Differences between desktop and laptop LCDs?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by CatharticFlux, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. CatharticFlux macrumors member

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    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    Marietta, GA
    #1
    For a while now, I've been using my trusty DELL 2405FPW with my MacPro. I do a lot of photography work, and I noticed that my colors, particularly the red (and a bit less so the green) elements, were surprisingly different when I looked at them on a laptop computer. At first, I thought it was a calibration issue, perhaps a gamma problem, or maybe just a color management / embedded color profile. Then I thought it was my monitor, it must be just a crappy monitor.

    However, after spending quite a bit of time looking into the problem, all I can tell is that laptops, particularly Apple laptops (and my iPhone) are the ones that display these red tones differently. I went to the Apple store, and the 24" iMac, the 23" Apple Cinema and 30" Apple Cinema displays show reds very very intensely, while all laptops, matte and glossy Macbook Pros, LED backlit and CF backlit, all Macbooks (including my wife's) and my iPhone don't.

    To be consistent, I used one photo to compare these:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/catharticflux/285049864/in/set-72157594354463360/

    In the desktop LCDs the leaves are *very* red and the bark on the tree is rich. In the laptop LCDs, the leaves are... reddish but not intense.

    I wouldn't really care all that much about this difference if it didn't also subtly affect skin tones. If it looks good on the desktop LCDs, it's gonna look a bit washed out on the laptops, if it looks paler in the dekstop LCD, it's almost going to look gray on the laptops.

    I also tested the greens with this photograph:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/catharticflux/616968336/in/set-72157600471671755/

    Finally, for some reason, the blue seems unaffected and looks relatively uniform across all these displays.

    What am I missing? I've spent HOURS calibrating my Dell 2405FPW display only to find out that the desktop Apples look pretty much the same, but the laptops don't.
     
  2. netnothing macrumors 68040

    netnothing

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    NH
    #2
    The difference is going to mostly be in the Panel used in the LCD display. The Apple Cinema displays and the Dell UltraSharp displays use high quality 8-bit panels, where as laptop LCD's use the lower end 6 bit panels.

    Here's a nice article on the different panel types:
    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/panel_technologies.htm

    I know the Apple's use an S-IPS panel...very good. The high end Dells are supposed to use the same, however, I've heard reports of some lower end panels slipping in.

    Hope this is a little help.

    -Kevin
     
  3. CatharticFlux thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 20, 2004
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    Marietta, GA
    #3
    Thanks for the response, I didn't realize that the panel type could have such a profound effect on the rendition of the reds.

    Good to know though... How do photographers deal with this when using the macbook pro? Are they restricted to doing their final proofing only on external, high-quality monitors?
     
  4. netnothing macrumors 68040

    netnothing

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    #4
    Not sure, but I'm going to guess they hook up to either a Cinema Display, or they find a really expensive alternative that's just for professionals.


    -Kevin
     
  5. jasonvp macrumors 6502a

    jasonvp

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    Northern VA
    #5
    If they're truly worried about color matching for print and whatnot, they're not going to use a laptop's LCD for the final edit. As you found out, they can't deliver the intensity of colors (you've found the red to be weak. I've found the blue to also be weak. My guess is: the green is as well). I actually wasted my time trying to color-sync my MBP's screen. It never turned out anywhere near as nice as the desktop LCDs (Dell 2405s and 2407s).

    Photogs would be wise to only use the laptops to get an idea of their image, and perhaps do some limited editing. There's only so much you can do with the smaller screen size and resolution anyhow.

    jas
     
  6. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    Oct 1, 2005
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    Colorado Springs, CO
    #6
    CRT's still reproduce color much better and have better contrast ratios where the white isn't blindingly bright and the black isn't more of a gray. Black is black and white is white like it should be. High end LCD's just don't compare even in today's market.
     
  7. vicious7 macrumors 6502a

    vicious7

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    #7
    Typically, when we do on location video editing with MBPs, it's just to see if we have the shots we wanted and/or to mock up how we want the final to look. Post is done in the office with desktops and nice expensive monitors or we hire an editor with the proper tools to get the job done.

    With images, we follow the same path.
     
  8. bocomo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    New York
    #8
    i couldn't agree more! i only use my trusty desktop monitor (dell ultrasharp lcd). one overlooked pitfall with laptop displays is viewing angle. a minor inconsistency can have a major impact. i spent a TON of time calibrating and troubleshooting and wasting paper and ink once because of this. the image was printing very washed out and it was just the viewing angle of the laptop screen. be careful.
     
  9. jasonvp macrumors 6502a

    jasonvp

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    Northern VA
    #9
    Ultimately, QuarterSwede is right on the money about CRTs. While physically large, they still produce images that are much crisper and more accurate than LCDs can. And for far less $$, too. I don't know how much longer that's going to last, but for now, if you're really worried about proper color matching, use a CRT. LaCie's CRTs, with the add-on hood, seem to be well-liked by photogs.

    jas
     
  10. netnothing macrumors 68040

    netnothing

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    #10
    I agree....CRT's, while big, bulky, and not widescreen, are still the best at producing real color. It's the same way with High Definition video, CRT's are still the kings of producing accurate color and true blacks....although flat panel technologies are catching up.

    If you don't need to be EXACT...then get yourself a nice high end 8 bit LCD like the Cinema Dispays....otherwise, look at the CRT options for your final proofing.

    -Kevin
     
  11. CatharticFlux thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 20, 2004
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    Marietta, GA
    #11
    I don't need EXACT color matching, just 'in the ballpark. I'm not a pro photog, just an amateur that takes it seriously (lack of talent notwithstanding) and I was just very surprised at how different a photograph that had a lot of red in it could look from a desktop LCD to a laptop LCD.

    I had CRTs forever, but for my personal computer usage and lifestyle, LCDs make much more sense for me. I enjoy the lack of geometric distortion and I also (no matter what the refresh rate) used to tear up and tire of looking at a CRT. I also prefer the way that text displays on LCDs, which makes all my non-photography time at the computer (90% of the time) much more enjoyable. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree about contrast ratios, black levels, viewing angles, color/brightness shifts, color gamuts, accuracy, etc.

    I'll probably upgrade to one of the new LCDs that can reproduce 92% of the NTSC color gamut soon, I'll give you my thoughts then :)

    Anyway, I appreciate everyone's feedback. Thanks!
     

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