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Best PC monitor for processing photographs

photos2photos2 Member
edited June 2012 in wedding photography
I need to purchase a new PC monitor - does anyone have suggestions please - best buy for processing professional photographs


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012

    You need to get a monitor that has direct hardware calibration inbuilt, whereby the software actually accesses the monitor's LUTs [Look-Up Tables] which are the settings you can calibrate very accurately from, not from the monitor panel.

    You do need the hardware device, like an X-Rite Display Pro 11 or a Spider or the Color-Munki. [I use the x-rite].

    Now, as for the monitor, the best buy at the moment and one of the best for professional is an NEC PA Series.


    Wide color gamut, and very very good price. I own an Eizo, but that may be overkill, depends on what you do. Those puppies run from $1400 to $11,800.

    This one here you don't even need a 1/3rd party app, it has it's own inbuilt calibration device using the ColorNavigator software designed for Eizo, in fact, you don't even need the PC turned on, it can be timed to calibrate itself when you are not even there, brilliant.


    However, depends on your budget. The NEC above would be a damn good start and if you have the dough, get a 27 or even a 30 inch one.
  • Wish I had known this last year. I bought a generic Asus IPS monitor, which looks a lot better than the panels I had before. Can I get good accuracy with my IPS monitor if I figure out how my Spyder calibrator works?
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    I don't know anything re the ASUS monitor, sorry, nor the Spyder.

    Here is a great site [Australian] with all the info on NEC/Eizo Monitors.


    Prices are dearer here obviously with import and GST compared to B&H.

  • Thanks, TREV, very useful info!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2012
    I forgot to mention, [I have in other posts] but you do need the flat screen to cut out glare/reflections, etc. Obviously each to his/her own, but the screens the vast majority use are the flat, non glare ones.

    There will be people telling you they can do it on a glossy screen, that's fine, just different horses for courses, and if/when you get a good screen, here's a tip why you paid that money for one.

    Put the good one beside the old, both turned on, and take a look at the screens corner to corner, you will immediately without a doubt see the 'old good one you thought you had' looks like a wounded duck struggling to keep up with a marathon runner. You will see a bright center and dull corners, where the new U-beaut one will be a nice even spread.

    Also the angle of view, if you have both near the edge of a desk, lie down on the floor and look up at both from an acute angle, you will be struggling just to even see the old one whereas the nice new one with the 170 degree of view will be easily seen with no fall-off. Bet my house keys on it.

  • NaftoliNaftoli Member
    edited July 2012
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2012

    Honestly, cannot say, but it looks pretty, however for sure it would not be a 'color critical' monitor, eg: one that is a recognised industry standard for color work, especially at that price, but is probably a nice very basic entry level, not for pros.


    Edit: I did a bit of research from Will Crockett of ShootSmarter, he's done many many tests for color critical work on various monitors, and even after profiling with the very latest Extreme X-Rite i1 Display Pro 2, only gave it a 5.5/10.

    *If you buy one of these screens, and you happen to have an i1 Xtreme profiling kit, you can get it up to a 5.5 out of 10 on the color accuracy scale. For most non-pros, that's fine. Really.

    But if you profile that screen with a kit less than the Xtreme, like the i1 Display 2, you will get it only up to about a 4.6 or so out of 10. For pro work, you really need a 6.5 or better.

    So if you are a pro and want accurate, consistent and precise color like Dell claims, don't buy this.

    Here's the full review: http://www.shootsmarter.com/will-crockett-articles/dell-s-u2410-color-accurate-monitor

    You may need to register, free, email/password to view articles.

    Just as I thought, you do need to spend money to get the better quality ones, like they say, 'quality costs' :)


    Edit 2: OK, here you go, courtesy of Will Crockett from ShootSmarter.com

    NEC's PA Series of monitors ROCK! $700 to $2200. (be sure to use that lin kto the left then scroll down to the PA series only)
    Screen Size: 22.5 to 29.5 inches Adobe RGB Capable? YES
    Score: 8.3 on the small 23 inch, but 9.0 on all the bigger sizes.
    COMMENT FROM WILL: Very good, predictable color and solid B&W performance. These screens are a bit difficult to profile if you use any of our standard profiling solutions (Xrite, EyeONE, ColorSpyder) but do offer their own profiling software called SpectraView that is great. So if you buy one of these, you will need to add in a copy of their SpectraView software for another $180.

    Apple iMac's all sizes from $1100. to $1999.
    Screen Size: various. Adobe RGB Capable? NO sRGB only.
    Score: 7.5
    COMMENT FROM WILL: Great color at a decent price. Perfect entry-level Mac for the pro and emerging pro photographer. We have three now - love them!

    Eizo ColorEdge CG303W $5100.
    Screen Size: 30 inches Adobe RGB Capable? YES and BEYOND.
    Score: 10+
    COMMENT FROM WILL: Perfection in color and clarity. A true joy to work on.

    Eizo ColorEdge CG243W $1999.
    Screen Size: 24 inches Adobe RGB Capable? YES
    Score: 9.5
    COMMENT FROM WILL: Excellent overall, well worth the bux. For the photographer who wants to produce very fine or color critical work - this is the guy.

    FULL REVIEWS: [Log-in may be required, just register, free]

  • thanx so much trev for your time and ur detailed answer, im guessing it doesnt make a difference if ur doing ur own printing or sending it out to a lab (with do not color correct option checked) right?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2012
    Normally correct, but with your own printing a whole new lot of variables come into play, type of printer, set-up etc, paper. You could have it color calibrated on a $5000 monitor perfectly and get a crap result from your own printer.

    That's when you absolutely need to get a ICC profile to suit that printer, but also, the type of paper you are printing on, different profiles for each type of paper is vital, 'one size does NOT fit all' in this case, and there are places out there that will create the profile for you, specifically for that printer/model, and most importantly the type of paper.

    Edit: You also need profiles for BW images for their respective papers as well.


    When sending out to print from lab, you do need to get a good one, not some shopping mall self-inflicted 'pain' kiosk, but a good lab since they should be calibrating their printer every day, sometimes twice a day. [Mine does]

    Don't fall for the "you need to buy/install" a profile from *us* since we can then print your prints perfectly, that's bullshit, there are still some unscrupulous labs out there that will do that, making excuses for their own inadequacies. You only need a profile for your own personal printer.

    If you don't know of any one to create a profile for your own printer, this guy [guru of color] here can create one for your specific printer/paper.

    You do need, once again, a damn good quality printer, probably around the $1500+ mark. The Epson's cannot be beat, pricy, but oh so worth it.

    Printer [arguably king of its class]: http://www.imagescience.com.au/products/Epson-3880-A2-Inkjet-Printer.html

    Edit: B&H [good guess @ $1500]: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/757829-REG/Epson_SP3880DES_Stylus_Pro_3880_Ink.html

    Profile service: http://www.imagescience.com.au/products/Custom-ICC-Printer-Profile-%2d-RGB.html

    Full Details: http://www.imagescience.com.au/pages/Custom-Printer-Profiles.html

    Instructions: http://www.imagescience.com.au/pages/Profile-Service-Instructions.html

    Best of luck.


  • Hi Everyone
    I got my NEC PA241W BK MultiSync PA241W BK 24 Widescreen monitor on Tuesday to replace my Old Sony Artisan , I agree its a great monitor the colours are brilliant and the image is extremely sharp.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2012
    Hey Lou,

    Good stuff, someone that will agree with my choice listed above.

    Let us know when the X-Rite comes and you do your first calibration. Did you also get the SpectraView II Profiling for NEC?

  • HowieHowie Member
    Re/ Dell: My experience has not been confidence inspiring. I use a Dell as a secondary, non-color critical display (other than to ck images in sRGB destined for the web). Due to sample variation, I had to audition three monitors to finally get one that was acceptable. Maybe they've tightened up the QC since then, but I'm not likely to buy another.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Check your inbox above. Message!

  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited June 2012

    I've done the following:
    a) Take good quality image files (with embedded ICC profile) to 2 or more professional labs, and cheap photo outlets. Get the labs to make prints.
    b) Ask the pro lab if you can compare their print with their own calibrated pro screen. Note how the colours of the print differ from the colours on the calibrated pro screen of the lab.
    c) Compare colours of the prints (made by different pro labs); using the same file.
    d) Compare the prints with your own monitor.
    e) You can also compare these prints with the picture file at the agent or reseller of the most expensive pro-screen. Compare the colours of the photograph to the colours on the monitor.

    I noted:
    a) The colours made of printed pictures varied between pro-labs, and even between different printers at the same lab. (There are variables in the type of print technologies).
    b) See the picture below. You can create your own. Some colours of the printed picture compare better to the colours on the pro-monitor than others.
    c) A portrait photograph compare better to the pro-monitor than individual colours (like the image below).
    d) The quantity & colour temperature of light on the printed photo changes the colour of the printed picture. You can use a special daylight lamp to view the printed pictures - for a stable standard viewing the printed picture.
    e) A monitor is back lit - which also changes the appearance of colours.
    f) There are just too many variables. You will never be satisfied if you are trying to get all the colours to match perfectly, nor is it important for non-critical use (which is the case for most people).
    g) Replacing a DVI cable with a new HDMI cable improved the output of one of my monitors.
    h) I don't like the colours of most laptop screens. It's easy to compare the same picture on a notebook and LED monitor.
    i) The screen card in the computer also plays a role in the colours of the monitor.
    j) The printing process has limitations, like its dynamic range.
    k) You don't need a very expensive monitor to get acceptable colours. (Others my crucify me for this comment.)

    Your eyes can "trick" you:

    I noted this with paint. You can take a drop of paint and compare it to individual colours on a colour chart. On its own, the drop looks similar to several different colours, but when you place all the colours next to the drop, there is an enormous difference between the colours on the chart and the paint. You need a large area of a colour to make a better judgement.


  • MatrixphotoMatrixphoto Member
    edited June 2012
    Hi Everyone I just wanted to give an update......
    I now have my NEC Multi Sync PA241W monitor for a few days now .
    I would Highly-Highly recommend this monitor. The price is great
    B&H currently has it on for $760.00 .
    If your Canadian shoot me a private message I have a supplier that has it at a great price and their fast and at filling the order.


    I also got the hood for it.... It as a door for Calibrators cool little feature.


    I got the Xrite i1 Pro Calibrator , great product very easy to use cool little unit.


    As per Trev's recommendation I purchased the Spectraview II software.

    Well worth the $90.00 buck . It allows for hardware calibration of the monitor .


    As you can see from the Summary image it very accurate also it allows you to change Calibrations on the fly. So I was able to try a few different settings.

    I would use the 52 Step instead of the 32 witch is the default.


    You can go to :


    For some great articles on Colour calibration and Starting points on this Equipment.

    Thanks again goes to Trev for all his help though is Transition.

    Lou Recine
    Owner Matrix Photography and Design.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi Lou,

    Welcome to the world of enlightened calibration.

    I see you got good results reading the info tab, nice :)

    Your Delta E reading of 0.4 is brilliant, anything below 2 or 3 is considered very good, that means there is no virtual difference perception in the whites.

    I would also try for 0.4 cd/m2 for blacks as a target and the screen brightness of 90 cd/m2, that will give you much closer to paper whites [printed photograph].

  • NaftoliNaftoli Member
    edited July 2012
    hey trev and matrix i think im just about ready to jump into the world of calibrated monitors! matrixphoto was ur monitor on sale b/c on B&Hs site its $1000 not $760 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/676418-REG/NEC_PA241W_BK_MultiSync_PA241W_BK_24_Widescreen.html/BI/2096/KBID/2822

    or maybe i should buy used? http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/800869937-USE/NEC_PA241W_BK_MultiSync_PA241W_BK_24_Widescreen.html/BI/2096/KBID/2822 and did u buy urs as a package with the spectra color callibrator? thanx
  • Hi Naftoli
    Great I happy to say this monitor is still Rocking my World.
    I just went on the link B&H has it on sale for $766 ( Click to see Current Price ) monitor alone...
    I purchased the x-rite $249.00 B&H Really easy to use.
    The other things I had to buy was the Spectra View II software $89.99 For Hardware Calibration ( well worth it )
    and the hood $100.00. nesesary and looks cool too boot.

    If your living in Canada drop me a private message and I'll give you the name of a canadian supplier that has it for a really great price.

  • Hi Everyone
    Here is a great resource for Monitor Calibration /Profiles and Review on Monitor Calibration hardware.

  • thanx i live in new york, so u bought the xrite color callibrator for $250 and also the spectraview ii software and u use them in conjunction?
  • i plan to use this monitor connected to my laptop will that be a problem? will i need any additional hardware? will it slow down my ram?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012

    A lot of people use a good monitor connected to the laptop no problem at all.

    You don't need additional hardware. No, it does not suck up RAM; during calibration, like any software of course it will use RAM, however, while it's calibrating you are not using the monitor. Once calibrated, it merely uses the profile which in turn is not using RAM, no different if you change a profile in Photoshop, nothing using RAM [apart from Photoshop itself].

    Caveat: A very good video card will be required to utilise the absolute best from the monitor, this should of course be obvious, not only that but a good Vid also will make Photoshop run a lot smoother, as anything else like RAM, Cache, HDD's free space to use as a Scratch Disc, and so on.

    To clear a couple of things up. If you buy the Xrite you use that as the Calibrating device, like driving a 6-cylinder car, you can then just use the actual software that comes with it and nothing else. That's fine.

    However, to jump into the same car but with access to a V8 you still drive the car [the Xrite] but you then use the SpectraView Software [the new V8] to *access* the monitor's hardware calibration which is built into the monitor itself, not any software from a 3rd party. The Xrite is merely a tool, like a hammer, which drives in a nail, which in turn can build a house.

    But you do need to get the SpectraView software which does this, otherwise you cannot utilise the monitor's direct LUTs [Look-up Tables] which means a very very fine tuning of the monitor from within the monitor.

    That's called 'Hardware Calibration'.

    I have place lots of links in various posts regarding different calibration specs.

    Monitor Calibration by eye, you twiddle with the various settings with the buttons in front of the monitor. Useless.

    Software Calibration, you use a calibrator and ITS own software to calibrate. Good

    Hardware Calibration, you use a calibrator but the monitor's specific software to access the inbuilt Hardware in the monitor. Excellent.

    In other words, no matter what calibrating device you buy, you *do not* load that software that come with the device, you purchase and load the monitor's specific orientated software. Eizo: ColorNavigator; NEC: Spectraview.

    Here: http://www.imagescience.com.au/kb/questions/65/Colour+Control+on+Monitors

    Now also new are some of the really top monitors have everything built-in, no need to utilise anything apart from it's own device, it's a calibrator which drops down from a hidden panel on front of the monitor, of course you pay for that.

    That monitor is still $766 B&H, a superb price.

  • i have a toshiba satellite p505 series i got it about a year and a half ago, is the video card good enough, do u know if i can upgrade the video card in it ? also is a video card the same thing as a graphics card? thanx the price with the spectra view software is 1200$ that means 500$ for the software?
  • MatrixphotoMatrixphoto Member
    edited July 2012
    Yes I agree with Trev 110% , Hardware calibration is the way to go . The nice thing about having hardware calibrations is that you can switch calibrations on the fly . With the Spectra II software the actual Monitor hardware it self is actually being adjusted.
    So its extremely accurate and will be the same every time you calibrate it.

    I sent a standard test print to the lab after doing a slight adjustment to the luminace level the screen was a perfect match.

    You will need a Free USB Port on your lab top to use the Spectra II software and calibrator . However the monitor itself has a USB on the side that you can use to Plug in Devices or calibrators. Cool feature !!!!!!

  • trev and matrixphoto just out of curiosity do u do ur own printing as well or do u send it out too a lab?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    I send all my stuff to the lab and on the very rare occasion a client wants a nice BW Warm paper, I still send to lab, but I have a profile in there for that as well.

    The lab I send to is expensive and I only send specific files, not general stuff, I still use a Pro Lab but on the cheaper side since they are doing hundreds of photographers prints per day where the specialised lab is generally used to create master gallery pieces on specific paper types.

    A good quality 20x30 print for eg from the fine art lab on a great BW paper will set you back $175+ but worth every cent.

    The Toshiba laptops in general are nice, but model number and specific hardware installed I am completely unsure, sorry. You will have to research. See if it has an Open GL capability Graphics Card installed, like an Nvidia GeForce type, that's the type you need, it helps render much more quickly in photoshop.


  • can u tell from looking at this image
  • For most prints I use Costco , I use there Profile from
  • costco has a non color correct option?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Nuh! I can only see the brand, no model #.

    Is it a 2500 series or 4000 series?

    You can tell anyway if a good card, enlarge a file view so you can't see it all in the window, then hold spacebar down, click and flick, see if the file moves nice and quickly and smoothly like butter.

    If it's jerky and takes a little while to render, then you may not have one, but if the laptop is only around 18 months I should think so.

    Go to My Computer, right click, Properties, choose 'Devices' [you may get warning if not in Administrator mode, just OK that], then expand the 'Display Adapters', choose your Card, double click or right click choose properties, see what description you get.


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Costco, don't have, in Australia not the States. :)
  • the links not working on my computer, so would u say the built in video card is good enough to run smoothly, and can i upgrade
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012

    Sorry, yep, I am so ancient it used to be called a Video Card, same thing, Graphics Card.

    The SpectraView Software is only around the $150+/-



  • when i click to c price on the one with the spectraview software it says 1200$
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    I don't know what you are seeing but the following I get.

    The actual monitor listed above is $766,


    and the SpectraView Software, but also the NEC's own calibration device, the NEC for $299.

    However, I and Lou are using the XRite's Display Pro calibrator but with the NEC's SpectraView software to access Lou's NEC while the Xrite I am using accesses my EIZO's monitor with the ColorNavigator software which is Eizo's software for that particular monitor.

    Where are you getting $1200 from for the software? Link!


  • Thats correct it not worth buying it bundeled , if you buy the components separately you save $100 Enough to buy a hood.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    ahhh, I see, you clicked on the Monitor and SpectraView + NEC Calibrator bundle, yep, in this instance cheaper to buy separate... and get a hood like Lou says...
  • NaftoliNaftoli Member
    edited July 2012
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    Honestly, it's up to you which one. I probably would go the Xrite and the SpectraView software, but that's your call, as I don't have any experience with the NEC kit, but I do know the xRite is very good and combined with the SpectraView for NEC to me that would be a no brainer.

    Try and look for reviews re NEC calibration kit, see what they have to say.

    Edit: Just saw in that B&H link some 23 customer reviews giving an average of 4.9/5.0 but they may/may not be conversed in the color calibration scene per se. I would still see what other professional reviewers have to say.
  • NaftoliNaftoli Member
    edited July 2012
    in the overview for the nec color calibration kit it says its based on the xrite i1 display, rnt they competition? and in the end it would come out cheaper b/c it comes with the software http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/613707-REG/NEC_SVII_PRO_KIT_Color_Sensor_and_SpectraView.html/BI/2096/KBID/2822
  • here is a customer review witch makes things a bit clearer
    "(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

    Good kit, but it could be better

    By Roman

    from Moscow, Russian Federation

    About Me Power User
    Verified Reviewer

    Actually, it's a great product, but... It fits for those who don't want to collect all parts separately.
    In one hand it's good, but from another...
    Just look.
    Spectraview software is the best choice to calibrate NEC displays. It writes calibration data into internal display lookup table, not in your video card. So it makes calibration process more accurate and flexible.
    But, spectrasensor pro is actually specialized version of an x-rite i1 Dispay Pro sensor.
    In fact that its an OEM version, you can use this sensor only with NEC software, but not with x-rite programs.
    So, if you own only NEC display(s), it would be a good choice. But if you would like to calibrate some other devices, for example projector or CRT display, it will be a problem.
    Specialized OEM version of i1 Display Pro sensor limits the range of its capabilities.
    As for me, I used this kit with my NEC MultiSync 2090Uxi display. The calibration process is fast and easy. Colors has become much more vivid.

    On conclusion, I want to give an advice.
    Buy original x-rite i1 Display Pro sensor kit with x-rite software bundle (then you'll be able to calibrate what ever you want) and separately buy NEC's SpectraView software.
    It will work with x-rite sensor, just as it works with it's OEM sensor. You'll get all advantages of NEC's software and x-rite's hardware.

    Yes, I would recommend this to a friend"
    it seems like the nec hardware calibrator
  • it seems like the nec hardware calibrator is specialized for nec displays only while the xrrite can be used to callibrate any display, so i guess im gonna go with xrite just in cases in the future i buy any other company display
  • Hi Naftoli
    I would agree , I learnt that lesson with my Sony Artisan.
    When Sony discontinued and stopped supporting the Sony Artisan. monitor I couldn't upgrade the PPC software to run with 10.7.4. I was stuck having to scrap everything. At least this way if your monitor craps out you won't have to reinvest in a calibrator.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    Looks like what I would do probably the best option then, as I did not bother to read the reviews, since I knew the xRite would be more than up to the job and with SpectraView for the NEC.
    Reviewer said: On conclusion, I want to give an advice.
    Buy original x-rite i1 Display Pro sensor kit with x-rite software bundle (then you'll be able to calibrate what ever you want) and separately buy NEC's SpectraView software.
    It will work with x-rite sensor, just as it works with it's OEM sensor. You'll get all advantages of NEC's software and x-rite's hardware.
    Naftoli, looks like you answered your own question. :)

  • NaftoliNaftoli Member
    edited July 2012
    yay! thanx,one more question b&h has the monitor the used department for $579 i would save over $200, is that a good idea? http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/676418/NEC_PA241W_BK_MultiSync_PA241W_BK_24_Widescreen.html/BI/2096/KBID/2822
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    hmmmm, difficult to answer.

    How old is it? Was it a 'demo' from B&H? If a demo I see no reason to question it.

    What sort of warranty would you get on it?
    Reason for selling it in the first place if not a demo and from whom did it come?

    I see by the 'condition' it's rated a 9: Condition: 9 Shows signs of use, but very clean.

    How does a monitor show 'signs of use', apart from a clean screen?

    If they can answer satisfactorily your concerns, and a reliable warranty maybe?

    Personally saving only $200 on this would be a no brainer for me, I would forgo the savings and get a brand spanking new with full warranty and peace of mind, and like a lot of things maybe nothing will happen until the 90-day warranty [if that's their normal] expires. Murphy's Law always seems to kick in.

    There may very well be dead pixel/s in it. You can go to the store, if close enough, then maybe worth a look. I would expect a bigger saving than only $200. Why don't you push them on it? Phone and see if you can deal, there is *always* room to negotiate on used items surely, push them you have absolutely nothing to lose and if not, get a new one.

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