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Thursday, 10 November 2022


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Earlier this year I also discovered the exit of NEC from the serious monitor field, when my 12+ year old Eizo CG222 died. I struggled justifying another Eizo, and the pain was prolonged when there were supply issues with the models I was considering. I eventually bit the bullet and bought another Eizo that, if I was really honest with myself, I couldn't justify given my current usage. But it's comforting to have a monitor that self-calibrates and that I can trust. For monitor recommendations, I pay a lot of attention to Imagescience's recommendations (note that the prices are in AUD, USD prices would be a lot lower). BenQ seems to be the only budget alternative that they offer.

I have used NEC multisync monitors for at least 10 years now and love my present monitor which I've owned for 3 years. I think the time limiting factor for my monitor will be the lack of updating of the profiling software rather than failure of the physical monitor. I will be checking whether Mac Ventura OS supports the software before considering an upgrade.

I replaced my last Eizo with a Viewsonic 27 inch monitor that has high pixel density and 99pc Adobe RGB coverage. It's a lower price than an equivalent Eizo and I've been very happy with it. Calibrated with a Datacolor thing. Model is VP2785-4K I think.

I'll have to be extra careful with my NEC (also a PA272W), though I can never get it upwards of 91 percent of AdobeRGB.

I've had a BenQ SW271 4k display for the last 4 years, and I'm generally very happy with it. It has the hatch in the hood like your NEC, and it works with the same calibrator (the NEC is just a rebadged X-Rite calibrator), which I already had - you can also buy a bundle at B&H with the calibrator included.

The SW271C has replaced the SW271, and the price has also increased - it runs $1599, where I got my SW271 for less than $1k - but it's still ~$200 less than the comparable Eizo. The BenQ displays have a dedicated B&W mode, as well, that might be of interest to you.

Eizo also has a new model arriving in the next couple weeks - the CG2700X - that ups the contrast ratio and brightness, and covers 98% of DCI-P3 (vs 90%) along with the typical 99% AdobeRGB coverage, along with HLG support for video. It really seems like more of a video-focused display, and carries the commensurate $3500 price tag.

You gamut plot is mislabeled. Either that or you’re the only person I know who owns a monitor that exceeds Adobe RGB! And while I’m being critical, using Adobe RGB as your color working space is sub-optimal. Lightroom is Mellissa RGB (a flavor of ProPhotoRGB), so if one is ingesting raw into LR, you’re putting it in a ProPhoto color space. If you “round trip” to Photoshop from LR, you’re potentially tossing out color data in your raw file (depends on scene reference color at the time of capture, of course).

[As I understand it--and, again, I am not an expert on color management, nor do I use Lightroom--MelissaRGB is just the internal color space in Lightroom, and when you export anything you have to select a standard color space to convert it to. --Mike]

One of the side benefits of pa272w is a kvm switch that worked with zero issues for many years. I don't think they make monitors with this feature anymore. There are still Eizo, Benq, Viewsonic, Asus making high quality monitors for color sensitive work.

Thanks for that. I also have a NEC display which still works but is from ~2009.

I was planning to get a new NEC at some point but after reading this post decided to go for a ColorEdge CS2731 as I found a like new display model for under the equivalent of $800 USD. I look forward to having both on my desk.

The only future monitor I'd like would be a more videocentric one- perhaps once standards for HDR get settled.

The Apple monitor is not even close to the Leica.

How then should you asses the capabilities of a monitor for image work?

First, uniformity, the monitor needs to display a uniform color and luminance so if you display a single colour it is the same in every part of the screen. Most monitors fail at this stang, including the Apple monitor.

Second, Tone, is the transformation of a number into the luminance level for red, green and blue. There are two approaches to this, 1D LUT (look up table) and 3D LUT. The 3D version is better as it compensates for the balance between the three primaries. You will hear this called gamma or EOTF electronic to optical transfer function.

If you are doing fine art printing you would notice the difference between the image on the screen and how well it displays what the printer produces using the same ICC profile.

Third, color gamut, the larger the gamut the better, especially if you are using a smaller gamut as this allows better control matching the primaries and ensuring you see the full gamut.

Finally, the white-point is the neutral color your image is balanced to. The monitor needs to offer adjustment so you can keep it at the photography default of D65 6503 Kelvin.

Two types of meters, a colorimeter measures luminance and the balance of Red Green and Blue. A photo spectrometer that measures the color, to be really accurate you need both, but the Colorimeter is good for most of us.

If you are considering a new monitor ask for reports on the uniformity, tone curve and gamut. The target is to have an accuracy of below 1 DeltaE 2000 - that is a measure of the color difference between what was measured and what the color value should be.

Finally, review the monitor with some images you know well, don't forget to view some monochrome images they are very revealing of flaws in reproduction. Also be sure that the monitor is configured correctly and that Photoshop is displaying with the right ICC profile. You know your work so TRUST your eyes to tell you the monitor is presenting your work. accurately.

There is a argument to be made that sRGB is 99% of what you will see on the web. Unless you share RAW or wide gamut files with people who also have wide gamut screens, you will probably be the only one appreciating it. A print will not be reproducing 99% of Adobe either. Giving pleasure to yourself is no bad thing, but it is worth bearing this in mind when buying a monitor. Of course this is no argument about calibration as this needs to be done whatever kind of monitor you have.

My experience is that 4k monitors are fantastic for *displaying* pictures, but make it difficult to judge sharpness and other image quality features as opposed to using lower resolution ( ~100 ppi) monitors.
For what it’s worth I think Lloyd Chambers has a similar view.

My NEC PA301W is 10 years old in December. It's still working well, but I assume it's going to need replacing in the next few years. As such I've stopped using it on a daily basis and just use a wide screen 5K LG (40WP95C-W) for my day to day programming work. I turn on the NEC for photowork and do my adjustments on that screen. In side by side comparisons it's really hard for me to find differences between the P3 gamut of the LG vs the AdobeRGB of the NEC with normal color photos. The NEC spectraview software is miles ahead of the LG calibration software when it comes to supporting different uses of the monitor (text, photo viewing, photo printing, and video).

Here's a vote for BenQ...best bang for buck imo. Using it professionally. I had a Samsung that was also good.

It's simple these days to calibrate the monitor if the monitor is a good one. What's tougher is calibrating the printer to the monitor---tougher and much more expensive.

I'll stick with black and white, and my BenQ monitor.

I am confused by this because I just got off the phone with NEC regarding a new monitor. They are still in business (same phone number) selling monitors and Spectraview software. They have merged with Sharp and I assume that products will be renamed as the businesses integate. I'm confident that an NEC monitor by any other name will work as well.

[That's not really the point...the problem is that they aren't replacing the old wide-gamut monitors that are most useful for graphic arts and photography. NEC monitors still exist, but the ones you want don't. --Mike]

As a working photographer with picky clients if had to do it all over again I'd buy one of the iMac Pros that come with a glorious 5K, 27 inch Retina screen. Oh...wait...that's exactly what I did. Beautiful, accurate and trouble free.

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