Monitor for Photo Processing

Started Jan 27, 2013 | Discussions
VT
VT
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Monitor for Photo Processing
Jan 27, 2013
Monitor for Photo Processing

I recently went through the process of choosing a monitor specifically for photo post processing – this has taken me over a year of research to find something that was suitable, and inexpensive.

Hopefully sharing my experience may be helpful.

Many know that in LCD technology, the panel to aim for is IPS (in-plane switching) because it is capable of showing more colors/wider color gamut, and have wider viewing angles with consistent and accurate colors.

So wider gamut/more colors is desirable –
an examination of monitor specs show things like 82% or 72% gamut –
but without any indication of what gamut or color space.

Although it would seem more colors or wider gamut is better –
so is 82% better than 72%?
BUT 82% or 72% of what?

That's when I realized those figures do not matter -
what was really important to me was the ability to display 100% of the photographic working color space -
ie: 100% sRGB

Even a gazillion% gamut is absolutely useless, if it cannot display all the sRGB colors ie: 100% sRGB.

Some may argue that a monitor would be superior if it can display AdobeRGB or NTSC color space(s) -
but only if it is 100% sRGB capable in the first place –
since the displayable end result for the web and most printers is standardized on sRGB.

Doing searches of 100% sRGB IPS – will find monitors, and some surprisingly were not very expensive.

That is when I realized that some of those monitors actually had an sRGB preset that set a factory calibrated 100% sRGB – this was better than expected –
since that virtually means separate monitor calibration was no longer as critical as it used to be.

This discovery was HUGE.

Were there differences in IPS panels? – well of course, only a few months ago there was general opinion that cheap IPS monitors were not really recommended.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Cheap IPS Monitor

So the LCD panel technology was important too – not just blanket approval of any generic IPS.
Fortunately we have currently many smartphones with stunning very high pixel density screens -
have some of this new technology made it way to computer monitor screens?

Those names were AMOLED (Samsung) and AH-IPS (LG).

As far as I know there are no AMOLED monitors -
BUT – there are AH-IPS monitors now.
and searching on AH-IPS finds that LG claims AH-IPS been certified by Intertek as having accurate colors (this is really important)

Searching for AH-IPS 100% sRGB does in fact find monitors and in fact some inexpensive ones.

Just to set the scene –
Dell UltraSharp U2713HM – this is a 27” screen, but at $650-700 street price - hardly cheap.

But there were also:
ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED 22" Frameless LED Display
ViewSonic VX2370S-LED 23" Frameless LED Display
These actually were some of the lowest priced IPS monitors available.

This was like a dream come true – monitors based on the latest AH-IPS with 100% sRGB factory calibrated preset.

I bought the 22" ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED since I have limited desk space, and prefer a higher pixel density.

The first thing I did so to set the monitor for 100% sRGB -
which was just a simple set on the OSD to sRGB - and that was it -

Then I went to the various on-line monitor calibration sites to check the monitor -
it passed any and all the tests I could throw at it with ease.

This is a handy reference page that collects together the most useful calibration sites -
5 Online Tools to Help Calibrate Your Monitor

That includes the sites that I had found the most useful:
Photo Friday: Monitor Calibration Tool
and
Lagom LCD Monitor Test Pages

I hope this was helpful

Pictus
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Jan 27, 2013

VT wrote:

Even a gazillion% gamut is absolutely useless, if it cannot display all the sRGB colors ie: 100% sRGB.

Some may argue that a monitor would be superior if it can display AdobeRGB or NTSC color space(s) -
but only if it is 100% sRGB capable in the first place –
since the displayable end result for the web and most printers is standardized on sRGB.

Better see for your self the gamut coverage of the printer, so we can work in the right color space and also choose the right monitor, to do that just go to http://www.iccview.de/content/view/3/7/lang,en/ and upload the printer profile and compare against the color spaces or the monitor profile, will need to install a browser plug-in http://www.iccview.de/content/view/1/5/lang,en/

Is what I did for here and here.

Here  the BEST video about gamut I ever found, it is a must see.

Calibration sites are not like the TRUE calibration, they can only deal with a small fraction to what a true calibration is... Consider getting a Spyder 4 Express or a X-rite ColorMunki Display and use with the Argyll+dispcalGUI. (the new Dell U2413/U2713H/U3014 needs the expensive X-rite i1Display Pro)

To complement your information, how to choose a monitor and good info about soft proofing and alike stuff.

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VT
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to Pictus, Jan 27, 2013

Pictus wrote:

Calibration sites are not like the TRUE calibration, they can only deal with a small fraction to what a true calibration is... Consider getting a Spyder 4 Express or a X-rite ColorMunki Display and use with the Argyll+dispcalGUI. (the new Dell U2413/U2713H/U3014 needs the expensive X-rite i1Display Pro)

To complement your information, how to choose a monitor and good info about soft proofing and alike stuff.

Thank you very much for the great information - very much appreciated.

I acknowledge and bow to your obvious greater knowledge.

However I was not using the on-line calibration sites to calibrate the monitor - merely as a quick check to see if my new monitor was "well adjusted" -

This is the ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED page section on sRGB:

"sRGB Color Correction Technology Delivers the Most Accurate Color Performance Available

ViewSonic LCD monitors embedded sRGB color correction technology reproduce 100% sRGB rich color for color performance matching original input sources without decreasing or leveraging color quality. sRGB ensures all displayed images/videos are as natural as the original sources, displaying real color for captured camera and camcorder content."

The feature for me was that the ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED monitor comes with a 100% sRGB factory calibrated Preset - this seems to suggest I may not have to adjust or calibrate it. On the sRGB preset there are basically no adjustments available, not even brightness or contrast.

Thank you for your valuable input - I definitely will follow up on your links.

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Pictus
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Jan 27, 2013

Thank you, but I am just sharing good info to make us better understand the facts.
Consider that even a very expensive monitor needs recalibration, also as the monitor
ages, we need to recalibrate again...
If you look at the best monitor reviews sites:
http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews.htm
http://www.prad.de/en/monitore/reviews.html
http://www.flatpanelshd.com/reviews.php
You are not going to see any monitor that the factory calibration is good enough...
Too many variables at stake, makes calibration/recalibration a must.

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Chris Noble
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No substitute for hardware profiling
In reply to VT, Jan 27, 2013

VT wrote:

 

The first thing I did so to set the monitor for 100% sRGB -
which was just a simple set on the OSD to sRGB - and that was it -

Then I went to the various on-line monitor calibration sites to check the monitor -
it passed any and all the tests I could throw at it with ease.

This is a handy reference page that collects together the most useful calibration sites -
5 Online Tools to Help Calibrate Your Monitor

That includes the sites that I had found the most useful:
Photo Friday: Monitor Calibration Tool
and
Lagom LCD Monitor Test Pages

I hope this was helpful

1) The sRGB preset on your monitor will select a 100% sRGB gamut, but will not ensure that each color gradation within the gamut is displayed correctly. If you want accurate color display within the gamut (not just at the edges), you need to use an external calibrator that will step the monitor through many color combinations and build a profile table.

2) As the monitor ages, the color response will change so you need to recalibrate periodically. The factory presets can't be adjusted for aging.

3) Finally, it is difficult to set the brightness accurately without a hardware calibrator. This is important if you plan to print.

If this is a serious hobby for you, you should invest in a good calibrator.

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VT
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to Pictus, Jan 27, 2013

Pictus wrote:

Thank you, but I am just sharing good info to make us better understand the facts.
Consider that even a very expensive monitor needs recalibration, also as the monitor
ages, we need to recalibrate again...
...
You are not going to see any monitor that the factory calibration is good enough...
Too many variables at stake, makes calibration/recalibration a must.

Thank you very much again for the advice.

I understand you are saying a factory calibration preset may not be "good enough".

Chris Noble wrote:

1) The sRGB preset on your monitor will select a 100% sRGB gamut, but will not ensure that each color gradation within the gamut is displayed correctly. If you want accurate color display within the gamut (not just at the edges), you need to use an external calibrator that will step the monitor through many color combinations and build a profile table.

2) As the monitor ages, the color response will change so you need to recalibrate periodically. The factory presets can't be adjusted for aging.

3) Finally, it is difficult to set the brightness accurately without a hardware calibrator. This is important if you plan to print.

If this is a serious hobby for you, you should invest in a good calibrator.

Thank you for that valuable input - much appreciated

Checking the on-line calibration tools it would seem the preset is more than just the gamut - the preset does not allow any adjustments - even brightness and contrast are disabled:

From page 11 of the manual -

ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED manual - page 11

and from the datasheet -

VX2270Smh-LED datasheet

My take is that the monitor is factory calibrated for sRGB (at 100% sRGB) and all the visual tests I have done seems to suggest that it is preset adjusted for sRGB color workspace.

To me the calibration seems to have been done at the factory - that was the reason why I was enthusiastic.

I do understand that perhaps I should not trust, or put too much faith in factory calibration - and should use a calibration tool to at least check that the preset is really set correctly to sRGB - I intend to do this when I have the means, and opportunity.

Really appreciate both your inputs.

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NewsyL
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Jan 27, 2013

VT wrote:

To me the calibration seems to have been done at the factory - that was the reason why I was enthusiastic.

I do understand that perhaps I should not trust, or put too much faith in factory calibration - and should use a calibration tool to at least check that the preset is really set correctly to sRGB - I intend to do this when I have the means, and opportunity.


.

I imagine that the factory is using a reference video signal of some sort as a base on which to do the "factory calibration".

How close do you think the output of the video card in your PC/Mac is to that factory system?

A factory calibrated monitor is only as good as the data fed to it.

And, as others have said, the monitor will age (was more of an issue with CRT's and CCFL back lights) and soon that factory calibration will off standard.

In essence, this factory calibration is in the same class of "features" as that 2,000,000:1 Contrast Ratio specification the marketing people use to separate you from the money in your wallet.

.

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VT
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to NewsyL, Jan 27, 2013

NewsyL wrote:

How close do you think the output of the video card in your PC/Mac is to that factory system?

A factory calibrated monitor is only as good as the data fed to it.

And, as others have said, the monitor will age (was more of an issue with CRT's and CCFL back lights) and soon that factory calibration will off standard.

Many thanks for that great input.

Since I do not have a calibration tool - I can only go by eye and waht I have seen using those on-line calibration pages.

Black and white levels - I like the Photo Friday: Monitor Calibration Tool

Photo Friday: Monitor Calibration Tool

I can easily see the black levels A, B, and C and white levels I can also see easily X,Y, and Z

In terms of Color - I looked at the tft.Vanity.dk Online Monitor Test - Color Range Multiple

tft.Vanity.dk Online Monitor Test - Color Range Multiple

and also the Lagom.nl Contrast test

Lagom.nl Contrast test

I can see each color segment easily.

For continuous tone I used tft.Vanity.dk Online Monitor Test - Trailing Main test

tft.Vanity.dk Online Monitor Test - Trailing Main test

the ones were continuous.

Like I said short of actually using a calibration tool - by eye the monitor seems well adjusted on the factory preset for sRGB.

But I absolutely take the point that may not be as accurate as it can potentially be and once the monitor ages thing may shift - but for now it is brand new and things "seem" OK - within reason.

I am not against calibration - just for now I do not have the capability other than by eye.

I looked at the various monitor review sites Pictus very kindly provided - in particular the AH-IPS panel monitors since that is the technology this ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED is based on - those monitors (eg: Dell U2713H, Dell U2913WM) seem to do pretty well on their sRGB factory preset - seems almost to me to be within experimental errors - or at least someone inexperienced in monitor calibration - like me, for example

Having said that I am impressed with the monitor - as it were - straight out of the box with its sRGB preset capability.

Thank you.

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VT
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Jan 31, 2013

Thank you for all the useful feedback and advice.

I need to qualify my post thread from what I have learnt since.

First this really is more about the Budget end of monitors for photo processing -
there are many worthy monitors that are hundreds, if not thousands of $$ more.

I am not, and cannot really address that end of the price range.

The reason why I was so enthusiastic about the ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED 22" Frameless LED Display - is mainly because it had 100% sRGB on a factory calibrated preset -
so that setting virtually makes initial calibration redundant.

Acknowledgement: calibration especially if optimal accuracy is required, and monitors will drift with age - so making re-calibration necessary

From the very comprehensive and thorough reviews at reputable sites such as:
LCD and TFT Monitor Reviews
PRAD | Review
Reviews of HDTVs and monitors - FlatpanelsHD
The factory preset sRGB have been satisfactory.

That's where AH-IPS was important -
LG claims AH-IPS has been certified by Intertek as being color accurate.

This means the panel itself is intrinsically more color accurate - so it is easier to have 100% sRGB -
and unless there is evidence of faster deterioration of the panel itself -
it probably stands to reason that it would maintain its color accuracy better than other IPS panel types.

Hence the importance of AH-IPS and obviously 100% sRGB on a factory calibrated Preset.

Perhaps 100% sRGB may only refer to the gamut -
however at least on this ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED the preset seems to disable any other adjustment even brightness and contrast -
so it appears that the preset sets sRGB color space -

again those reviews of other monitors - especially the ones that use AH-IPS seem to show the sRGB preset/emulation are pretty accurate.

Short of having a calibration tool
I can only do my checking by eye - as mentioned already:

A handy reference page that collects together the most useful calibration sites -
5 Online Tools to Help Calibrate Your Monitor

Like I said short of actually using a calibration tool - by eye the monitor seems well adjusted on the factory preset for sRGB.
(note: calibration tools are $150-$250 street price - my monitor was only $160!)

But I do take the point, that a sRGB preset may not be as accurate as it can be potentially, and once the monitor ages things may shift - but for now it is brand new and things "seem" OK - within reason.

I am not against calibration - just for now I do not have the capability, other than by eye.

I looked at the various monitor review sites - in particular the AH-IPS panel monitors since that is the technology this ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED is based on - those monitors (eg: Dell U2713H, Dell U2913WM) seem to do pretty well on their sRGB factory preset - seems almost to me to be within experimental errors - or at least someone inexperienced in monitor calibration - like me, for example

Having said all that, I am impressed with this budget ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED monitor -
as it were - straight out of the box with its sRGB preset capability.

Thank you for all the helpful hints, I learned a lot.

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Pictus
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Jan 31, 2013

The eye is not a good instrument for calibration, see:

http://www.lottolab.org/illusiondemos/Demo%2012.html#

http://butisit.deviantart.com/art/Checker-shadow-illusion-263331875

BTW, the Spyder4 Express is $99.00 , use with the free and fantastic Argyll+dispcalGUI and there will be no limitation like the software from Datacolor/X-rite. Offer a calibration service to your friends to get some money...

We can buy a DSLR for $500, but a bright f/4 or f/2.8 telephoto lens will be many times more expensive.

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VT
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to Pictus, Jan 31, 2013

Pictus wrote:

The eye is not a good instrument for calibration, see:

http://www.lottolab.org/illusiondemos/Demo%2012.html#

http://butisit.deviantart.com/art/Checker-shadow-illusion-263331875

BTW, the Spyder4 Express is $99.00 , use with the free and fantastic Argyll+dispcalGUI and there will be no limitation like the software from Datacolor/X-rite. Offer a calibration service to your friends to get some money...

Thank you again Pictus for the valuable advice.

Just to clarify I am not calibrating by eye - merely checking the sRGB preset from which there are no adjustments at all.

I do realize this budget monitor is not quite in the same league as those more expensive AH-IPS monitors from Dell, that also have sRGB presets - but from the reviews sites you very kindly pointed to those monitors factory calibrated presets were pretty accurate.

The sRGB presets were pretty comparable to the calibrations that the reviewers did - certainly  within any experimental errors that I may be able to manage, being inexperienced with calibration tools.

I will investigate the tools you suggested.

It still appears that the monitor I purchased seems well adjusted on its factory calibrated 100% sRGB preset and that was the point - the monitor has a factory calibrated preset and all I had to do was to set that - I realize perhaps it may not be as accurate or optimal compared to good calibration - but I don't think it is wildly out either.

Thank you very much.

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Chris Noble
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Gamut coverage and accuracy are not the same thing
In reply to VT, Feb 1, 2013

VT wrote:

The reason why I was so enthusiastic about the ViewSonic VX2270Smh-LED 22" Frameless LED Display - is mainly because it had 100% sRGB on a factory calibrated preset -
so that setting virtually makes initial calibration redundant.

Covering 100% of the sRGB gamut does not mean that the monitor is accurate. It could be way off and still have a range that is 100% (or more). Accuracy is how close each individual gradation is to what it should be.

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VT
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Re: Gamut coverage and accuracy are not the same thing
In reply to Chris Noble, Feb 1, 2013

Chris Noble wrote:

Covering 100% of the sRGB gamut does not mean that the monitor is accurate. It could be way off and still have a range that is 100% (or more). Accuracy is how close each individual gradation is to what it should be.

Thank you I think we may have covered this already - I realize that many don't think anything other than calibration with a tool is adequate, and I accept that - however I bought this monitor because it had an sRGB preset that sets sRGB color space, and there are absolutely no other adjustments under that setting not even brightness and contrast, so it is more than gamut - otherwise it would useless.

I think it looks well adjusted from all the calibration sites that I could check it with - like I said short of actual calibration I think it is pretty well calibrated - I cannot prove anything, only using my eyes - and yes I accept my eyes can be fooled - but then I "think"my photos are OK - at least not wildly out.

Respected review sites that I was referred to here seems to show that factory calibration is more than just gamut - but adjusted for sRGB color space - and they were pretty accurate even compared to the reviewer's calibration.

So I accept I could be deluding myself - but I think I am fussy enough about my photos and processing to at least care about the accuracy of my monitor otherwise I would not have posted.

I am NOT against calibration neither am I refusing to calibrate -

However I still stand by what I said - today's monitors with their factory calibrated sRGB presets are better than most previous budget monitors - and these presets may not the most "accuratest" (sic) in the world, but they do bear some close resemblance to calibration - certainly within probably my current capabilities with any calibration tool that I could afford (ie: unlikely to be the best).

Thank you for your input.

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Chris Noble
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Re: Gamut coverage and accuracy are not the same thing
In reply to VT, Feb 1, 2013

VT wrote:

Chris Noble wrote:

Covering 100% of the sRGB gamut does not mean that the monitor is accurate. It could be way off and still have a range that is 100% (or more). Accuracy is how close each individual gradation is to what it should be.

Thank you I think we may have covered this already - I realize that many don't think anything other than calibration with a tool is adequate, and I accept that -

No we don't think that. We're just saying that covering 100% of the gamut does not mean necessarily that the monitor is accurate. You keep repeating that you assume the monitor is accurate because it covers 100% of the gamut.

however I bought this monitor because it had an sRGB preset that sets sRGB color space, and there are absolutely no other adjustments under that setting not even brightness and contrast, so it is more than gamut - otherwise it would useless.

Not being able to adjust brightness is very strange. That is completely unrelated to gamut coverage. The correct brightness for photo processing is a lot lower than the correct brightness for general computer use or watching multimedia in a normally-lit room.

Anyway, if your posted and printed photos look good that is the most important thing. Enjoy it!

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VT
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Re: Gamut coverage and accuracy are not the same thing
In reply to Chris Noble, Feb 1, 2013

Chris Noble wrote:

Not being able to adjust brightness is very strange. That is completely unrelated to gamut coverage. The correct brightness for photo processing is a lot lower than the correct brightness for general computer use or watching multimedia in a normally-lit room.

Thank you for that input - I thought it was strange too having brightness and contrast disabled when set on the sRGB preset - perhaps it has to do with gamma, white and black level distinction?

it may interest I wrote this elsewhere:

" Setting sRGB - the screen immediately was dimmer from the factory default setting of "Native"
and did not look as contrasty/bright - and to be honest not as immediately appealing."

Thanks

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VT
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Re: Gamut coverage and accuracy are not the same thing
In reply to Chris Noble, Feb 1, 2013
We're just saying that covering 100% of the gamut does not mean necessarily that the monitor is accurate. You keep repeating that you assume the monitor is accurate because it covers 100% of the gamut.

I got you... I now see the source of the confusion -

The monitor is supposed to have 100% sRGB gamut - but it also has a sRGB preset which is supposed to be factory calibrated - I sometimes confused the matter by referring to it as 100% sRGB preset - so I now do see what you mean.

No the monitor is supposed to have 100% sRGB gamut, and separate from that it has a preset for sRGB color space/emulation.

I hope that is clearer.

and it is setting on the sRGB preset that makes the monitor seem well adjusted - "passing" all those on-line monitor calibration images.

My apologies for the confusion.

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Pelagic
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Feb 5, 2013

VT,  You've done a lot of research and maybe read too much into on-line calibration tests and the vendors documentation.

And if you only display you're probably done. But most of us print and want to make adjustments that showup in the prints.

I that case one could argue that color accuracy, to the printer, is all the matters.  Most folks on a budget only print via sRGB, therefore no other gamut matters.   If your display is slightly short of full sRGB gamut but calibrated to be accurate, you will see much better correspondance to prints than a wider gamut that is not calibrated.   So, one could say that good-enough calibration yields better prints than a better display. (within reason)

If your target for images is the net, then I'm not sure why any of this discussion matters.  The vast majority of displays are far away from any standards and the applications used are not color managed.  (consider what we see in posts here in these forums)

Here's my budget approach.  Sony 17" 16:9 Viao laptop with an AMD graphics card.   Display easy on the eyes, but much less then sRGB gamut.  Cheap Colormunki and calibrate every two weeks.  Load Lightroom with the profile given to me by my local printshop.  (reason for graphics card = Luts for calibration and support for a second display)  This takes me about 5mins when the software reminds me.

When I compare the soft-proof in Lightroom with a print in hand they look the same.  No as much the same as a friends professional system, more than sufficent to my needs.

Be careful:  perfection is the enemy of the good.

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Pelagic
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Re: Monitor for Photo Processing
In reply to VT, Feb 5, 2013

Thanx for pointing out the inexpensive displays.

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