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Author Topic: Ideal Monitor Brightness for Photo Editing.  (Read 15709 times)
robm001
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« on: August 17, 2010, 03:03:32 PM »
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Hey all-
     I just recently got my shiny new NEC PA 271W with spectraviewII.  I am trying to figure out the best brightness setting for working on my photos.  The 160 candelas that seems to be the default for most of the settings is just dim to me.  Should I just suck it up and get used to it or brighten my calibration?  Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this matter.
Rob
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gromit
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 03:14:27 PM »
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Some good advice here:

http://homepage.mac.com/leswalkling/monitor.pdf
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robm001
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 03:21:13 PM »
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Thanks for the Link!  Unfortunately, he seems to be recommending white luminance substantially lower than the 160cd that is already driving me batty. Undecided
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tho_mas
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 03:55:30 PM »
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the ideal monitor brightness is the one that visually matches the brightness of your prints viewed under controlled viewing conditions.
the numbers are totally irrelevant.
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WombatHorror
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 10:32:15 PM »
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Hey all-
     I just recently got my shiny new NEC PA 271W with spectraviewII.  I am trying to figure out the best brightness setting for working on my photos.  The 160 candelas that seems to be the default for most of the settings is just dim to me.  Should I just suck it up and get used to it or brighten my calibration?  Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this matter.
Rob

If 160 seems too dim are you editing in a super bright room with a ton of sun?

In a dim room I don't even like it to get above 100 and even prefer 90 and can even handle 80cd/m^2.

If you find 160 too dim in a dim room then.... eat more carrots, lots more  Grin or just give it time, some people are used to insane settings of all kinds on HDTV but given a couple days of no viewing anything at all and then a few days with calibrated settings they find they can't even go back to the store retina blast/distort colors settings.

(Also there is nothing wrong with setting to look nice for screen viewing, too many seem to think that displays aren't for displaying and the prints are the end and be all. The 271 is a beautiful screen and sometimes there is nothing like seeing a brilliant image in non-reflected light maner)
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jgbowerman
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2010, 11:56:29 AM »
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I use 90 as my target when profiling the monitor monthly. My studio has neutral white opaque blinds facing north and east allowing for some daytime ambient light transmission. Otherwise, my studio has neutral grey walls, and little to no artificial room lighting (I use a rheostat controlled standing lamp reflecting extra ambient light off a white ceiling if needed and a portable clip-on light below the monitors to illuminate my keyboard). I do use a D50 viewing box alongside an Eizo CG241W monitor for proofing prints and simply adjust the D50 rheostat to approximate the monitor's 90 cd setting.

If 160 cd appears too dim, I'd reckon something is out of kilter.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2010, 06:25:48 PM »
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Not really...
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In practice the monitor’s white luminance will usually fall between 80.0 cd/m2 and 110.0 cd./m2 when referenced to the printed image - depending on the ambient brightness of the working environment and the print viewing conditions.

tho_mas above made the most sense and provided best advise. The right value is that which produces a match. You can't possibly recommend a target value without the print viewing conditions being part of this equation. 80-110cd/m2, what is recommended in this PDF would totally fail to produce a match for my GTI booth as so set (at 50%), because to get a match, I need to calibrate to 150cd/m2. 80-110 would look just awful!
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Andrew Rodney
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WombatHorror
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2010, 07:29:05 PM »
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Hey all-
     I just recently got my shiny new NEC PA 271W with spectraviewII.  I am trying to figure out the best brightness setting for working on my photos.  The 160 candelas that seems to be the default for most of the settings is just dim to me.  Should I just suck it up and get used to it or brighten my calibration?  Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this matter.
Rob

Set it to what provides comfort and a decent look into the shadows giving ambient lighting conditions. You don't want to edit the photos, in general, to a specific print target or light booth or this or that since in the future the booth may change, someone else may view it somewhere else, etc. You want to first edit the photos in the most general way possible without using artificially low contrast ratios or raised black levels combined with relative profiles otherwise all your editing may look like junk if you or someone else views your photos in a different way in the future, heck maybe in 15 years even much wall art won't be prints, but rollable oled displays or something. OTOH, once you have the stuff set and go pick one out to print then you may well want to set the monitor to match the intended current output and make a version to match that, so for instance maybe at this point you reduce the CR, switch to printer gamut view, etc. and then make sure it looks good in that situation.

Personally, in a dim editing room 160 would blast my eyes out. In a very bright sun-filled room it might be ok. But if for whatever reason 160 looks dim to you, then I guess there is no need to go lower. (if it looks dim even in a dark room, hopefully it's not cataracts or something)
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Czornyj
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 04:23:42 AM »
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Personally, in a dim editing room 160 would blast my eyes out. In a very bright sun-filled room it might be ok. But if for whatever reason 160 looks dim to you, then I guess there is no need to go lower. (if it looks dim even in a dark room, hopefully it's not cataracts or something)

Personally, I don't think that working in a dim room is such a good idea. Dim background will change the appearance of what we see on the screen - and we're not living in caves, nor paint our walls black, so there might be a visual disconnection between the look of the print on a bright wall, and the screen in a dark environment.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 04:25:48 AM by Czornyj » Logged

jgbowerman
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2010, 07:52:43 AM »
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Personally, I don't think that working in a dim room is such a good idea. Dim background will change the appearance of what we see on the screen - and we're not living in caves, nor paint our walls black, so there might be a visual disconnection between the look of the print on a bright wall, and the screen in a dark environment.

If all of our prints on the walls were instead transmitted from LCDs, then yes, I'd agree (I understand that is how Bill Gates does it in his home, one wears a "genre tag" which activates the display to show the appropriate image when going from room to room... too much!). But I'm not selling LCD-displayed images, I'm selling light-reflecting prints. In a studio environment, dimming the room lights to view LCD-displayed images is how to better view our work, and the better we can see, the better we can edit. Setting the viewing conditions for a print is dependent on anticipated room lighting conditions, and that is where profiling our monitor comes into play.

Regarding fine art prints, the best way to view them and really appreciate their beauty is to have dedicated lighting. If someone is serious enough to collect fine art, they are serious enough to consider appropriate, dedicated lighting. When I sell a print, I always emphasize appropriate lighting conditions.
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tho_mas
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 08:29:43 AM »
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You don't want to edit the photos, in general, to a specific print target or light booth or this or that since in the future the booth may change, someone else may view it somewhere else, etc.
the main purpose of a viewing booth is to create a kind of reliable standard to eye up prints without metameric errors and under consistent color temperature and brightness. When you are tweaking your images to look good under these conditions... they still will look good under different conditions. Why? When the conditions are changing you will adopt to the different conditions. The paper of prints will still look "white" under tungsten lights (as long as my eyes are adopted to the tungsten light). The same goes for the brightness and the contrast range. So even if there will be a new standard in the future the current prints will still look "correct" (whithin limitations...).
As to "someone else may view it somewhere else" ... this is a general issue with color management. Working under controlled conditions helps a lot to reduce unwanted surprises.
When you are working under changing conditions you will never get consistent results. Prints will look too "warm" or too "cold" or too "greenish" or whatever. They will look too "bright" or too "dark" (mostly to dark… which is BTW often also related to too high monitor contrast).

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You want to first edit the photos in the most general way possible ...
correct

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without using artificially low contrast ratios or raised black levels combined with relative profiles
what is a contrast ratio that is not "artificially low"? The contrast of a good old CRT? Or rather that of a cheap consumer monitor with a TN panel?
If anything most TFT monitors produce an "artificially" high contrast and you better go for a monitor that is appropriate for editing photos. Or simply adjust it to values that are useful for print related image editing.

rel.col. vs. abs.col. - it's not clear to me what you are referring to exactly. The direct view of an image (i.e. without softproof) is always displayed rel.col. on a monitor.
Or to put in other words: on the monitor rel.col. and abs.col. are the same.
First with softproofing the RIs come into play. But this is a separate (long) topic as abs.col. softproofing with "paper simulation" literally never works out of the box.

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otherwise all your editing may look like junk if you or someone else views your photos in a different way in the future
assumed you are working with a propper color managed workflow this is simply not true.


« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 08:32:04 AM by tho_mas » Logged
jgbowerman
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 09:55:44 AM »
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what is a contrast ratio that is not "artificially low"? The contrast of a good old CRT? Or rather that of a cheap consumer monitor with a TN panel?
If anything most TFT monitors produce an "artificially" high contrast and you better go for a monitor that is appropriate for editing photos. Or simply adjust it to values that are useful for print related image editing.

I agree with everything tom_mas says, and it is true, the biggest issue viewing prints is having them appear too dark (especially with insufficient lighting), and this problem becomes magnified when using a monitor with too high a contrast ratio setting. It is why higher-end monitors allow profiling them to a custom black-point level. I've taken much of my advice from tech support at ColorHQ, and regarding contrast ratios, I'll copy a partial email reply on the subject of contrast ratios and soft proofing (the following quote regards using the Eizo CG241W with its built-in Color Navigator software for monitor calibration).

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Simulate Paper color and Black ink - I always check these because this really gives you the closest representation of what it will look like on the paper/media you are using.  This works terrifically with semi-gloss/luster/glossy media.  On matte papers it gives you a decent interpretation of how flat the matte paper may be but sometimes the paper is so flat that it makes it look awkward on the display.   A lot of this is due to poor monitor calibration with too high of contrast.  For matte papers I like a 0.5 black level in color navigator for lower contrast around 160:1 to 180:1.  I like a 0.4 black level on semi-glossy and glossy papers around 200:1 - 220:1.  This is all to mimic the contrast ratio of the print as the native minimum black level brings contrast to 500:1 or more which is great for video but not for print.  The Eizo is the only monitor that I know of currently that you can accurately adjust your contrast ratio for print matching.  This process will help tremendously when soft proofing matte papers and semi-glossy papers.


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WombatHorror
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2010, 12:30:21 AM »
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the main purpose of a viewing booth is to create a kind of reliable standard to eye up prints without metameric errors and under consistent color temperature and brightness. When you are tweaking your images to look good under these conditions... they still will look good under different conditions. Why? When the conditions are changing you will adopt to the different conditions. The paper of prints will still look "white" under tungsten lights (as long as my eyes are adopted to the tungsten light). The same goes for the brightness and the contrast range. So even if there will be a new standard in the future the current prints will still look "correct" (whithin limitations...).
As to "someone else may view it somewhere else" ... this is a general issue with color management. Working under controlled conditions helps a lot to reduce unwanted surprises.
When you are working under changing conditions you will never get consistent results. Prints will look too "warm" or too "cold" or too "greenish" or whatever. They will look too "bright" or too "dark" (mostly to dark… which is BTW often also related to too high monitor contrast).
correct
what is a contrast ratio that is not "artificially low"? The contrast of a good old CRT? Or rather that of a cheap consumer monitor with a TN panel?
If anything most TFT monitors produce an "artificially" high contrast and you better go for a monitor that is appropriate for editing photos. Or simply adjust it to values that are useful for print related image editing.

rel.col. vs. abs.col. - it's not clear to me what you are referring to exactly. The direct view of an image (i.e. without softproof) is always displayed rel.col. on a monitor.
Or to put in other words: on the monitor rel.col. and abs.col. are the same.
First with softproofing the RIs come into play. But this is a separate (long) topic as abs.col. softproofing with "paper simulation" literally never works out of the box.
assumed you are working with a propper color managed workflow this is simply not true.




some profiles make a visually even ramp of gray shades starting from whatever black level the monitor was set at when it was profiled (relative) and others treat black as true 0 luminance and go up from there (absolute) and if you edit on the former and then crank the blacks way up on top of that then you may be very surprised on a PVA with very deep blacks and even moreso on some OLED and again who knows who prints will be done in 10-20 years, maybe lots of them will just be on magazine-thin light emitting displays with fantastic blacks and contrast ratios for all we know.  suddenly the dark gray pavement or wolf will look as dark as deep space, etc. and the shadows will look exaggeratedly different from display to display. And an absolute lack level profile, with the black cranked way up may have the bottom 10 shades all the same charcoal gray.

it's not right to say that TFT's have unnaturally high CR, it would closer to the mark to say that printing tends to have unnaturally limited contrast ratios

it's only a matter of time, not so long, before 4k monitors start arriving that will be able to display images even from cameras like a 5D2 un-cropped with barely and scaling and people view images ever more on screen (already as it is, a great percentage of images don't even get printed at all)

I wouldn't cripple one's monitor for basic editing. For alteration and proofing before outputting to a specific technology though, sure, but a limited contrast print IS NOT THE ONE AND ONLY GOAL FOR PHOTOGRAPHY. If you do ALL editing solely set to match your printer then you're images will look like junk if someone views them on some 6000:1 4k set or even on their HDTV today. So I wouldn't use that as my basic form of editing myself (soft-proofing is another matter).




« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 12:34:52 AM by LarryBaum » Logged
tho_mas
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2010, 03:59:16 AM »
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some profiles make a visually even ramp of gray shades starting from whatever black level the monitor was set at when it was profiled (relative) and others treat black as true 0 luminance and go up from there (absolute)
I still don't get it. Maybe you are referring to the "media black point" stored in a profile (which is BTW just an optional, not a mandatory table tag). But this doesn't affect how the image is displayed on the monitor - black is still RGB 0-0-0 (resp. Lab 0|0|0) and white is RGB 255-255-255 (resp. Lab 100|0|0) in the monitor profile and this is all that counts in this context.

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if you edit on the former and then crank the blacks way up on top of that then you may be very surprised on a PVA with very deep blacks and even moreso on some OLED
well... I do have a PVA panel (Eizo CG241W) and when I reset the monitor everything is brighter and contrastier. But that's all - it does not display more information (i.e. more differentiation) in my files after reset. The monitor contrast only defines how dark the black level is and how bright the white level is.

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If you do ALL editing solely set to match your printer then you're images will look like junk if someone views them on some 6000:1 4k set or even on their HDTV today.
again - there won't be any clipping of tonal values in the image files. The monitor contrast only affects how images are displayed on that particular monitor. Beside the question of print contrast (that is BTW still much lower than 1:400 or 1:350) a lower contrast (achieved by raising the black point) also helps to get clean, neutral blacks, it avoids banding and it is also a matter of comfortable working (a too high monitor contrast is stressfull for the eyes).
As long as you can differentiate all tonal values from RGB 0-0-0 to RGB 255-255-255 in your files everything is fine and the decision for a higher or lower contrast is more or less a matter of personal choice. I myself see "more" differentiation when I raise the black level and work with a lower contrast (maybe you don't see "more" differentiation... but the same differentiation is "easier" to see at reasonable contrast ratios). YMMV.
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WombatHorror
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2010, 02:41:27 PM »
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I still don't get it. Maybe you are referring to the "media black point" stored in a profile (which is BTW just an optional, not a mandatory table tag). But this doesn't affect how the image is displayed on the monitor - black is still RGB 0-0-0 (resp. Lab 0|0|0) and white is RGB 255-255-255 (resp. Lab 100|0|0) in the monitor profile and this is all that counts in this context.

an absolute blackpoint profile is based upon the premise that 0,0,0 should be emitting zero light and since monitors can't reach that it has no choice but to display 0,0,0 - say 3,3,3 all the same way, the min the monitor can do, if you raise the monitor's blackpoint it may have to set 0,0,0 - 14,14,14 all to the monitor's minimum shade

if you use relative blackpoint then no matter how bright the monitor makes the output when sent 0,0,0 it will still make a slightly brighter output for a 1,1,1 signal

Quote
well... I do have a PVA panel (Eizo CG241W) and when I reset the monitor everything is brighter and contrastier. But that's all - it does not display more information (i.e. more differentiation) in my files after reset. The monitor contrast only defines how dark the black level is and how bright the white level is.
again - there won't be any clipping of tonal values in the image files.


there can be clipping on the bottom end if the software sees an absolute blackpoint profile and follows it

and if there is no clipping then the medium dark gray you thought you made something may look like nearly pitch black on some other display, sometimes this doesn't matter as much as how everything is balanced together, but it can potentially lead to your photos eventually not ending up looking exactly how you had intended.


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tho_mas
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« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2010, 02:53:05 AM »
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I can't share this experience. And... apparently...  I also do not use any software that handles a monitor profile the way you've outlined.
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