If you are a digital photographer, you will need a computer and a monitor to see your photos in order to evaluate or retouch them. And if you want a job well done, as often happens in photography, you can’t use just any monitor, you have to choose with care.
This may mean knowing how to decipher mysterious new acronyms and compare technical characteristics that seem to be made to be understood only by an engineer.
Of course you can find monitors that are extremely costly, designed for professionals with deeper pockets. But luckily there are affordable alternatives that are, in any case, a leap in quality when compared to the monitor based on a laptop or a desktop computer.
In this article I introduce the main features to consider in the selection of a monitor for photography and photo editing.
Vade retro portable
Purchasing a new monitor may be particularly useful if you use a portable computer, as many people do today. Reading the characteristics which follow, you’ll discover how laptops concentrate all the negative aspects.
In addition, a good monitor for photograph must have the option to be calibrated. Calibrating the monitor on a laptop is usually more difficult and sometimes we do not do so precisely.
What are the characteristics to assess in the choice of the monitor?
As is the case for any technology product, if you start delving deep into the technical specifications for computer monitors it seems like the lists are as numerous as confetti. Fortunately, however, the number of features to keep in mind for photographic use is limited.
Let’s look at them one by one.
This is an easy-to-understand feature, certainly, the larger monitor is better. The difficult part is deciding which is the minimum size that allows us to work comfortably while not spending too much.
When choosing a monitor for your computing needs, you should first think about your desk size, vision acuity and the distance you’re sitting from the monitor. People who struggle with a tiny 13 inch notebook screen not only invite eyestrain but also poor posture. Displaying a highly detailed photograph or other image on a small screen like this does not help you see how it really is supposed to look.
Most laptops have 15 inch screens, but this is hardly better than the smaller option. What you gain in convenience and portability forces you to lose out on display quality and comfort. Photographers and artists need a larger and higher quality display in order to properly view and edit their pictures.
From what I’ve read, and according to my personal experience, I would recommend you do not drop below 24 inches, 27"-32" is a nice size for editing. If your budget is very tight you can settle for a 23-inch.
Monitors of this size are large enough to justify the expense. Furthermore, they allow you to view your pictures at a good level of magnification and simultaneously hold all the toolbars and panels typical of photo editing software and post-photographic production.
In particular, these dimensions relate to screens with proportions of 16:10. I believe the old 4:3 is no longer available, while the 16:9 favor the width too much when compared to the height and can make awkward access to functionality of the various programs.
The monitor’s 16:10 fits perfectly into pictures taken with the landscape orientation and also leave a generous amount of space for the various toolbars arranged vertically in many image editing programs.
Finally, this is the dimension that at the moment it offers the best price/performance ratio.
TN or IPS?
The Twisted Nematic (TN) is a very well known form of technology and it is also considered to be the oldest as well. Its best feature is that it gives short response times, which is why it is great for a gaming platform, but unfortunately is not good for a photographic use. When combined with LED lighting, a Twisted Nematic monitor can provide a lot of brightness and use less power than other technologies of its kind.
However, TN also has features that are not as advantageous. For instance, it has color distortions that happen when viewing wide angles. These monitors have 6 bit color technology. They are not able to show all the colors of the 24 bit color range that most video cards can show you, which add up to around 60 million colors. There are huge differences in certain products, but the ones that are on the low end will have a color for just the medium range angle changes. You will be able to recognize a Twisted Nematic monitor because of such color modifications, if you are looking at the picture from the top or from the sides.
In Plane Switching (IPS) is a contemporary technology that uses other types of technologies such as S-IPS, AS-IPS, H-IPS and E-IPS. The main reason that you want to use IPS panels is because they are either 8- or 10-bit technology. They produce a minimum of 125 percent of the colors that are available in the NTSC gamut. Also, these colors are not distorted when you look at them from various angles. The majority of them can be viewed well beyond 170 degrees. Previously, the only problem had to do with emphasizing the black colors, which usually meant that there were going to be some problems with the contrast. Also, IPS panels tend to be pricey and they are also slow at first.
Manufacturers have begun to produce Super IPS panels, but at cheaper prices. The response times have been reduced a lot and the contrast has been greatly enhanced. Also, the color display and the selections to calibrate the colors are a lot better than other panels of this kind. There is no distortion, even when you are viewing at shaper angles.
IPS monitors have not really been affordable, but the gap is starting to close. Just one year ago, most IPS monitors were three times expensive than the regular TN monitors. However, the 23 inch screens can be bought for around three hundred dollars these days. If you want professional graphic monitors that utilize IPS technology, you will have to still pay about a thousand dollars for it.
So the IPS monitor is the best monitor for photography mainly for two reasons:
- Allows you to play a very large number of colors (close to 100% of the color space sRGB),
- Provides a visual angle very high.
VA is another good technology, but it is not used as much. Similar to IPS panels, this type of technology utilizes a minimum of 8 bit technology, provides good coverage and the colors are not distorted when shown at different angles.
Matte screen or Glossy Screen?
Indoors, the glossy can still reflect a great deal of light.
If you make a turn at any electronics store, you’ll notice how the monitors of portable and those for fixed computer screens have glossy screens.
The glossy appearance favors the contrast and vibrancy of colors and is designed for the use of the computer that is dedicated to the entertainment, but unfortunately, as far as sexy may seem, these monitors have several disadvantages that are particularly evident in photographic work.
For example, the glossy screens reflect the sources of light and even the shapes of what lies in front of the monitor, by altering the perception of what is shown, saturation and contrast do not correspond to the content of the photo, especially once it is printed.
The monitor is not glossy are said matte. They are easily recognizable in each case, you’ve worked a monitor of this type.
If you buy on the internet, you can’t recognize at a glance if a monitor is matte or glossy. You should be able to discover by looking between the technical characteristics or possibly looking for on Google the name of the monitor associated with the word glossy.
If they will be shown on just one screen, both of them are no problems. If they will be utilized for print, then opt for matte, which will have better saturation as a result of the glossy screens. Glossy is not the same as what you will get with print.
Bit depth LUT
Monitor display calibration is limited no matter what model you own. Owners of digital monitors should resist any changes from the factory settings because this can result in a loss of colors and shades. One way to counteract this is by buying a monitor with a higher bit depth LUT. This not only affects the specificity of the calibration, but also allows the monitor to utilize more colors in its display.
Note: Since the input values for the display remain the same, a higher bit depth LUT will not display more colors at the same time. A video card with a higher bit depth LUT will not improve accuracy of calibrations if not paired with a similarly equipped monitor.
In a system with a low bit depth, the darkest (1) and the brightest (4) shades merge with white (5) and black (0) because the shades themselves are rounded up or down to the closest output available. A system with a high bit depth LUT does not need to round shades to the closest output value that can use additional intermediate values. Because of this increased precision, posterization of image and color banding are not a problem for even the oldest and most color-changed displays.
Most currently available monitors have 8-bit LUT, though 6-bit and higher 10-bit LUT’s are also on the market. For most purposes, 8-bit options deliver quality calibrations and clearer, color-true pictures. There are also monitors, usually LCD and marketed specifically to gamers, that sacrifice bit depth LUT for higher refresh rates. This process is the quick change of animated graphics in that many games with more quality and smoothness, but is no importance for those interested in viewing photos and still graphics.
Standard Gamut or Wide Gamut (Extended Gamut)?
All physical devices have restrictions when it comes to the types of colors that it can provide. An inkjet printer does not have the ability to produce a better shade of yellow than what is provided by the ink cartridge. The shade of red that your monitor shows is restricted by the hardware that is utilized in the LCD panel. This is known as the device’s color gamut.
A majority of monitors have a color gamut that matches the SRGB color gamut. You might already know that the sRGB color gamut does not have as much as the more commonly utilized Adobe 1998 version. Also, a lot of the Adobe colors that can be printed via your inkjet printer are actually not in the range of the SRGB colors. As a result, your camera can provide these colors and they can be printed with your printer. However, you cannot see them on your monitor. Basically, you will view an estimate of these colors because they are restricted by the monitor’s color gamut.
Wide gamut monitors get rid of this issue because what they have is matched up with a bigger amount of what the Adobe 1998 has. You can find this amount in the monitor’s specs. The benefit of this is that you can view colors in your pictures that look brighter than the regular gamut monitor. This gives you the ability to see all of the colors in your pictures.
It is best to have a wide gamut display because this is the way of the future. This is practically what is available right now. To utilize this type of display, you have to know about color managed workflows and possess a display that has the right calibration. You also have to utilize a color managed app such as Photoshop. This is not that hard to manage, but you have to know exactly what you are doing in order to be successful with it.
How to choose:
Depending on your photo and graphic display and editing needs, you need to choose a monitor that covers the sRGB spectrum and possibly the Adobe RPG spectrum as well. The first specification is found on every single quality monitor on the market today.
The sRGB spectrum is more than sufficient for web-based photographs and all graphics that are intended to be displayed on a monitor in their final form. For artists that print their work, the Adobe RPG spectrum capable monitor will result in better clarity, color correctness and ultimately higher-quality work.
Currently, nearly all monitor can cover more than 99% of the sRGB spectrum however not all of them can cover most of the Adobe RGB spectrum.
You are entering the market monitor LCD backlit LED. in this case too there are different types, corresponding to different acronyms.
For photographic use, ask attention to buy a monitor RGB LED and not el-wled . The second option does not provide a color reproduction sufficiently faithful.
The first LCD monitor for your computer suffered from an angle of view very reduced. What does that mean?
With a reduced visual angle, moving left to right, top or bottom with respect to the central axis of the monitor, the colors are transformed and the contrast changes . You can imagine how it is absolutely recommended in a monitor to use for photo retouching.
The monitor of more recent production, allow you to move to the right or to the left relative to the monitor without noting obvious changes in the image. Choose a monitor with at least 120° of visual angle horizontal and possibly the same for the vertical.
On this aspect there is little to say, the available resolutions are not a lot, especially, the resolution is also determined by the size of the diagonal.
For a monitor by 23 or 24 inches, the size that I advised before, do not fall under a native resolution of 1920 * 1200. Recalls that LCD monitors should be always used to their resolution, so don’t think you can use a resolution higher or lower than the one specified.
Should You Buy a 4K monitor?
Any full-size image on a 4K monitor will be displayed with enough detail and beauty for a photographer’s appreciation. Your palettes tools can also be set to an incredible number.
These pictures also require the ability to zoom in and out in a photo editing program like Photoshop and also to display text and fonts clearly and at the correct size. This differs from standard video, television or gaming monitor usage.
Most computer software applications are designed to make use of full high definition resolutions, which results in text that is easily viewed from a standard distance away. In 4K format, text minimizes to an uncomfortable level in the same programs and software apps.
4K is becoming highly active in the 2016 market but this display technology is outpacing some of the older programs that people still use every day. If you combine software usage from even two or three years ago with the new 4K option, the size of your text will be unreadable. This makes for very difficult computing and a lot of frustration between modern technology usage and keeping older but not yet obsolete software.
In order to get the best benefit from 4K, you need to make sure that the programs you use work well with it. Many of the standard Windows applications work well with 4K already although some Windows desktop ecosystems may lag behind this technology.
By far the most popular graphics and photography editing software, Adobe Photoshop, is already working well with 4K displays. Even the largest pictures can be viewed with full detail at high resolutions and in actual size without the need to zoom in or out or scroll the workspace. The entire Photoshop interface scales easily so you have no problem accessing all your favorite tools and palettes. If you are regularly engaged in photography or graphics editing or work with videos, a 4K monitor is virtually essential.
To conclude, my personal opinion is that the 4K display capabilities are very attractive but not quite yet practical for all uses. In your excitements about this new technology, it is still important to hang back a bit and make sure all your existing hardware and the programs you use regularly work with the 4K monitor before you purchase one.
Now all of the monitors should be equipped with a digital connection, HDMI or DVI. Be careful not to buy a fund of magazine that has only the VGA.
Also, check which ports are available on your computer. Don’t worry, however: adapters exist able to convert any format.
Best Monitor recommended for photo editing
Monitors that incorporate all the features that i listed abut on prices between 100$ to 2000$.
With a little patience, however, you can find offers that will make saving a few dozen dollars. As I wrote before, if your budget is tight, of the features that I have described can find a compromise on size, but not on the other.
Here are some models that I have identified are looking for a monitor for you.
Disclaimer: Clicking on a “Details on Amazon” link will bring to you to the appropriate Amazon.com product listing, where you can check the price, customer reviews and more information about the product or similar products.