I have always struggled in understanding how much display brightness is OK for editing a photo on a computer, mainly laptop.

So, I would like to know your valuable suggestions as to how much screen brightness is best for editing any photo on Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, etc?

My laptop screen (of HP Omen 15 laptop) claims to have brightness of 300 nits with 88% sRGB colour gamut coverage. Just for info.

Is the screen brightness required to be the same for brighter displays (because my desktop has a brighter display), or shall I reduce the brightness on the desktop display?

What is the sweet spot?

Thanks for your help in advance!


4 Answers 4


The primary concern is that the screen brightness is set appropriate for the ambient brightness. E.g. editing in the dark often results in dark images because the screen seems brighter. And often edited images are dark because uncalibrated monitors tend to be set too bright.

The best answer is to hardware calibrate your monitor and edit in a controlled environment (e.g. room w/o windows) so that the ambient levels do not vary.

In terms of just brightness you can check that the white on your screen is about the same brightness (a little brighter) as a piece of white paper in the same environment.

I use a custom test strip as the identity plate in LR.

enter image description here

If I cannot see the difference between the upper row of squares then the monitor/gamma is too dark. And if I cannot distinguish the brightest squares it is too bright.

This is the test strip... save it in it's png format/size if you want to use it.

enter image description here



The ISO Standard for ambient light when viewing photos on a monitor is D50 (broad spectrum light with all of the components, including UV, carefully controlled and centered on 5000K).

For LCD monitors the intensity of the ambient light as measured at the center of the screen should be 55 Lux. The monitor should also be calibrated to D50. Recommended maximum (pure white signal [255,255,255]) brightness with an LCD monitor is 120 cd/m². For a CRT it is 100 cd/m².¹

There are many in the graphics industry that prefer to use D65, which is centered on 6500K, for monitors. This is perfectly acceptable as long as the monitor and the ambient lighting match.

If you are also printing, care must be taken not to allow the 6500K ambient light to affect the perception of the D50 light source illuminating prints in your print viewing booth (D50 is the standard for viewing prints). In the case of a small print viewing box, you would need to turn off any non D50 lighting when critically evaluating photo prints. Otherwise you risk metameric failure.

Metamerism is when two objects render different spectral power distributions yet visually match under a certain lighting/viewing condition, but not under another. Two objects that visually match under at least one lighting condition are called a metameric pair. When two objects match under one light source/viewing condition but not under another, the resulting condition is called metameric failure.

If you print match under D65 lighting you risk the color not being perceived as the same under D50 standard lighting conditions.

¹ "Maximum" in this context is what the calibrated monitor is measured at when displaying a pure white signal (e.g. [255,255,255]), not what the monitor is measured at when the brightness is turned all the way to 100%. When new, most monitors will need to have brightness set to well below 50% to output 120 cd/mm² when sent a maximum signal (e.g. [2555,255,255]). Minimum is what the monitor is measured at when (attempting to) display pure black (e.g. [0,0,0]). Maximum at 120 cd/mm² is the correct brightness assuming the monitor is showing pure white when it is measured.


If it matters, use hardware to calibrate your monitor.

A calibrated display will tend to look washed out compared to a television, tablet, or phone set for browsing, reading or media consumption.

The dull appearance of a calibrated display helps avoid edits that make pictures to dark because a bright monitor will show shadow details that will not be visible at lower brightness.

I find the dull appearance also helps when editing for print. Print has less dynamic range. Edits made on a bright monitor don’t correlate as well with my prints.

As a rule of thumb, if you are setting your brightness by hand and don’t have experience using a calibrated monitor, it is probably too bright.

Though of course this might change your mind, most people buy monitors based on brighter is better. And then turn up the brightness to get what they paid for…and because bright monitors tend to look better even though they problematic for critical editing.

For what it is worth, an old used calibration device can be found at a discount to new devices. Most of the common ones are supported by ArgullCMS.



Set contrast and colour balance to reproduce a known good quality reference picture as accurately as possible. Set brightness for your viewing comfort.


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