How to Calibrate and Change Gamma Color Settings in Windows 10 Display Panel

Properly calibrating your display and adjusting the gamma color settings in Windows 10 can make a big difference in image quality. An uncalibrated display may show inaccurate colors, low contrast, and improper brightness. Fortunately, Windows 10 includes built-in tools to help calibrate your display and customize the gamma settings.

Why Calibrate Your Display

There are a few key reasons why display calibration is important:

  • Accurate Colors: An uncalibrated display may show inaccurate colors compared to the original image or video. Proper calibration helps ensure colors are displayed as accurately as possible. This is especially important for photo/video editing.
  • Improved Contrast: Contrast refers to the difference between the darkest and lightest parts of an image. Calibration maximizes this difference so you can see details in shadows and highlights.
  • Balanced Brightness: The ideal brightness depends on your ambient lighting. Calibration helps balance brightness for optimal image quality without straining your eyes.
  • Sharper Details: With improved color accuracy, contrast, and brightness from calibration, small details become more visible in images and videos.

Understanding Gamma

Gamma refers to the relationship between the brightness of your display and the digital values of an image. The standard gamma value is 2.2. If your display’s gamma value deviates too far from 2.2, it can result in loss of detail in shadows or highlights.

Lower gamma values brighten shadows but lead to washed out highlights. Higher gamma values improve shadow details but make highlights appear too dark.

Calibrating gamma properly helps maintain detail throughout the tonal range.

Step-by-Step Display Calibration

Follow these steps to calibrate your display in Windows 10:

1. Open Display Calibration Tool

  • Right click your desktop and select “Display Settings”
  • Scroll down and click “Advanced display settings”
  • Click “Display adapter properties”
  • Go to the “Color Management” tab
  • Click “Color Management…”
  • Switch to the “Advanced” tab
  • Click “Calibrate display”

2. Reset to Default (Optional)

If your display allows it, choose to reset to factory defaults. This will undo any previous custom calibration.

3. Adjust Gamma

  • Follow the on-screen instructions
  • Adjust the gamma slider while viewing the sample images
  • The small dots should disappear into the surrounding color
  • This sets the gamma to the standard 2.2 value

4. Adjust Brightness

  • Use the slider to adjust brightness based on your ambient lighting
  • Avoid setting brightness higher than necessary

5. Adjust Contrast

  • Adjust contrast so you can see details in shadows and highlights
  • Make sure it’s not so high that it clips details

6. Adjust Color Balance

  • Use the sliders to balance the red, green, and blue channels
  • Make small adjustments at a time

When finished, click “Next” and then “Finish” to save your calibrated settings.

Customizing Gamma Settings

In addition to calibration, you can further tweak your display’s gamma settings for specific needs:

Lower gamma (1.8): Improves detail in shadows which is good for gaming and multimedia

Higher gamma (2.4): Improves detail in highlights which is better for office work and web browsing

To customize gamma after running initial calibration:

  • Re-open the calibration tool as shown above
  • On the gamma adjustment screen, manually move the gamma slider
  • Test different values like 1.8 or 2.4 to find your preference

Lower values brighten shadows while higher values improve highlight details. Find the best balance for your needs.

Using Third-Party Calibration Tools

While Windows 10 provides the necessary tools for basic calibration, third-party calibration software can take it a step further for professional color accuracy.

Some popular display calibration tools include:

  • Datacolor SpyderX
  • X-Rite i1Display Pro
  • NEC Display Solutions Palette Master Element

These tools use external colorimeters to accurately measure colors shown on your display. This data helps generate an ICC profile to get your display as color accurate as possible.

The process is more precise but also more complex than Windows display calibration. It’s best suited for photography, print, video, and graphics work requiring professional color management.

For most users, the built-in Windows calibration tools are sufficient. But third-party calibration is worth the investment if color accuracy is critical in your workflow.

Tips for Better Calibration

Follow these tips to get the most out of display calibration:

  • Let your display warm up for at least 10-15 minutes before starting calibration
  • Work in a moderately lit room and reduce light sources that may reflect off your display
  • Look straight at your display during calibration; viewing it off-angle can throw off results
  • Stick to native resolution if possible for sharpest image quality
  • Reset calibration if you notice color accuracy decline over time
  • If using a laptop, calibrate while plugged in to avoid brightness changes between battery/AC power

Properly calibrating your display helps ensure you see colors, contrast, brightness, and details as accurately as possible. Take advantage of the built-in Windows 10 calibration tools to improve image quality, tailor gamma to your needs, and get the best viewing experience. Supplement with third-party calibration if greater color accuracy is required.