Color Management: Monitor
Let's talk about the monitor. You know, this DA 50 is probably the best camera I've ever shot with in my whole life, this 85 millimeter lens is awesome. This is less important than that monitor. Let that sink in, folks. This is less important. It doesn't matter what camera I shot with. I could shoot with a 24 megapixel camera. It doesn't matter what camera it is; if I don't have a monitor that can show me accurate color, then that, you know, is gonna affect, this is gonna affect the final image more than that camera will. Sure, I might need the megapixels; maybe I don't. It depends on what you're doing, you know. Maybe I'm shooting with the Hasselblad that we had earlier. That's not gonna matter if you don't have a monitor that can actually, accurately show you color, because you might massively alter the color. Or even go into black and white, and that's even more critical that you have a calibrated monitor, because parts of that monitor may be brighter or darker than other parts of t...
he monitor. So, I know that's a bold statement, and people are probably like, oh, I don't know about this, this guy's going off the tracks here. But trust me: after 15 years of doing color management and struggling with it for a long time, I've learned the monitor counts for a lot. I still want a nice camera, but I mean, the funny thing is, you spend, what? This is five grand sitting here, and maybe you have four or five other lenses. You have 20 grand worth of camera gear and you spend $400 on a monitor. It's like, that's not quite how it should be. Anyway, we're gettin' there. So, color spaces. The other thing to note: most laptops, which is what most people have these days, always suggest, most monitors, doesn't matter if it's a laptop or not, are only showing you sRGB. So remember: sRGB is a pretty small amount of what our eyes can see. It's like 40% less than Adobe RGB, which is probably what we're shooting in. So, if you have a monitor that's only showing you half the colors your camera's producing, you're not even seeing half the colors that your camera shot. So that's a major problem when you start playing around with color. If you can't see half the colors you're manipulating, major issue. So, other thing, and I just took a picture of my laptop, I'm not pickin' on Apple here, this is just in general. If we put up four black-and-white pictures on the four corners of our monitor, in the places shown here, one of those is probably gonna be brighter or darker than somewhere else; one might be cyan, one might be magenta, it's not gonna be even color or even brightness across the entire screen, because none of these monitors, speaking of laptops or normal monitors, not talking about the Eizo, are tuned so that they're the same brightness corner-to-corner. So what you could be doing in Photoshop is working up your image, and maybe you're dodging and burning and darkening down one corner when, in reality, it's just your monitor is brighter over there, and it's not actually that dark. So when you go to print that image, you're like, well, that's way darker than my monitor showed it to be. What's the deal? Here's the ballgame. And you're seeing only half the colors. So, like, that story is telling you what the Climbing magazine picture is. One of my pictures showed up really green color cast, I had a beautiful Apple cinema display; this is like 10 years ago. And I blamed the pre-press guys, and I was just like, oh, it's so bad these days. Then I got an Eizo monitor that showed me all the color's image, green color cast was big as day. It was just my monitor that was showing sRGB did not show that part of the spectrum, did not show me that issue. So that's why I'm bringing this up and harping on it pretty seriously. So, this is what I've said already, you know. If you're working in an, oh, Adobe RGB with your camera here, and you're working on a sRGB monitor, just be mindful of that. It's not to say you can't do it, it's just, you know, if you're a wedding photographer, you may only shoot sRGB, because maybe you're making prints, and they don't need to be the full Adobe RGB spectrum and you're just staying in the sRGB world. Totally fine, good to go. You know, just be aware that there might be some hiccups with the monitor, brightness and color-wise, edge-to-edge. So, I am gonna only recommend three brands, and not all the monitors from three brands. In my view, Eizo; I have an Eizo monitor at home. They're the cream of the crop. Their ColorEdge series are as, basically, as good as it gets for color management. They're also probably the most expensive monitors photographers see, anywhere from, like, $800 or $900 up to $6,000 for a monitor. I don't own a $6,000 monitor, but I spent $2, on my monitor and I started seeing colors in my images I'd never seen before, immediately. So it was a big deal. NEC makes a series of monitors called the PA series monitors. They look a lot like the Eizos, or "Ay-zos", sorry. They're great monitors, too. They're a little less expensive, but not a whole lot. And then, BenQ is actually a brand new brand that just came on in the last few years. They're making full-gamut Adobe RGB monitors. They're not, maybe, quite as good as the Eizo, but they're pretty good, and they're a little bit cheaper. So, you know, look at some of those. I'll show you how to calibrate the Eizo here which is the only one of these that I know of that's got a built-in color imager on the monitor itself. But it just depends on your budget and what you wanna do. But those are the only three brands that I recommend. Apple makes gorgeous monitors, but they're not necessarily color accurate edge-to-edge. Dell, everybody else that's not on this list, (makes a face) if you're doin' really high-end color management, they're not up to par. I know Dell makes an Adobe RGB monitor; I don't have that much experience with it, so I can't say, for sure, that it's not up to par, but these are tried-and-true, trusted, and they've been around for a long time. And the amazing thing with the Eizo, they're hand-tuned, or "Ay-zo", excuse me, they're hand-tuned from edge to edge at the factory to be perfectly uniform from edge to edge of that monitor. That's why they cost more. So, just like your camera, you get what you pay for here. And if color's a huge deal for you, as it is for most professional photographers, this is a big deal. And it saves me lots and lots of money when I start printing images. Like, 'cause I know, if it looks like this on the monitor, it's gonna look like that on the print. Whereas if you have, like, my Apple Cinema Display, in the old days, you used to have to print, like, 12 images to get one that looked the way you wanted it to look, and you had to play all kind of games on your Apple monitor to, like, select this and select that and darken this and darken that to actually get the print the way you wanted it to look originally, the way your worked it up. And that was all because of the monitor. And maybe the work environment. So, this is the one we're using here, the CG277, they make 4K monitors as well. So, I know I just threw a whole bunch of stuff under the bus there. Tony?
Yeah, I'll just follow up a little bit what I was talking about before. So I'm a pro photographer, and I own a Dell monitor, and I am gonna take a lot away from this in terms of color management. But I'm not sure I'm gonna go all the way and it's the same, I don't do my own printing. So I'll take it out, I'll contract out that printing.
But that's even worse, because then you need to be even better color management, 'cause somebody else is doing the printing.
Well, my question was, can I get it close? Like, is there a way not to make all these investments, and yet, when I have that image, or that set of images, that I'm gonna send off and I need that high degree, is there any way I can contract--
You're not gonna like my answer.
How much, you got 20 grand in camera gear? Sell a lens, get a better monitor. Deal with your workspace. Block out the windows. Go in a closet, you know, if that's all you got. It's that critical, if you're being that careful. If you're just putting your images on Instagram and they're online and they're never in print, calibrate your monitor and forget about it, you know? It just depends on how, I'm not gonna say you have to do this. It's just, this has been my experience. If you're having somebody else print your images, the first question I ask the printer at the print house is, like, send me your ICC profile for your paper that you're printing on. If they don't know the answer to that question, I call somebody else. Because that's baseline. Like, if they don't have an ICC profile for whatever paper they're gonna print my image on, that tells me they don't, they're not cognizant of color management and that print could look like anything. So. Do we have some questions online there? With Apple, Dell, are they asking interim...
Yeah, we have a question from photomaker, who would like to know, can you talk a little bit about the matte versus shiny types of monitors?
Great question, actually. You know, Apple went to these really shiny, glossy monitors, which look gorgeous, I mean, there's a difference between gorgeous and, you know, color-managed, which, this looks gorgeous, too. I think we all got a little worked up over the glossy monitor, because if we're in an environment like this, then you start seeing reflections on the monitor, which is annoying. It also makes the monitor a little higher contrast than like this matte monitor over here. It's a small thing. All of the color, all of the top end, like, decent monitors are not glossy. It's just your laptop. You can overcome it. You'll also notice I'm wearing a black shirt. I think about that when I sit down in front of a monitor, whether it's matte or glossy. Like, I don't wear hot pink or red or some bright color, 'cause that might affect how I'm seeing color on the monitor, especially if it's glossy. So, I mean, glossy's gonna be on your laptop, probably, only, or maybe, you know, whenever Apple comes up with a new Thunderbolt display. And, actually, you know, not to dig on Apple, I'm not digging on them, but like, their 5K Retina is actually a pretty accurate monitor for the sRGB color space. So, if you're a wedding photographer only in sRGB, that monitor will work just fine for you. You know? So it's not that this is the only way to go, it depends on all these other factors. And it's understanding the whole chain of color management to figure out what's gonna work for you. And the final test is making the print. If you're consistently getting prints off of whatever monitor you have that look like your monitor, then forget about all this stuff about fancy monitors; you're doing just fine. It might just be those few images that are super-saturated in one area that the prints aren't really matching up. And that's the area where it gets really funky, is when we start adding saturation, as we'll talk about later today. But, I mean, figure out, like, Tony, your question, figure out what's goin' on for you. You know, honestly, 80% of my work is not even getting to print any more. Maybe 70%, I don't even know what the percentage is. But most of it's going online for online marketing or social media or this, that or whatever, that's all online, so it's not actually being, you know, put into print any more, so it's less of an issue than it was five, six years ago where everything was going to print. And that's why the ebook I wrote is an ebook and it's not a printed book. Because when you print a book, it's so hard to get that color so accurate, and as long as you have a calibrated monitor, you're probably seeing the images in my ebook and everything fairly accurately, so it's a little more accurate in that respect. But I will put, the onus is on the monitor, is a major issue for 95% of color management, it's the monitor. It's not how you calibrated it, it may be part of your workspace, but probably not. But we'll go through this.