How is the Imac screen for photography?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Nikato, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. Nikato macrumors member

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    #1
    I was talking to a friend of mine today about photography and was talking about Macs. He said he would love to get an Imac with their nice LED screen and a thought occurred to me. Many people seem to suggest Imac's for photography because of the higher ram capabilities and better graphics but what about the screen?

    Is the LED screen of the Imacs good for photo editing? I thought I read somewhere that the screens that apple uses for the Imacs are different somehow and good for editing photos. Is this true? If not, can you hook up another monitor to the Imac? (I don't know what kind of ports it has besides usb).
     
  2. simsaladimbamba, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011

    simsaladimbamba

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    #2
    It has an IPS display, which is has much better "colour accuracy". SEE POST #6 from Vantage Point for better explanation
    IPS stands for In Plane Switching and is the type of panel they used for the display.

    And yes, you can connect another display to the iMac, with a resolution of up to 2560 x 1600.
    http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html

    Forgot to add:
    The glossy glass panel over the screen may be off putting to some due to it introducing glare and reflection.
     
  3. Nikato thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Yeah that was what I was thinking about. IPS. I knew somewhere someone had said that they have some special kind of display. So that means that it is a pretty good screen for photo editing eh? Do all of the Imac's have it? I was looking at some at bestbuy for roughly 1,100 and then some of the apple site.

    I was going to go MBP at first but decided that if I want to be serious about this I may as well go ahead and get an Imac.

    Also, how heavy are they? Could I just pick it up and take it to a convention or something to plug in and show stuff off?
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

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    #4
    It is a very good screen under ideal lighting conditions. And yes, according to Apple's Technical Specifications page, all iMacs use IPS technology.

    from http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html, a very good resource to know more about the technical specifications.
     
  5. Nikato thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    I feel like an idiot for not looking myself lol. 20lbs for the 21 inch *what i want to get* seems pretty light for a computer. This may work out better then expected.
     
  6. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #6
    An iMac screen is just fine for photo editing - not the best choice out there but a good choice.

    IPS It has an IPS display, which is has much better colour accuracy.

    This is simply not true. IPS and SVA are better because of the viewing angles unlike TN displays. This has nothing to do with color. regarding color there are few things to consider, the gamut and separation. Gamut is the spectrum of color and the iMac has an excellent sRGb color gamut (I know because i have personally measured it). For color separation it is just fine but to get the maximum amount of separation one needs to use a high bit monitor. Many laptops are only 6-bit, the iMac is 8-bit. High end pro monitors like NEC, LaCie and Eizo are 10, 12 or 14-bits. This has many advantages but is really not critical - besides, if you want to view or post photos on the web you will need to convert to sRGb color space and work with 8-bits.

    Glossy is also another thing to consider. First, is the need to make sure your workspace does not have a open window or bright lights behind you else reflections become a problem. Also, glossy is designed to be sexy and make dull images comes to life. That's all well and good but a serious photographer does not want this, they want to see what is really there without enhancement so they know what they are working with.

    Overall the iMac is very good, I owned a 27" late 2009 iMac. I also sold it to get a high end monitor and now use a 26" wide gamut 12-bit non-glossy monitor with a MBP and there is no going back.

    One final point, serious work requires serious calibration of the monitor. A iMac is limited in that during calibration you can only adjust brightness but overall one can get very good results with a calibrated iMac.

    Below is a screen shot of my old iMac after calibration showing excellent sRGb coverage
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Nikato thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    Hmm, some questions for you.

    I am only a beginner. I would like to get into this as a serious thing which is why I am going to go with an Imac over a MBP for the ram and all that jazz. Would the screen be fine for me right now, and could I simply get a non glossy screen later? I do want to dual monitor the Imac for sure.

    How much did your screen cost you? What should I look for in a comp screen if i go to a place like office max or bestbuy? Also what did you use to calibrate your imac screen. I have heard of the spider thing, but is that what you used?
     
  8. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #8
    I am only a beginner. I would like to get into this as a serious thing which is why I am going to go with an Imac over a MBP for the ram and all that jazz. Would the screen be fine for me right now, and could I simply get a non glossy screen later? I do want to dual monitor the Imac for sure.

    The screen is definitely fine for both now and later. Wide gamut is not that important a thing. I am a nature photographer so I do want to get the best color...

    Also, a MBP lets you have both portability and a good external monitor - that's what I have. I use 8gb of RAM with Photoshop CS5, and Aperture 3 and other plugins. speed is not a problem at all with the newer CPU's. As a matter of fact my MBP is faster than my previous 3.06 C2D iMac.

    How much did your screen cost you? What should I look for in a comp screen if i go to a place like office max or bestbuy? Also what did you use to calibrate your imac screen. I have heard of the spider thing, but is that what you used?

    Spyder 3 or X-rites eye-One Display 2 are both calibration kits - either one is fine and needed to calibrate. Since I have a high end NEC monitor I need special software from NEC for reason too long to get into here but the short answer is that is necessary to get the most out of the monitor (same with LaCie and Eizo monitors). Best Buy or Office Max do not carry quality monitors only low end consumer monitors. A IPS or SVA is critical and a TN should be completely ignored. If you are a photographer then you are probably familiar with B&H Photo. They have a nice selection - I would recommend the NEC PA241W monitor which is 24" and a wide gamut. But I think the normal gamut NEC LCD2490 might be better and more affordable. See the reviews on that later monitor - made mostly by other photogprahers
     
  9. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    #9
    iMac screens are actually not bad for photography, but not 100% ideal, either. When you begin to get more serious in your craft, where things like print matching become very important, you'll start to see the advantage of matte-coated displays, not to mention higher-bit panels with better color LUTs (look-up tables). Eventually, you'll want a quality external monitor as your needs progress.

    There's really three tiers of monitors...

    The first tier would be the entry-level consumer monitors with 6-bit TN panels. These monitors are cheap (some of the 27" models are under $300), but really only ideal for office applications and gaming. These are the monitors that big box stores sell. Avoid - the iMac, despite its lack of fine tuning controls, has a vastly superior display already. Brands: way too many to list.

    The second tier is filled with IPS and PVA based panels in the $500-1500 price range, depending on size and features. These will generally be 8-bit panels (some may be 10-bit) and may even have 12-bit color LUTs. Most will be CCFL (cold cathode florescent) backlit, some will be LED - but that wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker as it has very little bearing on actual picture quality. Some of the higher-end models in this tier would be worthy upgrades to the iMac's built-in display. Brands: Dell (UltraSharp series), HP (Performance series), NEC (MultiSync 90 and PA series), Samsung (SyncMaster T series).

    The third tier represents high-end panels with 10/12/14-bit displays and generally cost $2000-5000 and above. These panels are extremely high-gamut (often 100% Adobe RGB and >100% NTSC), have 16-bit LUTs and highly flexible color adjustments. Brands: Eizo-Nanao, LaCie, HP (DreamColor LP2480zx), Samsung (XL24).

    As far as color calibration is concerned, it is typically done with a colorimeter. You can get a very decent one for $150-200. I personally own a Spyder3Elite. Huey makes good ones, as well. Some of the bleeding-edge Eizo and LaCie models even include their own colorimeters.
     
  10. Vantage Point, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011

    Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #10
    The second tier is filled with IPS and PVA based panels in the $500-1500 price range, depending on size and features. These will generally be 8-bit panels (some may be 10-bit) and may even have 12-bit color LUTs. Most will be CCFL (cold cathode florescent) backlit, some will be LED - but that wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker as it has very little bearing on actual picture quality. Some of the higher-end models in this tier would be worthy upgrades to the iMac's built-in display. Brands: Dell (UltraSharp series), HP (Performance series), NEC (MultiSync 90 and PA series), Samsung (SyncMaster T series).

    The third tier represents high-end panels with 10/12/14-bit displays and generally cost $2000-5000 and above. These panels are extremely high-gamut (often 100% Adobe RGB and >100% NTSC), have 16-bit LUTs and highly flexible color adjustments. Brands: Eizo-Nanao, LaCie, HP (DreamColor LP2480zx), Samsung (XL24).


    NEC's are not second tier but third tier (Or top tier or top shelf). All of the latest models are 14-bit (PA series) while the previous generation (LCD series) are 12-bit. Many LaCie monitors cost slightly more than similar NEC monitors. This is not because NEC is inferior, it is because Lacie panels are made by NEC and thus require a slight markup. (Apple ACD are LG panels) Both Lacie and NEC use a modified X-rite sensor but and their own software. Both are great but NEC has a distinct edge. That edge is that NEC's software (SpectraView II) can let you store multiple profiles while Lacie can only store one (at least that is the story I got when I called up their technical support people to ask a few questions last year). So why would you need more than one profile. Well one can be for sRGB only and one for normal use or... But, more importantly, and how I use it, one profile can be for everyday use and editing images for the web (say at 120 cd/m2 brightness). The other profile can be for printing (say at 80-100 cd/m2 brightness) so when working with that profile your prints will match what you see on your monitor and not be too dark (or bright). Also, unlike the commercial calibration programs like Spyder, these 3rd tier monitors, NEC, Lacie and Eizo, the calibration is not for the graphics cards nor do you need to adjust buttons to tweak color, contrast or brightness. All this is done automatically inside the panel. So when you want to change the profile for printing you just use a drop down menu and let the monitor to select the profile and then readjust itself. you cannot do this with a Dell or Apple or... they are just built differently -designed to work with the graphics card profile and physical setting on the monitor

    Botton line, you don't 'need' this but they are sweet. What is needed is a the so-called second tier (or better) to do professional work. Put another way, be cautious of anything that costs $500 - $600 or less
     
  11. c0l3a5h3r macrumors member

    c0l3a5h3r

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    #11
    very good. my school has them in our lab and from a normal distance you can't even mac out the pixels.
     
  12. Nikato thread starter macrumors member

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    #12
    Got another screen question. Came across a good deal for a Mac mini that I'm going to look at tomorrow (500 bucks with mouse and keyboard) and was wondering how good an led and/or plasma tv would do for photo editing? My guess is not so good but I am curious. Thinking one might be nice to show off my stuff at a local convention though lol.
     
  13. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #13
    TVs are terrible to use as monitors for things like photo editing. The pixel density is not near as high on a TV as it is a monitor.
     
  14. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #14
    TV monitors are nice for movies or web surfing, not for image editing. First, they cannot be calibrated which in itself becomes a handicap.

    This 24" NEC monitor is going for a great price on Amazon - it is not wide-gamut but wide-gamut is not that important and any images posted to the web should be converted to sRGb color space which negates the wider spectrum. That monitor was on my short list when I sold my iMac.

    As a side note I moved to Mac about a year ago. I had a aging slow poke PC and wanted a powerful MBP and a external monitor. Apple took forever to refresh the MBP so I instead opted for a refurb 27" iMac and a MB for travel. I later sold the MB for a 13" MBP + iMac but never really loved that combo (nothing wrong with them just personal preference). I sold everything and bought the combo in my signature (upgraded the RAM myself) and have been perfectly happy since then.
     
  15. Nikato thread starter macrumors member

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    #15
    Haha okay so it was as I thought. Well I can always use my old tv monitor (its a matte flat panel) for now if I want to photo edit, though i'll probably end up buying another one.

    Are there any CHEAP ones that do well? I only ask because I would like to start my editing as soon as I could but am on a limited budget (see my other post in the mac mini thread, im doing a lot of stuff to this for rather cheap).
     
  16. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #16
    One thing to keep in mind about equipment, 'cheap' often costs much more. The reason is you go cheap, then outgrow what you have, and then have to buy what you should have bought in the first place. This is a common story with new photographers when it comes to investing in a tripod. Been there, done that :(

    If money is tight find a compromise. A cheap monitor is a horrible solution as many cheap monitors are TN panels which means that depending on the angle you are looking at the image the brightness and saturation can look completely different. About 4 years ago I bought a 22" Dell monitor (TN panel) and got a quick lesson about all this. I returned it and bought a 21" Samsung monitor which costs about 40% more and and used that for a few years with no problems.

    If money is tight and you want a simple solution I would recommend you go out and invest in a 21" 2010 refurb iMac (ideally one with a 1TB drive). They start at around $1020. You will get a quality IPS sRGB monitor and plenty of processing power. Then spend $80 to get Aperture 3 form the App store (unless you already have editing software). That will be much better than mini and external. If things go well you can always pick up a higher end monitor later and use that as an external or second monitor with your iMac. Although I have wrote about the top of the line monitors, I also wrote that an iMac is perfectly fine and with 8Gb of RAM the lowest end 2010 iMac will clean a Mini's clock for power.
     
  17. legreve macrumors regular

    legreve

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    #17
    Answer this question... are you going to be preparing photos for print?

    If your answer is no then its fine.
    If your answer is yes, then do yourself the favor of getting a pro screen and plug it in the imac.
    The screen looks nice yes... colors are vivid, contrast is high etc etc. The problem is that you won't be seeing what you'll be printing if care a minimum amount about that. It's simply too nice to look at.

    Eizo.....
     
  18. Jeffacme macrumors member

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    #18
    The Imac is fine even if you are prepping files for printing. As a new photographer you will get loads of advice some good, some not so good.

    Read all you can by a guy named Dan Margulis. Learn to prep files for print by the numbers and the monitor you use will be irrelevant.

    The most common trap for new photographers is a love of and overconfidence in gear and tech. Making color decisions by looking at a monitor is very common and totally phoning it in. Learn what the values mean and you will be able to make your files print the way you want them to not to some arbitrary profile.
     
  19. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Is the LED screen of the Imacs good for photo editing? I thought I read somewhere that the screens that apple uses for the Imacs are different somehow and good for editing photos.

    LED is neither better or worse overall. The advantage to an LED is that it does not need to warm up. My NEC needs to warm and the calibration software will not let me do a calibration unless it is completely warmed up, 15 minutes, but it looks very good within 5 minutes. The warmup is only critical for editing and printing - think accurate flesh tones... for web surfing or anything warmup is not an issue. I think, but am not 100% sure, that LED panels are not 'yet' capable of wide gamut but wide gamut is not a critical feature

    As for Imac being good or bad, the current models are okay. The older 24" iMac had a problem in that it could not dimmed to a standard brightness (standard for photo work) without investing in expensive solutions. That is no longer the case with late 2009 models through today

    Regardless of what monitor one uses, if you plan to do serious photo editing or printing it is critical that the monitor is calibrated. The idea behind calibration is to have everyone using the same standard so that everyone looking at the same picture will see the same thing, shade of red, brightness... This is even more critical when printing else resulting prints can be either too bright or too dark.
     

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