Friday, June 17, 2011


For quite some time after the “prints too dark” problem erupted several years ago, there have been few LCD displays available ideally suited to doing digital photography computing. The first affordable break with this normality was the Dell Ultrasharp U2410 I reported on a few months ago.

Not long after I learned of a new 24 inch wide color range LaCie 324i, currently priced at $1099. So recently I got brave and ordered one for myself. Take a look at I did a brief preview of this new LaCie , and am now working on a more detailed report for Shutterbug. 

Since then roaming the internet I have found that NEC has an even newer 24 inch Spectraview II 24 Inch LCD display replacing the recent NEC LCD2490W2-BK-SV model. This new NEC Spectraview model is PA241W-BK-SV with a list price of $1249. And it too has a wide color range reproducing 98.1% of Adobe RGB color. The detail information about this new display can be found at

This time I was looking only for 24 inch LCD displays. The one 22 inch with standard 1680x1050 resolution I have reviewed I found does not compare with the 24’s 1920x1200 resolution in reproducing fine photographic detail, and there just isn’t that much higher cost in today’s new 24 inch displays. So lets take a look at the top company of the pro-graphics displays in Eizo Flexscan models. I worked with one 22 inch Flexscan for some time and the color was good, but it also has the 1920x1200 resolution of a 24 inch.

The newest Eizo Flexscan 24 inch is the SX2462W, also sporting 98% Adobe RGB color range. This new Eizo also provides what they call more effective software calibration. In addition Eizo has its own EasyPix version 2 software for their SX displays, and an Eizo EX1 Color Sensor is available with their software.

Of course you can go further with Eizo and consider what a few of my readers have purchased, an Eizo ColorEdge model, and there is much to choose from including 3 different 24 inch versions. The information on them is extensive on their web site at

Some of my readers have suggested they would like to actually see the displays I talk about. With Eizo for instance you can get a list of dealers on their web site. If you live in the northwest, one dealer, has a lot more than hardware to offer, it is also a reservoir of expert color management help if you go to their web site and click on ColorWiki you will find a library of expert knowledge on the subject. So they do more than sell the best in Eizo displays. But check the dealer list there may be a dealer not too far away.

If you would rather shop for the best price, one place you can check out is, they have listings for both NEC Spectraview II displays as well as Eizo Flexscan and ColorEdge models. More shopping choices are available on the Google Shopping site including listings of the LaCie 324i, as well as the NEC and Eizo models I have mentioned above. Digital photography editing and image adjustment is done entirely by your perception of the image on screen with your computer. So give your eyes a break and provide them with the best image quality you can.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Again my curiosity got the upper hand. I had to try another LCD display to see how well it would work for color-managed photography editing. For a poor writer it was a big gamble at $1099, and I’m a lousy one at wagering. This time it was worth the price.
The specifications give just a few hints that the LaCie 324i will provide the performance a photographer needs in a computer display to do color and brightness match screen for printing. One is that it has a wide color range of 98% of Adobe RGB. Otherwise it is a 24 inch display with  a 1920x1200 pixel resolution. The screen is P-IPS and has 10-bit gamma correction to reproduce smooth tones. It also has all the contemporary connection interfaces like DVI, HDMI and Display Port. 
What I found that is not very evident, is that besides the usual manual adjustments of brightness and contrast, the LaCie 324i also has a backlight level control. This I found working with the set-up, adjustment, calibration and profiling to be a most valuable variable. Although I had to get to my ideal adjustment by trial and error. For some reason, although I have asked, there is not a scientifically based way to configure a displays adjustment in terms of brightness/contrast balance, although some display companies provide software that does it for you, if that is something you want to afford. They won’t help if you have a display that requires manual adjustment. I’ll let you guess what the reason is for being secretive and not offering any technical advise.
Anyway, after three tries I obtained a balance of brightness, contrast and backlight settings that resulted in a very good Delta-E feedback from ColorEyes Display Pro software using an X-Rite iOne Pro spectrophotometer to calibrate and profile the LaCie 324i. And I’ll keep my settings confidential too, as I have no basis other than my own experimenting that they would work as well if generally applied.
But the color is great and images are reproduced with good detail at all levels of brightness including highlights and shadows. Color saturation is high but not at all exaggerated almost perfectly matching the Adobe RGB gamut. So it is a pleasure to use and a refined tool to precisely adjust and edit photographic image files. I was also surprised that the 324i’s standard resolution in a 24 inch display reproduces detail sharply enough to make doing fine clean up and people retouching easy and almost a pleasure. Well for me it is a pleasure to make an images reproduce the subject to advantage, maybe even a little flattering.
The bottom line is that I am now confident I can put the LaCie 324i near the top of my list of recommended LCD displays for color-managed photography computing. It’s a bit expensive, but not at the top of the price list for pro-graphics LCD displays. You can get more details from the LaCie web site at:  

Thursday, June 2, 2011


First of all, what does a computer do? In our world today the word compute |kəmˈpyoōt| means to make a calculation, especially using a computer: modern circuitry can compute faster than any chess player. So is a photographic image made by a calculation of number values? Yes, to some extent with a digital camera. But graphics, an image on-screen was a side effect of computing, a part of the in and out communication with a computer. It was not what the computer did but how it communicated its answers after the question were typed into a computer with a keyboard. A monitor was just a convenient way to make a computer respond so its output could be read by human eyes.
In the 80’s when personal computers began to be common all they had was a keyboard and a monochrome display that reproduced text and numbers. During the same period Apple computers were used to begin the desktop publishing revolution, probably the first popular use of computers for graphic purposes. Today with computers reproducing all kinds of media and being used as a communications and entertainment device, a computer’s original function and an understanding of how they worked has been lost to all but the few who used computers over a generation ago. We all take them for granted. One of the earliest and most common uses of a PC was to run a cash register in a store.
Today when a photographer begins shopping for a computer there aren’t any that are designated as digital photography models. Nearly all personal computer today can deal with photographic images to some middling effect, and none are attributed with any special photographic abilities. Maybe that is just as well because a photographer shopping for a computer maybe should be looking for the one key part of a computer system that is “graphic”, and that is its display. LCD displays that are designed and made for graphics computing are few, rare and relatively expensive models.
So, a photographer looking for a computer to do digital photography should first select the best graphics LCD display that can be afforded, and it may cost more than you need to pay for the rest of the computer system. Then get a personal computer to run the display. It can be quite modest  because digital photography processing and editing involves very little “computing” because photos are not the result of a calculation. The only factors in the computer that are important to photography are a good quality 2D video (card), and the addition of as much RAM as can be afforded.
This may sound like a radical idea from a computer geek’s perspective, but it works for me and many other photographers. What few people realize is that there are hundreds of millions of computers used in offices, institutions and now most homes have a computer or two. But the number of people who are serious digital photography users can be counted in the thousands. That is a radically small part of the computer market, too small to even be considered a niche market. There aren’t any computers made especially for digital photography, so do it yourself. 
Which LCD displays should a photographer shop for. Well I have written about the few I can recommend in past articles in Shutterbug, as well as mentioned in my Digital Help column and this blog. But I am currently considering adding another make and model, but also dropping one model from my list. So keep tuned in, that update will appear soon.