Advice needed on choosing a monitor for photo editing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by iAussie, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. iAussie macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    #1
    I know the thread topic is pretty broad (and has been discussed before), but I was hoping to get some more specific input as to what monitor would best suit my needs...

    At the moment I use a D40, which suit my needs just fine as an amateur enthusiast, and I don't feel limited by my gear for the types of photos I take. Where I do feel limited however is my screen - I've so far just been using the glossy 13" screen of my Macbook :eek:

    Hence, I'm looking for an external monitor that will give me greater colour accuracy, but at a price that won't break my student budget (not a set $ value, but the cheaper the better!). Whilst my camera gear is by no means cutting edge, I feel I can get more benefit/improvement in my photos by being able to accurately edit/process my photos (in Aperture 1.5) before getting them printed at a lab and know they'll come out the way I expect them to.

    Regardless of what monitor I choose, I plan on getting a Spyder to calibrate it, either a Spyder2Express (~AU$150) or a Spyder3Pro (~AU$290). I've found this comparison of specs, but in a practical sense, would the Spyder2 be all that I need?

    Now for the serious stuff, the actual monitor. I've narrowed it down to 3 different routes...

    A relatively cheap TN panel, probably a 19" or 20" widescreen (with an above calibrator)
    Pros:
    - Cheap (about AU$500 including Spyder)
    - Still an improvement over my Macbook screen (I assume?)
    - Good size and resolution
    Cons:
    - TN panels aren't great for colour, but would having the calibrator improve things?

    24" Dell 2408WFP which uses a S-PVA panel
    Pros:
    - Bigger and better screen than the above option, more resolution, more inputs
    Cons:
    - More expensive, about AU$900 including Spyder
    - Potentially not as accurate as the option below

    17" Eizo Flexscan S1721-SH or similar
    Pros:
    - Best quality
    Cons:
    - Similar price to the Dell (about AU$900 including Spyder) but smaller, lower resolution screen


    So the bottom line is, what would be the best value for my limited budget? Keeping in mind that my photography is only a serious hobby rather than a serious job, so whilst I am not expecting 99.9% colour accuracy, I'd still like to get greater than say 90% (not that it can be easily measured, but hopefully that gives you an idea)

    Many thanks in advance for your help, any input on the above (or other suggestions) would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #2
    Forget about anything with a TN panel. And always calibrate, it makes a big, big difference! I've gotten my Spyder2 Express for $65 and it was worth every penny.

    Eizo has earned its reputation by being the best of the business. While it is debatable, how much better Eizo screens are and if they're worth it, you'll get a very good lcd suitable for editing photos.

    Regarding the Dell, that's also an option, although most of the pros (number of inputs, etc.) won't make a difference.
     
  3. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for your advice so far OreoCookie, I was kinda expecting that to be the case regarding a TN panel :(

    I should have been more specific sorry, I listed that as a benefit simply because it gave me the option of occasionally hooking up a video game console or similar, by no means the main intended use of my purchase but just an incidental benefit. Same with resolution, would generally be handy for non-photographic stuff like having more space to run apps etc, but I've gotten by with 1280x800 on my Macbook so as long as its nothing less, I won't complain!
     
  4. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #4
    Having calibration won't help you with TN panels at all, so don't waste you time.

    The only issue I have with the Dells are the two different panels they use in their monitors. They are either going to be a nice looking P-MVA or a f**ked up looking S-PVA.

    The best monitors to look for are the ones that have S-IPS panels (ACDs, NECs, Eizo) or the ones that have the H-IPS panels (30" Dell, 30" HP, many NECs).

    Now if you are on a tight budget, skip both color calibrators and grab the best IPS monitor you can find, then grab the calibrator later. Using a Spyder on a cheap or non-IPS monitor is like using a D3 with a kit DX lens. And calibration isn't as big an issue as some make it out to believe.
     
  5. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    #5
    Is there any way to tell? I've been looking at this site and it lists the 2408WFP as being a S-PVA (Samsung), I'm guessing there can be variation as to exactly what panel they use?

    The 20" Apple display is AU$830 here after student discount, which I've generally considered overpriced (the same price used to buy a Dell with the same panel as the 23" ACD I believe). But given the fact that any other S-IPS panels are hard to find here in Australia (I can't find places that still stock them), its starting to look like better value (given the lack of alternatives). Unfortunately my Macbook can't run the 30" displays you mentioned, otherwise the choice would potentially be much easier :D

    I can rent a calibrator for a day (one of these) for $50, would it be worth me doing this when I first get the display, then not worrying about it until I eventually bought my own later?
     
  6. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #6
    Unfortunately there is no way to tell. Find that Dell (ultrasharp I think... yes, the ultrasharp, not the one for half the price) that does use the H-IPS panel.

    I wouldn't rent a calibrator, I'd ask myself if I were going to be doing large volumes of printing to a production house though. If I am then getting a calibrator is okay. If not then it's nice to have one but not necessary, especially since there are so many other factors that need to be addressed...

    - Light source in my room of choice for toning.
    - My eyes
    - Color space used
    - Color space used by printing house
    - Type of monitor
    - Wall color in my room of choice.
    - How I feel that day.

    All of these issues will adjust your vision of the color at any given moment. Then when you calibrate it should be about once a month or more. Doing it every week or every time you turn on your monitor is torture.
     
  7. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    #7
    Thanks for that, it certainly puts the calibration issue into perspective, and given that I'm not going to be printing huge quantities at once, I'm guessing I might give the calibrator a miss for the time being.

    In that case, I'm thinking my options are either the 17" Eizo for AU$700 or the 20" Apple for AU$830. Using both at factory settings (ie without calibration), would one be better than the other?

    In a way I'm leaning towards the 20" Apple, since it's more real estate for day-to-day non-photography use (which will include occasional video editing in FCE, say a couple of times a year, but I still value performance for still images more highly)
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    Skipping calibration is a bit of a risk. I have three Macs. One is a white 2.16Ghz 24 inch iMac. When I run a calibration on that system I found there was very little difference in the profile made with the Spyder2 and what Apple ships with the iMac. In other words the default calibration is "close". Not perfect because I could easy see a difference but still close enough for non-critical work. But on my Mac Mini with Compaq monitor the default was not even close. Not surprising with a third party monitor. My third system is an old G4 tower but with the Old CRT based Apple "studio monitor". The color on this system is absolutely outstanding as Apple included a hardware calibration unit built right into the monitor. I can tell it to perform a self-calibration right from the Control Panel.

    My opinion now is that if you are using an all-Apple system you can skip the hardware calibration for non-critical work but you are going to need it if you are using a non-Apple monitor.

    That said. Just buy a simple Spyder 2. I paid just under US$70 for mine. It's not that much. I run the calibration procedure in a darkened room about once a month and don't notice any month to month change but I always let the monitor warm up for at least 30 minutes.
     
  9. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #9
    Good point ChrisA. The ACDs and Studio displays/matte laptop displays aren't that big of an issue when it comes to color. At the paper the graphic designers and photogs have ACDs, but the less color critical layout designers use just as good (given the model) Dells.
     

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