Birding in British Columbia

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 Post subject: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 17 7:09 pm 
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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.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 18 8:54 am 
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I'm surprised you didn't start here............ http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/
If you can't get a decent answer there you'll probably never get one.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 18 2:21 pm 
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Thanks, I wasn't aware of that website.

I'll have to check out the NEC and BenQ products. There was some suggestion that the LaCie monitor that I had, was made by NEC.

What few comprehend is that digital photography is very different from film photography. I can pick up a print or slide and study it and pass it around. Everyone sees the same thing. However, when I use a computer, I am seeing what my monitor can display, which in turn may be limited by my video card. Also the image format I use is relevant - JPG, TIFF, etc. What others "see" when I distribute a digital image is limited by their viewing hardware and software.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 19 8:21 pm 
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MDB8 wrote:
Thanks, I wasn't aware of that website.


My pleasure.
Photography speaking you won't find a better site to solve a problem.

MDB8 wrote:
I'll have to check out the NEC and BenQ products. There was some suggestion that the LaCie monitor that I had, was made by NEC.

What few comprehend is that digital photography is very different from film photography. I can pick up a print or slide and study it and pass it around. Everyone sees the same thing. However, when I use a computer, I am seeing what my monitor can display, which in turn may be limited by my video card. Also the image format I use is relevant - JPG, TIFF, etc. What others "see" when I distribute a digital image is limited by their viewing hardware and software.


A very important thing is calibrating your monitor which I'm sure you're aware of. Unfortunately to do it properly you need things like a Spyder which costs money. The software that comes with the computer / OS really doesn't do a very good job and is more a waste of time than anything. Many " photographers " have no problem spending thousands on bodies and lens but stop there when it comes to the real important stuff and yes it really does make a difference.

Another thing is not to overdo things like sharpening, contrast, saturation etc. Less is best. You know that but I'm adding it for the benefit of others.

As an aside....
Just prior to going up north when I was shopping for a new laptop I transferred a bunch of my shots that I knew the colour was correct and put them on a thumb drive. With my drive and research in hand as far as make and model that I wanted to investigate hands on I made my circuits to various computer shops to test out how my images would look on my computer choices. Remember these were UN-calibrated displays. It was the best thing I did because I found a lappy that is now over two years old and the colour IMO is still dead on.... calibrated regularly of course. If you see one of my shots that's not correct it's because these eyes are getting old and not working as they should. It's not the fault of my software or hardware.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 19 10:03 pm 
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Guyzerr wrote:
MDB8 wrote:
Another thing is not to overdo things like sharpening, contrast, saturation etc. Less is best. You know that but I'm adding it for the benefit of others.


Very good point. Everyone had their taste, and I find photos that are overly adjusted not pleasing at all. The shot should look natural.

4K is great for viewing photos. It just looks better. Unfortunately a lot of fonts do not scale properly and unless you have very good near vision it can be difficult to work with.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 20 9:24 am 
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I know that many people just take JPEGs and use laptops for editing. The LCD screens on laptops are abysmal for photo editing. They are always too bright to begin with, and there onwards, the problems arise. I wonder how much of Adobe RGB colour space such a screen can display. The expensive photo-editing monitors generally display more than 99%, whereas laptop screens are likely in the 80% or less range.

However, when I travel, I carry a laptop and have loaded it with Canon's DPP program. I use it to dump photos I don't like. I also used it to fine-tune my travels. For example when I wanted to find a White-headed Woodpecker, I was monitoring eBird to see where they were being seen and, if appropriate, modified my itinerary.

However a year ago when I went on a long drive, I found that the OS (Windows) could oot be updated. I had had it turned off for about a year. So I decided to bring along my big screen smartphone (a Note 4) and use it to connect to the internet while traveling.

Alas I discovered that I could not click on buttons in eBird while using this small screen. I could not enlarge the screen enough and my pointer was too large. So the next day I made an "emergency" purchase of a new laptop. At that time, browsing in a Best Buy in Oregon, I noticed that there were laptops with 4k screens. In fact, for about $100 more than the model I eventually purchased, I could have obtained one. In retrospect, I now envisage that that model may have been unusable becase the screen was so small compared to my new desktop's 28" screen. Anyway, the next morning I did find some WH Woodpeckers in an area close to the sightings in eBird.

Nowadays I wonder if some people use Tablets to edit their photos? Maybe I'm just too finicky. The laptop I purchased has a small screen (11", 1920 X 1080) and is a Lenovo "Yoga", with a touchscreen and can be opened 360 degrees. It just uses an SSD (I always carry a portable HDD with me on trips.) In orther words the laptop is not much different from a Tablet.

Meanwhile I have turned down the brightness of the Samsung to 210 cd/m2, but now think I shall have to buy a new desktop setup in the next year or so and at that time get a larger, perhaps 32", 4k model designed for photography. $1300 is a low-end price for such a monitor. The NEC ones come with their own colour calibration kits. The BenQ and ASUS ones can be calibrated with Spyder et al. I used Spyder on the now-deceased LaCie a few times, but it never deviated and I eventually stopped using it. I suspect that the LCD technology is much stable than the old CRT ones.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts On Upgrading To A High Resolution Monitor
PostPosted: Apr 25 9:35 pm 
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Now with more experience I have noticed other impacts of this upgrade.

Firstly, the new monitor has 4X as many pixels as the old HD one. In Photoshop, when rendering an image, the PC now takes a noticeable length of time. So either my Photoshop CS5 does not take advantage of the power of my PC, or I now need to get a faster processor.

After doing some arithmetic, I determined that my new monitor has about 35% more area than my old one, but also has 4X the number of pixels. Clearly the pixels on the new one are much smaller than those on the old monitor. In turn I have noticed an increase in sharpness of photos. Something I'v never thought about before.

That is, sharpness seems like something associated with focusing accuracy and camera shake. Clearly, though, if the pixels are smaller, then the edges will appear sharper. So now if I have an unsharp image, I can claim that the viewer doesn't have a good enough monitor...

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