iMac 5K Monitor - Poor choice for Photography?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Bghead8che, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. Bghead8che macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2015
    As many of you know the new iMac uses a P3 color gamut, a gamut geared towards video editing. For a photographer this is not necessarily a good thing. Please read the following:

    According to the two reviews I read the monitor is only capable of displaying 78% of the Adobe RGB color space (ugh!). In addition there is NO sRGB emulation or display mode.

    What does that mean in the real world? For starters any image tagged as sRGB will display incorrectly to "some" degree. Please keep in mind that means 99.99% of web images, 100% of iPad/iPhone images, and most images taken by a camera.

    More importantly if you are a web designer or you want to take, edit, and post images destined for the web you won't have any way of seeing how the image will look on a standard sRGB images. So you are stuck either buying a second sRGB monitor or you will have to guess how your images will look on a sRGB monitor.

    Most photographers will use Adobe RGB or ProPhotoRGB for the obvious benefits of the wider gamut over sRGB. The problem is the iMac can only display a portion of these colors. At this point in time there is no real world way take images using the P3 color space.

    I can choose from several wide-gamut monitors that cover the sRGB color space AND 99% of the Adobe RGB color space. In addition, several monitors offer an sRGB emulation mode that can be engaged with the push of a button.

    Here's my dilemma. I purchased the 5K iMac to take advantage of the 5K resolution and to take advantage of the wider Adobe RGB color space that my Sony A7RII is capable of shooting. I also do some web design. I only have a few days left before my return policy has passed. I mistakenly believed that when Apple touted the "wide gamut" nature of the monitor it would be in a color space that people actually used and could benefit from. Now I'm wondering if I made a poor decision as I mainly need the computer for web design and photography. Based on the opinions above they indicate the iMac is a poor choice for photographers and photography in general.

    What do you guys think? Am I better off getting buying a PC with an Adobe RGB centric monitor? In reality is the P3 color space a large compromise for photographers and web designers?

    I love my new iMac but I don't want to spend $3700 on a computer that is not optimized for what I do.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. What do you guys think?

  2. Dragoro macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2010
    Thats mostly about people that print their photos on inkjet printers.. Most pros use photo shops either in person or online, and use the printing profiles, so its not an issue.
  3. ScorpionT16 macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    Enjoy the screen for all it's glory, get out there, take some photos! The time spent reading reviews, returning a beautiful 5K iMac, which you sound like you love, is time wasted not perfecting your craft and talents. It's simply a tool, the colour space is, and profiles are very capable of good results. It's why a lot of graphic designers, artists, and photographs use them, myself included.

    I used to own a print shop, I'm a photographer and a Designer. I just got my first ever Mac (the Late 2015 5K), I do a lot of photography. The only way you'll ever see true colour, and the best way to finish a great photograph is with a print. Are you doing your own prints or planning to?

    I've used all types of monitors, and always print test strips of my photographs, and match from the print I desire. Anything for print, get a pantone chart and match from there, as for photographs, i just use my eye. As for web design, it's normal to avoid certain colours (such as specific magentas, because they always risk showing as red, pink, orange etc on any number of devices, taking into account user brightness levels etc...) Also, most of the world viewing your web designs and photographs, doesn't have a Perfectly tuned monitor let alone a p3 Space iMac.

    I understand your doubts, when I was learning photography in school I used to obsess over this stuff, sharp lenses, perfect colours, sensors, monitors, etc.. a Good prof once told me to forget all that, good photographs come from good lighting, composition, texture, sticking with tools, and the observers intent. Any tool will do the job, only if you adjust to it and master its ups AND downs, we're accustomed to believing theres always something better, and pro-longing our desire to create with the desire to consume. Off-course, I mostly shoot back and white only now :p

    You've got a great camera, and paired with a 5K, a good eye, and a sharp mind you can do wonders. For web, it is what it is, unless all your clients/users use a perfect sRGB monitor, its not necessary. For photos. If you never make prints, they'll be gone long before anyone knew what Adobe RGB was anyway lol.
  4. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    It's actually somewhat of a moot point. Work on the retina and then go back to working on an old display. It's like someone has stretched a fishing net or a sieve over the screen.

    Even if the gamut isn't as precise as it could be, the images look a) clearer and b) a much more accurate portrayal of paper print.

    The main advantage I've found from working on the display is that you feel less like you are working with light and much more like you are working in CMYK.
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The first article you linked pretty much answers your question - if you use colour profiles and software that supports them, you still get the benefits of a wide gamut display that is swings & roundabouts c.f. Adobe RGB. If you don't, you get that "Kodachrome Gold" look on untagged images. Most browsers now support colour profiles, and the iMac 5k won't be the last 'consumer' computer sold with a P3 display so this will be increasingly important going forward.

    As for web pages, bear in mind that (a) of the order of 0% of site visitors will have their displays properly calibrated and (b) the gamma on Mac and PC displays is widely different anyway, so don't think they're currently seeing what you see. If you're a professional web designer then you really need to preview your work on retina/non-retina, Windows, iOS and Android anyway - and while you can do a lot with emulation I'd be inclined to have at least one physical device of each flavour available.
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'm a hobbyist so it probably doesn't matter, but I love my 5k iMac and the screen is great in LR. I have no complaints :D
  7. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    As a guy with 40,000+ frames shot and in my photo library, looking at raw images on the 5k is so nice. The color looks great to me. Your mileage may vary.
  8. Zirel Suspended


    Jul 24, 2015
    Do you understand what you wrote?

    Are you confusing AdobeRGB with sRGB? 99 or 100% sRGB are common nowadays. There's absolutely no monitor on Earth that can fulfill AdobeRGB by now.

    No sRGB emulation? That doesn't make sense. If you display a sRGB image, that image gets mapped by OS X to your monitor.

    You should learn about the subject before jumping to conclusions.

    The answer is definitively "no".
  9. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    If your software doesn't support colour profiles, or doesn't use sensible defaults for images that don't include colour profile information, then displaying them on a wide-gamut monitor often results in garish, over-saturated images.

    I think some wide-gamut monitors have a built-in 'sRGB emulation mode' to prevent this.

    Some years ago I needed a new monitor in a hurry and accidentally bought a cheap HP 'wide gamut' display, and the over-saturated colours were horrible*. Immediately following that, my advice would have been to avoid wide-gamut monitors unless you were working with pro software and were going to invest in a colorimeter to get everything properly calibrated.

    However, that was quite a while back and colour profile support has improved (esp. in browsers etc.) - plus I'd assume that the iMac ships with the display properly calibrated.

    (*...although a billion picture postcards and maladjusted TVs suggest that a lot of people like horrible over-saturated colour).
  10. Zirel Suspended


    Jul 24, 2015
    Which software you are talking about?

    OS X has color matching from top to bottom. This is no Linux!
  11. driftless macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2011
    I do photography, video, web design, etc., and the 5K iMac is perfect for all those, it is a fantastic machine. Enjoy it.
  12. Bghead8che thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2015

    There are dozens of monitors that cover the Adobe RGB color space up to 100%. Two reviews I read said the monitor covers approximately 86% of the Adobe RGB color space (they measured it using Calman and Xrite), most likely due to the monitor's focus on the P3 color space.

    Here's one:

    And another:

    A half dozen more here:

    So, yes, there are dozens off relatively affordable monitors that will cover the Adobe RGB color space better than the iMac.

  13. Zirel Suspended


    Jul 24, 2015
    Those monitors CLAIM they cover Adobe RGB.

    If you test those, you'll see that they don't cover Adobe RGB fully.
  14. Bghead8che thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2015

    Actually, they do come very close and in some cases are spot on. I mean it is what it is. With a P3 color space an iMac will only cover a portion of the Adobe RGB color space. For some it won't matter at all and for others it does matter. However, stating that the new iMac is as good as other professional monitors at covering specifically the Adobe RGB color space is incorrect. Of course the others won't cover much of the P3 space so like I said it just depends on your needs. From what I can tell the iMac monitor is a great monitor, however, for some photographers there my be better choices.

    An interesting side note. I calibrated both my iMac monitor and my older Viewsonic VP2770-LCD and compared them side by side. For the most part they look very, very close. Even on 4K native content the difference is almost nil, which has been noted by others. I though there would be a bigger difference. In fact, in some cases I actually prefer my older monitor with its plain jane 2560 X 1440 resolution and sRGB color space.


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