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Friday, 10 August 2007


Depending on which iMac you have, you should be able to connect an external monitor to it. This is how I run my iMac, though I have a dell 20" LCD. But you could probably find a nice CRT for a bargain as there isn't much demand these days. The only drawback is the video card that comes standard with the iMac isn't the best. However, it is nice to essentially double your screen real estate for having palettes on one monitor and your photo on the other.

I had the same reservations about the glossy screen when Apple first began moving in that direction. I went over to the Apple store the day after the announcement to check out the new iMacs (and to give my will power a good test). Fortunately, these screens seem to be made of the same material as the gorgeous (and relatively glare free) iPhone screens. Even in the overly-illuminated store, glare didn't seem to be a serious problem to me. They do appear to be a little washed out when not angled directly toward you but when adjusted proprely they look very good.

My biggest gripe about the displays is the poor quality of the profile shipped with the machine. I've never seen a Mac that didn't start out overly blue. This makes it extremely difficult to get a good evaluation of the screen's color quality in the store. As nice as it would be I don't think they need to individually profile the machines, but a more neutral default would be a step in the right direction.

I've been using standard, no glossy LCDs for a few years now. Recently I started using a notebook from work which has a glossy screen.

I have to say that, although I was concerned about ambient reflections, my photos look so much better on the glossy screen. They look sharper (though that might be down to screen size/resolution) and contrast is definitely far superior.

It may be other aspects of the screen causing this but I think the glossiness contributes.

I have a Macbook with a glossy screen and absolutely hate it. The glare is just bad. It also won't calibrate with an admittedly low-scale Pantone Huey. At first it had a red cast after calibration, then when I got the Huey replaced it has a green cast. Bought a cinema display a month or so ago and all the problems are gone.

Exactly my thought when I learned about it. I own an iMac G5 (non-glossy) and a Macbook (glossy) and I can tell you that the iMac screen wins hands down for photo editing. It's not so much the glare, but the consistency of colour and brightness of different parts of the screen. I hope the glossy screen in the Aluminum iMac is better than that of the Macbook, but I wish we were given a choice.

On the macbook that I regularly use at work, almost all my B&W photos end up looking washed out. If I adjust them for the macbook, they are too dark on everything else including a 15 inch PowerBook G4 and glossy screened Toshiba laptop. Until I noticed this, I'd been considering a macbook for my next computer, but this screen thing has kind of thrown me.

Duncan is a good source for these sorts of things. See:

No two LCD panels are equal. And while the Apple Cinema displays are v good, some of their other panels are less good for editing photos.

No doubt if you're really serious about your editing, you'll be using a Cinema display, properly profiled. You can attach one to the iMac.

I'm with David. I've got a macbook and a huey, and they're nearly useless together. I've tried comparing the calibration to a EyeOne, and the EyeOne is certainly better. I think that there's something about this display that makes it very hard to correct, perhaps it's the 6 bit per channel, perhaps it's the highly directional color shifts. If the new iMac has the same display, then it's going to be highly disappointing as a photo editing workstation.

I enjoy the glossy screen on my MacBook, but I wouldn't do serious work on one. The colors and contrast are bold, and blacks are nicely black, but color accuracy just isn't there IMO. The fact that Apple isn't making their Cinema Displays glossy shows that St. Steve knows that imaging professionals generally will want matte displays.

This is quite an opportune post because I am considering renewing my photo gear from the ground up to include cameras, lenses, computers - I am presently on PC, to software, DAM and image manipulation tools etc etc. One of the considerations is the move from PC to MAC via the iMac and the glossy screen configuration seems a strange choice for St Jobs to foist on photographers without choice. Even stranger as ''himself'' is supposed to be a pretty keen photographer and a glossy screen does seem odd. However I will follow this thread with great interest.

Well, I've been waiting for a new Mac for so long that glossy or no, I've already ordered a new 24" iMac (which is reputed to have a better-specced LCD panel than the 20" model). I'll let you know how it works for photo editing. Can't be worse than that old Viewsonic at home...

I know nothing about MAC world but unfortunately glossy monitors are not limited to iMacs.

As far as I understand, the glossy finish guarantees no diffusion reflection off the screen. That extends the monitor's dynamic range deeper into the dark levels. Not sure if it is practical or useful but definitely is great for AD campaigns. Just compare the 1:400 contrast on the matte screen with the same LCD under the glossy finish that measures as 1:1000! Big difference. Big sales.

I too was struck by the glossy-only non-option on the new iMacs. I just replaced a dead dual processor G5 tower with a Mac Pro and was wondering whether I'd made a mistake and should have waited for the new iMacs. I'm glad I didn't, but beyond that it seems as if Apple is trying to segment their target users with "features" like these.

The logic goes something like this: serious photographers won't want a glossy screen (though some don't mind), so they'll be pushed into the "pro" products -- actually just the MacBook Pro at this point if you want an all-in-one -- which have matte screens or take an external screen (oh, and higher prices and margins too ;).

I did notice on the earlier iMac and LCD displays that without exception, the larger ones were better quality. I haven't been in the market lately so I haven't paid attention, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's a trend that has continued.


Perhaps not wise, but certainly smart.

The new iMac is simply repackaging. There is no technical advance or technical innovation. It is targeted at a market that places at least as much value on form as function and in many cases has a limited need for function. It brings the successful iPod and iPhone look to the Mac line. It is an exercise in branding and maximizing profit.

I doubt that a matte screen would sell well in the market Apple targets for the restyled iMac. I doubt that any increase in sales from offering a choice of screens would justify the increased costs.

Sad, but this is the world we live in. Look at the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, etc.

I'm really glad I have an "old" 24-inch iMac with a matte screen. I love the thing to bits.

The LCD panels in the 20 and 24" imacs are (at least they were in the core duo and core 2 duo platic models...) very very good panels -- the same ones you'll find in the NEC 2090UX, lacie monitors, etc. viewing angles are good, color accuracy in the high grade panels (not necessarily what apple uses, but then again the cost of the entire computer is the cost of a single lacie monitor) are good, so with calibration via a gretag or lacie device you can get extremely accurate color... Furthermore, the difference between glossy and matte coating is relatively moot when external light sources are minimized or diffuse enough. Since this is a desktop machine and not a laptop, I think that controlling ambient light won't be a big problem for most people who want their workstations to have accurate color. So, that's the deal with photographers.

To be ridiculously frank, most of the people who are complaining about this aren't ever going to calibrate their monitors, so a little bit of glare isn't going to be a big deal, and if the glare gets bad, reaching over and moving the light source (or tilting the computer a little) is unlikely to kill anyone.

The new imac's 24" LCD panel is
Philips LM201WE3 + glass plate on it


For critical color work I would suggest getting an EIZO ColorEdge CE240W. This is a 24" LCD monitor that is quite pricey ($1,600 for a 24 inch model). However:

1. The illumination is absolutely even from edge to edge.
2. There are no color shifts at the edges of the screen.
3. Profiles like a dream. It comes with profiling software completely tuned to the EIZO hardware.
4. Very wide viewing angle
5. I could see WAY more shadow detail than with an Apple Cinema Display. I was shocked at how much better the EiZO monitor handles shadow detail.
6. Five year warranty.
7. Not glossy.

My experience with the Apple Cinema Displays has not been great - I've had two large models (20" and 24") and found that they both developed nasty color shifts to either yellow or magenta at the edges of the screen. On one of them the color shifts got so bad after two years of use that it was useless for edititng photos. The other one lasted about four years before it became useless. The screen illumination for the Apple Cinema displays wasn't as even as the EIZO, and the viewing angle was narrower as well.

I've been MUCH happier with the EIZO product than with Apple displays. No sign of deterioration at all after several years of use.

"It is targeted at a market that places at least as much value on form as function and in many cases has a limited need for function."

IMNSHO OSX is the best commercial OS on the planet, and if that means I have a "limited need for function" then I'll gladly suffer your slings and arrows. I'll agree with you in one respect, though: the ports on the iMac would be much handier if they were on the front instead of the back, something I'm sure the style police would never allow.


Dear Folks,

There's some confusion here. You can't compare the quality you're seeing on your Mac laptops with that of the Cinema displays or 20" or larger iMac displays. They're using two different generations of display technology that have nothing to do with glossy vs matte screens. The laptop displays are all going to look inferior to the desktops until the new technology migrates down to the MacBooks.

pax / Ctein


Good point. Here's a relevant discussion -> http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1017&message=24301063


I have to take issue with Ming above: not only were the previous iMac screens not in the same league as the NEC 2090, even if those were acceptable the new 20" screen is a step backwards. I support multiple Mac & PC labs used by photographers and designers, and while the new iMac represents terrific value for money -- try to find a similarly-speced brand name PC for $1500 -- if an instructor standing next to a student sees different colors onscreen, then the monitor isn't good enough.

We can't use LCD monitors with 160° viewing angles or extreme glare, and we don't have room on our desks for 24" screens. Apple's refusal either to offer a choice of screens or a headless mini-tower is costing them a golden opportunity to put ALL of our students on their (otherwise superior) platform.

I'm going down to my local Apple store tonight to judge for myself.

"The new imac's 24" LCD panel is
Philips LM201WE3 + glass plate on it"

This is a 6-bit TN panel. Avoid. This IS most definitely a step backwards.

"not only were the previous iMac screens not in the same league as the NEC 2090, even if those were acceptable the new 20" screen is a step backwards"

The 2090 uses a higher grade panel, but iirc they both use the same LG Phillips panel (the old iMac -- the new one uses an LG TN panel, as above). The difference is largely in the electronics, the panel grade, and monitor calibration at the factory. ie, iirc NEC does some, because the retail cost is significantly higher, and their users tend to be critical professionals. Once calibrated, these monitors are remarkably similar. I'm not saying the apple screens are the same or better, but they're 90% of the accuracy for 50% of the price if you're a careful user.

"We can't use LCD monitors with 160° viewing angles or extreme glare, and we don't have room on our desks for 24" screens. Apple's refusal either to offer a choice of screens or a headless mini-tower is costing them a golden opportunity to put ALL of our students on their (otherwise superior) platform.

I'm going down to my local Apple store tonight to judge for myself."

Your application would seem to indicate use of professional grade monitors. My assertion though (from rigorous guessing) is that you're in at most a 1% slice of users. Most people who complain about this just can only tell the difference in the weight of their wallet.

As for machine choices, what about the Mini? Disk is a bit slower out of the box, but not when booting off of firewire, for the most part; the cost difference in not having to pay for a junky TN panel more than makes up for the external storage requirement. Otherwise, the iMac's internals are largely identical (but larger) than the Mini's.

I have a 1st gen. 24" iMac and a glossy screen MacBook.

I really like the iMac for photo editing, although I wish Apple had made a mid-range screenless desktop with similar spec.s so I could have had a choice of screen and easily upgradable inards. Something between the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini.

The glossy screen on the Mac Book is atrocious, mainly because of the extremely narrow viewing angle. I am going to sell it soon.

Were I in the market for a new desktop, I'd probably get the low-end Mac Pro and a proper (i.e. matte finish) monitor.

I calibrate both my 24" LCD and my Macbook with Spyder2. The glossy Macbook is clearly inferior to the larger panel. What most people perceive as superior contrast is in fact too much contrast, with little or no detail in the dark areas. The glossy display also has less colour accuracy than the matte screen, although it is a laptop, so this is to be expected.

I am disappointed with the choice of glossy for the iMac, but can understand the decision - most users will not know or care - in fact a lot of them will prefer the less-accurate representation! I have even heard of Macbook Pro users preferring the glossy screen! (Yuck!)

I'm a working freelance photographer, and was waiting a little longer before purchasing one of the new LED-backlit 15" Macbook Pros. With the current trend, I am afraid to wait much longer!

Having used matte lcd screens now for the past few years I miss the saturated colour and higher dmax of my old crt monitor. The one with the 'glossy glass' screen and 'wing shades' to block stray light from striking it's surface.

> Philips LM201WE3
LG Philips LM201WE3 :)

>what about the Mini? Disk is a bit slower out of the box, but not when booting off of firewire



Yes, a fresh 2Ghz c2d Mac Mini and a 23" Cinema Display is the way to go.
Runs like a dream and the 23" screen is beautifull and much better then the iMac.

Before I got my current Powerbook I used a Sony VAIO which had their super glossy screen. I had no real issues with it, and in fact I would be happy if Apple provided something similar as I find the Powerbook's screen pretty dull and lifeless. I have a CRT monitor hooked up to it if want to do super critical photo editing.

I tried some photo editing in an Apple store with the new iMac and found it very difficult to see detail in darker colors because my reflection kept getting in the way. It doesn't make sense for Apple to invest so much in its photo editing software and then put out a screen that makes it impossible to view photos clearly because of reflections and glare. I want to buy one of these machines but the absence of a matte option is stopping me. I don't want to have to rearrange my computer placement in my own home just to compensate for a glossy screen, and because the machine, in my opinion, is so beautiful, I don't want to have to hide it in my basement just so I can view the screen away from any window glare.

Just don't buy it! the company try to sell something that for kids!
The new imac is VERY disappointed I would like to buy mate imac.

First: new iMac looks awesome, contrast is punchy, keyboard is great, would love to watch videos or play games on it, good price performance, blah blah.

It's great for photographic VIEWING.

It's unfortunately useless for photographic editing, or any real graphics work. Aside from the pervasive glare you'll get with ANY light source, the refraction of the glass makes colors vary inconsistently with viewing angle.

I'm more interested in the LED backlit MBP, which looks like a real winner.

What's an MBP?


MBP = MacBook Pro


Same situation for me. I have been really disappointed with this glossy screen. That's really make me sad beacause this is the computer I was waiting for.

As I do it, tell everyone to go the page below and tell Apple (politely) that we sincerely wish a matte option for the new iMac.
Just go there :



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