I am currently using a CRT monitor for photo work and am considering changing to an LCD. Are the current high end LCD's currently considered equal to or better than CRT's for photo work? Which 19-20" models are considered best?
There are some very high-end LCD monitors which exceed the color reproduction capabilities of CRT monitors, but they are also extremely expensive displays. All LCD displays exceed CRT monitors in brightness and contrast, but for use to do Photoshop and obtain good print matching output that is more of a problem than a blessing. Unless an LCD has adjustments that effectively control brightness and contrast, setting the display to be effective to color correct and edit photographs and achieve good print matching may be a problem.
Most LCD displays are not made primarily for graphics and photography applications. Two brands that are include Eizo and LaCie. But some LCD makers like NEC, Sony, LG and Samsung do have models which are quite comparable in performance and also have the necessary adjustment controls that are essential. Finding out which models specifically requires doing some research and digging because the published information made available by the companies is often not all that clear and helpful.
LaCie today just announced two new models, a 19 and 20 inch that have specifications that looks good and at quite moderate prices.
I just received a new Samsung SyncMaster I am testing and evaluating for a report for Shutterbug. So far I am favorably impressed and have found the color gamut is as large as my pro graphics CRT's. But I do need to live and work with the Samsung a bit more to say more. The models involved are the 244T and the 214T, a 21" and a 24", with list prices that are very competitive.
Finally, let me say that the Apple Cinema Displays are factory set to match Photoshop application use (Adobe RGB 1998), and have been top-rated by one of Europe's most reliable pro graphics experts. The 20" Apple Cinema display is now at a very competitive and affordable price, and can be used with both PC Windows (a video card with a DVI digital output is required), and of course current Macs.
I recently purchased a Lacie 319. It is supposed to be the replacement for their CRT monitor that was supposed to have been a very good monitor. So far, after calibrating the 319, the prints are still coming out about a stop and a half to two stops too dark. My wife uses a Sharp LLT-1820 that we bought a couple years ago and I think it is about the best LCD monitor I've seen to date.
More than likely, the brightness of your LCD is set too high. Likely, because of this, you have reduced the brightness of your image on screen. Then, when you print your image, it results in too dark a print. If you still have an image that you printed before you had your LCD and was happy with, print it again without any adjustments, even though it would look way too bright on your LCD monitor. If this image prints just fine, then the culprit is LCD monitor brightness and you should reduce it. The best possible solution is to calibrate your LCD with a suitable hardware calibrator and set the white luminance (brightness) to around 80 to 120 cd/m^2 or nits. I like to set my monitor to 90 cd/m^2 because then the brightness of the image on my monitor matches the brightness of my prints illuminated by my digital darkroom lighting. Be careful, because not just any calibrator will work well with your LCD. LaCie, I believe, has a specific calibrator that they recommend for your monitor, so I recommend you contact them at: www.lacie.com
I have not worked with the specific LaCie model 319 you purchased, but have tested an earlier 20.1 inch LaCie, and obtained quite good performance, although the print matching function resulting in too dark prints was a problem.
I am currently testing a new model Samsung Syncmaster 244T, and although I have reduced both brightness and contrast, the White luminance is considerably greater than a top quality pro graphics CRT. And, most LCD's do not provide a brightness adjustment range sufficient to reduce the white luminance down to a level equal to that of a CRT. In fact of the quite a few LCD's I have worked with, unless there is also a backlight level control adjustment (rare), the image quality produced on screen at its lowest brightness setting is usually unacceptable. So, you are left with a compromise which will produce a higher white luminance than a pro graphics CRT. The result of that is that the reproduction of mid-tone value in a photo-image file (R-127, B-127, G127) will be measurably brighter on the LCD than it would be reproduced on a CRT. This will cause you to perceptually color correct and edit photo images on screen that look correct but when printed will if a color managed print match is achieved, result in a print as you have experienced, that is too dark.
This problem is a known fault to at least one color management company which produces display colorimeters and calibration-profiling software. And, the problem is being worked on to result in a correction. I hope to be able to make an announcement that a solution for color management has been accomplished in Shutterbug before long.
Thanks to both of you for taking the time to send me ideas to try with my Lacie monitor. I amd using the spectrophotometer from Gretagmacbeth's I1 Photo and The Blue Eye Pro software that came with the monitor to calibrate the monitor. I thought the Blue Eye Pro software was supposed to be able to adjust brightness and contrast automatically but maybe this is not the case. I will see if I can set the brightness to the lower level that one of you suggested and do the calibration at that brightness level. I saw where I could chose a brightness level for my target when I used the advanced settings but there were enough other things that I didn't have a clue as to what settings should be used that I just defaulted to the 'Dummy' settings. To compound my problems I am using an older HP PhotoSmart 1218 printer and while I can correct for the dark printing I still have a problem wtih a slight greenish cast and the drivers only let me correct for 'cooler or warmer' color temperatures. Unfortunately the yellow/blue correction does nothing for the green cast.
I think it is about time to start looking for a newer printer - or just learn to be happy making trips to the local Sam's store to do my printing there.
Thanks again for taking the time to help me with this.
Thanks Fran. I checked the brightness setting for my monitor calibration and it is 280 CD/M2. I am going to try dropping the brightness to the range you suggest as soon as I get my Spectrophotometer back from the floks at Chromx. I just sent my old one in to upgrade to the new one with new software. I think I will be able to do some editing of profiles with the new software too but I won't have it for another couple weeks or so.
I am not 100% sure, but I believe that the LaCIe 319 has a control to adjust the brightness of the backlighting that is separate from the video lookup table adjustment (LUT). This is important because adjusting the LUT too much will result in loss of dynamic range and may cause posturization. That's why it is important to first reduce the brightness with the backlighting control to something a little higher than what you ultimately want. That way the LUT adjustments needed to calibrate your monitor will be the smallest possible. I hope your monitor and/or calibrator user's manuals will have this information. Good luck and let us know how it works for you.
On the issue of a photo printer: good-quality letter size photo printers have become rather affordable and may pay back your investment really quickly when comparing it to having someone else do the printing; not to mention that you would have infinitely more control over the whole process.
I agree with you on the printers. I've been following the give and take of the merits of the 1800 and 2400 from Epson. I've also been looking at the Canon I9900 and the smaller one they have - I think it is an 8500. I've a friend with the I9900 and he is really happy with it and he gets some very nice prints out of it.
I cranked way back on my backlighting. I don't have a clue what the actual readings would be but it is now only about 36% of its total brightness and my test print is still a little too dark but now I would guess it is less than a full stop. I will shoot for about 100 CD/M2 when I get my I1 Photo back in a couple weeks. I've also got a book - 'Real World Color Management' headed my way. I think a little reading about color management might help me better understand this stuff.
I think I recall your mentioning Chromix in your posts relative to this CM topic. Steve Upton the President of Chromix has been publishing a technical newsletter on the CM subject and it often contains valuable insights and understanding of the practical issues involved. If you visit www.chromix.com I believe you will find access to Steve Upton's newsletters and a sign up to receive Chromix periodic news e-mail with the latest newsletter.
I've read Real World Color Management page by page, forward and backward and found it to be extremely helpful. Be sure to internalize the principle of color constancy (on page 46 if I remember well). Another good book is Real World Photoshop. However, I take a big time exception to the writers' recommendation to set your monitor at 6500K. Instead, I believe that the monitor and lighting used to view your prints must be matched for color temperature and brightness.
Well, I got my copy of 'Real World Color Management' as well as my upgraded I1 Photo. I am on the road this week so I just had a little time to play with the profile editor in I1 Photo but it seems like it will be very easy to use - as to how good of a job it does, I'll have to modify a couple profiles and see how well the edited versions do. The profile editor works very much like the 'Variations' correction does in Phtoshop. I did bring the color management tome with me and hope to have finished a first pass through it by the time I return home next week.
Thanks again for all your help.