Choosing the Right Monitor
And when we start to look at monitor calibration, there's different types of monitor calibration. There's basically two types of monitor calibration. One is direct hardware calibration, like what we have in the EIZO monitors. What that means is that we calibrate the monitor but the profiles that run the color management side of things are embedded inside the monitor itself. They're still software driven but they are self-calibrating monitors. They have a little device that you see a little bit later when we calibrate this that comes up in front of the screen, measures it and keeps things in check and you can set it so that it does it itself. I've normally got mine set so that with that file, every Monday morning they will do it and I normally do it when I'm not even around. So they do it at night because these are constantly on and they have a power-safe mode. They just come on, they'll calibrate and they'll do their own calibration and everything's good. The monitor will tell you, if ...
you haven't got that feature set in, it'll tell you 'Listen, it's been a while since you calibrated me. How about you show me some love and let's go out to dinner maybe.' but you need to have that kind of relationship with your monitor. So software calibration is basically calibrating with something like an XRITE device where we load software into our computer and we have an external measuring device, which is plugged in by USB, and then the software controls or embeds LUTs, or look up tables, inside the video card that controls the color that way in the ICC profile and all that sort of stuff. Still very good and very high quality but if you can afford to go down the road of something like this then it's even more accurate and there's more features that make this a benefit, which I'll get to a little bit later on. So direct hardware calibration is the most accurate method to calibrate a monitor. This method requires dedicated hardware inside the monitor as I said. The EIZO ColorEdge is an example and there are other monitor manufacturers that have this method of calibration. Calibration is done at a higher bit depth. So in other words, the tables that they put in there are at a higher bit depth, more color, more gradation of color and the result is a smoother radiance across the gamut of the monitor. We'll get to the gamut of monitors in a second. Better gradients, essentially really what it comes down to is better shadow detail. The amount of times we do edits for clients and then we sent them edits, other photographers, and then they open it up on their Macbook Pro and the first phone call is always like 'I need more detail in the shadows cause I can't see any'. Well the detail is there, you just can't see it and this is where the limitation of the monitor is crucial. So when we go into some types of software calibration, they use eight bit tables in your video card so depending on once again, the capabilities of your video card, also referred to as software calibration with a hardware device. So the hardware device is the little color thing that you stick on to your screen. The XRITE colormunki is a perfect example, the I1 is a different example but once again, they use software inside your video card. It depends once again on the quality of your video card and how good your video card is so always buy a computer that if you can't afford one of these monitors that has an incredible video card, that can drive the color management software. This type of calibrating is affordable, simple and achieves very good to excellent results. It's nothing to snarl at. It's an amazing, amazing piece of software. Basically the way it works is the software creates and stores a translation table in your video card that translates the color you should be getting and the color you're actually getting. As I said earlier, everything happens within that video card itself. In Macs, all Macs that you buy have got incredible video cards so it's good. So, Yanik, you've got a question.
So when it comes to video cards, is there anything particular in video cards that we should pay attention to either have, or for the video cards to do, to get the good quality or it doesn't really matter if you have a good monitor?
The thing is with video cards, I've only experienced video cards of high quality that come in the Macintosh systems so any of the NVIDEA, 64 bit kind of video cards, the really high end video cards are the best. But these days, even video cards, the high end video cards for gaming are good if you're building your own PC but don't try and save money on a video card. Video cards are very, very important. So that is, if you're serious about managing color. Depending if you're Mac, if you're a Mac it's easy because you're just buying them and they're already in there. If you're building your own system, the NVIDIA ones are really, really good. So choosing the right monitor. How do we choose the right monitor? Choosing the right monitor, there's a couple of factors to consider. One is contrast control of the monitor. Is there a contrast control on the monitor? Uniformity is another very, very important point to consider when you're buying a monitor. The color space coverage. What colors over, how much of any color space am I seeing on this monitor? And of course, the size. The size is extremely important depending on what you're doing with it. So, contrast control. Now that's an important feature. High end monitors allow you to control contrast by setting the black point. Now at the end of the day, if we're serious about printing, we don't need a monitor that's gonna be very bright, vibrant and colorful because that's not the sort of printing that we're doing. We need a monitor that emulates what a print is actually going to look like. So ideally, what we wanna achieve in our calibration process is achieve a print contrast of around 200:1 cause that is the contrast of light shining on a piece of paper. It has a contrast of about 200: under normal lighting conditions. So if we set our white point at 100 candelas and we set our black point at 0.5 or 0.4, 100 over 0.5, we get 200 so around 200:1. Now with these monitors, you'll see in a minute when we do the calibration on these using their own software, we can set that black point. We can set that black point and set the contrast of these monitors to match pretty much very closely to what a printed image is going to look like and that is the real, the real advantage. So let's talk a little bit more about uniformity. Uniformity is extremely important because unevenness in brightness and color at different positions on the monitor can be problematic when working in full screen, making color and tone evaluation of an image, you know what? It's impossible really. And what do I mean by uniformity? It's very simple. The image, if I put the image here and I move it to this position of the screen, it's gotta look the same and have the same color. If I move it to that position, I want it still to have the same color because if you have two images up on the screen, you're trying to match color, and you've got one over there that's magenta and this one here in the middle is showing you a shade of green and you know that it's exactly the same color balance, it's impossible to try and work like that. So these monitors here have incredible uniformity right across the actual screen area and that is very, very important for our color critical work. So we wanna make sure that we've got our tools here, an image there sometimes, we might have another image there or if we're blowing up the image to full screen, we might have a color here, which is the accurate, correct color because they're normally very good in the center but then at the edges, the skin is starting to look maybe a little bit different. Normally it's a magenta kind of green color scenario that creeps in through to the edges. But uniformity, extremely, extremely important. We then go into the fact that we need a matt surface. Why do we need a matt surface on our monitors? It's a real must for image editing really. Gloss is not good. Why? Because gloss increases contrast. We know that when you're looking even at a print, a glossy print, it does look contrasty, yeah? The monitor's no different. When you look a lot of the Apple, the Macbook Pros and the iMacs with the glossy screens, they are contrasty screen unfortunately. But also, the high reflectivity makes it very hard to evaluate images accurately and that's a no-no. Remember, we're trying to achieve subtleties in tones through a beautiful printed medium. We wanna be able to see those subtleties on our monitors so we can make proper judgment on where to place tones. It's impossible to do if colors around you are being reflected in things on a screen. It's not a good way to work so a matt screen is essential. Wide gamut support is another thing that you should consider when we look at selecting a monitor. Gamut basically is the total range of colors that a screen can display. The standard gamut is sRGB and most Apple computers, in fact all Apple computers, display the sRGB colorspace quite well, however we are working in colorspaces that are bigger than that. We're working in Adobe and sometimes, depending on the colors in our image that we need to contain we are working possibly ProPhoto. So the high end monitors support up to 102% of the Adobe RGB colorspace. That means if we're working in Adobe RGB, we're seeing everything that we're going to print which is awesome because it's exactly what we wanna do. So what I use, as I said earlier, is the EIZO Color Edge monitors. 99% of the Adobe RGB colorspace, variable contrast control, and of course hardware calibration. One of the other things you should be looking at is every time you have a monitor, a monitor hood because you don't want light straying onto it and affecting your color judgment, which is not good. But a lot of the times, it's more than color judgment. It's even understanding contrast range and how images look different on different monitors. Ergo, when we're doing our adjustments on a screen, it's all about really achieving the screen to look like what our print is meant to look like. So we need screens that can do that and can do that well. One of the other tools that I use, because I do a lot of editing whilst I'm on the road, is this unit here which is the WACOM Mobile Studio Pro, which I have here on the desk and it's 4K resolution, it gives me 96% of the Adobe RGB colorspace, it is matt surface, it has a pen with 8, levels of pressure sensitivity so I can do very good color critical work on the go. This is a tablet computer. It's a Windows system. It's running 16 gigabytes of RAM, it's running the I7 processor, it is a beast. And it is absolutely awesome. What I have here on the desk is exactly, there it is. So you can actually see it, and full touch sensitive. Oh there's my hand, hello everyone! Wonders of modern technology. And of course, touch a keyboard and off you go. Once I connect this in the studio, sometimes I'll connect this to an EIZO monitor and I have the best of both worlds. I've got the real estate, if you like, of a large monitor with the ability to working on the image itself as opposed to working on that kind of scenario. I can work on the image and then assess color on something that's much larger. So this has only been out recently. It's just been released and it's totally changed my life and the way I work, combining that with the EIZO, it is an absolutely amazing combination.