Digital XRay Monitor Calibration

Have you ever wondered if you could get more out of your digital xrays? While there are many factors that come into play, one of the simplest improvements you can make is your monitor calibration. Why not take 5 minutes to see if your monitors are up to the task. Chances are they can be improved with this quick tutorial.

A simple monitor calibration where you adjust brightness and contrast may allow you to see more shades of grey than you are currently seeing. Monitor calibration can be very technical, using expensive tools and software. This might be ideal if you want to ensure that your monitors are showing the colours of your digital photos consistently and as true-to-life as possible. However, to get the most out of digital xray your monitors need to be only calibrated for grayscale, and this can be as simple as using some test patterns.

Below is a grayscale staircase or stepwedge. It consists of 17 shades. On the left is pure black and on the right is pure white. In between are 15 shades of gray. Try carefully adjusting your monitor's contrast and brightness so that you can distinguish the different gray levels as much as possible. You should minimize the amount of external light on your monitor. A completely dark room is optimal but not practical since this is not the environment you work in.

My monitor is less than 2 years old and considered to be high quality. When I ran the simple calibration test I found that the darker shades of gray showed with nice contrast but the lighter shades seemed to blend in with little contrast. My monitor was certainly capable of showing these, and I did a simple adjustment to my contrast and brightness. This shows that factory settings are often good but benefit from tweaking. Who knows what you might be missing by not having a properly calibrated monitor?

Here are some guidelines for adjusting the brightness and contrast.

  1. Look at the monitor straight on. If you look at the above stepwedge from an angle you will lose a few of the steps, particularly on the white side.
  2. Turn your monitor's contrast to Max.
  3. Adjust your monitor's brightness until the black end of the stepwedge shows a reasonable distinction between the totally black step and the next step. You should be able to distinguish between all the lower level steps equally. While doing this, make sure the 1st step is completely black.
  4. Adjust your monitor's contrast setting again so that there is a consistent distincition between all the steps and the black step on the left is as black as possible and the white step on the right is as white as possible.
  5. Repeat on each monitor that you view xrays from.

In some cases, you may have an old monitor that is not performing and needs replacement. These tests may show this to be the case. But its better to know than to underperform and not know why.

If you are unsure how to adjust your monitor's settings, try consulting the manual (which you have certainly lost, but you may be able to find online). Beyond that, you might want to contact your hardware vendor.

Readers also found the following pages useful: - ChairSide Imaging - Going digital. What you need to know