A BRIDGE TOO FAR?

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As I have written before, my holy grail is an affordable LCD display that supports digital photographic editing and printing. I just recently discovered one that has some essential attributes, and even bought one, and LGE L227WGT. A reader just commented he purchased a display he is pleased with that was quite affordable, an AOC Verfino 22 inch with LED backlight (http://us.aoc.com/lcd_monitors/v22). But even the added new feature of LED backlight, which has distinct advantages, still leaves the basic problems that can cause “prints too dark”, as well as the added expense costing as much or more than the LCD, a colorimeter and software to calibrate and profile the display.

There has to be a better solution. In part the deficit is a failure to communicate both between computer and display, but as much between display designers and producers, and computer designers and makers while ignoring what is going on in the digital photography community. If it were just the serious photographer enthusiasts and professionals, which is a small niche market, not getting any consideration might be justified, but these days I think there must be few computer users who don’t have some kind of digital camera.

So what’s this crazy coot talking about now, you are thinking! Well lets just go back to the days of CRT’s when prints weren’t too dark. Everyone who calibrated and profiled a CRT, set the gain (contrast) to maximum and if the white luminance measurement happened to be 88.0 or 92.0 CD/m2 that was not a difference of much concern. But then along came LCD’s and the manufacturers could push as much light through the screen as they wanted, which was a great advantage to users in brightly lit office environments. So that’s what they did, the brighter the better, more sells better than less.

Unfortunately if the backlight is bright and not adjustable independently, the only way to get the white luminance down to a match with paper white is to use the screen’s adjustment capability. But sadly a very bright backlight with a maximum white luminance of 300.0 CD/m2, if adjusted to 90.0 CD/m2 using the screen adjustment capability uses up much of the screens potential range and often screen color and image reproduction performance suffers. With the newest LCD displays that have white LED backlight, these problems in some cases seems to be even more serious.

Bigger is not better, SUV’s get lousy gas mileage, are hard to park if you can find a parking space big enough. Brighter screens are only better for some in bright offices. Plus brighter uses more energy so is anti-environmental and contributes to our energy dependence on foreign oil and the use of dirty coal. Why do I say that? Simply to convey that you don’t have to have more brightness to sell LCD displays. More megapixels helps make better photographs of course so helps sell cameras, but more display brightness has done just the opposite for photo printing. This understanding needs to be conveyed to and realized by those who make LCD displays.

Considering the fact, unlike CRT’s, LCD display screens material that reproduces the image, is the most costly part of an LCD display, and is quite separate and independent from the backlight . It should be both relatively easy and relatively cheap to offer displays with a less bright backlight, just call them environmental friendly photo displays, instead of some meaningless model number. Then those of us writing about digital photography aware of the problem too bright displays have caused can identify the models with lower level backlight and we will do the selling for you.

But Mr. LCD display manufacturer, how about also being supportive of digital photography users by including specifically named and identified display settings that reflect the needs of users, a setting that conforms to sRGB and one that conforms to Adobe RGB automatically setting the display gamma to 2.2 and the color temperature to 6500K. In addition, I would think the display setting could also include discrete settings for specific white luminance levels, like 120.0 CD/m2 and 90.0 CD/m2, then at least a user doing Photoshop can obtain a reasonably compatible adjusted screen environment without having to invest in a high-end color calibration and profiling software/hardwre package. That would leave more of their budget that could go towards a choice of a larger screen size!

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at: goofotografx@gmail.com

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