Do I need a new Monitor?

Started Dec 9, 2013 | Discussions
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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 16,728
Do I need a new Monitor?

I recently posted a sunset photo for C&C:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3587183

The photo was meant to have the bottom, shadowed part, fully black, like this:

But other viewers apparently could see buildings in that area which I couldn't see even when doing PP in PSE8.

I checked, by "lightening the shadows" a LOT and found that there were, indeed buildings there which I had not intended:

So, evidently my monitor must be getting old (Intel Dual-Core iMac, several years old) I HAD noticed that pictures posted on the forums by others, were looking dark - but my monitor is adjusted to maximum brightness in System Preferences.

Any ideas as to what's best at this point?

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"Measure wealth not by things you have but by things for which you would not take money"
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graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 4,863
Re: Do I need a new Monitor?
1

It isn't clear that you need a new monitor, because an objective reading of its current state is not known. Has it ever been calibrated?

My guess is no...because, at least for print matching, nobody would ever have the monitor at maximum brightness. That's too bright for any printer to match.

Chances are the monitor just needs to be calibrated so that, even if the monitors of people looking at your photos on the Internet are wrong, at least yours would be right.

Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Veteran Member • Posts: 6,314
Need calibration

graybalanced wrote:

It isn't clear that you need a new monitor, because an objective reading of its current state is not known. Has it ever been calibrated?

My guess is no...because, at least for print matching, nobody would ever have the monitor at maximum brightness. That's too bright for any printer to match.

Chances are the monitor just needs to be calibrated so that, even if the monitors of people looking at your photos on the Internet are wrong, at least yours would be right.

I second this and recommend investing first in an Xrite i1 Display Pro ($249), as this may make the iMac screen usable and will be needed in any case even if you get a new display. Max brightness on an iMac display is way too bright for print matching unless the iMac's backlight is seriously degraded. I recommend calibrating at a brightness level of 100-120cd/m2, and this is a commonly accepted target in most good articles on the subject. Calibrating this way will tell you if there's an issue with the backlight, as an iMac should reach 120cd/m2 at about 60% brightness.

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson OP Forum Pro • Posts: 16,728
Re: Do I need a new Monitor?

Thanks, both, for your input.

I posted this same question on another forum and got some suggestions RE: Calibration.

Obviously, I'm not particularly "Computer savvy" being just an old-fashioned "seat of the pants" photographer from the 60's ( a Time Traveler by now  )

The calibration suggestions may help - the brightness was only cranked up recently in response to darkening images, so a new Monitor (several have been suggested) may be in order which is the point of this thread.

I'm engaged in my annual family calendar which results in about a dozen copies of 12 8x12 prints so I'll have some real-world feedback soon!

Sounds like I'd better get one proof set printed before going foe the whole bunch!

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Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Veteran Member • Posts: 6,314
Monitor brightness & white point

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Thanks, both, for your input.

I posted this same question on another forum and got some suggestions RE: Calibration.

Obviously, I'm not particularly "Computer savvy" being just an old-fashioned "seat of the pants" photographer from the 60's ( a Time Traveler by now )

The calibration suggestions may help - the brightness was only cranked up recently in response to darkening images, so a new Monitor (several have been suggested) may be in order which is the point of this thread.

If your prints are coming out dark, it's because your monitor is too bright. See, if it looks too bright on the screen, you'll adjust it downward, and then it'll print dark. On most modern iMacs and MacBooks, I find about 60% brightness to be in the ballpark. A calibrator will let you get it to precisely 100-120cd/m2. If your prints will be displayed in bright light, go 120cd/m2. If in a dimmer interior, go 100cd/m2. Also, most pros calibrate to a white point of 6500K for making prints that will be displayed in mixed daylight/tungsten light (e.g. home interiors).

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,484
Give Software Calibration A Try...

Instead of investing money in a hardware calibration solution you can try software calibration and see if it makes a difference. I have always done software calibration and it has served me very well; inkjet prints match my display and when I compare my results to display calibration websites, etc. I am surprised at how accurate they are. (I've been making inkjet prints since 1997 starting with the original Epson Stylus Photo.)

In the past I skipped using the stock display profiles included with my displays. But when I purchased a new NEC LCD display I decided to give it a shot to see how well it worked. To my surprise the stock profile worked remarkably well and it continues to provide very good results after two years of use. As the display ages I expect that I will have to create new profiles but with a new display the profile does an admirable job.

Apple has a built-in software calibration utility. But for years I have used an alternative shareware utility called SuperCal. It is similar to the Apple software but it has more options for fine-tuning settings and I find it easier to use and obtain good results. SuperCal costs $19 but you can try the software before you buy and create a profile with some features disabled.

I realize that many people on this forum believe that hardware calibration is the only way to go. But for many of us software calibration is more than sufficient for our needs. This is particularly true if you stick with your printer's OEM inks and papers. In my pro photography I don't sell prints but I have dozens of excellent prints on the walls of my office, kitchen, etc. made from scanned film and digital files. If I couldn't get these results without hardware calibration I would purchase the hardware but software calibration meets my needs at a fraction of the cost.

onlooker Veteran Member • Posts: 3,981
Re: Do I need a new Monitor?

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Any ideas as to what's best at this point?

Before you start investing heavily, try something simple, like online calibration, and see if it helps. At least you will get an indication of how much you can help by just adjusting your current monitor. Here is a web page for online calibration:

Online monitor calibration

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,484
Re: Do I need a new Monitor?

onlooker wrote:

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Any ideas as to what's best at this point?

Before you start investing heavily, try something simple, like online calibration, and see if it helps. At least you will get an indication of how much you can help by just adjusting your current monitor. Here is a web page for online calibration:

Online monitor calibration

That's an excellent website. I use it to check my display profiles.

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 4,863
Re: Monitor brightness & white point

Jacques Cornell wrote:

If your prints are coming out dark, it's because your monitor is too bright. See, if it looks too bright on the screen, you'll adjust it downward, and then it'll print dark. On most modern iMacs and MacBooks, I find about 60% brightness to be in the ballpark.

All true. My MacBook Pro is also at optimal brightness at about 60%. My older desktop monitor needs to be set even lower.

MirekE
MirekE Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Re: Do I need a new Monitor?

Take a look at the black point test here.

Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson OP Forum Pro • Posts: 16,728
Re: Monitor brightness & white point

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Thanks, both, for your input.

I posted this same question on another forum and got some suggestions RE: Calibration.

Obviously, I'm not particularly "Computer savvy" being just an old-fashioned "seat of the pants" photographer from the 60's ( a Time Traveler by now )

The calibration suggestions may help - the brightness was only cranked up recently in response to darkening images, so a new Monitor (several have been suggested) may be in order which is the point of this thread.

If your prints are coming out dark, it's because your monitor is too bright. See, if it looks too bright on the screen, you'll adjust it downward, and then it'll print dark. On most modern iMacs and MacBooks, I find about 60% brightness to be in the ballpark. A calibrator will let you get it to precisely 100-120cd/m2. If your prints will be displayed in bright light, go 120cd/m2. If in a dimmer interior, go 100cd/m2. Also, most pros calibrate to a white point of 6500K for making prints that will be displayed in mixed daylight/tungsten light (e.g. home interiors).

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jacquescornell.com

This I understand - it's simple photography.

I really appreciate all the suggestions wnich will no doubt synthesize a solution.

So far, some of the iMac internal, and online calibrations have - indeed - helped.

One "takeaway" from this is that I might well decide to get a larger monitor with some of the latest enhancements, perhaps just to use with photos.

So far, the iMac, itself, is fine - I'm just trying to be sure that:

"What I see is what I get" !!

There is a world of good advice, here that I'm now trying to absorb

Thanks, All!

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"Measure wealth not by things you have but by things for which you would not take money"
www.flickr.com/ohlsonmh/ ohlsonmh@yahoo.com

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