When I last purchased a desktop PC, I had it built to my specifications and picked out a fancy and expensive monitor. It was a LaCie 324i and it was a 24” model with 1920 X 1080 pixel resolution. And it cost $1300. David Brooks rated it highly in his column in SHUTTERBUG MAGAZINE.
Recently, the PC seemed to have difficulty waking up when sleeping. Then it started having problems turning on too. So I set it to never sleep and left it on overnight. If only these glitches would fix themselves, but they never do.
Then a couple of weeks ago, while using the PC, the screen went black. I noticed that the monitor’s power light was off. I clicked it on and off a couple of times to no avail. I also rebooted the PC with no change. I had a problem. I guessed I had a bad monitor or a bad video card. Hopefully not both.
I use this PC to pay bills, etc. and could not leave it unattended and unworking. My guess was that the monitor was not working. I went to the company that built the PC with my original purchase sheet (but not the PC) and spoke with the Tech there. (NCIX Computers)
He could give no insight and I decided to purchase a cheap ($150) monitor and bring it home. If the new monitor worked, then my problem was with the expensive monitor and the video card was OK. I could keep this cheap monitor and use it as a second monitor or just keep it as a spare. After connecting this cheap monitor via HDMI, I found my PC to be working. So the problem was with the LaCie monitor.
I decided to purchase a 4k monitor to use as a replacement for the LaCie. (Meanwhile I contacted LaCie and discovered that they offer no service for any product. If in warranty, they simply replace the device. Else, you are out of luck. By this time I had guessed that my problem was with the power supply and that’s why the power light stopped coming on. Perhaps a $50 part. Now I am still reluctant to toss the $1300 monitor into the garbage, but may have to.)
I showed the NCIX Tech my purchase sheet for the desktop so that he could see the model of the existing video card. He said that the video card could not display 4k video and that I needed a new one. So I ended up with a fancy GTX1070 card with 8 GB of fast memory, and also with HDMI 2.0 outputs (for 4k) as well as Displayport outputs. I was warned that this new video card might require a Motherboard BIOS update, but it didn’t.
I purchased a Samsung 28” model with a resolution of 3840 X 2080 pixels, aka “4k”. I hoped that the video quality of this one would be good enough for photo editing. My RAW images are close to 6000 X 4000 pixels and hence, I would see a less downsized image on the screen. I guess I’m a “glass half full” person, as I didn’t think of several issues with such a large monitor. Here’s my experience to date.
The first thing I noticed upon using this monitor was that all the print on the screen was too small to read. The print became one quarter of its previous size, but the monitor was only about 15% larger in area. Small pixels in other words. So I went into various programs and into Windows setup options and made changes to Font sizes. Some Fonts, though, did not change. Also the size of the mouse pointer was now very small. Some selection points were also very small. I can make the mouse pointer larger, but am concerned that it might become too insensitive to small selection dots.
The second thing I noticed was how bright the monitor was. It was 300 cd/m2. I reviewed some old literature and saw that for photo editing a brightness of about 170 was recommended. I lowered it to 240 and might change it again. Coincident with the bright screen is that Blacks did not appear black to me (WRT the LaCie). Lowering the brightness to 240 helped this issue too. Perfect black should measure 0. Someone tested my Samsung model and reported that at a brightness of 240, the black was 0.4. Not too bad, but still noticeable.
The next issue was reduced contrast as compared to the LaCie. I increased the contrast on the monitor but still thought it was insufficient. I can set it higher, but will wait a while. However, this reduced contrast resulted in some Windows indicators being difficult to see. E.g., when you run the mouse over a line on a list a background colour might turn on to show your interest. Such background colours were often difficult to see because of reduced contrast.
So I went back into Windows and set up my screen to be “High Contrast”. This setting changed all my default colours, but did make things easier to see – mostly. Some items simply disappeared from my screen. For example, when searching for info on a film in IMDB, the search box is gone. On another program items selected showed as faint yellow on a white background, making the line virtually unreadable. Most programs have ways to alter colours and I have been changing settings trying to find ones that are more pleasing. Likewise the Google Search Box has disappeared. I can still use it as I know where it is on the screen.
So what about photos? I shoot RAW and do a first edit using Canon’s DPP program. I use both the old program and the new program as some features in the old version were not brought over to the new program. I booted up the old version (3.X) and immediately observed that the Thumbnails were too small to evaluate the photos properly. So I went into the settings intending to enlarge them, but discovered that I was already at the maximum setting. I then booted the new version (4.X) and found that I could enlarge the Thumbnails to a size where onscreen evaluations could be made.
Photoshop has some similar issues, but I haven’t done much with it yet. Some control Fonts are too small, but still workable. I use Photoshop CS 5, not liking so-called subscriptions.
All in all, the glass may be “half empty” with this upgrade. There may be other 4k monitors out there with better contrast. I’ll have to research. I could also purchase a larger model, a 32-inch one, for example. Because of the cataclysmic failure I had to make a quick decision. With more time, I probably could have made a better decision on a monitor replacement. I’d look for the one with the best contrast, not necessarily the brightest.