Do you really want a Wide Gamut display?

Started Oct 3, 2007 | Discussions thread
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bullet1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,777
Do you really want a Wide Gamut display?

There are quite a few out there. Dell is almost moving toward that direction. LG.Philip's' newest 30" panel can display 102% of the NTSC color gamut. Their previous version used in Dell 3007WFP-HC model does 92%. The average good ones does 72%.

Given that 92% covers almost all the Adobe RGB color space and 102% probably slightly exceeds that, why would anyone not want to have one of those beauties? After all, we were editing in the Adobe RGB color space all these years without being able to see the real punchy colors before they were printed, right?

The new crop of wide gamut monitors do deliver almost the whole gamut of colors in the Adobe RGB color space as shown by the following screen capture below where the wire frames represent the aRGB color space.

The problem arises once the images are displayed outside PhotoShop, especially the ones converted to the sRGB color space for the web use.

If you are running Windows XP, the desktop color management is limited. The whole system is color managed but with the final output color space set to sRGB. Connecting one of those wide gamut monitors to it, you will first be amazed by the vivid colors for the landscape photos but then suddenly be shocked to see wrong skin tones for the portraits.

What is going on? Well the wide gamut monitors live in the Adobe RGB color space. When fed with images in the sRGB color space, every color will be exaggerated. It has the opposite effect of displaying images in the Adobe RGB color space to an sRGB monitor like we see from time to time.

If you are running Vista, you are in better luck. The system is better color managed. If you are running XP, you can change the system color management ICM file from sRGB to Adobe RGB. I have done that and it worked.

So what is the problem then? Well, the sRGB has become a de facto standard for the images used in Windows and the Internet. If an image is not tagged with a color profile, it is assumed to be sRGB. We know not all images are tagged with profiles. This is where the problem starts. Suddenly the lovely wedding video you created shows excessive red cast over the skin tones. The same thing goes with every icon and every little image you see on your desktop and browser.

The list goes on and on. I have the luck dealing with a wide gamut monitor, the Dell 3007WFP-HC for a week because my 3007WFP broke and Dell sent me a 3007WFP-HC, the wide gamut version. It was not a pleasant week. At one point, I thought about throwing out the Windows system altogether and buy a Macbook Pro to drive my 30" wide gamut monitor properly.

Well then I thought about it and realized that approach might still not solve the untagged content problem. Besides, I would have to double my software cost.

In the end, I called Dell and asked them to send the same monitor I had before, the non-HC, 72% NTSC gamut coverage model. It came today and my life has been restored. I can stop messing around with profiles and get back to work.
Nelson Chen
100% RAW shooter with Capture One Pro

2007 Colorado Renaissance Festival photo gallery:

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