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Wide gamut monitor or not?

Howard Owen , Feb 26, 2010; 05:37 p.m.

On a whim this week I bought a NEC P221W-SV (with Spectraview calibrator at a good price) because my old Dell is giving me fits. With the Dell, I see things that aren't there (due to uneven luminance), and I don't see things that are (like shadow detail).

So now I have this nice new monitor and I wonder if I really need all of its capabilities. Most of my printing work goes to labs that request sRGB files. While I still hand off a file for press output on occasion, that's becoming a rarity since I'm doing less and less graphic design.

Being Windows (XP) based, the wide gamut of the NEC produces the attendant over saturation issues in any app outside of Photoshop. While this isn't a huge issue for me (and the monitor does have an sRGB emulation mode), I sill wonder if I've got more monitor than I really need.

What are the advantages of a wide gamut display that might entice me to keep it? I edit my RAW files in ProPhoto 16 bit, and that seems like it might be reason enough, but then I end up converting almost everything to sRGB in the end.

Comments appreciated. Thanks.

Responses


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Andrew Rodney , Feb 26, 2010; 06:27 p.m.

The advantages are, you can now see colors outside the limited sRGB gamut. In non ICC aware applications, an sRGB or wide gamut display, the previews simply can’t be trusted. So yes, outside such applications like Photoshop, things can look odd (hence the sRGB emulation mode). Edit your files in 16-bit, I’d suggest ProPhoto RGB (since capture and scene gamut, as well as much output gamut besides your lab can exceed even Adobe RGB (1998)).

Howard Owen , Feb 26, 2010; 06:45 p.m.

Thanks, Andrew. Your participation here is appreciated.

Steve Bingham , Feb 26, 2010; 10:35 p.m.

Why?
I use a NEC MultiSync LCD 2690WUXi2 (wide gamut). After careful calibration I see 99% of the aRGB color spectrum. Then I print aRGB on my Epson 3800. Awesome results - almost exactly as I see them on the monitor. My entire work flow is aRGB. Do NOT switch back and forth! You want pro results? Think like a pro.

Peter Barnes , Feb 27, 2010; 01:19 a.m.

Andrew, I am having difficulty understanding your answer. Howard asked why, if his output is almost all sRGB, does he need a wide gamut screen. You answered that the advantage was that "you can now see colors outside the limited sRGB gamut". Maybe the explanation of this is in your next sentence "In non ICC aware applications, an sRGB or wide gamut display, the previews simply can’t be trusted" but I can't get it to make any sense to me. And can you help me please with the difference between capture, scene and output gamut?

Howard Owen , Feb 27, 2010; 06:22 a.m.

My entire work flow is aRGB. Do NOT switch back and forth!

I'm not switching back and forth, but I am switching to send my work out to any one of the 4 labs I use for prints. ALL demand sRGB.

Peter, I don't quite grasp all of Anderw's answer either, though I sometimes have to kick his words around in my head to see his meaning. A little more kicking is in order.

I just received this reply from Ann Shelbourne on another forum:
However, if you are making your own prints on a good inkjet, you can print ProPhoto RGB images directly from Photoshop or InDesign and get much cleaner shadows and highlights and richer colors than the commercial labs provide.
I would stick with your new monitor because the more that you use it the more you will discover the benefits. And do use the excellent NEC software to calibrate and profile your monitor regularly.

I don't really do much printing except for in-house proofing of the files that go out to the labs, which, of course, are sRGB. BUT, and it's a big but, a new printer is likely in my future since my old Epson 1270 can't hang on forever. I suppose if I end up with an Epson 3880 or the like that I might be well served by a monitor that lets me see more of what's going on in my files. This would be especially true if I start making prints for sale.

Andrew Rodney , Feb 27, 2010; 10:38 a.m.

I am having difficulty understanding your answer. Howard asked why, if his output is almost all sRGB, does he need a wide gamut screen.

Because his capture device exceeds sRGB. Because if he wants to see that data to edit, prior to conversion to sRGB (which isn’t what any printer produces, it undergoes another conversion to the printer output space), that data will be lost. Because he may find an output device that exceeds this silly “convert to sRGB, throw away the data and send to us because we want you to think we have an sRGB output device” mentality. Because he may find a lab that does practice correct color management and supplies an actual output profile for soft proofing and conversion that exceeds sRGB and now he can see and use those colors.

The only sRGB output device on the planet is an emissive device (in fact, a theoretical display upon which sRGB was constructed). There is no such thing as an sRGB printer.

I'm not switching back and forth, but I am switching to send my work out to any one of the 4 labs I use for prints. ALL demand sRGB.

Because they don’t have a clue about proper color management and they want to make pushing lots of files through their system, not your ability to properly handle color, easier for them.

Bill Akstens , Mar 01, 2010; 12:06 p.m.

Howard - I just got the same monitor, and use it exclusively in sRGB emulation mode, calibrated with the SpectraviewII to that mode. I had the same questions you do. Is it more capability than I need? Perhaps yes, but it is a good quality monitor that works well. I just didn't trust the quality and capabilities of the less expensive monitor choices out there. I'm happy with mine so far. Hope you enjoy yours too.

Andrew Rodney , Mar 01, 2010; 12:20 p.m.

Bill, you can’t really calibrate to the sRGB emulation mode. Its for use viewing outside ICC aware applications. The NEC displays can do a very basic "sRGB" emulation but it is fixed and not perfectly accurate.
IOW, its a wide gamut display and calibrated (and as importantly) profiled for that behavior.

Howard Owen , Mar 01, 2010; 02:33 p.m.

Well, I'm leaning toward keeping it now.

I don't much care for the sRGB emulation mode, but it'll do in a pinch. The bigger issue for me was as follows:

After spending a few hours battling this new monitor and its seemingly unpredictable and unreliable sRGB previews in Photoshop, I found that XP, and by extension, Photoshop, was *not* using the NEC's color profile generated by Spectraview but rather the one from my old Dell. Seems the OS had latched onto this and refused to let go. The workaround for now is to assign the NEC profile to the Dell and run the Dell without a profile. Yeesh.

I suppose I could either run with only one monitor or make the NEC my secondary display since XP is apparently not getting enough info from the video card driver to sort things out on its own.


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