For some time now, I’ve been receiving questions regarding computer displays from subscribers and readers of this blog – questions about image quality on-screen, color accuracy and consistency, brightness, and more.
Additionally, I hear questions about selecting a new display – which ones are best in terms of overall performance, which ones have the “best” color, which are the best value for the money.
There are a number of web sites which have provided monitor reviews – sometimes looking at them grouped by type (flat screen vs CRT in the old days, for example), type of backlight, laptop vs. desktop, etc. And it’s fair to say that many of these reviews have been very helpful, at the time, in differentiating performance of various manufacturers’ offerings.
As far as I know, there is no single reference or database that gives photographers an opportunity to objectively evaluate performance of displays used in image review and editing – both tasks critical to success in our profession.
I’d like to see that kind of information become readily available, and I believe that we have the tools. Datacolor provides a suite of monitor performance tests (Monitor Quality Analysis, or MQA), which are folded into the software it includes with its newest display calibration device- the Spyder4 Elite. Testing capabilities include:
– Color Gamut
– Screen Uniformity
– Tone Response
– White Luminance and Contrast
– White Point at Different OSD settings
An example of the Color Uniformity for Brightness report, which shows comparative performance among nine segments of the screen:
And the color accuracy report:
This chart shows accuracy of color among a set of target patches, and provides a quantitative measurement of the display’s accuracy to standard for each patch. An average Delta-E value of less than 3 is acceptable; in this case the display achieved a score of 1.8, suitable to effective post-production work for photography.
Datacolor provides performance information in the other test areas, and calculates an overall performance measurement.
Imagine how useful this information could be if we could have a database showing comparative performance of different monitors, at different price points. We could actually calculate a score that measure “bang for the buck” – the value received for investment made by the buyer!