Colour calibration

We explain how to improve the colour balance on an older CRT display.

QUESTION I have just bought a very old but serviceable monitor. It's a 14in display and works fine except for the colour balance. When I connect it to my PC via the VGA port, whatever appears on the screen has a marked greenish-yellow tinge which is quite different from what is showing on my primary monitor. How can I improve the colour balance?

HELPROOM ANSWER It's possible that you have a defective VGA cable, but this problem is much more likely to be down to the monitor's age. As monitors get old, their colour reproduction can shift quite considerably. Over time 'white' images will gradually become more yellow as you have described.

You may be able to tweak the colours closer to how you would like by entering the monitor's control menus and looking for the colour adjustment section. Here, look for a colour mode called "user" or "custom". You should find individual adjustments for the red, green and blue colour channels. Try boosting the blue component a little or, if it's already at maximum, you can try reducing both red and green.

If you have, or can borrow, a hardware monitor calibrator you can use it calibrate your old monitor and bring it as close as possible to the correct colours. However, the colour reproduction will never be as good as a new monitor as there are now certain blue-ish colours the monitor is now unable to display, regardless of any tweaking. If you're just using it for a bit of word processing, then this may not matter to you, but you'd be better off buying a new monitor if any level of colour accuracy is important to you.

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