Calibration - what you see, is it what you recorded?

So you have a drone like the DJI Mavic Air or DJI Mavic Pro/2, which shoots 4K video and takes up to 20MB images, you use a PC or Mac to then edit and hit problems with the images you’ve decided to send to the printers come back looking different to what you had on your PC or Mac, now your going to wonder what did you do wrong for all of this to not work out how you wanted it to.

About me.

I’ve been a professional photographer of nearly 10 years and did a degree in professional photography and I’m looking to share my knowledge with those to over come some of the problems that you might be suffering with you images and video. To be clear this is how I work and understand the problems that we all face and have learnt how to overcome them once I was given the right information and got the right tools. Some might not agree and maybe this will start a conversation on others ways to overcome some of the issues.

What you see.

Monitors, tablets, phones, tv’s are an array of screens that we use everyday to view work we’ve captured with our beloved drone, camera and watch them back on different devices. But have you noticed how bright or dark the video or image looks on different devices? This is because in the manufacturing, the brightness and colour is set by them and can be different. 

If you have a 4K TV, you might of found in the settings that you can change how the image looks, they may read as standard, cinema, sport and even HDR. So you set the one of theses outputs to your liking that suits your eyes, but the rest of the family might have different ideas on what looks right!

Different colour formats.

There are industry standards, which is sRGB, and there is AdobeRGB, and CMYK (CMYK printing format)

A photography camera will offer you sRGB or RGB, while a video at 4K will offer you D-log DLG and D-Cinelike.

All of these industry standards have a different look and with some you are able to edit in more detail than with others.

So going back to your devices and the different level of looks in screen colour and light, in most cases your editing and final output will be done with a PC or MAC monitor, and this is the starting point.

We spend on average about £1,200 on equipment to capture images or 4K video in todays market as we want the best that we can afford and with similar outcomes. But when it comes to PC’s or Laptops, the starting price can be under £400 and upwards. With a Mac it slightly different in that Apple has always been designed and sold as for users that work in film or photography and so the price is more of a starting price of a thousand pound and upwards. But they all use a monitor and there is a way to get the industry standard of sRGB the way that everyone see’s it or if you prefer AdobeRGB, which many do.

What is the difference from sRGB and AdobeRGB.


The image above explains it pretty well. Both images contain only three colors, however, the colors shown in the AdobeRGB scale have more differential between them. This means photos taken in the AdobeRGB color space will have more vibrancy in their colours, whereas sRGB will traditionally have more subtle tones. In situations where you're photographing strong colour tones, sRGB may need to dull them out to accommodate, whereas AdobeRGB is able to display those colours with more accuracy. It’s all down to preference, but how do you get your monitor to be spot on with one of these formats?

Monitor Calibration.

Photographers and Videographers will invest in a piece of equipment that will calibrate there screen to match the right output that one would want so their work looks its very best, and if it goes to print, then you will get the image back the way you see it on your screen as the printers also calibrate their screens in the same way when working on your print.

One of the main calibration manufactures is DataColor, and the one I use. This bit of kit will cost between £90 - £180 and like all things you pay for what you get. The more expensive one will monitor your room throughout the day, as the light coming changes. If you have a room with no windows, and just your room light, this will be constant and a good place to work in.


The device sits on the screen as it runs the program, it measures the different colours and the brightness, then you can the adjust in the settings of the monitor to meet the right threshold and then safe that as your monitor profile. At the end of the program it will show you the difference from what you had to what you should have and you will find it does make a lot of difference. 

Into days world you can even use this device to calibrate TV monitors via connection to the TV from a laptop, so when you watch back your images or video, it will look as you edited it.


We all see light and colour differently and we edited in our own way, which through time changes as our style changes. We view others work and something strikes accord on what we see and look to edit in a similar style. Over the years, my style has changed maybe 20 times, but also as we work, we learn new skills in the software use and elaborate as we edit. Coming up with ones own style isn’t easy and you will find maybe its not to others taste, but as a guide, if its what you like and maybe someone will also likes it. If so, then go with it until you move forward in your work to something different. 

Today there are so many different softwares to choose from. Some are apps with presets that can be applied, this is whats known as baking and coming up with a recipe. There is nothing wrong with this, but it’s limiting.

Adobe for many years now has been known as the industry standard for editing in images and film, they are extremely powerful softwares, that allow you to work in layers to make changes to parts of images and save as a layer and then build upon that. Today’s Adobe Photoshop now works in a non-destructive way so the original never loses data. Lightroom came about just around the time I started photography and is a great software and has grown in popularity in way of cataloging images and being able to work in a non destructive way with just using sliders to edit your work.

These softwares were extremely expensive and into the hundreds for the Photoshop and even more for its video editing software. But they had a change of direction a few years ago in making all its software a monthly license by subscribing, this open the doors to people who couldn’t afford the initial outlay to affordable monthly payments with the guarantee of free updates. Some softwares when they do major updates charge a lot of money and can be off putting. 

As images and video becomes more extreme in the file size because of what the equipment is able to produce, the software needs to keep up. Right now 8K is the new super video format, twice what we are currently use, but the processing power means bigger faster computers to handle the amount of data it has to consume.

My original Sony A99 was a 20MB camera, now I have the Sony A99II which is 42MB RAW images, thats more pixels to be able to work with and also allows me to produce larger prints if I wished. In photoshop I can work in 16BIT mode or 8BIT but the final file size can be over 1.2GB large and if I want to save to JPEG and a small file size, I have to convert it 8BIT to be able to do that.

Once my images are complete, I can send them to my printers via there online service and they can be sent in AdobeRGB, which is what format I prefer to work in, or I can send them in the colour format of CYMK, but that means re-editing as the colour look will change on my screen unless I put Adobe into CYMK profile before I work on the image.

Video Editing.

I have to say at this point, it was only a couple of years ago I upgraded my PC, which was a custom build to a iMac, for me it was an investment, but I do a lot of photography and now video work. But its more about understanding of how the software works and this begins on how you setup your workspace to bring your raw video into the software.

There seems to be three makes of softwares that people are using for video editing, PremierPro, DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro X, which is what I use

The thing is to make it easy to work in editing you movie is using proxy mode. This takes your raw video and makes a copy and makes it easier to work with, then once you’ve edited, it adds all those effects and to the original that it outputs as 4K. You have to make sure you are setting up in the frame rate that shot your raw footage in, this can be 25, 30 or 60fps. Unless you’re looking to slow your footage down there is no reason why you cant work at 25fps as standard, if you want to speed the film up, it wont effect the outcome, but the more frames you working in, the bigger the file size it will be.

Uploading 4K video.

So you’ve worked on you video and 4K mode output so everyone can see your work in 4K, wrong!

So you’ve worked on you video and 4K mode output so everyone can see your work in 4K, wrong! Did you know that it you upload your 4K video to Facebook, the standard output is set at 720, but they did set up Live 360 to play back in 4K. YouTube output is set at 1080p, but if you watch the video on a 4K TV then you can watch it back in 4K mode. This is all very disappointing in that you’ve have gear producing 4K video, but very little in the way of social media can you show it in its full glory. But even with television stations, there is very little content that can be watch in 4K, which is mostly sport on Sky. 4K has been out a few years now and you would think that most content would be in 4K. Even if you have a 4K DVD player, there is very little content being produced in 4K format and will cost you around £25 for a 4K DVD, while a BlueRay film maybe only £15. Recently Samsung launched a 8K TV with only one film made in 8K mode, what is the point?

You could say we are being ripped off, but by who? Well its not the manufactures that make 4K cameras, it’s the sites and television companies that are letting us down as well as the providers of broadband as still lots of areas still don’t have fibre optic in their homes, like mine!

Really its a bit of a waiting game, so till then it still worth producing your 4K output video so you don’t have to go back and re-edit. Technology moves fast in some areas and less in others, why I don’t know. We have 4K, OLED, Retina, all selling us how wonderful and realistic the colours are, but without the social media and TV production companies catching up, we’re groomed into the idea of buying this gear with not a chance of getting out moneys worth. But as they say we can live in hope.

I hope this blog has been helpful to some, and if you have questions, then please ask and if I don’t know someone will.