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best monitors to edit images on that wont break the bank

Mar 15, 2013 11:40 AM

My wife is an aspiring fine arts photographer/editor- currently working of a 2008 macbook, which I know is not the best thing to be editing photos on. I have read some of the forums which talk about wide gamut and sRGD gamut but, frankly, they exceed my technical knowledge. I would like to get her a monitor that she can hook to her macbook that wont break the bank but gives her a higher quality image to work on- one more similar to what professionals will review her images on once they are submitted. I recently got her a wacom 4 tablet and she is using PS6 and LR4 as her main editing suites, if that matters. Her intentions are to submit these images as potential book covers- which means they will eventually be printed. Any suggestions?

 
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,471 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Mar 15, 2013 12:30 PM   in reply to bradley.whit6

    Look for a monitor that does not change its response characteristics when you move your head to be at different angles relative to the monitor (in other words it shouldn't get lighter or darker as you move your head up and down).  That would generally be an IPS type display.

     

    With monitors I've noticed that generally speaking you get what you pay for.  Try not to skimp too too much. 

     

    This is a good site for reading reviews: 

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/

     

    I'm personally most fond of Dell monitors (e.g., their Ultrasharp line), though I admit to being a little unsure how PC monitors work with Mac systems (I'm a PC person).  I think the days have passed where there are Mac-only and PC-only monitors, but please don't take my word for it.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 15, 2013 4:01 PM   in reply to bradley.whit6

    You will want to get a monitor that is significantly bigger than the MacBook's screen size. A 24" display would be a nice size bump-up. Since the end use is for "printed" book covers, that would be CMYK offset output. The color gamut of CMYK 4-color printing can be accurately "soft-proofed on a standard sRGB gamut display inside Photoshop or Lightroom 4. A wide gamut monitor is only beneficial when processing images for 6-color or higher printer output, but even then a standard sRGB display will work well.

     

    One of the most important tools required for accurate display color and luminance rendering is a hardware monitor calibrator. If your wife is currently using one that's great. If not then you first order of priority should be to purchase one and calibrate the MacBook's display. When using an external display the hardware calibrator will be needed for it as well, otherwise it's pretty much a waste of time.

     

    You should be able to find numerous standard gamut displays that will work well with the 2008 MacBook's DVI display connector. Highest supported native resolution is 1920x1200 for the MacBook and 2560x1600 for the MacBook Pro.

     

    Here are some links that may be helpful:

     

    http://forums.adobe.com/message/4718834#4718834

     

    http://www.lightandmatter.org/2011/equipment-reviews/best-monitors-for -photo-editing-is-it-really-that-important/

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2013 12:06 PM   in reply to bradley.whit6

    For a good photo editing monitor that won't break the bank,  try the Dell U2412m.  I am not a fan of Dell but purchased this monitor a while back when I was on a tight budget after reading some good reviews.  I ultimately upgraded to a much more expensive monitor but went right back to the Dell.  I use it with my Mac and it works great.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 16, 2013 3:50 PM   in reply to WilliamE1973

    Dells MUST be calibrated because their delta E is way off out of the box. Why limit yourself to sRGB when wide gamut will take over within your lifetime?

     
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    Mar 16, 2013 5:02 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    Dells MUST be calibrated because their delta E is way off out of the box.

     

    The OP has already been advised to purchase and use a hardware monitor calibrator, on the MacBook's display and any external display(s). Most all monitors exhibit high delta E "out-of-the-box.". Wide gamut monitors aren't any better, except for those with "factory calibrated' modes (Adobe RGB, sRGB).

     

    The problem with "factory calibration" is that in a few days or weeks of use the calibration will drift and increase the delta E. In addition all factory calibrated monitors are set to Luminance levels that are way too high for photo editing use (>150 cd/m2+). The only way around this is to purchase and use a hardware monitor calibrator on a scheduled basis, so there's very little benefit buying a monitor that's "spot-on" right out-of-the-box.

     

    That said do you have specific monitors you can recommend to the OP?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 12:35 AM   in reply to trshaner

    The Dell U2413 looks pretty good and it's under 600 bucks.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 4:37 AM   in reply to Lundberg02

    The Dell U2413 has some nice improvements over the U2410, making it a good wide gamut monitor choice:

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2413.htm

     

    The U2412M also has very good performance, making it a good sRGB monitor choice:

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2412m.htm

     

    Both of these displays use LED backlighting, which should provide better long term calibration stability compared to CCFL.

     

    For the monitor calibrator the Datacolor Spyder4Elite seems to have the least issues on Mac OS X platforms, and it also works with wide gamut displays. Here's a good review and comparison to the closest competitor the X-Rite i1 Display Pro:

     

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3NFBNRSL1VT39/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3NFB NRSL1VT39

     

    For best calibration results use the 'Advanced' mode with 6500K, 2.2 Gamma, and 120 cd/m2 settings.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Dec 23, 2006
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    Mar 17, 2013 8:55 AM   in reply to trshaner

    What intrigues me about some of the newest designs is the ability to calibrate the display at different positions on the screen.

     

    This could yield an absolutely flat, well-calibrated result all across the screen, corners and center alike.

     

    What Lundberg and others may not realize is that for years, because of uneven lighting, the delta-E from one position to another on the display differs far more than the difference of any one point from ideal.  These new designs promise to correct that.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 9:10 AM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Reading the two reviews I posted it appears both the U2413 and U2412M incorporate 'Uniformity Correction' circuitry. Unfortunately it can only be enabled in the factory preset modes, which is not what you want when doing your own hardware calibration. Is this what you are referring to, or something else?

     

    See the end 'Conclusion section at these links:

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2413.htm

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2412m.htm

     

    Quote:

     

    "One area which disappointed us again was the uniformity correction. We had seen from our U2713H tests that it didn't seem to work at all, but had been more impressed with its implementation on the U2913WM since. With the U2413 the function did work, but it was practically unusable since it wasn't available in any of the main modes you'd want to use it, and even when you did find one where you could, it would lock the brightness at a setting which was too high and uncomfortable for any prolonged use. Along with support for more hardware colorimeter tools for LUT calibration, this is an area we'd like to see Dell address if they can."

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 12:23 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Is there a reason you can't calibrtae starting in a factory preset aRGB mode? I don't think so. That's exactly where you should start, with the brightness set at a comfortable level.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Mar 17, 2013 12:53 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Yes, that's what I'm referring to.  I imagine that there will be a few designs where they don't get it quite right, then the even newer designs will correct the early problems.  I have high hopes for the U3013 in development.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 12:54 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    With a wide gamut monitor unless you're running a full 10-bit display signal path this isn't advisable, and if you're using Lightroom it only supports 8-bit color. You already run the risk of banding due to spreading the wider Adobe RGB gamut over an 8-bit signal and double-profiling will make it worse.

     

    In the case of the Dell U2413 it has an internal 14-bit LUT, which can only be programmed using the custom calibration mode and software provided by Dell. Academically using the Dell factory calibrated Adobe RGB internal LUT mode AND external calibration of the graphic card's LUT just doesn't make sense, does it? Read the 'Hardware Calibration' section here for more details:

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2412m.htm

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 1:10 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Sorry Noel, it looks like we just had two cross-postings (double-cross?). I agree 100% that the monitor manufacturers should include an internal LUT in all wide gamut displays (and maybe sRGB) that allows custom programming AND use of features such as 'Uniformity Correction.' (Ref. quoted text from TFT Central site above).

     

    Once OLED technology has matured all of this should become academic. Displays can then be designed to use an internal GPU and programmable LUT to automatically control the luminosity uniformity and color accuracy at the pixel level. Am I a dreamer or what!

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Mar 17, 2013 1:23 PM   in reply to trshaner

    I dream of the same things. 

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 17, 2013 11:23 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    trshaner: what relevance does your link to the  U2412M have to the discussion of the U2413? And why not adjust the monitor's LUT and the card LUT?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2013 6:47 AM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    trshaner: what relevance does your link to the  U2412M have to the discussion of the U2413?

    Here's what the OP said in his last response:

     

    "Also appreciate you drawing the distinction between the sRGB and wide gamut displays- while I still don't know the technical differences between the two I can eliminate the wide gamut display for now."

     

    The U2412M is an sRGB gamut monitor, so it would be of interest to the OP.

     

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    And why not adjust the monitor's LUT and the card LUT?

    Here's what I said:

     

    "With a wide gamut monitor unless you're running a full 10-bit display signal path this isn't advisable, and if you're using Lightroom it only supports 8-bit color. You already run the risk of banding due to spreading the wider Adobe RGB gamut over an 8-bit signal and double-profiling will make it worse."

     

    The primary purpose of using a monitor internal is to minimize the possibility of banding, since the monitor profile is created using higher bit depth (i.e. 14 bits for U2413) than the display signal (i.e. 8bit/color, or 10/bit/color). I never said you couldn't do it, only that it's not advisable unless you have a full 10 bit/color display data path. In the case of Mac OS X platforms you are limited to 8 bit/color. Only Windows platforms support 10 bit/color.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Dec 23, 2006
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    Mar 18, 2013 7:01 AM   in reply to trshaner

    Yes, absolutely.  +1, trshaner!

     

    It's about maximizing the quality of the displayed image.

     

    If you can put a clean gradient on the screen and see all 256 shades (ideally 1024 if you have the technology), displayed with proper gamma and a good brightness for editing, as well as having colors that are accurate, then you've got your system working as well as it can.

     

    Most folks probably don't notice two-level jumps in gradients, but once you're sensitive to it, loss of precision somewhere in the signal path will bother you. 

     

    My two (older) Dell Ultrasharp monitors right now give me a good, clean 8 bit sRGB color, and I believe I'm ready to feed the U3013 10 bit color when it comes out (empty mini DisplayPort socket at the ready).  That's going to be a really cool setup.  Not cheap, though...

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2013 9:05 AM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    I assume when you say "empty mini DisplayPort socket at the ready" you are on a Mac OS X platform. Unfortunately Mountain Lion OS X v10.8 only supports 8 bit/color. Apple does a good job of not mentioning this in any of its literature, including technical documents.

     

    http://www.laszlopusztai.net/2012/08/11/30-bit-color-depth-on-the-mac/

     

    If you are on Mac OS X and know how to get 30 bit/color in PS please let us know. I'm not trying to bash Apple, just stating the current capability (i.e. 8 bit/color only).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2013 10:49 AM   in reply to trshaner

    Acording to Diglloyd as of 02/01/2013 this is still the case – OS X only supports 8 bit/color:

     

    http://macperformanceguide.com/AppleCoreRot-10-bit-color.html

     

    This is all the more reason for Mac users to only purchase "wide-gamut" monitors that use a programmable internal LUT with high bit-depth (14-16 bits) for creating and applying the monitor profile. Do not double-profile and only use manufacturer approved software and hardware puck to calibrate the internal LUT on monitors like the Dell U2413.

     

    Using a "plain vanilla" sRGB monitor like the Dell U2412M avoids all of these issues, but then what fun is that!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2013 1:54 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Maybe I learned something material here. Photoshop supports 10 bit but only Win can use it now? Could OS 10.9 support it if Apple chose to do so?

    In regard to factory cal, why does Dell do it with high brightness and commercial cal soft/hardware does it with comfortable brightness? Is the factory trying for gamut or Delta E? I'm betting on gamut.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Mar 18, 2013 2:38 PM   in reply to trshaner

    No, I have a Windows system.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2013 4:23 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    Photoshop supports 10 bit but only Win can use it now? Could OS 10.9 support it if Apple chose to do so?

    That is correct. Apple only needs to provide updated drivers that support Open GL 10 bit/color. Some have suggested that Apple hasn't done this because there are no Apple monitors that support 10 bit/color, at least not yet. Some have also suggested that Apple has neglected the pro graphics market to focus more heavily on the larger consumer and mobile devices market.

     

    Regardless Apple's marketing decisions you will still get good imaging with 8 bit/color on wide gamut monitors that have a properly calibrated internal LUT with high bit-depth (14-16 bit/color). The primary issue is visible banding in smooth gradient areas, which is eliminated or reduced when using a 14-16 bit/color LUT in the monitor with no other external profiling.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 18, 2013 11:50 PM   in reply to trshaner

    That is helpful, and I think the latter conclusion is correct. Apple doesn't care about desktop users any more. The prime example is the new scroll bar, which is an ergonomic tragedy.

    Googling around a bit I found that the reason factory cal is done at high brightness with LCDs is as I expected, to preserve wide gamut as advertised. This raises the concern that if you rduce the brightness from 140-200 cd/m2to maybe 80, how much gamut is lost? If aRGB is 100% of NTSC at 140 cd and sRGB is 75%  of NTSC, what is the gamut  of a wide gamut LCD at 70 cd (half of the cal). This is a bit too dim, but some folks use 80 with what they think is a good result.   If the gamut decreases even  somewhat less than linearly you're not getting what you pay for. Hm. Do you ever?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 19, 2013 6:08 AM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    Googling around a bit I found that the reason factory cal is done at high brightness with LCDs is as I expected, to preserve wide gamut as advertised.

    I suspect this is more a "marketing" decision rather than a calibration issue. One of the biggest selling points for monitors and TVs has always been to make the screen appear "brighter" and more "colorful," even if it isn't accurate. This in fact is what "gamers" want in a display more so than low delta-E and display marketeers want to capture the broadest market possible.

     

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    This raises the concern that if you rduce the brightness from 140-200 cd/m2to maybe 80, how much gamut is lost? If aRGB is 100% of NTSC at 140 cd and sRGB is 75%  of NTSC, what is the gamut  of a wide gamut LCD at 70 cd (half of the cal). This is a bit too dim, but some folks use 80 with what they think is a good result.

     

    TFT Central does all of their hardware calibration tests at 120cd/m2 with very high color accuracy and gamut performance. Because of the marketing issue mentioned above panel manufacturers use backlight technology designed for the highest possible Luminance(>300 cd/m2). The downside is that this makes it difficult to adjust some displays below 120cd/m2 without causing visible flicker and reduced image clarity. If interested this article explains the issue in more detail:

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/pulse_width_modulation.htm

     

    This is also discussed in the Dell U2413 review at TFT Central along with the consequences of using a lower luminance level (i.e. 80-100 cd/m2).

     

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2413.htm

     

    TFT Central was able to lower the U2413 luminance to 114cd/m2 (20% Brightness setting) without any flicker issues. Screen flicker is highly "subjective" and some people seem to be bothered by it more than others, including myself. Fortunately you can use higher luminance with photo editing applications by adjusting the ambient room lighting and print lighting. Here's a good article on the subject:

     

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/why_are_my_prints_too_dark .shtml

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 19, 2013 4:20 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Since the "brightness" control is actually a duty cycle control, it appears that gamut wil not be affected, barring some peculiar human eye response thing.

    It is unfortunate that the hardware cal of the 14 bit LUT can only use one particular i1 colorimeter, but I really don't see any real advantage to doing it anyway, from their results. I'd rather have a spectrophotometer and be able to cal the printer as well. The software cal used an i1 device with Lacie software which is about twice as expensive to do, so I don't see the economics of their solution as applying to the average user,

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 19, 2013 4:45 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    It all comes down to marketing decisions, which in this case were between Dell and X-Rite. In return Dell probably got a better deal from X-Rite on the software development. NEC Spectraview is a similar situation also with X-Rite calibrator exclusivity.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 20, 2013 10:50 AM   in reply to trshaner

    It looks like the newer NEC Spectraview II software does allow using Datacolor calibrators including Spyder 3 & 4 models:

     

    http://www.necdisplay.com/support-and-services/spectra-view-II/Compati bility#system_requirements

     

    The software can be purchased separately for about $100 and then you can use any calibrator on the list above.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 30, 2013 8:36 PM   in reply to bradley.whit6

    How about ASUS PB278Q, my brother using this one, it's great.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 30, 2013 8:39 PM   in reply to Frankuu

    See this site, http://thedigitalcamera.net/best-monitor-for-photo-editing-and-photogr aphy/ it's a good guide to buy a photograph monitor.

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
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    Oct 30, 2013 9:04 PM   in reply to Frankuu

    Just to prove that I can ignor the bit about not breaking the bank as well as anyone, Tom's Hardware has just reviewd a bizarre 21:9 format display, but says it is expensive

     

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nec-ea294wmi-monitor-review,3633.h tml

    http://media.bestofmicro.com/9/W/403412/original/front.jpg

    How would you use a display like this?  I guess it would be like have two monitors in one display, so lots of room to have all your panels open.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Oct 31, 2013 6:26 PM   in reply to Trevor Dennis

    I tried fitting a desktop capture on that display and my 3200 x 1200 Photoshop layout wouldn't fit - it's still wider across two 20" 4:3 monitors than that NEC could hold.  My layout is 8 x 3, or 24:9.

     

    DesktopWontFit.jpg

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
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    Oct 31, 2013 7:08 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Noel, I am always facinated by how people arrange their Workspaces.  I see you go for a very clean main monitor with even your toolbar on the second monitor. It's interesting how workspaces evolve as we find our balance of the features we use most often changes.  I like a nice big brush panel so you can quickly and easily change the brush shape.  I also love the freebee panels and put them as fly-outs on the right of my main screen along with not so often used panels like Actions, Character paragraph etc.  That makes then super easy to access without using up screen space.

     

    Workspace.jpg

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Oct 31, 2013 7:45 PM   in reply to Trevor Dennis

    We set up what we need.  Yours looks like an efficient layout as well.  I don't do enough painting to keep the brushes visible all the time.  However, I really like having room for the Navigator panel.  It's handy to see at a glance where you are, and you can use it to pan as well.  In the above downsized screengrab it looks like I have some wasted space in the middle, but that's because the 3D panel and Actions panel share the same spot (haven't found a need for both to be visible simultaneously yet).

     

    Even with two full monitors taken up, there are still panels I don't keep visible that I do use occasionally.  I'll have to get a third monitor sooner or later!

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 7, 2013 11:52 AM   in reply to bradley.whit6

    Hi Bradley,

     

    Going back to your original question at the top, I encourage you to focus on your end goal - getting real paying work done. Don't waste time fooling around with hand-wringing and researching and discussing. Just get the right tool for the job and spend your time using it and getting work out the door (instead of discussing it).

     

    Use a reliable cost-effective tool to create your images that will allow you to see what you are doing and what your customers are seeing. Also, if this work is going to print, your customers will most likely be working in the Adobe RGB colorspace, so that is what you want to work in and see.

     

    Get this and be done with it: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/desktop-monitors/pa302w-bk-sv

    (or a smaller version of the same thing http://www.necdisplay.com/p/desktop-monitors/pa242w-bk-sv).

    bhphotovideo.com is an excellent source.     NEC PA242W-BK-SV

    You want a NEC monitor that ends in "2-w-bk-sv".

    It is HIGHLY cost-effective. Maybe THE most cost-effective monitor out there for doing and getting paid for real work.

    GB-R LED backlight provides 99.3% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space. Also these monitors provide built-in hardware calibration which saves time and money and aggravation beyond belief.

     

    Perfect? No.

    Excellent and cost-effective? Yes.

     

    You obviously love your wife and want to help her succeed. This will be a good and cost-effective step in that direction.

    Onward!

     

    Dave

     
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