In today’s automated point-and-shoot world, professional photographers find it harder than ever to make their images stand out from the competition. While advances in digital technology have helped democratize the photographic process by putting the tools of the trade within everyone’s reach, professional shooters and hard-core hobbyists must go the extra mile to distinguish themselves and the photos they produce. If you count yourself among the photographic elite, the recognition of your peers or even the top prize in an esteemed competition can depend on the quality of your images.
Some things haven’t changed since the early days of photography. A professional photographer still has to take into account a myriad of factors that go into perfecting each shot—lighting, focal points, ISO and shutter speed settings, timing, and composition. One thing that has changed, however, is the medium on which your shots will be viewed. Most photos today are seen on a screen. That’s why it is critical for professional photographers and image editors to have the right display to produce the most accurate image possible — a color management monitor.
Anyone who has delved into the complexities of color management knows it can be difficult to master. Thankfully, there are tools available to help, including monitors specifically designed with color management in mind. In fact, next to your cameras and lenses, a good quality color management monitor should be the most essential device at your disposal. Let’s look at some of the reasons for this.
While multi-purpose monitors are fine for a wide variety of tasks, from word processing to watching movies, these screens won’t cut it when it comes to reproducing accurate color for high-level photo processing. Because most photos today are viewed on a screen, photographers and photo editors need to see an image not only as the camera recorded it, but also as the final viewer will experience it. Most of today’s multi-purpose monitors are not made to produce color-accurate images on the screen. That’s why photographers who put valuable time and effort into their images require a display that is purpose-built for photo editing.
Uniformity of brightness is another advantage offered by color management monitors. Most general-purpose monitors suffer from slight variations in brightness and color across the screen. These differences occur during the manufacturing process at the panel factory and may not be noticeable to the average user. The image processing power user, however, should be able to detect these variations, as they can impact the quality of their final product. This is why monitors that are purpose-build for image processing are tested at the factory to ensure uniformity.
Beyond color performance and detail, there are additional features worth considering when choosing a professional-level monitor for image editing. If you plan to use a multiple-monitor arrangement in your workspace, you will want to consider a borderless bezel design for seamless viewing. A swivel mount for flexible configuration is another consideration. Finally, look for a monitor with a flat matte finish, which can make calibration easier, as the surface won’t reflect ambient light — a problem common to glossier screens.
Most serious photographers are willingly sink a small fortune into any equipment they think might give their photos an edge and help them stand out — cameras, lenses, light sources, etc. Few give equal consideration to their monitor choice. If you have invested precious time and money into taking the best shots possible, why stop halfway? Make the extra effort to familiarize yourself with the latest color management monitors to find one that’s right for you and start seeing your work as it was meant to be seen.
In order to reproduce accurate color, a monitor should offer sufficient color range. Modern high-end digital cameras are capable of capturing more colors than the average multi-purpose monitor is capable of reproducing. A standard multi-purpose 8-bit monitor offers a palette of 16.7 million colors. Compare this to the 14-bit look-up table (LUT) of a color management monitor with a 4.39-trillion-color palette, like that found on the ViewSonic VP series. That’s 260,000 times more precise than your average multi-purpose monitor.
Attention to detail is what separates good photos from truly great images. Every photographer wants to produce professional-level results. Most, however, would have a difficult time achieving that level of image quality with the minimal detail seen on standard monitors. Color management monitors set themselves apart by offering a wider color gamut than general purpose displays, which translates to richer detail. The gamut is the complete range of colors found within a given image. The larger the color gamut, the closer the image colors displayed will be to those recorded by the camera. A standard monitor’s gamut is fine for everyday applications, but not sufficient for reproducing professional-quality images. The gamut of color management monitors go above and beyond this standard, revealing more of the colors captured in the original image. The best offer a wide range of color space options, as well as easy-to-select preset color modes. In addition to wider gamut, better detail performance also means truer color rendering and subtler representation of gradients. This results in a more striking and realistic reproduction of tones and smoother grayscale levels.
All the images or videos within the product screens herein are simulated for demonstration purposes only; they may not be the actual images or videos displayed in the products screens.