When purchasing a monitor, particularly if you'll be viewing and editing images on it, there are several factors to consider to ensure you are investing in a monitor that will display colours accurately and improve your colour management system. To help you make a more informed decision, here are 5 points you'll need to check when you're next thinking of upgrading your display device.
1. Colour Gamut
sRGB, Adobe RGB and NTSC all have their own colour gamut which is often shown on what's called an xy chromaticity diagram where triangles are used to identify how many colours can be displayed by each format. The larger the area of the triangle, the more colours can be displayed. So what does this have to do with monitor choices? Well, by choosing an LCD monitor that is compatible with a colour gamut that has a larger triangle it will be able to produce a wider range of colours on screen. The colour gamut of an LCD monitor's hardware can be indicated using similar triangles, too.
2. Monitor Gamma
Gamma can have a significant impact on colour reproduction on LCD monitors but as gamma correction generally occurs automatically, you can usually obtain correct colour handling on a PC monitor without much effort. However, the precision of gamma correction varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and from product to product which means some manual corrections are sometimes needed. As a result, using a monitor where the gamma values can be configured from its menu, will allow you to obtain accurate results more easily. You can also produce a similar result by adjusting the monitor's brightness settings or by adjusting brightness in the driver menu for the graphics card. You should also consider using a monitor with the same gamma value as the operating system you're working with (Windows, Mac etc.) to achieve close to ideal colours.
3. Panel Type
When looking for an LCD monitor that's suited to a colour management system, the type of panel the monitor has is key as this is the core component of an LCD monitor. There are three main types of LCD panels: IPS, VA, and TN of which IPS or VA monitors are recommended for graphics applications.
4. Contrast Ratio
When looking for a new monitor, check to see if its contrast ratio can be adjusted as it's a good feature to have. Contrast ratio is worked out by taking the darkest black and lightest white on a screen and comparing the luminosity. A display with a high contrast is often desired, as this tends to mean you'll be able to distinguish between more shades, but it's not always necessarily better. If the contrast ratio is too high, for example, sometimes shadow colours can be too firm, making images appear stiff and this makes it difficult to match colours with output. Do also remember that the effective contrast seen by someone can be altered by the room they are working in so that's why it's important to have your room set-up correctly, too.
5. Viewing Angle
If you often show images to groups where not everyone can see the screen head-on, this point becomes particularly important as generally speaking, the steeper the angle from which the LCD screen is viewed, the more the contrast generally declines. To ensure the LCD display you are purchasing performs well at various viewing angles there's a quick check you can perform and it's well worth doing this in-store before you make your purchase, if possible. For more information on this test and more information on monitor performance at various angles, have a read of this: Viewing Angle Check For Monitors
For more advice on monitor checks and colour calibration tips, take a look at the EIZO ColorZone techniques and features.
Visit the EIZO UK website for more information on the monitors on offer in the company's various ranges.