Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing?

Started Feb 27, 2015 | Discussions
nutstae Junior Member • Posts: 32
Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing?

Hi community,

Whenever I work on my photos through lightroom or photoshop, it looks perfect on my screen, but it looks very dark and have a very strong contrast on majority of other screens.

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

Thank you

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 18,582
Re: Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing?

nutstae wrote:

Hi community,

Whenever I work on my photos through lightroom or photoshop, it looks perfect on my screen, but it looks very dark and have a very strong contrast on majority of other screens.

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

The best way is with a hardware calibration tool such as an X-Rite i1 but those cost money. You can try this site:

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/monitor-calibration.htm

to get close for free.

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Leonard Migliore

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Mike CH Veteran Member • Posts: 9,631
Turn it down...
3

nutstae wrote:

Hi community,

Whenever I work on my photos through lightroom or photoshop, it looks perfect on my screen, but it looks very dark and have a very strong contrast on majority of other screens.

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

Thank you

Normally, monitors are too bright in the default settings for photo editing, especially if you print. So the recommendation there is to turn down the monitor to around 110 cd/m2. Many monitors are up around 300 cd/m2 in brightness, which means that prints will look dark. A quick fix is to turn brightness down to about 1/3. More advanced would be to use a monitor profiling tool, which will take care of not only the brightness but also the colours.

What I find a bit curious in your situation is that the images are dark on other monitors. Do you know if they are colour profiled?

Regards, Mike

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I hardly ever speak for anybody but myself. In the cases where I do mean to speak generally the statements are likely to be marked as such.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,989
Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:
7

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

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OP nutstae Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Turn it down...

Mike CH wrote:

nutstae wrote:

Hi community,

Whenever I work on my photos through lightroom or photoshop, it looks perfect on my screen, but it looks very dark and have a very strong contrast on majority of other screens.

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

Thank you

Normally, monitors are too bright in the default settings for photo editing, especially if you print. So the recommendation there is to turn down the monitor to around 110 cd/m2. Many monitors are up around 300 cd/m2 in brightness, which means that prints will look dark. A quick fix is to turn brightness down to about 1/3. More advanced would be to use a monitor profiling tool, which will take care of not only the brightness but also the colours.

Thank you for your response.

How do you achieve that 110 cd/m2? where do you even find that information? can it be manually dialed or changed? im no "I dont know anything about computer" but this is new to me.

What I find a bit curious in your situation is that the images are dark on other monitors. Do you know if they are colour profiled?

Regards, Mike

-- hide signature --

Wait and see...
I hardly ever speak for anybody but myself. In the cases where I do mean to speak generally the statements are likely to be marked as such.

OP nutstae Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,989
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:

nutstae wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

This method simply brings the monitor brightness down to the approximate brightness used by calibrated monitors. The pure white DPR posting screen is the same for everyone. Not a whole lot of "science" here--just a matter of getting the exposure into the ballpark.

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Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 18,582
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:

nutstae wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

The science is the relationship of EV to illuminance. Hotdog is setting the camera to EV 9 at ISO 100. This corresponds to an illuminance of 64 cd/m^2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_value

It's a fairly brilliant trick; never underestimate a professional.

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Leonard Migliore

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buybuybuy
buybuybuy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,388
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:

Leonard Migliore wrote:

nutstae wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

The science is the relationship of EV to illuminance. Hotdog is setting the camera to EV 9 at ISO 100. This corresponds to an illuminance of 64 cd/m^2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_value

It's a fairly brilliant trick; never underestimate a professional.

Good job, hotdog. But I think  EV 10 might be preferable: 1/8 sec @ f/11, ISO 100 for ~128 cd/m^2

Perhaps some intermediate brightness setting between EV 9 and 10 is the best compromise.

Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,344
Not only your monitor, but your room lights too!
2

nutstae wrote:

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

The way to fix this is with a calibration tool.  The one I use also measures lighting levels because that's also a reason for you to have the monitor brightness higher!

When I got a job as a photo editor I used a calibrator to calibrate the brightness and colour of the monitor, but it also told me me that the lighting in front of the monitor was too bright so I stopped using the overhead lighting in my office, and set up indirect lighting that doesn't shine on my work surface, and also a task light that lights up my keyboard (but not the monitor nor my eyes).

BG454 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,315
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:
1

Leonard Migliore wrote:

nutstae wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

The science is the relationship of EV to illuminance. Hotdog is setting the camera to EV 9 at ISO 100. This corresponds to an illuminance of 64 cd/m^2:

That's rather dim.
Most calibration systems suggest a value between 100 and 120 Cd/m2.

Anyone who thinks they can calibrate a monitor "by eye" is fooling themselves.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,989
Re: Not only your monitor, but your room lights too!

Mike_PEAT wrote:

nutstae wrote:

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

The way to fix this is with a calibration tool. The one I use also measures lighting levels because that's also a reason for you to have the monitor brightness higher!

When I got a job as a photo editor I used a calibrator to calibrate the brightness and colour of the monitor, but it also told me me that the lighting in front of the monitor was too bright so I stopped using the overhead lighting in my office, and set up indirect lighting that doesn't shine on my work surface, and also a task light that lights up my keyboard (but not the monitor nor my eyes).

I been using keyboards with illuminated keys for some time to avoid lighting the desk area. Another suggestion is to avoid bright colors around your photo editing area to keep from saturating your eyes with false color--neutral white walls, black and white art.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,989
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:

buybuybuy wrote:

Leonard Migliore wrote:

nutstae wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

The science is the relationship of EV to illuminance. Hotdog is setting the camera to EV 9 at ISO 100. This corresponds to an illuminance of 64 cd/m^2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_value

It's a fairly brilliant trick; never underestimate a professional.

Good job, hotdog. But I think EV 10 might be preferable: 1/8 sec @ f/11, ISO 100 for ~128 cd/m^2

Perhaps some intermediate brightness setting between EV 9 and 10 is the best compromise.

Thanks, guys! My old Spyder3Express only handles color balance, so I was forced to come up with a "field expedient."

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KLO82 Senior Member • Posts: 1,445
Re: Down and dirty monitor brightness calibration:

hotdog321 wrote:

buybuybuy wrote:

Leonard Migliore wrote:

nutstae wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Exactly. Most monitors need to be turned way down and the contrast turned way up. Here's a down and dirty calibration method.

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Now turn your monitor down until you get a dead-on reading. Bingo! Brightness is calibrated. It may not be perfect, but it will be pretty darned close in my experience.

Thank you for your response.

but what is the science behind this method? I am just wondering no offence not trying to argue or anything

The science is the relationship of EV to illuminance. Hotdog is setting the camera to EV 9 at ISO 100. This corresponds to an illuminance of 64 cd/m^2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_value

It's a fairly brilliant trick; never underestimate a professional.

Good job, hotdog. But I think EV 10 might be preferable: 1/8 sec @ f/11, ISO 100 for ~128 cd/m^2

Perhaps some intermediate brightness setting between EV 9 and 10 is the best compromise.

Thanks, guys! My old Spyder3Express only handles color balance, so I was forced to come up with a "field expedient."

I personally use 9.7EV, which is around 104cd/ m^2. In the above case, it will be ISO 100, f14, 1/4 sec or any equivalent exposure.

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Ed B
Ed B Forum Pro • Posts: 11,410
Re: Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing?

nutstae wrote:

Hi community,

Whenever I work on my photos through lightroom or photoshop, it looks perfect on my screen, but it looks very dark and have a very strong contrast on majority of other screens.

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

Thank you

http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/icc_profiles.htm

Just scroll down, find your monitor and set the recommended values.

May not be perfect but it will be very close and is the next best thing to owning a calibration tool.

Good luck.

hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,989
Re: Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing?
1

Ed B wrote:

nutstae wrote:

Hi community,

Whenever I work on my photos through lightroom or photoshop, it looks perfect on my screen, but it looks very dark and have a very strong contrast on majority of other screens.

So I assume my monitor is brighter than others? has anyone expereinced this and fixed it before? how do you optimize your brightness setting for your monitor?

Thank you

http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/icc_profiles.htm

Just scroll down, find your monitor and set the recommended values.

May not be perfect but it will be very close and is the next best thing to owning a calibration tool.

Good luck.

Hey, this is really cool--thanks for the link! I had no idea this existed. My monitor isn't listed, but I can see this would be a valuable resource. Bookmarking.

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peripheralfocus Veteran Member • Posts: 4,731
not evergreen; monitors age
1

Ed B wrote:

http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/icc_profiles.htm

Just scroll down, find your monitor and set the recommended values.

May not be perfect but it will be very close and is the next best thing to owning a calibration tool.

Those figures might be okay for some monitors if you know that your monitor is the same age as the ones that were tested at TFT Central.

But monitors change as they age. Backlights get dimmer, for one thing, drastically changing the numerical value that you would need to set in the monitor's brightness control to reach any given luminance level.

And more than that, many monitors have features that affect what numbers you would use to achieve specific luminance and white point values.

For example, I have an NEC 2490WUXI, which they have tested, and it exposes both of the issues I mentioned above. First, my monitor is several years old and has many thousands of hours of use on it. Its backlights are fading -- it can't reach the maximum brightness it once could. 100% on the brightness control is a lot darker than it was when the monitor was new.

It also has a feature called Color Compensation, which is designed to improve screen uniformity, and it has 5 different setting levels. Each one of them affects the output of the backlights differently. I'd need to know whether TFT Central had that feature set the same way I do in order for their numbers to work for me (setting aside the age issue).

ArtMar Contributing Member • Posts: 608
Re: Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing?

Just to be sure: when you save your photo in PS do you save it with the sRGB profile?

If not, that could be a problem for viewing it on other monitors.

On another note, adjusting only the brightness does not necessarily produce correct color temperature in relation to gamma. You really should use a measuring device with corresponding software.

FYI: Manufacturer's suggested calibration settings (for web use) for my Eizo monitor are: 120 cd/m2, K=6500, gamma=2.2.

peripheralfocus Veteran Member • Posts: 4,731
I get a one stop different reading

hotdog321 wrote:

Take your camera with a normal lens and fill the frame with the white area where you post DPR messages. Set the camera manually to ISO: 100, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Just another data point:

My monitor -- an NEC 2490WUXI -- is calibrated to a luminance of 120 cd/m2 with an i1 Display Pro colorimeter. With your test method, it gives a one stop different exposure: ISO 100, f/11, 1/8 sec. -- i.e. you settings would result in my monitor being set a bit darker than it is now.

Ed B
Ed B Forum Pro • Posts: 11,410
Re: not evergreen; monitors age

Eamon Hickey wrote:

Ed B wrote:

http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/icc_profiles.htm

Just scroll down, find your monitor and set the recommended values.

May not be perfect but it will be very close and is the next best thing to owning a calibration tool.

Those figures might be okay for some monitors if you know that your monitor is the same age as the ones that were tested at TFT Central.

But monitors change as they age. Backlights get dimmer, for one thing, drastically changing the numerical value that you would need to set in the monitor's brightness control to reach any given luminance level.

And more than that, many monitors have features that affect what numbers you would use to achieve specific luminance and white point values.

For example, I have an NEC 2490WUXI, which they have tested, and it exposes both of the issues I mentioned above. First, my monitor is several years old and has many thousands of hours of use on it. Its backlights are fading -- it can't reach the maximum brightness it once could. 100% on the brightness control is a lot darker than it was when the monitor was new.

It also has a feature called Color Compensation, which is designed to improve screen uniformity, and it has 5 different setting levels. Each one of them affects the output of the backlights differently. I'd need to know whether TFT Central had that feature set the same way I do in order for their numbers to work for me (setting aside the age issue).

I agree the values aren't perfect and that every individual monitor is a little different and that every monitor is affected by room lighting.

There's no replacement for a calibration tool but most people don't have one of those so this site should help them get close to proper settings.

There's no "one size fits all" so people should probably consider the values as simply a good starting point.

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