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Hi folks - nice to meet you... first post here and need the experts' help!

I'm prepping some JPGs from RAW to be published on a website. Using my trusted 13" Macbook Pro interfaced with a 27.5" Apple display which I picked up because visual real estate is a nice thing to have and helps with the workflow.

My question has to do with the brightness of the monitor itself: just *how* bright is accurate? I realized this because I felt that the RAWs I was developing in Affinity lacked punch and vibrance. However once I turned up the screen brightness to full, let's just say that everything looked That.Much.Better - but IMHO it's not realistic:  that brightness might ot correspond to the end user's screen settings.

This said: what is the acceptable rule of the thumb in this case, given the plethora of screens out there (handheld, mobile, laptop, office rigs, etc) and end user preferences....?

Thank you, ciao from Switzerland

Paul

 

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Hey Paul, it's a tricky one. The vast majority of monitors, especially lower-end models, tend to ship with a high brightness level for the same reason as you've observed: everything looks "punchier".

 

Unless you're working specifically to a medium such as print, you should aim to make your brightness the same as the ambient light level in the room you're in. If it's brighter or darker then you won't perceive tones and detail correctly.

 

However, I'd really recommend that you invest in a colorimeter (e.g. the i1Display Pro) - this way you can profile your monitor to particular conditions, including brightness levels. For example, in a typical office environment with overhead lighting, you might calibrate your brightness to 100cd/m2. 120cd/m2 is the typical value given for general office and web use, but it really depends on the environment lighting. What will shock you is just how bright monitors ship by default: most iMac 5K panels I've profiled tend to be around 170 to 180cd/m2 by default (this is with the automatic brightness control enabled), but I've seen some other monitors that come in at over 200. I had an old Hazro monitor that was highly rated for photo work, and that was insanely bright to begin with.

 

With a colorimeter, you can also profile your display to a colour temperature more accurately. Most of the time you'd profile to D65 (6500K) for office and web use, as well as photo editing, but you can also profile to D55, D50 and other temperatures for print work, proofing, etc. It depends on what you need to do. You will likely find that your monitor has some sort of colour cast, even if it's slight. The 2014 iMac I use shipped with a horrible green tint, and I recently profiled a 2015 model that had a blue cast.

 

To give you an example, I typically create two profiles for my photo editing at D65 and D50 and I keep my brightness at 80cd/m2 because of dim lighting conditions. I stick with D50 most of the time (it also reduces my eye strain because it's warmer ;)), but toggle between that and D65 to sanity check my work. I'll often create a third profile which is based off the office's ambient temperature (profiling software allows you to take a measurement from the colorimeter) - this is for printed work where I want a closer idea of how it will look when printed and viewed under the same lighting conditions.

 

So, a bit of a ramble, apologies... At the very least, I would recommend making sure your monitor's brightness looks "level" with the room lighting, then work from there. I would definitely recommend looking at a colorimeter though, because that way you can ensure that you've taken steps to standardise your working conditions - that's all you can do, really. Different panels, different devices - they can all have varying temperatures, colour casts and brightness levels, and you'll drive yourself mad trying to satisfy every scenario. That said, if you have devices you can test on (such as phones, tablets, other monitors), all the better.

 

Hope that helps somewhat!


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Hey James, thank you so much for your time. Having done audio recording, and especially mastering I am very aware of the issue of translating whatever media you are working on to other devices - i.e. loudspeakers and in this case video screens. Here the problem is multiplied by the fact that screen brightness across so many types of screens, including handhelds, is just...anything goes... :-|

Quick question: do you have a source of reliable pics that you check against (e.g. landscape with woods, urban settings, etc) as a way to know if you're veering too far off track?

I'm working on this one pic, shot with a DJI drone, and color always seems to be "off", especially the green foliage in the distance. After a while that I'm looking at my screen everything seems legitimately "good", but if I post it to the site it looks...urgh... "overly corrected". So I'm just wondering. Do you know of a good website where I could find an ample selection of "properly mastered" (graded?) pics to use as you call it a "sanity check"?

Thank you again!

Paul

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Well as James already told, the best way is to calibrate your monitor(s) accordingly is with the help of a calibration device here.

Of course, a calibration does not turn a bad monitor into a top-of-the-line model, but it can intercept the problems of less good panels and provide much clearer color and possibly even improved brightness. All that is needed is to create a color profile that needs to be customized for each screen. Although this is basically possible via software on Mac OS X and Windows, you should be with a calibration device on the safe side. - However, under Windows 10, you will find the corresponding settings when you enter screen color in the search box. Under Mac OS X, the manual calibration is in the system settings under monitors. In the Colors tab, you can perform the manual calibration by clicking on Calibrate. However, software calibration is prone to failure and is heavily dependent on the calibrating user's vision, ambient lighting, and a few other factors. Therefore, a manually calibrated screen in daylight can suddenly look bad again with artificial light.

Related to "properly mastered" (graded?) pics, you better use then some monitor calibration templates/charts for these purposes many sites do offer such charts, do a Google search after this.

Some other ways you can try ...


☛ Affinity Designer 1.8.3 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.8.3 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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