Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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My screen is about to die and I'm planing to buy a new one. I'm looking for a 27" one, and as I do many things on my computer, the choice is difficult :

  • I play recent FPS Games (sometimes, but I really enjoy when I do. I have a killer graphic card for that :-) )
  • I play guitar, I do some internet browsing and text editing (very often)
  • I do video composing (not really often and as a real beginner)
  • I do photography (very often, see bellow)
  • I watch DVDs and some DVD rips on my desktop (very often), perhaps blurays in the future

So for those reasons I'm planning to ban TN screens to get an IPS or M/PVA one.

The question : Then... my problem is : what color gamut do I need ? I've read many many and many things about that on the net, and I now need an experienced user feedback.

I'm not a photographer but Photography is a real passion and I like to work for hours on my pictures carefully. I don't hesitate to print some of my best pictures in big formats with a professional printer. But... Do they really need such an effort (see point 1 bellow).

I was planning to get a wide gamut screen. But what I've read make me doubt and leads me to the following conclusions :

  • It is said that the benefit of a wide gamut screen depends on the type of picture you often do, because the AdobeRGB color space only extends in some directions. It is said that if you mainly do portraits, you really don't need a wide gamut screen for example. that may be my case...

  • I will have to often switch the screen from AdobeRGB too sRGB color space back and forth for my common uses to display the correct colors, and I guess this will quicly be boring

  • Will my LaCie Blue Eye Pro work on a wide gamut screen ? I can't find any nfo about this...

Seeing the price of a wide gamut screen and those problems, and knowing that I need a screen that is able to play 3D FPS games, I imagine it would be a good idea to buy a good sRGB screen instead of a wide gamut one, as I'm not a professional photographer, even if I am very exigent on quality.

What do you think about that as an experienced user ?

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2 Answers 2

The real key is going to be that you'll want true 8 bit color resolution rather than the 6 bits that most TN panels get. Off angle color changes is also a key issue when looking at choosing a good screen for any color sensitive work. Having a wider color gamut is helpful, but if I had to choose between a more limited color gamut on a S-IPS panel with good color consistency and contrast vs a TN panel with a super wide gamut, I'd go for the S-IPS without a second thought.

The main place that color gamut is going to be helpful is being able to view things more lifelike when using images that support the gamut and might be helpful for better emulating color spaces for other presentation mediums.

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Ideally you want a monitor which covers at least 100% of sRGB. sRGB is the de-factor color-space for digital media and, by having a monitor that can display it in its entirely, most things will look better or at least most authentic.

Most wide-gamut monitors go beyond and because they can, you can calibrate them show sRGB very closely. Note that if you calibrate your graphics card instead - as most people do - you will get banding artifacts. However, if you calibrate the monitor you can get a very smooth representation of sRGB.

The issue of what color-space to use for photos is separate because you still have only 8-bits-per-channel on nearly all systems and by using a wider color-space the values actually are spread apart more and hence less precise.

While you still see the AdobeRGB recommendation around, most photographers no longer use that. You can safely set your camera to sRGB to have accurate previews and sharable JPEG images that look right. If you are the type to shoot RAW, then the camera has its own color-space which even exceeds AdobeRGB, so it is best to work with a program which can handle the extra gamut. By having your monitor properly calibrated, you will be able to see the colors which your monitor is capable of even if they are outside of either AdobeRGB or sRGB.

No idea about your calibrator and it actually depends on your monitor. You can either choose one compatible with your calibrator or find out which calibrator is compatible with the monitor to you decide on. Some even come bundled with a calibrator for an additional cost. It is really worth it because the integration is excellent.

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I'd think the fact that LaCie makes some of the best-regarded professional wide-gamut monitors in the world and equips them with the Blue Eye Pro ought to be a bit of a clue. And no, sRGB isn't sufficient unless you completely ignore prepress -- the web and chromogenic prints aren't the be-all and end-all of photography. –  user2719 Feb 22 '13 at 4:14
    
Yes. I completely ignored pre-press by putting them outside of most because it is a small segment of the market even though it keeps my family fed :) Reality now is that most print shops, even professionals accept sRGB files and even your own supplied color-profile, so they can skip AdobeRGB as an intermediate color-space. Now that printers have up to 12 inks, much wider gamuts are available. –  Itai Feb 22 '13 at 4:19
    
And that's precisely why you'd want to step outside of sRGB, because inkjet—so-called giclée printers—can print well outside of sRGB (an additive, rather than subtractive, gamut). –  user2719 Feb 22 '13 at 4:45

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