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.

  • It seems to me that the most useful result of calibrating your monitor is to make the colors in your prints more predictably close to those seen on the monitor. I find that my printer’s output became more reliable after I began calibrating my monitor.

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  • Damen Stephens

    I also think that photo looks pretty awesome … but that has nothing to do with the colours, the sky or the sea … 🙂

  • Trey: The Colormunki is an essential tool for me. It helps me control the color of all the scans we do. Every slide, negative, or print we scan has a unique “color space” depending upon how it has been stored, what brand, what type of film etc was used to create the original. Even within one package of images from a customer I can have dozens of variations. The ColorMunki lets me sync up the scanners, the screens, and the printers so everything comes out looking its best. I’d be at a loss without it.
    Nice photo… one other thing that Ibiza is famous for is the Ibizan Hound…I have two of them. But I have to admit that they don’t look as good walking into the sunset…
    Keep up the great work.

  • That’s great to hear – I am glad you are getting so much out of the colormunki… I’m not using it to the full potential that you are! 🙂

  • The price on amazon is 419.00 now.

  • Damen Stephens

    I was going to get this ColorMunki, but after all of this talk of Ibiza and that GLORIOUS photo I have decided to go for the “Cheeky Munki” instead.

  • Anna Anderson


    Im a PA to a photographer and he wants me to re search the Color Munki …, he prints large prints for art shows etc and he prints them at home and he is wondering if it’s gonna be a waste of money buying a $500 color munki and he wants me to find out if i can rent one for a day and have a guy to come over and calibrate his screen to his printer? Do you have to keep the Color Munki attached to the computer at all times or is it a one time fix or should you calibrate your computer once a month or what do you recommend??



  • Chris Couse

    This photo didn’t help me at all. Now I have to calibrate my eyes,and refocus !

  • I use Colormunki on a MacPro desktop with OS V10.6.4
    I was getting good color from printer profiles however the prints were too dark. I discovered the luminance level of the monitors was too bright. Adjusting images with too bright monitor made the prints too dark. I recommend setting the “Profile My Display” dialog to luminance level 80 and the Target White Point at Native which is a little warmer than the default D6500. All recommendations suggest never select “Set the luminance level of my display based on my current ambient light conditions”.

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  • Jenny Smith

    Trey I am just seeing this as I just Googled Color Munki. I need one for my schooling and this cracked me up! You are so awesome! I love your theory! It is so scientific hehe!! Your photos are so freaking fantastic. I had not considered the part about others seeing my photos with “janky colors”(totally stealing that hehe)! Must get that fixed somehow. So I will be one of the 1% shortly who are seeing your photos right. I think. See now that has me thinking, will my monitor calibrate to the same as yours? I am assuming yes since it is supposed to calibrate everything to what the standards are. Anywho, can’t wait to see the difference. Once again, thanks for your review and your oh so scientific theory and your humor, I love it and your photos!

  • Chris

    Hi Trey: Just curious, which ColorMunki are you using. They have one for screen calibration (ColorMunki Display) and one for screen/paper cailbration (ColorMunki Photo). They are now milking the name, and have a ColorMunki Smile! which looks like a plebian ‘i1’. I’m ASSuming you are using the ‘ColorMunki Photo’ now close to $400 in the US, a hint that a new model is about to be released, to clear inventory.

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