the manual for your computer or monitor on how to make these adjustments.
The image above consists of 17 different blocks of grey. Step "1" is pure white (255 RGB) and step 17 (and the surrounding area) is pure black (0 RGB). Adjust the monitor brightness and contrast (and, if available, the monitors R, G and B color controls) until you can see as many steps as possible and the grey steps are a neutral grey color. With the proper settings you should be able to see a clear definition between each step. After making these adjustments well-exposed digital images will look good on the screen.
If the brightness and contrast settings are turned all of the way up and you still can not see the differences between the steps, then the monitor tube may have reached the end of it's life and will not be able to properly display images. Monitor tubes generally only last for several years of normal use and after that they begin to lose brightness.