Brightness and Contrast Ratio

For those who have a need to match colors between their computer displays, cameras, and printers, what works well for computing purposes often isn't the best suited for doing other image related work. To help people who work in such areas match their computer colors to their paper colors better, some standards were established. Generally speaking for print work the standard is a gamma of 2.2, a black point of 0.60 nits, and a white point of 100 nits. We attempted to calibrate all the monitors for these settings.

Finding the appropriate settings to reach these levels can be a time-consuming process for some of the displays. It may require numerous iterations through the calibration process to end up with the desired white point, and on some LCDs it might not even be possible to reach a satisfactory result (though that hasn't occurred yet). The nature of LCDs is such that we were unable to get both an accurate white point and an accurate black point according to printing requirements (our black levels always ended up darker than they are supposed to be), but we did manage to get near the desired 100 nits white point on all of the tested displays. For reference, we have included the target value in the following graphs, so the greater the deviance of a display from the targeted value, the less suitable (in theory) a display becomes for print work.

Monaco Optix XR Pro

Monaco Optix XR Pro

Monaco Optix XR Pro

Since very slight differences in brightness are not a huge deal, we did not attempt to get 100% accuracy on the white point, but further tuning of the various displays would have made it possible to get closer to 100 nits. The primary goal was to get the white point near 100 nits. The target black point is nearly impossible to achieve once we have reached the target white point with any LCD that we have used. Due to the reduced brightness, contrast ratios are often lower, but that is expected with print material. The HP w2207 does maintain a very high contrast ratio of 1012:1 even at reduced intensities, which while not necessarily great for color matching with printers may be desirable for other users. Having calibrated the displays for printing, let's see how they actually fare.

Color Accuracy

Given the importance of accurate colors for printing work, the desired Delta E scale needs to be reevaluated. A Delta E of less than 1.0 is definitely the goal here, and 1.0 to 2.0 is merely acceptable. Scores above 2.0 basically mean that a display is not fit for printing professionals.

Monaco Optix XR Pro

The two 30" displays clearly take the lead in this test, while both of the 22" displays rank at the bottom of the pack. It may be that the TN panels are to blame for the less than optimal results, but the conclusions are pretty clear. If the intended goal is to get all of the scores below 2.0 Delta E, only the 30" LCDs manage this. The HP w2207 ends up with a fully one third of the test colors falling into the 2.0 or higher Delta E range.

Calibrated Results Closing Thoughts
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  • yacoub - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    Yes, the better ones were S-IPS panels, which it's a shame no longer seem to be used except in VERY expensive displays. They excel in several important areas over MVA/PVA panels. My first-run 2007WFP is indeed S-IPS and I love it, however they quickly switched over to some sort of MVA or PVA panel and I wouldn't go near those. :(
    Maybe one day (supposed) costs will come down and we'll get S-IPS again on mainline displays. I did find one really nice panel in 24" size that was S-IPS but the MSRP was around $1200, IIRC. What a joke.
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    The HP LP2065 is relatively cheap but usually (not always, you have to check in a hidden menu option) uses an S-IPS panel, and better still there are next to no reports of anyone having even a single dead-subpixel.

    I'd take a standard 20" 1600x1200 S-IPS display like the LP2065 over any wide-screen 22" 1680x1050 TN display (almost all 22" W are TN), as you get a much better picture with the S-IPS panel and you get more usable screen space because it has a tighter dot-pitch (so although it is smaller physically at 120 sq cm compared with 140 sq cm for a 22" W, the 20" actually has more pixels).

    For general desktop use and with most games, standard 4:3 is preferable to a wide-screen 16:10 aspect-ratio; the wide-screen format's only big advantage is for watching movies, and for that you should really be connecting your computer to a large-screen TV.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    I love widescreen for photo editing - rotate the display to vertical for portrait orientation shots, and you have a huge work area for either format. But I agree, I'd take an S-IPS 20" 4:3 over a 22" TN.
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    How many cameras have a widescreen format sensor? I know you agreed with most of what I said, but almost all cameras have a 4:3 sensor so a 4:3 display is optimal. This HP LP2065 monitor I have can be swiveled vertically very easily for those purposes, so unless you are taking widescreen format photos, I fail to see the advantage in a 16:10 widescreen display.

    You're right when you say a 20" Standard S-IPS is better than a 22" Widescreen TN. I'd personally say the difference is like night or day; once you've used the higher-quality and tighter dot-pitch of the 20" S-IPS panel, you'd never want to use any of those 22" widescreens. Only 24" widescreen monitors are better without spending a lot more, but a significant price premium still needs to be paid (and it had better be S-IPS, not PVA/MVA, let alone TN, else I'm not interested).

    When I chose my current 20" display, I could have instead saved about 30% of the cost and chosen a 22" widescreen TN display (when I was deciding what to choose, I compiled a spreadsheet of everything available and included panel types). Every 22" widescreen display used a TN panel and as I was used to the quality of a Mitsubishi DP2070SB CRT display, I decided TN panels would be unacceptable. Suffice to say that this display is everything I could have hoped for in a flat-panel and more, after seeing smaller diaplays (of indeterminate panel-type) in local high-street stores.
  • nilepez - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    Are you sure? Every digital camera I've used seems to mimic 35mm cameras, which have an aspect ration of 1.5:1. Most widescreen monitors seem to have an aspect ration of 1.6:1, while standard monitors are 1.33:1.

  • yyrkoon - Thursday, August 2, 2007 - link

    That 1.5:1 or 1.3:1 ratio is specific to the relitive size of the sensor compared to a fullsized 35mm sensor that is in very few cameras. There are *some* wide aspect cameras, but it is mostly a new 'technology', and mainly implemented in P&S cameras.

    My Nikon D40 for instance uses a 1.5:1 sensor. What this means is that if I use a 50mm focal length lens, the actual focal length I get with this lens on my camera is 75mm. Images produced with this camera are 3008x2000 which is actually 1.504:1, or more commonly called 3:2 by many. Canon cameras have a 1.3:1 sensor aspect, and I forget which other brand, and ratio, but there is one more 'common' manufactuer ratio. This is of course in the realm of DSLRs, but most P&S cameras use a standard sensor/lens ratio (for 'that' specific brand), with very few using the widescreen setup as I mentioned above.

    Anyhow, for image editing, I prefer a widescreen monitor not because it 'matches' the image aspect ratio, but because it give me more realastate for toolbars etc while editing images, and giving me more visable image area to work on while these toolbars are visable. This is purly a matter of taste, and I *could* use the pallete well, or tab keys to hide the toolbars while not in use, but this is the way I have become accustomed to working(pen/tablet seems to work well with this setup as well).

    Personally, I think a monitor that displays colors correctly is far more important, as well as contrast ratio, and monitor interface type.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, August 2, 2007 - link

    Most DSLRs use sensors that have a 3:2 aspect ratio (or close enough) like 35mm film has. the Four-Thirds system (Olympus, Panasonic, "Leica") is, obviously, a 4:3 ratio sensor.

    As far as "crop factors" go, Canon makes a full frame (same size as 35mm, 1:1) sensor, a 1.3:1 sensor, and a 1.6:1 sensor. Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Samsung all use 1.5:1 (since they all use Sony sensors), and Fugifilm uses 1.5:1 as well, possibly because the body comes from Nikon. Sigma uses 1.7:1, and Four-Thirds is 2:1.

    Most P&S cameras use 4:3 ratio sensors, and most are made by Sony. Panasonic offers a wide-format sensor IIRC.

    And yes, the toolbars are a good reason to have widescreen (or dual monitor).
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    Ooops, I meant 1200 sq cm for the 20" standard display compared with 1400 sq cm for the 22" widescreen. Heh, 120 sq cm would be a touch on the small side :)
  • yacoub - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    Ah, here it is: NEC MultiSync LCD2490WUXi for $1449.99, or the high gamut extra precision model for $1749.99.">

    I'm sure they're wonderful but for that price you can get a rather nice 42" LCD TV. Heh.
    Then again I bet they don't have any input lag like the Dell 24" and other MVA or PVA panels tend to exhibit which can be very annoying in FPS games for folks who are used to the more immediate input reproduction of CRTs or S-IPS LCDs.
  • nilepez - Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - link

    What makes this technology that much better? If I was spending that much money, I'd get a 30" Dell (or similar). At least I'd get 32% more desktop space than my CRT (and 44% more than the NEC).

    Oh wait, this isn't really a business monitor, it's for color professionals (mostly those who work on photos, I suspect) and has lots of controls, I suspect, that most monitors don't have.

    Out of my price range.....I wonder how it compares to a hardware calibrated Dell or HP. Of course for gaming and business use, it's almost certainly not worth the money.

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