Why calibrate your computer's video system for optimal viewing?

For many years, video cards manufactured by 3DFX corporation (Voodoo, etc.) where what other manufacturers benchmarked themselves against. They where considered high performance video cards. Video cards using the 3DFX chipset shipped with a default gamma correction of 1.3. 

I don't need to enter a complicated discussion of what gamma correction is (click here if you do), the important point is that the factory default was set at 1.3. Most game companies and graphics software companies therefore assumed a 1.3 gamma correction factor in the design of their Microsoft Windows based software.

Video cards produced by most competing companies (N-Vidia, etc.) shipped with a default gamma correction factor of 1.0. If you've ever bought a computer game or looked at a picture and wondered why a night time scene appeared almost pitch black and all the detail deemed to be lacking on your computer, yet looked fine on a friends - this is most likely why. 

There is nothing wrong with these other video cards. In fact, many can now easily outperform the 3DFX  based video cards! Allot of people have thrown away perfectly good video cards when all they really needed to do was change the gamma setting. Yes, it really can be that simple!

Because of the huge variety of video cards on the market, it is impossible to give detailed instructions on adjusting the gamma correction factor. You must refer to the manual that came with your computer for exact step by step instructions. Further complicating matters, some of the cheaper video cards do not allow you to adjust the gamma setting (or anything else).

Once you understand how to adjust your gamma correction, following the three steps given below will greatly enhance your viewing pleasure - For graphics and gaming.

The Three Step Program to Better Video in Microsoft Windows:
1) Set the "gamma correction" on your video card to 1.3 (See Note 1)
2) Adjust the "contrast" on your monitor to maximum
3) Adjust the "brightness" on your monitor so that the color black is not washed out (grayish in appearance)
-----> Now go back and load up some games or graphics and prepared to be amazed at the difference. You are now viewing them as the designers had intended!
Note 1: Here is a helpful hint - Most Macintosh computers use yet a different gamma setting (It's even calculated differently!) which equates to roughly a 1.5 setting in Microsoft Windows! If you are in a home or office where you use different types of computer systems, consider setting the gamma on all of them to an "equivalent" value! 


For those of you who want the history (dating to the days of early television) and theory behind gamma correction, I am including the following links:

Why do images appear darker on some displays?

Gamma correction explained (This article is very technical!)

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