12 Replies Latest reply on Jan 15, 2013 9:36 AM by Noel Carboni

    Ideal display brightness for prints?

    mjones1978 Level 1



      Can anyone tell me what the ideal birghtness setting for a calibrated display should be in order to correctly view an image as it should appear in print?


      Most of the books and internet sites ive looked at recommend 120cd/m2 but on my monitor the image at this setting is much brighter than the prints from my inkjet printer.


      I use  Eyeonematch with an eye1 device which gives a range of luminance targets, again 120 being recommended in the software, but i found a calibration and profile at 90cd/m2 is about right in terms of a match for prints.


      my question then is whether this is "correct" or am i setting the brightness too low? The image on screen is quite dim at 90cd/m2 and althought he image displays very well adn matches the print, id hate to think i was messing this up. Any thought would be very much apreciated.



        • 1. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
          Noel Carboni Level 8

          I'm not sure anyone can answer that very well without specifically being in your digital darkroom and looking through your eyes. 


          Sometimes you've just gotta make prints, hold them up to the monitor, and see how the two look.  Your goal is to set things up so that you can make the mental leap from what the image looks like on the screen to what it will look like in print, using the room lighting and conditions you'll most likely be using while editing.


          It is entirely possible to have a monitor turned up too bright.  I didn't write it down, but from memory mine are set to a little over 100 cd/m2, which is what I got at about center scale on the on-monitor brightness control. I tend to work in a darkened office, with only the light from a window coming in from the side (or at night I either work in the dark or with a single low wattage lamp turned on).


          Edit:  FYI, I typically check prints with a very nice, white LED flashlight I have (a Fenix LD10 Premium Q3), which emits a light that looks almost perfectly white in the noonday sun.



          • 2. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
            Level 7

            Don't use white LEDs -- they're not white (usually blue and yellow, with little green or red content).

            • 3. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
              Noel Carboni Level 8

              This happens to be a particularly good one.  I've been through a number of them.


              Here's a photo of a print illuminated mostly with my light (and some by light coming in the window) up against my monitor.





              • 4. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                mjones1978 Level 1

                Nice demo! actually your print looks lighter than your screen image ;-)


                i use an Epson printer with Epson paper and EPson canned profiles which work very well in terms of colour accuracy. I usually view my pics near a window on a cloudy day at around lunchtime. not very scientific but works for me.


                My images are only for "personal use" and are not published in anyway but i guess i just wanted reassurance that it was okay to have a display at 90cd/m2 and it wasnt a case of my printer producing rediculously dark prints.

                • 5. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                  Anthony.Ralph Level 2

                  I use a little Ott-Lite which I purchased from Colour Confience here in the UK. Nicely balanced light source, not too expensive and importantly a constant illuminant for viewing.


                  Check here... 




                  for a reveiw by Keith Cooper at Northlight Images.



                  • 6. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                    Noel Carboni Level 8

                    Getting the light set up to produce an exposure about equal to that of my monitor output was tricky, as I had to have some hands free to shoot the photo. 


                    I have a diffraction grating spectroscope, by the way Chris.  It shows a nice continuous spectrum, with plenty of red and green, though to be fair it doesn't *quite* go as far into the deep reds that full sunlight does.  I can't quite figure out how to get a photo of it, though, as you hold it up to your eye and look in it.



                    • 7. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                      mjones1978 Level 1

                      Thanks Anthony i shall check it out.

                      • 8. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                        Level 7

                        You probably need a good spectrophotometer - to show the spectrum without your visual system in the way :-).


                        I've been studying some of the LEDs and wide spectrum fluorescents, and following other people's research.

                        Only recently have some high end LEDs with a good spectrum become available to consumers, and they're still not too common.

                        Previously the best were only 2 or 3 phosphor (violet + RGB at best and that's rare, blue + yellow at worst but most common).


                        The widespectrum fluorescents have gotten better, and lower in price -- I can pick up full spectrum compact 100w equivelent bulbs at the hardware store for a few bucks.   They still have some violet and green spikes, but they're much much closer to daylight.  That beats the $100 ott bulbs from a few years ago.

                        • 9. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                          Noel Carboni Level 8

                          Hm, 'tis the season to buy toys, after all...  



                          • 10. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                            Level 7

                            I'll add a new topic to continue the light source discussion.

                            • 11. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                              Rexgom Level 1

                              This is what I was taught at a seminar about this exact problem (By NEC & X-Rite)

                              Profile Printer. Use a proper light box illuminated with 6500k lamps to view prints.

                              Profile monitor at 120cd/m2 Gamma 2.2 White Point D65.

                              View monitor. Go make a cup of tea. Come back and look the print in the light box. Decide what changes to make to the target values of luminance, gamma and white point of monitor to match your print.

                              Reprofile monitor, Stare at test image on monitor. Go and make a cuppa. Come back and look at print in light box. Decide on changes to target value etc. Keep going round this loop until happy. You do not immediately compare as they are different media and the brain interfers.

                              I would guess that if you also output to the web you need to keep your first monitor profile unless the differences are small. Also don't forget you can use softproof and tick the box for showing paper colour.

                              • 12. Re: Ideal display brightness for prints?
                                Noel Carboni Level 8

                                You make the good point that determining what's good for our eyes / brain in terms of seeing things on our displays and prints is not something easily gotten just right in one sitting.  Not only does ambient light change, but we change from moment to moment because we're made up of a bunch of sticky gooey stuff that doesn't hold its calibration (but works in a wide variety of conditions).