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Author Topic: LCD Monitor Recommendations  (Read 436448 times)
Nick F
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« on: December 23, 2005, 06:38:40 AM »
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I am in the market for a good LCD monitor. I use a Macintosh G4 computer and would like your opinions on who makes an accurate LCD monitor. I've looked at  the Apple 20" monitors, but wonder are there others in the same price range that are better. The Apple has a contrast range of 1: 400 and I see others that have higher contrast ranges.  I would really appreciate your input. I would like to work in a price range of $800.00 US or less. I require color accuracy and readable type. I will be using this for my professional photography business.

Thank you
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Andrew Larkin
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2005, 02:33:00 PM »
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I am in the market for a good LCD monitor. I use a Macintosh G4 computer and would like your opinions on who makes an accurate LCD monitor. I've looked at  the Apple 20" monitors, but wonder are there others in the same price range that are better. The Apple has a contrast range of 1: 400 and I see others that have higher contrast ranges.  I would really appreciate your input. I would like to work in a price range of $800.00 US or less. I require color accuracy and readable type. I will be using this for my professional photography business.

There are some key changes to the LCD monitor technology happening at the moment that I am guessing will start flowing through to the mainstream market during 2006.

As a result, I ended up making a "modest" decision on my latest monitor purchase with the expectation that I will want to replace it within 12 months.

Colour accuracy requires the use of a calibration system and a monitor that has plenty of adjustments to bring it into a baseline configuration before the profiling is done.

My stop-gap purchase was a Samsung 204Ts and has easily satisfied my needs.

It is a native 1600x1200 LCD and connected by a DVI cable, I have no difficulty working with it at this resolution.

Andrew
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budjames
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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2005, 08:18:18 PM »
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I'm using the Formac Gallery 2010 (21") LCD for about 2 years now. It's specs beat the Apple Cinema Display at the time that I bought it.

I paid about $1,300 then, but now you can get them for about $900.

It's awesome and great video too with the DVI interface. I'm using it on my Dell Precision Workstation 470 with dual Xeon processors and Nvidia Quadro FX1400 graphics card running WinXP Pro SP2.

Merry Christmas.

Bud James
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Bud James
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www.budjamesphotography.com
neoprinter
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2005, 12:20:04 AM »
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Here's an in-depth reply (from the Betterlight forum):


Greetings, fellow betterlight users. I lurk here and I try to keep my
mouth shut ;-)  I can't spend too much time on this right now so
forgive me if I don't respond to questions quickly.  For those of you
who don't know me I was the architect of the Sony Artisan, the Radius
PressView, ColorMatch, ProSense and many other products. I have worked
with display technology both CRT and LCD for the last 15 years.

Color accurate LCDs pose many problems. I will not argue the CRT vs LCD
debate. Suffice to say there are elements of a calibrated CRT that
still can't be matched by any LCD - available -  and there are also
elements of LCD technology that exceed CRTs.  We are improving things
at a rapid pace. I expect within 2-3 years to be able to finally feel
comfortable stating that we have an all around superior product in the
LCD space.

I am writing this email to attempt to dispel some myths and provide
some guidance for your LCD purchasing. You can't buy a good CRT any
more, the only ones left are of poor quality because the cost has been
reduced so much all the expensive quality components are not used
anymore. There was a reason that some CRTs cost 2-3K - the parts were
very expensive. Now the analog electronics use VLSI to reduce cost,
resulting in poor comparative quality.

1) A wide gamut LCD display is not a good thing for most (95%) of high
end users. The data that leaves your graphic card and travels over the
DVI cable is 8 bit per component. You can't change this. The OS, ICC
CMMs, the graphic card, the DVI spec, and Photoshop will all have to be
upgraded before this will change and that's going to take a while. What
does this mean to you? It means that when you send RGB data to a wide
gamut display the colorimetric distance between any two colors is much
larger. As an example, lets say you have two adjacent color patches one
is 230,240,200 and the patch next to it is 230,241,200. On a standard
LCD or CRT those two colors may be around .8 Delta E apart. On an Adobe
RGB display those colors might be 2 Delta E apart on an ECI RGB display
this could be as high as 4 delta E.

It's very nice to be able to display all kinds of saturated colors you
may never use in your photographs, however if the smallest visible
adjustment you can make to a skin tone is 4 delta E you will become
very frustrated very quickly.

2) More bits in the display does not fix this problem. 10 bit LUTs, 14
Bit 3D LUTs, 10 bit column drivers, time-domain bits, none of these
technologies will solve problem 1. Until the path from photoshop to the
pixel is at least 10 bits the whole way, I advise sticking to a display
with something close to ColorMatch or sRGB.

3) Unless the display has "TRUE 10 bit or greater 1D LUTs that are
8-10-10" user front panel controls for color temp, blacklevel and gamma
are useless for calibration and can in fact make things worse. An
8-10-8 3D LUT will not hurt things and can help achieve a fixed
contrast ratio which is a good thing.

Only Mitsubishi/NEC displays with "GammaComp" have 8-10-8 3D LUTs at
this time. Some Samsung displays may have this I don't test many of
their panels as the performance in other areas has been lacking.

Only the Eizo 210, 220 and NEC2180WG have 8-10-10 paths. If you really
want to know... the path in the Eizo is "8-14bit3D-8-10bit1D-10"  go
figure that one out ;-) The 2180WG has an actual 10 bit DVI interface
with a 10-10-10 path but nothing supports it so you can't use it yet -
but for $6500 your ready when it does ;-)

4) The testing methodology for the seybold report article was very
poor. It demonstrates the authors complete lack of understanding with
regards to LCD calibration. At some point I may write a full rebuttal.
As an example the fact that Apple's display has no controls other than
backlight is actually a very good thing for an 8-8-8 LCD if your going
to use calibration. Apple optimizes the factory LUTs so as to provide
the most individual colors. smooth greyscale and the least loss. Then
the calibration is done in the graphic card LUT. As these are all 8 bit
it's best if the user does not mess with the display LUTs at all.
Overall Lab to Lab Delta E of 23 patches is a very poor metric to
evaluate a display. It completely leaves out many areas of color space
(the tool they used is designed to make the colorimeter look good so
tuff patches are not included) contrast ratio, stability, aging,
greyscale performance and other important considerations.

Many people ask for my recommendations. I am not happy with anything we
have right now. That said I can evaluate what there is.

Price performance wise the great bargain is the NEC 1980SXI BK the
price/vs colorimetric performance of this display can't be beat. The
2180ux Is a great display at a reasonable but high end price.

In the mid-high wide screen I like the Apple and the SONY. Reject the
display if uniformity is bad and make sure whomever you buy it from
will exchange it.

The Eizo 210 is great if you can justify the current cost. Give it two
years and most high-end displays should perform at this level. 220 is a
great display but suffers from all the downfalls of any wide gamut
display.

There is no reason to buy the La Cie 321 it's just an NEC with their
label on it and an extra $400.

The Monaco Optix XR is the best colorimeter for LCDs at this time.

These are my personal opinions.

Karl Lang
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Hermie
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2005, 11:28:43 AM »
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Quote
4) The testing methodology for the seybold report article was very
poor.

You forgot something neoprinter ;-) , the Seybold report that Karl Lang is referring to:
http://www.lb-ag.ch/news/digital/Quato/Int...yboldreport.pdf
« Last Edit: December 26, 2005, 11:31:25 AM by Hermie » Logged
Julian Love
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2005, 11:19:55 AM »
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Neoprinter, thanks - very useful info. I have been looking for a new 19" LCD that dioesn;t break the bank and the NEC 1980SXI BK looks like just the ticket for me.
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genesplitter
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2005, 11:41:31 AM »
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Thank you neoprinter - I am looking to buy an LCD monitor as an interim solution until the technology advances over the next 2 years. The NEC looks like a good solution.


http://www.donaldlee.net
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digitaldog
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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2005, 06:31:01 PM »
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When Karl talks displays, best to listen. He’s the father of both the original PressView, ColorMatch RGB and the Artisan.
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Andrew Rodney
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P. Grover
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2006, 01:53:08 PM »
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"The Monaco Optix XR is the best colorimeter for LCDs at this time."

When I bought the Optix several years ago, they recommended  checking your graphics card for writable DAC support.  They even had a downloadable program for testing this.

Now I'm buying a new PC.  Do all current graphics cards have this support, or is this an issue I have to worry about when selecting a graphics card?

Thanks
« Last Edit: January 21, 2006, 02:01:33 PM by P. Grover » Logged
wolfy
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2006, 12:14:55 PM »
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Quote
Here's an in-depth reply (from the Betterlight forum):


The Monaco Optix XR is the best colorimeter for LCDs at this time.

These are my personal opinions.

Karl Lang
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54301\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Anyone know the date of Karl's message(?), ...none posted w/article and a search didn't find anything (not a Betterlight-user Forum-member).

Thanks!


 
« Last Edit: January 26, 2006, 12:16:29 PM by wolfy » Logged
TimothyFarrar
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2006, 09:20:13 AM »
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Karl, thanks for the info about the wide gamut issue.

So basically what you are saying is regardless of LCD or CRT, having a large gamut such as Adobe 1998, with only 256 intensity levels is not enough (regardless of the gamma or even if using a L type mapping) to produce contourless output. So in many colors you will easily see the difference between two adjacent shades?

There is a very VERY easy solution to this problem for Adobe (speaking from a programmers perspective). In the color conversion from 16bit image to 8bit display, Just dither the 8bit screen output. Problem solved. On a high resolution display this would easily be able to simulate the full 10bit or even 14bit color output. I'm sure one primary argument for not doing this is because it would take too much processor time. You can get around this by simply outputing non-dithered output first, while the user is doing quick adjustments, then if the display remains unchanged for a few hundred milliseconds, then update to the dithered output. Of course, Adobe would probably have to switch to using 16bit for the image cache first.

If I knew a programmer at Adobe that works on Photoshop, I'd send them this suggestion. Even in the sRGB colorspace, 256 intensity levels is not enough with moderate contrast ratios (expecially LCDs).

- TImothy Farrar : farrarfocus.com
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Timothy Farrar
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2006, 01:24:39 PM »
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The Apple has a contrast range of 1: 400 and I see others that have higher contrast ranges.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54197\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Comparing contrast ranges between competing companies will get you nowhere. No two companies measure contrast the same way as there is no set standard. There are also other factors that effect contrast measurement such as the brightness of the LCD. A displays contrast ratio may be very high, but could require the display to be at it's brightest setting, which you will not operate it at when doing color accurate work.

Contrast ratios are only useful when comparing monitors from the same company and, I'd say, even that is limited to models within the same year; you never know when they may decide to change their testing methods.

Quote
Colour accuracy requires the use of a calibration system and a monitor that has plenty of adjustments to bring it into a baseline configuration before the profiling is done.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54209\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Emphasis added. As mentioned in the quote from Karl Lang, any such adjustments are a bad idea. The color characteristics of LCD displays are set at the factory. There is no changing them. Period. The only analog adjustment and thusly, the only thing you can be calibrated (profiling is a separate process) is the brightness of the backlight.

Any LCD with adjustment controls that go beyond just brightness are going to adjust the LUTs and thusly degrade the display's ability to render all of the colors it is capable of displaying thus making accurate color adjustments and proofing more difficult.

If I had to guess as to why companies include all those contrast and color adjustment controls it would be to make the displays more familiar to users used to older CRT technology. Not to mention, it gives the marketing department something to add to the features list ("Color controls for accurate color!!").

The point on brightness adjustments brings me to the next issue. Since brightness is the only analog adjustment truly possible, it is important to buy a display that can achieve the ideal brightness level for color accurate work which is 120cd/m2. Any brighter than that and blacks begin to suffer.

Here lies the problem. Most LCDs are sold based off the "Oh! It's Shiny!" factor and are set to be extremely bright. Even at their lowest brightness setting, they will still be much too bright for our kind of needs. A good example of this are Dell displays. The 2005FPW uses the same LCD as the Apple 20" but the backlight is much brighter. At it's lowest setting, it is still 200cd/m2. It is noticeable brighter sitting next to my properly calibrated Apple display even when the sudo-color controls have been used on the Dell and my EyeOne tells me it's at the proper 120cd/m2 brightness.

Unfortunately no company advertises the lowest brightness setting (it's not as shiny) and most technical review sites don't know any better about what accurate color means.
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Steve Miller
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2006, 02:22:51 PM »
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Daniel or others,

I'm in the market for an LCD monitor and for cost reasons am gravitating towards the Dell 2005, Apple 20" CD, or the Dell 2405. Size-wise and VFM, the 2405 seems perfect, though I've read some reviews questioning the color accuracy of PVA panels for photo editing. As you already know, the Apple and the Dell 2005 use the same LG Philips S-IPS panel. Is S-IPS really a better technology for photo editing? Are there so many variables that S-IPS vs. PVA won't be the determining factor?

I currently have a Dell 1901 which has been okay, but reading your comment regarding brightness makes a lot of sense now knowing that the screen has always been MUCH brighter than the resulting prints. Since I calibrate with the Colorvision Spyder, I always figured it would account for the brightness factor, though clearly it hasn't (I'll typically have to aim for a brighter image on screen to get the desired effect in print). With the Dell 2005 at about half the cost of the ACD 20", I'd obviously prefer to save the money, but not if the brightness problem means the montior won't calibrate well. Any thoughts? FYI, this is for an Win XP system (though one day I could see making the switch to Mac).

Thanks in advance,

Steve
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2006, 03:52:30 PM »
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Daniel or others,

I'm in the market for an LCD monitor and for cost reasons am gravitating towards the Dell 2005, Apple 20" CD, or the Dell 2405. Size-wise and VFM, the 2405 seems perfect, though I've read some reviews questioning the color accuracy of PVA panels for photo editing. As you already know, the Apple and the Dell 2005 use the same LG Philips S-IPS panel. Is S-IPS really a better technology for photo editing? Are there so many variables that S-IPS vs. PVA won't be the determining factor?

I currently have a Dell 1901 which has been okay, but reading your comment regarding brightness makes a lot of sense now knowing that the screen has always been MUCH brighter than the resulting prints. Since I calibrate with the Colorvision Spyder, I always figured it would account for the brightness factor, though clearly it hasn't (I'll typically have to aim for a brighter image on screen to get the desired effect in print). With the Dell 2005 at about half the cost of the ACD 20", I'd obviously prefer to save the money, but not if the brightness problem means the montior won't calibrate well. Any thoughts? FYI, this is for an Win XP system (though one day I could see making the switch to Mac).

Thanks in advance,

Steve
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=57011\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in the S-IPS vs VPA debate. They are technologies that effect viewing angle and ultimately it means squat as any modern LCD monitor suitable for color accurate work will generally have a good viewing angle to boot. The true test is to sit in front of a monitor and move your head left to right or up and down. if the contrast/color/density change, then the display is a piece of crap.

If you are wanting a LCD for color accurate work and are trying to save a few bucks you are not going to be buying an LCD. the technology is still young and with that comes additional cost. The better Dell displays use very good LCDs but all have very bright backlights which just nixes their ability to be used as color accurate displays.

When I bought my 2005FPW the retail price was only $50 less than the Apple. Having both displays, I can say without reservation that the Apple is twice the display as the dell. As far as the PC world is concerned the Dell is well built, but sitting next to the Apple, the Apple makes it look and feel like a creaky POS. You can certainly tell where Dell cuts corners in order to sell the displays at the prices they sell them for.

The Apple takes up less space on the desk, can be tilted with a finger (the dell needs two hands or it'll tip), and the connection ports are much easier to use. Top that off with the fact that if you are considering switching to Macs someday, the USB ports on the Dell won't work on the Mac. Either the dell ports are hoaky, the Mac is over-finicky or a combo of the two. Maybe they'll work better with an Intel Mac.

What I'm trying to say is that the Apple is more expensive, but for a reason. Granted, the display in in need of a price reduction but I'd say only by $100-150 based off the price of what Dell is selling the 2005FPW for (currently $430; which is how much I got mine on sale for actually).

My only complaint with the Apple 20" is that the backlight operates at 7000K. The profile compensates for it at a cost of a very slight green cast in deep shadows, but that is far less of a detriment than the display being too bright. In a year or so, when my Dell dims enough, it'll become a better monitor than my Apple, but until then...
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Steve Miller
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2006, 08:07:05 PM »
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Daniel,

Thanks for the quick response. Nice to come across someone that has both monitors who can speak from experience. No question at all about the beauty, build, and ease of use for the Apple. No question that the Apple is in need of a price cut (not that I think one will be coming soon). The problem is whether at twice the price, the Apple is still worth it.

If you don't mind, your post left me with several questions.

1. Did you buy the Dell and then realize that it didn't cut it for color accuracy, thus the ACD purchase?
2. Do you use the ACD for images and the Dell for palettes?
3. Mac or PC? If PC, which I'm guessing not, are there any compatibility problems with the Apple display (I assume you lose any software controls and can only adjust the brightness - though I don't think that matters as long as you calibrate the monitor)?
4. If you only use one of these monitors, is the 1680x1050 size too limiting?
5. You say not to get too hung up on the S-IPS vs. PVA question. Have you heard anything about the Dell 2405? It seems like the perfect size/cost solution, though since I'm a firm believer in you get what you pay for, I'm guessing the Dell 24" widescreen is too good to be true.
6. Aside from build, is the main problem the brightness level with the Dell 2005? Even turned way down?

Thanks again. Any additional help is much appreciated.

Steve
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2006, 09:05:55 PM »
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1. Yes, sorta. I originally bought the Dell first because I had two CRTs and one burnt out. I needed a new monitor, was reluctant to use LCDs, the Dell was on sale and it was widescreen (drool). So I gave in and got it.

2. Yes

3. Mac. There are no compatibility issues using the Apple. It uses a standard DVI connector. You just won't get those cool semi-transparent feedback indicators that you see on macs when adjusting the brightness on a PC as they are handled by OS X. In fact, I used the Apple on a Dell PC for a short bit until My G5 tower was delivered; I had decided to switch platforms at the time.

4. I find that the resolution is perfect for the size. Not too much and not too little. For me it is very comfortable using one display or both at once. On the Windows PC however, I'd say its a bit cramped only because Windows lacks any feature as useful as Expose on the mac.

5. Not much. I read a review at Toms Hardware a wile back and they reported it had very color good rendering just as the 20" did. They did not take into consideration the luminosity however. I had a discussion at Rob Gailbrath Forums a wile back with Michael Tapes on the subject. Mr. Tapes had just bought the 24" Dell and I convinced him to run some tests. He concluded that there was banding issues with the display due to the brightness but he decided it was well enough for the work he was doing with it (video I believe). I don't remember the full details in the thread but it is located here if you care to read it. It's quite big as some know-it-alls came in and tried to solve solved problems as often happens in popular forums.

There was another LCD calibration discussion with Mark Tucker that was going on at the same time. Due to that my memory gets them mixed up and I forget what was said in each... Here is the other discussion if you have some more time to kill.

6. Even turned all the way down it is 80cd/m2 brighter than optimal. 140cd/m2 would be the bare minimum -err maximum - for a good calibration.
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2006, 12:07:53 PM »
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Does anyone know whether makers are planning adapting plasma display technolgy for computer displays for color critical work I ask because looking alternative HDTV displays I read that plasma displays do a better job with shadow detail than LCD displays.

Thanks for any information or insight.
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Dan Dill
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2006, 01:01:40 PM »
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The biggest problems (burn-in is no longer an issue with the newest models.) with Plasmas are that they are expensive and low-resolution. No plasma displays under 50" is HD (High-Definition: starting at 1280x720 or 720p). I've never heard of an affordable HD plasma that was 1080i. Most are ED (Enhanced Definition: 848x480 or 480p). The reason is that is is very expensive to make a plasma high-resoluion. It'll be a long long time before plasma tech ever reaches the point where they can produce the resolutions we're used to using on our computer monitors which are many times greater than 1080 HD.

Plasma is a dying technology IMHO. LCDs have surpassed them already and that seems to be where the focus is. Newer technologies such as the OLED will replace both and the just released SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) will certainly give the current LCD and Plasma displays a run for the money until OLED is mainstream.

I wouldn't be surprised if SED reaches the computer market eventually though. Since each pixel is self-illuminated, black would be in fact black.
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2006, 01:26:59 PM »
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Daniel, thanks very much for your reply. It is very helpful.
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Dan Dill
Steve Miller
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2006, 08:52:33 PM »
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Daniel,

Thanks again for your help. Well, those were a couple of interesting threads. All I can say is I no longer feel badly for feeling stupid that I don't have a better grasp of color management. My read of the participants in both of those threads is that I'm not alone. I'm not a professional, just an enthusiastic amateur that really dislikes not having prints match the screen. While no one could agree on a universal luminance setting, one thing was very clear to me and that was that the brightness setting on my Dell 1901 was too high (which I knew but wasn't really certain how to account for it when profiling with my Spyder). The thread made me realize that I needed to lower the setting (even though PhotoCal suggests using factory settings). That one little change will probably go a long way in the short-term to giving me better prints.

As for my quest for a monitor. I am as uncertain as ever and may just collect my thoughts. Part of me says to go with the ACD 20", but the other part wants to see first hand how bright the Dell 2405 is and test whether at a low setting, the luminance can come down to 120-140. Wishful thinking or stubborn, though the return policy should minimize any costs (aside from shipping). One other thought, I could have a boat load of screen real estate if I use the ACD 20" as my primary display and use my Dell 1901 for palettes etc. In practice, is it odd to have a 1680x1050 monitor matched up with a 1280x1024 second monitor?

I realized from one of your posts in the other threads that you are a recent convert to Macs. The emotional side of me has wanted to do this for four years, though the rational side has always said I can do everything photo related on a PC so why bother. What made you finally make the move and are you glad you did? I use Downloader Pro for image ingestion and Qimage for printing. Don't know if you used these before, but if you did, have you found equivalent, relatively cheap alternatives in the Mac world?

Okay, I think I've taken enough of your time.

Once again, thanks for your help.

Steve

P.S. Just printed some shots after the recalibration. Scratch that thought about holding off on getting a new monitor. While the brightness/contrast is a much better match than before, the colors look like crap. Skin tones and reds are the bain of my digital photography existence. Time for a change.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2006, 09:44:37 PM by Steve Miller » Logged
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