Monitor upgrade questions re: gamut and resolution

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I am looking at slowly upgrading my older hardware, and that includes one of my monitors. But, given the historically long useful life of a good monitor, I am trying to decide how far up the upgrade path I wish to go since my budget is not unlimited and my photographic equipment is not used to produce revenue. I am currently using two NEC IPS monitors - a 2090UXi and a 20WMGX2. The latter is starting to exhibit a bit of ghosting, so I was considering a replacement. My initial thoughts were another NEC IPS panel, possibly a 1980x1200 in a 24" size (NEC EA244WMI or P242W) My current computer, which has a VGA port and a Display Port only supports a maximum screen resolution of 2560x1600, and while it is will also eventually be upgraded, funds do not permit both a new computer and a new monitor at the same time. So, I was initially considering a monitor that fully displays sRGB and displayed HD since these are reasonably common standards for most current hardware and software. But, I suspect that in a couple of years, 4K and possibly 5K monitors will be mainstream, and I do wonder if Adobe RGB will also be a more common standard than it is at present. In light of these possibilities, I am debating whether I should purchase an affordable interim monitor (EA244WMI) with the intention of another upgrade in a couple of years after my computer has been upgraded (and monitor standards possibly hit a plateau), or if I should just pick a nice a good quality sRGB panel and keep it for the long haul (P242W). I used to be the kind of person that purchased good equipment to keep for the long haul, but I am not so certain that approach is as valid as it previously was as technology has become more disposable. Does buying a good HD sRGB panel seem like a short-sighted investment given the trends in new monitor features? I realize that both high resolution and wide gamut features are not a necessity, but neither was 64-bit architecture until LR6 was released. Equipment may still be functional, but that does not mean that it will be supported. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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Ken, IMHO I would not be too fussed by resolution - gamut and dynamic range are much more important.
Also, a quality panel where there are not big variations in tone and colour rendition across the screen are crucial for decent image editing.
Eizo, Dell, and NEC all have good monitors specifically designed for image and video editing.
Dell and NEC are much more competitive in their pricing than Eizo although things are starting to change.

To emphasize, 4K and 5K monitors are much more about video display and not a lot about still image editing.
I have NEC spectraview monitors currently and I have no plans to change unless they break.

Tony Jay
 
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Thanks for the reply, Tony. I have been quite happy with the quality of my NEC MultiSync monitor, but it is good to hear that Dell's monitors are competitive with them, as there is a Dell model that I am also considering. I do not disagree with with not being too fussy about resolution, but there are a number of threads from Apple owners with Retina displays that just seem to go on and on about the differences in IQ that it does make one wonder if the rest of us are truly missing out on something.

I have considered wide gamut off and on for some time, but the cost at present to get a good quality monitor is at least $1,000 USD, and I am just not sure that I am ready to make that commitment right now. The frustrating thing about monitors is that few places carry monitors that I am considering. NEC is really only available from a few mail order companies, so it is impossible to compare their models to each other or to other brands. Right now I am leaning towards the P242W, as it looks to be the replacement line for my MultiSync in terms of design and build quality, and I have been happy with that model (and will continue to use it as my secondary monitor).

--Ken
 
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Thanks for the reply, Tony. I have been quite happy with the quality of my NEC MultiSync monitor, but it is good to hear that Dell's monitors are competitive with them, as there is a Dell model that I am also considering. I do not disagree with with not being too fussy about resolution, but there are a number of threads from Apple owners with Retina displays that just seem to go on and on about the differences in IQ that it does make one wonder if the rest of us are truly missing out on something.
Ken, I have to say they are absolutely right! Although I don't "go on and on" about it, lol, the retina screen on my MacBook Pro makes my 2 x HP2475w 24" wide-gamut monitors look really bad (I was perfectly happy with them before I bought the MBP), so much so that my next monitor purchase will definitely be 4k/5k, no question.
 
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Hi Jim,

Do you think that the difference is from the resolution or just the panel being of an overall higher quality. It is my understanding that the panels in these machines are at, or near, 100% of sRBG, but that they are not capable of full Adobe RGB (nor would I have necessarily expected them to be). Are you able to describe what you like about them in comparison to your HP monitors?

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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I think you have to see it to understand why it's so special, and compare it with your normal monitor. Text in particular is so much clearer/sharper, but even images appear sharper. I guess it's down to the much higher pixel density of the screen, in the same way as the retina iPad is so much sharper than the non-retina version.

To be clear though, I don't use the retina screen for image work, I still use one of the HP monitors (haven't had the heart to calibrate the retina screen and lose the brightness of it)....the monitors are still OK, don't get me wrong, but having seen how good an HiDPI screen can look then I'd want to stay with that when/if I get round to replacing the HP monitors. I still use the other HP monitor on my Windows system, but there's a world of difference running the same browser or email client on that system side by side with the same apps on the retina screen.

It doesn't answer your question though, it's a difficult call. Not sure what I'd do either, buying a 4k monitor would be a waste unless you have the graphics card to drive it....but I'd not like the thought of buying a "cheaper" monitor knowing that it wouldn't be what I'd want to use when the computer is eventually replaced. Not helping much, am I?
 
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Not helping much, am I?
No, your advice was helpful as I mull over my upgrade options. Perhaps I am blessed or cursed, but every time I am able to see Apple's products in a store, I just cannot see significant differences between products. I suspect that in the short term, my brain quickly adapts, but I also know that if I use a product in the long term, and then change it out, I usually then notice any differences. It would be interesting to find out what particular quality or qualities of the Retina displays that cause people to favor their output, especially when directly comparing them directly against another monitor. Is it the brightness? Their screen coatings? Calibration settings from the factory? I believe that both Apple and NEC rely heavily on LG for panels, and I am wondering how many different current "flavors" of IPS they are currently producing for the higher end of the market, and if either company has their own special "formula" that LG produces exclusively for them.

I guess I now have more questions than answers for the moment, but I find that good due diligence is one way of learning. Thankfully I am not in any hurry to make the upgrades.

--Ken
 
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Hi Ken,

I second Tony's suggestion that gamut and dynamic range are the most important with image editing. The best decision I made for improving my image quality was the purchase of an Ezio 24 inch monitor with 95% of Adobe RBG. This was especially true for printing. Before I got this monitor I constantly struggled getting my prints to have good detail in the shadows.

I suggest that you contact one of the sales reps at chromix.com and talk to them about your needs. They are extremely helpful and knowledgable of all things color. They are also in your neighborhood.

-louie
 

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Ken,

I would suggest looking at the trends in monitors, computers....
The rate of change in the CPU has largely become immaterial in the past few years compared to previous generations.
Now the focus is on the speed of two critical subsystems, graphics and disk.

Then when you look at the consumer devices, the change in the monitors are happing very fast, much faster then even five years ago. Think how long a good CRT lasted, or a newer LCD panel in terms of the marketplace. NEC, LG, Dell... all used to have five and seven year life cycles on monitors, now most companies are on a one to two years before a new model/version is introduced. As a result, I would seriously consider getting a fairly low cost monitor until you can make the jump for a new monitor and system at the same time which can leverage the capabilities of each other. Otherwise, you pay an expensive price to adopt technology in the monitor which you cannot leverage and the price of that technology is falling rapidly.

Lastly, in terms of the Apple monitors. It really is just a few differences you will see:
1. The glass on the screen is of much higher quality than many other competitors. This significantly reduces the matte and other noise on the image.
2. Apple tends to only sell much higher pixel density monitors. You can actually save a lot of money and buy the same resolution at a larger size and just sit a few inches farther from the screen. This can save you fair amount of cash :)
3. In the store and elsewhere, Apple also has a higher level of brightness and a more even brightness then many other monitors. I forget how they do this, but it is/was a patent unique to Apple. With image editing, I was taught you should be in a dim room with the brightness turned down so this should be less of a factor.
4. Apple has a broader viewing angle, this is somehow tied into the glass used over the panel, but it was beyond my ability to understand it. The result is that on larger screens, you "see" more in focus with less eye movement then many other monitors. Hopefully someone can explain it, cause it never made sense to me.

Tim
 
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Hi Ken,

I second Tony's suggestion that gamut and dynamic range are the most important with image editing. The best decision I made for improving my image quality was the purchase of an Ezio 24 inch monitor with 95% of Adobe RBG. This was especially true for printing. Before I got this monitor I constantly struggled getting my prints to have good detail in the shadows.

I suggest that you contact one of the sales reps at chromix.com and talk to them about your needs. They are extremely helpful and knowledgable of all things color. They are also in your neighborhood.

-louie
Hi Louie,

You are a bad influence, but thank you for the recommendation. I suspect that I am not their target client, but I am hoping that as a "neighbor" they may be willing to offer some advice. The unfortunate part of looking at their web site, and reading your post, is that I am now interested in the Eizo CS240, and I am usually a sucker for quality products! :confused:

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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As a result, I would seriously consider getting a fairly low cost monitor until you can make the jump for a new monitor and system at the same time which can leverage the capabilities of each other. Otherwise, you pay an expensive price to adopt technology in the monitor which you cannot leverage and the price of that technology is falling rapidly.
I had considered one of the Dell Ultras in 24" as they are quite affordable and considered good value for the money, but I guess I am not sure how much I will ultimately want to upgrade my monitor when the rest of my system is replaced. I do not see spending more than $1k for a monitor regardless of what the rest of my system looks like, so the two schools of thought are to keep costs down now and replace later, or buy as best I can now (Eizo or NEC P/PA) and build the rest of the system in conjunction with that monitor. And if I did the latter, I would need to reconsider my brand loyalty to NEC if the Eizo is really an option.

--Ken
 
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Hi Louie,

You are a bad influence, but thank you for the recommendation. I suspect that I am not their target client, but I am hoping that as a "neighbor" they may be willing to offer some advice. The unfortunate part of looking at their web site, and reading your post, is that I am now interested in the Eizo CS240, and I am usually a sucker for quality products! :confused:

Thanks,

--Ken

Sorry about that... I do highly recommend that you give them a call. They have always been extremely helpful, informative and knowledgable. When you consider the amount of time, effort and money that we have spent on our camera gear the investment in a really high quality monitor is perhaps not that great. It is after all the primary view into all of our creative effort. I have found that this is especially true if you are interested in creating really high quality prints buy perhaps not quite so important if you are primarily publishing to the internet.

-louie
 
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Sorry about that... I do highly recommend that you give them a call. They have always been extremely helpful, informative and knowledgable. When you consider the amount of time, effort and money that we have spent on our camera gear the investment in a really high quality monitor is perhaps not that great. It is after all the primary view into all of our creative effort. I have found that this is especially true if you are interested in creating really high quality prints buy perhaps not quite so important if you are primarily publishing to the internet.

-louie
Hi Louie,

I did talk with them today, and they were happy enough to take my call. But, as I suspected, their target market is a notch or two above my needs. While they do sell NEC and Eizo monitors, they did not carry the NEC P series or the Eizo CS series. The gentleman was quite polite in his not recommending these monitors, but the price point of what he recommended was just beyond what I could afford, although I am sure that the Eizo monitor that he did recommend was a fine piece of equipment, and would be a good investment if you did color-critical work all day long. And, like tripods, another piece of equipment where quality is not often understood unless you use it extensively, I do believe that we should budget appropriately for this equipment as it is just as much a part of the creation chain as cameras and lenses. Having said that, I might sound a bit contradictory in my post below as I attempt to dig myself out of the rabbit hole that I seem to have fallen into today in the process of realizing that the more I learn, the less I know.

--Ken
 
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I am probably going to be stating the obvious for many folks who rely on color critical monitors, and have been able to appropriately invest in quality equipment, but I am hoping that the following might be useful for folks trying to upgrade their monitors. I initially wanted to replace an older IPS panel that was starting to ghost, and thought that it would be a good opportunity to move up in size, resolution, IQ (hopefully) and possibly additional color space. I thought that the first three would be easy to address (excepting a move to something like a 4K monitor), and that the latter would be the tougher improvement to address. And, I assumed that I would also need to upgrade my aging Spyder 2 Express hardware and software to go along with my new monitor. Well, I did not realize the differences between being able to calibrate monitor hardware vs. software used by the graphics card, and that seemed to "change the calculus" that I had thought I understood as I gathered up specific models at various price points.

I knew that better quality monitors had internal LUT's that could be calibrated, but I did not understand that this was only possible with specific software packages. Nor did I know that the Datacolor Spyder software that I am also considering while it's hardware/software upgrade package is currently on sale at 30% off (along with a free "gift") would suffice. I knew that my older Spyder hardware was not capable of properly calibrating modern LED backlit monitors, but I did not realize that their software only allows software adjustments to the graphics card, a less than ideal way to calibrate a monitor that allows LUT hardware adjustments. So, while I should soon be able to use Datacolor's new Spyder 5 to calibrate monitor hardware, I was going to need the appropriate proprietary software to do so. Both NEC and Eizo will sell or include their software with various monitors, but a Dell that I was also considering as a wide gamut budget alternative would only work with X-rite i1 hardware. Suddenly my costs have increased on almost all of my better options, and I am now finding many of them at or above what I had budgeted for a maximum purchase.

Now, here is where reality starts to set in, as I realize that I do not make money off of my equipment, and given that my eyes and brain are often forgiving and adaptable (as I use two budget monitors at work daily), I am now starting to reconsider how much each gain in IQ is noticeable, and how much it is going to cost me. But, I have no way of answering this question as none of these monitors are sold locally, and I am buying on reputation and second hand opinions. I am not quite ready to slide to the bottom of the ladder of my choices, but I am feeling a bit frustrated because the decision making process, which was already not easy, has now been made more complicated by color calibration hardware and software considerations. And that is not even considering the whole 10-bit workflow question.

I suspect that I will take advantage of the Spyder upgrade sale which ends on the 10th of this month, if only so I have appropriate hardware (excepting the Dell U2413) for my current and replacement monitors, and figure the rest out when I have had some time to mull things over. A person near and dear to me used to say, "Ignorance is bliss. No wait, ignorance was bliss." So, while I hate to possibly blow some folks' bliss who are looking for a simple monitor upgrade, I thought I would share what I learned today in hopes of possibly helping others make good decisions when considering a monitor upgrade. Rant over.

--Ken
 
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Hoggy

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What about using dispcalGui with Argyll?
I'm not 100% sure, but my understanding right now is that it's more advanced than the software that comes with my X-Rite i1-Display Pro. ... Might it also be more advanced than the Spyder software, too??
 
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What about using dispcalGui with Argyll?
I'm not 100% sure, but my understanding right now is that it's more advanced than the software that comes with my X-Rite i1-Display Pro. ... Might it also be more advanced than the Spyder software, too??
i could probably use it, but with any newer monitor with LCD or LED backlighting, my Spyder 2 will probably not work correctly. So, I am going to need new hardware at some point or another when I upgrade.

--Ken
 

Hoggy

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i could probably use it, but with any newer monitor with LCD or LED backlighting, my Spyder 2 will probably not work correctly. So, I am going to need new hardware at some point or another when I upgrade.

--Ken
ahh.. ok. I hope my i1Dispaly Pro is ok for that, as I this laptop does have an LED backlight.
 
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ahh.. ok. I hope my i1Dispaly Pro is ok for that, as I this laptop does have an LED backlight.
I believe you should be fine if it is a recent model. I think NEC uses a rebranded version of it with Spectraview II, and that is packaged with newer LED lit monitors.

--Ken
 
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