Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have been preoccupied now and for some time by the challenge of defining an affordable platform for inputting digital photographs and then printing them with matched color and density to an LCD display image. There are quite a few LCD display choices at $1,500 and up which support both color and density print matching with a color managed workflow. But an affordable consumer LCD display ($300) has been the elusive goal of a lot of searching. And from what I have heard from industry insiders is that the major display manufacturers in the immediate future are cutting back on their support for high-end, niche pro-graphics market displays.

At $1,500 and up for a display, that is a niche market surely, only supported by higher end computer designers, artists and top-rung commercial photographers. But the fact I am aware of hundreds of consumer outlets that sell dSLR cameras, I got thinking the serious digital photography community must be larger by many fold. So I started looking for data as to what the sales figures in America are for dSLR cameras. That was a bit harder to find out than just a simple Google search because the companies that that gather and publish such data charge huge fees for an Acrobat .PDF file copy of their reports, and I am not one to shell out hundreds of dollars for a small segment of information. But after a lot more searching I did find some information, and finally got a reliable figure of dSLR annual sales, and it was substantial, 9 million units per year considering these cameras are priced usually beginning about $600.

So just how large might the population of the serious photography community be? I have not seen a credible estimate for 30 years, but at the height of 35mm SLR camera sales in 70’s it was assumed to be approaching 20 million. America has grown a lot in the generation since, and gotten richer, so maybe now close to 30 million to be conservative? That is not out of line considering a goodly percentage of homes today have at least one computer. And that leads me to wonder why there are no LCD displays configured to support digital photography, there are sure plenty of PC models targeted at high-end gaming and that can’t be any larger a population.

Would a $300 plus a bit, LCD display that has good quality support for digital photography be all that difficult to put together? I don’t think so as the screens are already available as well as any other technologies needed to make print matching for both color and density capable out of the box. What features would be needed for a digital photography model LCD display:

1. Either a lower backlight brightness level, or a backlight brightness level adjustment control, and the ability to set the white luminance to 90.0 CD/m2.
2. A wider color gamut of 92% of NTSC color gamut.
3. Both contrast (gain) and brightness adjustment.
4, Discrete settings to adjust the display to D65, 6500K color temperature. and a 2.2 or L* gamma.
5. DVI-DDC support that current color management display calibration and profiling software can engage to adjust the display.
6. A wide-screen diagonal size of 21 to 23 inches.

If such a “digital photography” LCD display model were made I do not think there would be much impediment to getting it to the potential buyers. There are already dozens and dozens of consumer outlets offering dSLR cameras as well as computers. I think if digital photographers knew there was an affordable LCD display made to support what they do with their computer to process and print photographs they would be in line waiting to buy one, even in today’s depressed market.

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