July 14, 2010

The Display Question Redux: What Display Should I Buy?

With the release of the Eizo CG245W self-calibrating display, the photo/printing forums are buzzing anew on what is probably the most often-posted question online: “What display is the best one for me?”  Well, for me the answer is, “It depends…”

The way I usually talk about displays is with my music analogy.  If you have a nice home audio system and you like listening to Classical music, you buy speakers that can faithfully reproduce that sound.  If you like to listen to a cello, you’ve got to have a system that can reproduce that “cello sound”.  If you have speakers that can’t make that sound, you’re not going to hear it (no matter how good the rest of the system is…).  Likewise, if you need to work on colors that your display can’t show, then you’re literally working blind.

Point #2 is calibration.  The oft-asked question is, “…how do I know that what I see on my display is what my client sees?”  Simply, you don’t.  However, if you have a good display that is calibrated to the industry standard (Gamma- 2.2, White Point- 6500K, Luminance- 180) and your client does too, then you’re going to be seeing essentially the same thing.  Calibration is absolutely critical to this working effectively.

Finally, there’s personal, well, comfort, for lack of a better word.  A friend said to me once, a very long time ago: “Look.  The monitor is the one thing that’s in your face every day, for most of the day.  Put your money into the display.  Period.”  I have to say, that was some of the best advice I got, and I still swear by it.  The one thing is the size/color tradeoff, though.  I love a big display- the Apple 30″ Cinema is possibly my most favorite workhorse- simply because it’s huge.  Big displays let you work faster.  It’s a fact.  But I like a more color-accurate display too, like the Eizo or Lacie, or the NEC graphics series…  so it’s a tough call.  For the same money I can get a smaller, extremely accurate display or a big, “decent” display like the Cinema.

Our buddy David Saffir has a great post on his blog about the new “Wide Gamut” displays- check it out via He’s writing from a photographer’s perspective, but anyone printing digitally can pick up some good information there.  David also does some great printmaking-oriented workshops as well, specifically dealing with the importance of Color Management- display calibration and printer profiling-  one of which was the HP DreamColor II Workshop we hosted here at Parrot.

…and yes.  We’re planning the next one real soon!

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