The New Sony CPD E540
The Big Screen Monitor You Can Afford
If any one component is the keystone of an effective digital darkroom it is your computer's monitor. Everything that is accomplished in the adjustment of brightness, contrast, and color, and the work of cleaning defects or retouching a portrait, is done on the basis of what you perceive on screen. Therefore it is imperative that the screen representation reveals all of the subtleties and nuances of value as well as the fineness of detail and tone with great fidelity of your subject. Any deviance that is apparent can then be adjusted or corrected precisely. To assure that what you see on screen will be what you will obtain in output, particularly a print, the monitor must be accurately measurable, characterized, and a profile written that truly relates to the computer the values you are actually seeing.
This is all much easier to see clearly in a large screen area, but in the past the largest standard monitor size of 21" was double the cost or more than the next smaller 19" size. With their new CPD-E540 series model, Sony has reduced that price differential enormously, without lowering either the quality of the image displayed or by offering fewer essential features.
Affordable Pro Display
The unit is styled in a sleek, no-frills compact package, which takes little more desk space than the next smaller 19" G420 model I have been using for some time. This new low cost premium-sized Sony monitor supports use with both Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh computers.
Using The Sony 21" Display
At the same time I was taking a first look at the new Photoshop 7.0 in beta by retouching a half dozen 35mm studio portrait close-ups. The larger size of the display real estate--with the 50MB, 12x16 image zoomed to 100 percent magnification--allowed a much more relaxed and comfortable visual relationship. I did not have to hunch forward to see the detail I wanted to retouch. Even blown up this big the detail was sharp and easy to see at a comfortable distance from the screen.
Another very different job came up. I had to fill a request to redo an article I wrote on color management, putting it together in Adobe Acrobat 5.0 using Adobe PageMaker 7.0. To do this I needed to also have a text application and Photoshop open to copy and paste body text, captions, and screen shots sequentially and arrange them in PageMaker. The ample size of the 21" CPD-E540 display screen allowed all three applications to be arranged on the screen and open at the same time. The type was still easy to read from a comfortable distance from the screen. I was able to put the article together and precisely arrange the layout quite easily. This made the work much simpler than it would have been on a smaller display. The smaller screen would have required that I hide and bring up each of the three applications separately to have them large enough to see as clearly.
Evaluation & Recommendation
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