Sunday, May 16, 2010
SEEING THE WHOLE PICTURE
There are some things worth repeating. For serious digital photographers who edit their images with a computer until recently you could only see a little more than 2/3rd’s of the color in the original on-screen image displayed, and if you can’t see it you cannot control and adjust it accurately. What I am talking about is that a dSLR set to record in raw format or a scan of a color transparency produces a range of different colors about what the Adobe RGB (1998) profile will support, but until just a short while ago all but some very special and expensive LCD displays only reproduce sRGB color that is a colorspace that has about 30% fewer colors. In other words most of us have been working with photographs that contained many fewer colors on-screen than the original.
The first affordable, well under a $1000 LCD that reproduces over 95% of Adobe RGB color was the NEC 22 inch Sprectraview 2 model. Since I wrote about this new NEC LCD display many have purchased it and and seem to be pleased with using the display. Of course if you have a much fatter than normal wallet there are many larger and more sophisticated LCD displays that reproduce more than 95% of Adobe RGB made by NEC, Eizo and Mitsubishi.
I needed a new LCD display recently, as one of mine with over five years of heavy use needed replacement. But I did not choose the NEC P221W Spectraview 2 for two reason. One is that I have to work with all of the different display adjustment, calibration and profiling software and colorimeters to write about the subject, and the NEC Spectraview is proprietary. And second, I do a lot of retouching of scanned images and the NEC P221W has the normal resolution for this 22 inch size of 1680x1050 pixels, and I need a higher, finer resolution. (I am used to older 3:4 format 20 inch LCD models with 1600x1200 pixels that are great for retouching but no longer is that format produced.)
So, looking for a new 22 inch wide color gamut (95% + Adobe RGB) that has higher resolution and is also in the under $1,000 class, I found an Eizo Flexscan model. The Eizo Flexscan S2242W is a 22 inch display with 1920x1200 pixel resolution , a wide color gamut; and that is similar to the specifications of much more costly 24 inch professional LCD displays. It has a very sturdy metal bezel and stand that is fully adjustable, and includes performance adjustments for Brightness, Contrast, Gamma, Temperature (in 500 K increments from 4,000 K – 10,000 K including 9,300 K), Saturation, Hue, and Gain. In addition for those who need software and a spectrometer to adjust, calibrate and profile this display there is the Eizo EasyPIX system at a competitive cost. So, I ordered an S2242W from a nearby Eizo dealer and it was delivered for a little over $800. I have been using this display ever since with a lot of scan work and am entirely pleased with the performance and am obtaining color managed prints that are extremely well matched in color and brightness.
About the same time I learned that Eizo had announced a new version of this LCD display the S2243W. It is essentially the same display but has an added input connector, the new Display Port design, but seems to be the same display in all other respects. And I have also learned the new S2243W is not available at least until the stock of the S2242W models has been sold.
Another thing I learned about wide color gamut displays is that older colorimeters do not provide an accurate profiling result with these LCD displays that have 95% plus of Adobe RGB color. I got very clear proof of this after getting a new Spyder3 colorimeter from DataColor. I re-profiled the S2242W with the new Spyder3 and compared the 2D graph of each profile from my older Spyder3 with the new one and the older profile had a very large and noticeable skew in the color it recorded and profiled. So if you plan to purchase a new wide color gamut LCD display and have a display colorimeter much more than a year old, plan on replacing it with a new model that is designed for wide color gamut displays.
As I final note, the purchase of my Eizo Flexscan S2242W LCD display was the most rewarding investment I have made in any product since I began doing digital photography 20 years ago. And anyone who knows me also knows I do not make statements like that lightly or for any reason other than my own experience.