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Best screen resolution for viewing/editing images

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Thread started 25 Sep 2002 (Wednesday) 07:08   
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gordon ­ davis
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I have a chance to choose a new laptop and assumed that I would benefit by choosing a SXGA screen option with 1,400 x 1,050 resolution instead of the usual 1,024 x 768. By benefit I mean I would see more of or even 'more deeply' into my images.

But I was checking one out and although text was definitely sharper I couldn't see any difference in the sample images. Then I realised my I view my desktop monitor on the default setting of 800 x 600 pixels and I still see images which seem clear enough to be able to edit them (sharpen them for instance) or just enjoy the pictures.

I'm still fairly new to all this digital malarkey. It seems there is something I don't fully understand here. Can anybody tell me what is it ?

Gordon

Post #1, Sep 25, 2002 07:08:35




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Roger_Cavanagh
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Gordon,

I don't think that laptops screens will be as good as CRT's for viewing/editing images, but as well as resolution pay attention to the number of colour bits. A colour depth of only 16-bit will not look all that great. You want 32 bit. Last time I looked that was the highest, but things are changing so fast, more would be better. Higher settings will give more colours at the expense of display speed.

You should also pay attention to "native resolution" rather than the highest resolution a screen can display. Display quality will always be best at native res.

Some manufacturers seem to have better display for images than others. For example, I've always found Sony Vaio good.

Regards,

Post #2, Sep 25, 2002 08:54:55


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ken-w
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gordon davis wrote:
I have a chance to choose a new laptop and assumed that I would benefit by choosing a SXGA screen option with 1,400 x 1,050 resolution instead of the usual 1,024 x 768. By benefit I mean I would see more of or even 'more deeply' into my images.

Hi Gordon - Roger's comments are excellent, you want to make sure the screen can display "truecolor" (32 bit) versus "high color" (16 bit). CRT displays are almost always better than LCD displays in terms of graphics - ideally for editing, it would be nice if you could plug your CRT into your laptop (most laptops support an external CRT). The other downside of LCD screens is that the brightness & contrast will change depending on the angle you are looking at the screen, making it difficult to do consistent photo editing.

Bottom line is it depends on what you are doing with your photos. If you are editing for high resolution printed output and want to generate ICC profiles, you will almost certainly have to have a CRT hooked into your laptop. If you are just fooling around for your own use, then you can probably "make do" with the LCD screen.

In terms of "resolution" - a larger screen size makes editing photos easier. I edit on a 19" CRT with a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024 which means I only have to shrink my top end G1 photos in half to see them full size on the screen.

The one downside I've seen in several laptops is the fact that their screens are generally too bright, even at the lowest brightness setting, so that if you are editing on such as screen you are not seeing a true representation of what the brightness of the photo will be in printed output or on most other people's computers (if you are posting to the web). It would be good if you could check the range of brightness the laptop you are looking at supports.

Back to your original question though - yes - bigger is better.

Post #3, Sep 25, 2002 10:35:30




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gordon ­ davis
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Thanks Ken and Roger

I will be using my 19 inch CRT for the main editing job but I'm still not sure I understand why the default resolution of 800 x 600 on a 19 inch screen seems on the face of it to be just as 'sharp' as a 1,400 x 1,050 one on a TFT.

I think I've gotten into a forum which is way above my head here. For instance it would help if I knew what the hell an ICC profile is ! Maybe I should come back in a few months time after I've done a bit more reading.

Thanks again

Gordon

Post #4, Sep 27, 2002 00:51:03




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ken-w
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gordon davis wrote:
I will be using my 19 inch CRT for the main editing job but I'm still not sure I understand why the default resolution of 800 x 600 on a 19 inch screen seems on the face of it to be just as 'sharp' as a 1,400 x 1,050 one on a TFT.

Resolution is probably a bit of a misnomer - "screen size display" is probably a better term because the "sharpness" of a screen has much more to do with the dot size of the screen itself, the refresh rate of the screen and other factors (of concern only to screen manufacturers). If you can (it will depend on your video card), you should probably increase the "resolution" of your 19" CRT to something more than 800 x 600 (which is more suited for a 15" screen). Try looking at your screen at resolutions of 1024 x 768 and 1152 x 864 and 1280 x 960 to see if one of the higher screen sizes appeals to you. I find a 1280 screen on my 19" to be ideal.


I think I've gotten into a forum which is way above my head here. For instance it would help if I knew what the hell an ICC profile is ! Maybe I should come back in a few months time after I've done a bit more reading.

Stick around - we all have start the learning curve somewhere. An ICC profile is a bridge between the colours on your screen and the colours your printer produces. The issue is that sometimes the colour balance of your monitor (screen) can be different than the printer - so something that looks perfect on screen comes out printed with too much magenta, or too much cyan, or whatever.

There are two ways to tackle this problem. If you know that the printed output always has too much cyan, you can reduce the cyan in your on-screen versions so that they come out ideal when printed (but it will look crappy on-screen). Or, you can set up an ICC profile that does this adjustment for you, automatically. Note that usually only higher end photo editing software (Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photopaint, etc.) support the use of ICC profiles.

You may also be extremely lucky like me and have a screen/printer that are ideally matched, and print 100% without an ICC profile (I don't know why mine works so well (Dell screen, Epson printer), it just does). So, if you are happy with your printed output (i.e. the colour balance looks the same on paper as it did on-screen) - then you can ignore trying to get an ICC profile. Sometimes you can pick up an ICC profile off the web (one that someone has done for your printer). There are ways of making one yourself but it is very tricky to get it just right - so the first thing to check is if you really need one using the adage "if it ain't broke .. don't fix it".

Have fun!

Post #5, Sep 27, 2002 14:49:48




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henkbos
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Gordon,

Use a 19" since 3 weeks as well. Biggest advantage is (IMHO) that you have the same # of pixels for your picture and can use the rest for all kinds of windows (especially in PS). A picture of 800x600 will always show as an 800x600. It will take the full screen on a 800x600 config and less on a higher resolution.

Don't get too much involved in this tech talk. Start working on your pics. Refinement can be done later.

Good luck

Post #6, Sep 27, 2002 16:56:54




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gordon ­ davis
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Thanks everyone for all the advice. I'm fortunate so far that the printed colours and the screen colours seem spot on. I'm playing with resolutions and although I am finding that higher resolutions do seem helpful for images they also shrink the text everywhere else which is a pain. I'm using the office computer in my spare time so I can't keep shifting the display settings backwards and forwards. I already need reading specs as well as my normal ones and the reason for the 19 inch screen was to avoid getting a third pair just for the PC !

Sign of age that no doubt

Cheers

Gordon

Post #7, Sep 28, 2002 01:40:46




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