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Recommendation for best monitor for photo editing

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by eschurr, Feb 6, 2016.

  1. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    It's time to upgrade my five year-old 27" 1900 x 1200 Dell monitor and l'm looking for recommendations and thoughts.

    I'm just an everyday photo guy with a Nikon D750 and a bunch of lenses and a overwhelming love of Lightroom. I want a great monitor, but i'm not a pro (yet :)). I'll spend up to $1,000 if i have to, but would love not to.

    I found this very helpful article

    Things i'm wondering about:

    -- size. It seems that monitors larger than 27" are only wider, not taller (too bad!). I certainly won't go smaller than 27". what are the benefits of 32"? i've read some articles that suggested that one get a 27" monitor and put one (or two) 24" monitors beside it vertically (a software engineer in my office does this) and put Lightroom's menus/panels on them so the 27" monitor is used just for the photo. this also means one could buy a great 27" monitor and one (or two) cheaper 24" monitors.

    -- resolution. 2560 x 1440 resolution is the minimum requirement for a 27-inch monitor. is something higher, like 4K, important?

    -- refresh rate. I understand it's very important for gaming, but is it for Lightroom?

    -- calibration. Some have it built in, but most don't. I use a Spyder right now, and maybe that's fine? Is there a benefit to built-in calibration?

    -- gamut. I shoot in sRGB because my photos are mostly displayed on my monitor, my HD TV, and other friend's monitors via the web. I don't print a lot. I'm assuming 100% sRGB is good enough.

    Anything else?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
     
  2. clee01l

    clee01l Lightroom Guru Staff Member Lightroom Guru

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    One monitor or two? I think the 2560X1440 27" monitors is sufficient however an Apple 5K might be optimum. I'm not sure if there are other mfgs that do 5K but if so then they are worth a look. I find that dual monitors are really useful for develop mode. I keep the second screen open in one all the time. So, hang on to the Dell.
    You will probably need to upgrade to Win10 to manage higher resolutions as I don't think Win7 is quite up to the task.

    My second monitor is an ASUS PB278. It is IPS which is important unless there is more advanced technology better than IPS. My research suggested the ASUS screen utilized the same materials as the Apple iMac that I have.

    sRGB is adequate but there are some wide gamut monitors that approach AdobeRGB. If you find one it is worthy of consideration ONLY if you run a regular calibration on the device with a color calibration tool.
     
  3. Conrad Chavez

    Conrad Chavez Active Member

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    They might have been using Photoshop, where it’s common to put all the panels on a secondary display to free up the primary display to display only the image. In Lightroom, all of the tool panels (folder tree, color controls, metadata entry, print settings, etc.) are permanently attached to the primary editing window. You can't detach the tool panels.

    It is possible to move the main Lightroom window and its panels to the second monitor, and then use Lightroom's Secondary Display feature to fill the main display with just the Loupe view, but there are some issues with doing it that way. I settle for keeping the main window and its panels on the primary display, and (usually) Grid view on the secondary display.

    Whether there is a benefit of going over 27” is a personal preference. Some find 30” and higher too much area to take in at a close desktop viewing distance, they prefer two 27” or smaller. Others prefer one bigger display that keeps everything in one place, while taking up less desk space than two smaller displays.

    2560 x 1440 is an established standard, nothing wrong with it. But all devices are moving toward Retina/HiDPI resolutions, led by smartphones and tablets but increasingly laptop displays and now desktop displays. So 4K is becoming more important if you want to see your images as your viewers do. To use a 4K display, your computer will need a graphics card that has enough power and video RAM to drive 4K with good performance, especially for Lightroom. Also, older OSs and some applications are not yet fully adapted to 4K so their controls and text may appear too small. If you’ve got the hardware and the software for 4K, then you might want to go for it.

    One way to find out if you’d like 4K is to go to the nearest Apple Store and look at images on the 4K and 5K iMacs. You’ll probably know right away whether 4K is something you want. Some people are blown away, others aren’t.

    Shouldn’t be very important for Lightroom specifically. However it is an area that can come up if you go 4K, because some graphics cards can do 4K at only 30 frames per second, which some people notice and dislike. If you go 4K your graphics card should support 4K at 60 fps.

    Displays can drift over time. Built-in calibration can work OK; the idea is that it tracks how the hardware changes over time and tries to compensate automatically.

    Some of the nicer/more expensive displays like the NEC SpectraView series are calibrated very well at the factory and have built-in calibration that can keep it fairly accurate on its own. But if you want maximum accuracy, it is always better to run an external calibration device like your Spyder periodically.

    sRGB should be enough then. For you, a calibrated sRGB display is much more important than a wide-gamut display.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  4. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    thanks to both of you for your helpful replies.

    1. i didn't realize LR's panels couldn't be torn off; thanks for telling me! It's not clear to me how each of you uses the secondary display -- to show grid view, but you leave the main screen in Loupe or Develop view?
    2. I use a Windows 10 machine (i'm getting a Surface Book) so a Mac monitor won't work.
    3. any recommendations on particular 27" monitors (I know that's a lot to ask; there are many out there)
     
  5. Conrad Chavez

    Conrad Chavez Active Member

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    1. Main display is usually set to Develop unless I'm organizing. Secondary display is usually set to Grid, but sometimes I set it to something else. Like Survey, when I want to compare the image I'm editing to another image it needs to be consistent with. By the way, you don't need a second monitor to try this out. Just choose Window > Secondary Display > Show; a second window will pop up and you can play around with it next to your main window.

    2. Don't worry about this part. Macs plug into the same displays that PCs do. My Mac is connected to an NEC PA272W, which was recommended in the article you linked to earlier. A Surface Book has exactly the same video port that Mac laptops do, Mini DisplayPort, and that's the same port it's plugged into on my NEC display.

    3. NEC PA series (SpectraView), Eizo, and the higher-end Dells. Possibly the ASUS PA series. That's not a complete list.
     
  6. Replytoken

    Replytoken Senior Member

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    What exactly is wrong with your existing monitor that it needs to be replaced? The questions in your OP do not seem to lead me to understand what specifically you are wanting your monitor to do, but it cannot at present.

    A "great monitor" means different things to different people. Is light uniformity important to you? How about the monitor ratio? Some folks have strong preferences for 16:10 over 16:9. Do you want a monitor that has software that is compatible with your current Spyder? Is the length of warranty important? These are things you may want to consider beyond size (both resolution and screen measurement) and price. They may not be important to you, but if you are going to drop up to $1k on a monitor, IMHO, you owe it to yourself to consider as many aspects/features of a monitor as possible.

    Color gamut can be a whole other ball of wax. There are more, and better, wide gamut choices today than in the past, but you need to understand the implications of working with Adobe RGB as well as sRGB.

    There are a lot of choices at a lot of price points, and it can be easy to overbuy if you are on a budget and your needs are not highly specific. Then again, you look at a monitor for a large amount of time, and a nice monitor can be quite enjoyable, just as a bad one can drive you crazy.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  7. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    this was a great suggestion -- thanks! i can immediately see how it's helpful. Now i *need* a second monitor. :)

    Wow. I didn't realize this was possible. So i can use a Mac monitor on my Surface Book? that's quite tempting. [/QUOTE]

    The article seemed pretty positive on BenQ monitors, too. I hadn't heard of them before.

    Do you have the same type of monitor for your second monitor? I was thinking of getting a really good one for my main monitor and a lesser one for the second monitor, but now i wonder if that would throw me off when working on them.
     
  8. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    Thanks. I just want a monitor that looks the best it can. I say mine is five years old, but i really don't remember and it could be much older. I've seen some newer monitors that look much better; higher resolution, etc. Mac monitors always impress me, and i didn't realize i could use one with a Windows 10 machine.
     
  9. Conrad Chavez

    Conrad Chavez Active Member

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    That's not exactly what I said...I was saying that mass market displays can be plugged into a PC or Mac. Apple themselves make only one monitor these days, the Thunderbolt Display. It is getting old, not necessarily recommended even if you are a Mac user, and doesn't really work well with PCs.

    The only other "Mac monitor" that might be plugged into a PC is the non-Retina iMac computer. Some of those can be used as a monitor through their Mini DisplayPort. But it's not a great idea to buy an entire iMac just to use it as a monitor. Buy a nice standalone monitor instead. (The Retina iMacs cannot be use as external displays.)

    My primary monitor is whichever one I have that's newer and better, and my secondary is always my older, not so good one. I don't care about them matching because I only do color-critical viewing on the primary monitor, the newer and more accurate one.

    When I plug my laptop into the external display, I use the external as the big primary display, and the laptop (in your case the Surface Book) as the secondary display.
     
  10. Replytoken

    Replytoken Senior Member

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    Be careful when looking at monitors in stores or on display. They often crank up the brightness to make them look more appealing. In reality, if you are correctly calibrating your monitor for color critical work, the monitor may look quite dull as the recommended setting is usually around 120 cd/m^2. When you last calibrated, did you get any kind of adjusted read out your monitor? Yes, monitor technology has improved a bit in recent years, but monitor life if often measured in hours of service rather than age. And, some of the older monitors were built quite well. Some of the earlier NEC MultiSync panels were built quite well, and while later generations did get newer technology, some of the parts were made to be more affordable. Does your current monitor have an IPS panel?

    --Ken
     
  11. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    OK, got it. I was quite surprised when i believed i could hook up a Mac monitor to my PC. Guess i was wrong!

    I'm thinking i will create a dedicated multi-monitor setup in which i have a dedicated main display and second display. the Surface Book display is great but small. when i work on photos i want a really super setup with a 27" main display and at least one or two other displays; a second display for Lightroom and another one for email, web, etc. I know that's pretty over-done, but i just want it. :)
     
  12. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    I don't know -- is there an easy way to determine?
     
  13. Replytoken

    Replytoken Senior Member

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    Monitor panels can generally be looked up on the web by monitor model number. If you are not familiar with the differences between panel types, and assuming that your current panel is a TN, then any type of IPS panel is going to be a huge improvement. There are a handful of Dell U series monitors that offer good performance at reasonable prices, and they can be calibrated to reasonably good output with a Spyder. Again remember, screen size and resolution are independent of each other, so a bigger screen is not necessarily going to display more data unless it can display at a higher resolution (or is a different ratio like 16:10 vs. 16:9). B&H has very useful search tools that will let you narrow down your choices based on a number of criteria. See what is available to get an idea of what is currently being offered. And I suspect that you might be best served with a monitor that is capable of 100% sRGB.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  14. Bob_B

    Bob_B Active Member

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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  15. Replytoken

    Replytoken Senior Member

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  16. Ferguson

    Ferguson Linwood Ferguson Staff Member Lightroom Guru

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    I use one 24" monitor vertically and one 27" monitor horizontally, and like it quite a lot. When doing a final review I put the loupe on the vertical and the single library display on the wide (i.e. same thing basically) and hide the panels. Then as I go through vertical shots are huge on the vertical panel, and horizontal shots are huge on the horizontal, and it makes for a nice preview. But I don't think I could ever go back to having one monitor.

    I'd probably have a third but it would block my view of the TV. :blush:

    I'm a big fan of the NEC Spectraview calibrated monitors. They are not the best known, but I think good value.
     
  17. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    My monitor is a Dell LCD W2707. I think it was the first 27" monitor Dell made. From what i can tell it uses a Samsung LTM270M1 S-PVA panel -- is that a type of IPS panel?
     
  18. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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  19. eschurr

    eschurr Active Member

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    ha! so you basically use monitor to have a good look at your verticals and another to really see your horizontals?
     
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken Senior Member

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    No. S-PVA is somewhat of a higher quality TN-type panel that Samsung and others often use. Here are two articles that help explain some of the technologies: LCD Panel Types Explored - PC Monitors and TFT Central . There are some high end PVA panels, but I suspect that you will be most happy with an IPS panel as the manufacturers (LG being the biggest) offer a lot of IQ even in base models. NEC uses a lot of IPS panels, and Apple used them for years in their large display monitors. So, if you saw an Apple display and liked what you saw, that is what an IPS panel can do. Unless you are in a hurry, do your research on possible candidates. There are some good review sites that will tell you a lot about various popular models.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  21. Ferguson

    Ferguson Linwood Ferguson Staff Member Lightroom Guru

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    Yes, among other things. I also find the vertical better for reading manuals and other page-formatted material, as those tend to still be (+/-) in an 8.5x11 format and fit better vertical. It's also better for editing letters (same reason).

    The wide screen is better for programming either with lots of panels across or just wide lines, and better for Lightroom's main window since the panels are not tear-off, and you always need some amount of space on both sides for folders, develop, etc. So a REALLY wide panel is best for that.

    Frankly it took me a few weeks to really get used to it, it just looked odd, and the wrong windows would open up there, but now I would find it hard to go back. Plus it takes less desk space.
     
  22. Ferguson

    Ferguson Linwood Ferguson Staff Member Lightroom Guru

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    I'll add two cautions for dual monitors.

    One is that wide gamuts can be hard to get working right with sRGB limits on one monitor, at least I failed miserably and set my wide gamut monitor to sRGB (sort of a color lobotomy) to make things work well together. This is likely my failing, but I did try for quite some time with no success.

    And people often find if they have one monitor that is substantially higher DPI (not resolution, DPI) than the other, that fonts are unreadably small on one, or if you adjust, way too large on the other. Not just fonts but controls, etc. It may be you can adjust this, I know later windows had split DPI support, but I've read of people complaining about this on Windows 10, which could mean it is marginal support, or could mean they didn't hit the right buttons. Certainly the easiest path is if the DPI's (not resolution but DPI) is vaguely similar. 70% of one is not bad, but 30% can be for example. I don't know how Apple handles it but think the OP is on windows.
     
  23. clee01l

    clee01l Lightroom Guru Staff Member Lightroom Guru

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    I don't think Win10 offers split DPI support.
     
  24. Ferguson

    Ferguson Linwood Ferguson Staff Member Lightroom Guru

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    Maybe that's the wrong term (but I thought not), right click on an open part of the desktop, go to display settings, and the slider bar there affects only the screen which is selected at the time.

    I've tried it but am not using it so I cannot comment on how comprehensive its support is.
     
  25. aldin

    aldin New Member

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    The Dell Ultra Sharp was a fine monitor and should serve you well
     

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