Black and White Printing Calibration

The information provided will help you get the very best quality from our black and white service. It is essential reading.

Of all the information provided the single most important factor is monitor brightness level.
If you only read one section please read this one!


Monitor Calibration

The Brightness and tonal calibration of your monitor is crucial to obtaining quality black and white prints. Virtually all screens especially LCD and Apple iMac monitors will display at much too high brightness levels for proofing photographic print work. Even if your display is calibrated you need to check the brightness level at which it has been calibrated.

e.g. We would recommend a display brightness in the region 90-120 candelas (cd/m2). 90 for a room with low level lighting up to 120 for brighter rooms or say near windows in daylight. By default, many monitors will display in the region of 250 cd/m2 so more than twice the required brightness. Colour temperature 6500k, Gamma 2.2

If you don't reduce the brightness to a level suitable for proofing print work then the resulting prints will have low contrast and will appear too dark. Not a good recipe for a black and white print!

B&W Monitor Calibration Print

We can supply a test print if you wish to check that your monitor matches the output from our printer and we only charge for postage if you need one. 

Calibration print

To order a calibration print please add to your basket from the "Digital Prints" menu. Prints are free, we only charge for postage. You will receive both glossy and pearl surfaces.

Harman Lab recommend using a profiled monitor for preparing and viewing your black and white images. With a profiled set-up, we still recommend using a test print to fine tune your workflow. It is vital that what you see on your screen will closely match our output.

Test prints can be ordered from the Digital Print section.

What if I don't have profiling equipment?
Since we are only considering black and white files, it is still possible to achieve an excellent result even without expensive profiling equipment. Black and white is all about tonal range and contrast. By dialling in your monitor to match our test print and following some basic guidelines you will get great looking prints; 

- Turn down the brightness and contrast levels (particularly on LCD monitors) Try 50% as a starting point. (this won't be so pleasing to the eye)
- Prepare your images on screen in a room with subtle lighting rather than bright light.
- Use a test print to assess on screen tonal range, contrast and black density.

Image Preparation

By default, we don't correct images in any way so it is important your images are optimised ready for printing. Modern LCD monitors are very high contrast and often make shadow areas appear blacker than they actually are. It is important to check your files feature a full range of tones and that blacks really are 100% Black, despite how they appear on the screen. If your blacks are only 90% black then your prints might look flat. 

Depending on the subject matter prints will also benefit from a degree of sharpening, particularly smaller format prints.

File Types

Please save your images for uploading as 8bit Jpeg files. Use high quality compression to avoid image artifacts.

Our uploader allows you to crop the image after uploading.

If you prefer to use tiffs you might prefer to upload the files to us using our WeTransfer service. Please create the order as normal and complete the checkout, then upload the files using the order reference.

Our WeTransfer service can be found here

For black and white files our preferred file format is GREYSCALE JPEG. However, we can also accept RGB. Photoshop will normally default to the Grey Gamma 2.2 colour space when working in Greyscale, which is fine for our service.



You can upload files from any location on your PC, Mac, iPad, Network etc.

Please see our upload tutorial, click here


Printing B&W from Colour Files

If you send us colour files for printing in Black and White we will apply our own automatic conversion. This will achieve a good result in most cases. If you wish to have more control over the results, then you may wish to convert your files to black and white beforehand so as to guarantee how they will appear.

Special Instructions

If you have any special instructions, drop us an email with your order ref.