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  1. #1
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    Thank You: The Final Decision

    I wanted to thank those of you who patiently answered my questions regarding the selection of an external monitor exclusively for photo image editing.

    After pouring over numerous reviews & sorting through the myriad of forum threads, I have narrowed the field to 2 contenders: the NEC EA231WMi & the Dell U2410. Neither of these monitors are perfect & both have their strengths & weaknesses.

    And regardless of my final selection, I will get an Eye-One Display 2 colorimeter.

    As a final call for input, if anyone has any strong opinions regarding either of the above monitors, please let me know.

    Again, thank you for your thoughts & suggestions.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    If you plan on doing a lot of HDR images, go with the Dell, but mind your color management well. If HDR is not your thing, go with the NEC.

    The NEC can only reproduce 96% of the Adobe RGB color space. The good news is that the problem colors seem to lie in the dark blue (almost black) range. That's not a particular problem with normal digital images, as they have considerably less digital information in the shadows- Unless you're doing HDR.

    The Dell can reproduce 100% of the Adobe RGB color space- and then some! The red and green phosphors in the monitor give it capabilities that are far outside Adobe RGB in those colors. 255,0,0 will be a vastly different color on your monitor than it is in ARGB, so input profiles will be really important. It's not just a matter of calibrating the monitor, your images will need to define the colors they're using.

    Also, probably as a result of these brighter phosphors, the Dell tends to have a pink or green hue in the white point. It's possible that good color management practices can keep this issue under control, but be aware that you may also need a CMM other than Mac's ColorSync to handle the issue. You might ask the retailer what CMM they recommend, but be ready for a blank stare if you do.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  3. #3
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    Question Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Joe U.,

    Thank you for the response. As an intermediate photog who is just starting to get serious about image processing & eventually printing, selecting a external display is straightforward. At this point I do not plan to work with HDR images. So, recognizing that, I think it would be best to select a display for my short-term goals: namely, printing & display some of my images for my own enjoyment.

    What is important to me is color accuracy & print matching. I understand that the wide gamut Dell U2410 might have an edge here. However, several reviews have noted very good contrast & color levels with the NEC EA231WMi.

    I'm curious about your thoughts to go with the NEC for non-HDR work(?).

    Also, Joe, maybe you could explain this for me.....what is the practical, real-world difference between the 12-bit LUT of the Dell & the 8-bit LUT for the NEC?

    Thank you for your help.

    Kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Medley
    If you plan on doing a lot of HDR images, go with the Dell, but mind your color management well. If HDR is not your thing, go with the NEC.

    The NEC can only reproduce 96% of the Adobe RGB color space. The good news is that the problem colors seem to lie in the dark blue (almost black) range. That's not a particular problem with normal digital images, as they have considerably less digital information in the shadows- Unless you're doing HDR.

    The Dell can reproduce 100% of the Adobe RGB color space- and then some! The red and green phosphors in the monitor give it capabilities that are far outside Adobe RGB in those colors. 255,0,0 will be a vastly different color on your monitor than it is in ARGB, so input profiles will be really important. It's not just a matter of calibrating the monitor, your images will need to define the colors they're using.

    Also, probably as a result of these brighter phosphors, the Dell tends to have a pink or green hue in the white point. It's possible that good color management practices can keep this issue under control, but be aware that you may also need a CMM other than Mac's ColorSync to handle the issue. You might ask the retailer what CMM they recommend, but be ready for a blank stare if you do.

    - Joe U.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Honestly, if it were me, I'd be leaning in the direction of the NEC monitor. It has an overall gamut that is pretty close to Adobe RGB, and I think you'd have fewer color management problems overall. Keep in mind that just because your monitor can't display the dark blues doesn't mean that it changes the final print. It's just that the print may look a bit different than the image on your monitor, particularly in the darkest shadows. So that 4% isn't really THAT big of an issue. Besides. the print is bound to look a LITTLE different. You're comparing the additive color of RGB to the subtractive color of CMYK. It's the job of color management to make these difference as minute as possible, but it's still an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    The Look-Up table (LUT) isn't that important either. The monitor's video card has an will have an 8 bit data path. If you were to use the manufacturer's gamut and color temp recommendations, the LUT wouldn't come into play at all. It's when you calibrate the monitor that the LUT becomes useful.

    In the case of these monitors, at worst you'll be replacing the video card's 8 bit data path with a different (custom) 8 bit path. In fact, high bit (more than 8bit) internal display LUTs are only useful if these LUTs can be accessed and manipulated through the display's DDC data path using the display manufacturer's specialized software installed on the user's system. Call it a guess, but it doesn't sound like you'd be interested, lol.

    So, in laymen's terms? With the 8 bit LUT, you may get a bit of banding in your darker gradients. The 12 bit LUT could eliminate this, but unless you're absolutely retentive about color, it's a lot of work for minimal return.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  5. #5
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Thank you, Joe. I appreciate the straightforward explanation. Because I am still on the steep portion of the learning curve, it is at times difficult to separate theoretical concepts from their actual impact on viewed & printed images.

    The bottom line is that I want to get a monitor that will do its job well & allow me to focus on my creativity. If my creativity somehow explodes beyond the capabilities of my post processing hardware, I will gladly reward myself with upgraded hardware.

    One question though...you mentioned that the LUT issue won't come into play unless I calibrate the monitor. Whichever monitor I buy, I plan to get an Eye One Display 2 colorimeter. With that in mind, should this temper my decision on which monitor to buy?

    BTW, I notice that you are in Hillsboro. I'm in Bend.

    Thanks, Joe.

    Kit

  6. #6
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Always nice to meet a fellow Oregonian who has a passion for photography. Several members here are from Washington as well.

    As to the colorimeter, it shouldn't make a whit of difference either way.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  7. #7
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Thank you.

  8. #8
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    With all of the research behind me, I ordered the NEC P221W display with the SpectraView II calibration kit. Very decent price through B&H.

    Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions. I appreciate it.

    Since this will be the first monitor that I will calibration, if anyone has any suggestions on using the SV-II, please let me know.

    Thanks!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Monitor calibration is pretty straightforward. There are a few points to keep in mind though:

    1) The only real adjustment for an LCD monitor is brightness. which controls the white luminance. If you're going to be doing prints, you'll get the best results by matching the white of the LCD to the white of your paper stock. This should be done BEFORE calibrating. Adjusting the brightness after calibration throws everything off again.

    An LCD monitor also has a set dynamic range. Once you reach this, the only way to increase the white luminance is by an equal increase in black luminance (the black-point changes, becoming lighter). If you notice that your prints are visibly darker than the image on your screen, lower the brightness level and recalibrate. Most people chalk this up to 'gamma', and they are not entirely wrong. Gamma defines what you monitor considers "neutral gray". If you change the white luminance of the monitor, you necessarily change the gamma as well. If the screen is so bright that black luminance is also affected, the effect on gamma will become more pronounced. The important thing to remember here is that the brightness adjustment is the key to getting things back in line.

    2) Here is a little-know fact: changing screen resolutions changes the color behavior of the display. If your workflow calls for a change in screen resolution, you'll need a separate profile for each resolution.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  10. #10
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Thanks, Joe, for the advise. I am sure that it will be info like this that will streamline the process of establishing good color management between my monitor & my printer.

    BTW, when you refer to matching the white of the LCD to the white of the paper stock, how is this achieved?

    Thanks again.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by kitjv
    BTW, when you refer to matching the white of the LCD to the white of the paper stock, how is this achieved?

    Thanks again.
    LOL, first, I take a sheet of paper, and hold it up next to the monitor. Then I adjust the brightness level accordingly.

    There are undoubtedly more technical methods, but hey- it works!

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  12. #12
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    All right, I deserved that! After spending time trying to untangle the intricacies of "color management, your method of adjusting the brightness seemed too simple.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    *evil snicker*

    When it comes to color management, you eventually get to a spot where you say "good enough". Yes, I could invest in a spectrophotometer, and get the white-point spot-on. But really, the method above works pretty well.

    And while we're being blatently honest, I should point out that I don't expect there to be a huge change when you calibrate your new monitor. Most monitors come from the factory with a profile installed that is already very good. However, the installed profile and calibration is meant to target your make and model of monitor, while the one you do will be specific to the exact monitor you own. It's still worth doing, just don't expect a huge change.

    Also, for future reference, you should be aware that there's a difference between calibrating a device, and profiling that device. Profiling only seeks to describe a device's behavior, while calibrating a device CHANGES that device's behavior. In discussing the display, I've used those terms interchangeably, because dealing with the display is the one place where calibrating (changing the behavior) and profiling (describing the behavior) are done together. In fact, they're done simultaneously.

    I hope this doesn't cause confusion later on, and I may well refer back to this post if it does.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  14. #14
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    Re: Thank You: The Final Decision

    I appreciate your candid input. Makes sense to me.

    I have a feeling that this whole area of color management is akin to enjoying good Oregon wines. After one learns to appreciate the basics, it is certainly enjoyable to buy better wines. However, a point is reached beyond which the incremental increase in quality does not justify the additional $ spent. Going a step further, eventually any increase in quality is not longer perceivable. Yet for some aficionados, there is no substitute for the best.

    The quest for perfect color management might be similar.

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