Friday, November 13, 2015

Computers & Monitors

Non Photographic Equipment

We all know the importance of Photographic equipment/gear. Cameras, lenses, accessories, Negative - Positive film, software and applications which are essential for photographers. But what about the equipment that photographers use for their work but it is not made only for photography, such as Computers and Monitors.

I'd like to write about computer and computer monitor (mainly the monitor) in here.
Almost all of my friends who are in the photography except my photographer colleagues ask me this question when ever technology based topic is being discussed.

If you are getting serious and want to do photography more seriously, there will be a time that you will have to spend money and buy computer. Since I get e-mails(sometimes) from readers of the blog regarding medium format and starting out gear, I thought I'd share an advise or two regarding computer and most importantly, the monitor.

So here it goes  . . . If you are a person who like to do the research, and watch many videos on photographers and their workflow and see them using an Imac, don't try to imitate their setup.

I am listing apple, because my knowledge is better at apple products even that I dislike apple products since 2013

Imac is a good computer but the monitor is good if you want to watch stuff. The monitor colours being too vivid, the monitor being glossy is already giving you a disadvantage, you want to see as accurate as possible, accurate in colour without the reflections of other colourful objects around the room. You don't want to see a reflection your self when working on Black colours.

Mac Pro:
A work beast which can be customised for many propose. Photographers will mostly need more processing power over more cores in CPU, Quad-core or 6 core will be best suited for photography. But Mac Pro is extremely expensive there are better ways to spend the money, if your budget can only afford Mac Pro but not more.

Macbook Pro:
Not so "Pro" when compared to its predecessors. Though the speed has improved thanks to PCI-e based flash drive, apple made 2 mistakes since 2012. First they Discontinued the Matt screen in macbook pro specifications, and second they have taken out the ethernet entry port which u can buy separately from  apple starting £25 to £80.

If you are sick and tired of overpriced computers of apple and want to build your own, you can always build a Hackintosh yourself. (Mac OS X) installed in PC. With the money u can spend on Mac Pro you can actually build a monster computer so fast that i can travel in time and space. One thing that is for sure is that you will need patience and the knowledge to keep it working.

I wouldn't be so concerned about the Computer it self, it has to be fast enough to smoothly run Photoshop and big files you open in it. your computer will mostly need and benefit from a Dedicated graphics card (not the intel Iris shizzle) about 16gb if not more Ram and Vram of 1GB or grater. SSD (solid state drive) is always a benefit, if you want the stability of HDD tho go with HDD which is 7200 RPM or greater, and CPU of 2.4 GHZ or greater (greater preferred)

This is very important once you have a computer that can handle your workflow.
your monitor will be your eyes on Postproduction, don't be fooled by the amount of pixels that are squeezed in monitors, if more pixels = Better monitor than some new smartphones are better than many monitors out there. But this is of corse false.

You will need to know what to look for in monitors before buying one.
Important things that you need to know are:

Colour Accuracy of the monitor? 
There are two major colour profiles which are used to most they are Adobe RGB1998 and sRGB, Web is based on sRGB and Printers vary from sRGB to Adobe RGB 1998 however most high-end printers will have colour profiles of the paper and ink they use. But adobe RGB is a wide colour profile which will cover most of the other profiles. Good monitors are about 98% - 99% adobe RGB accurate.

What gamut is it? 
There are two options in here Wide Gamut or Standard Gamut. Wide gamut monitors will display a lot more colour than standard gamut, however you need to Calibrate the monitor at least once every month in order to use the monitor to its fullest potential. A wide gamut monitor will show 1 Billion colours and Standard gamut will be showing 16 millions or more.

Bit rate in showing simultaneous colour.
This is bit more technical and needs photo examples to demonstrate.
Monitors will have either 8 bit or 10 bit colour, when displaying simultaneous colour, 8 bit monitors will struggle and show some kind of colour pattern deformation, Eizo monitors website demonstrates this well.

What type of panel is it?
These days IPS become an Industry standard or at least it is on it its way to become the new "standard" IPS: In Panel Switching, allows the viewer to see the monitor from different angles without the changes in colour. Which means you can look at your monitor form any angle possible and you will still see the colours same way as you are looking at it from a direct angle.

Matt display?
This is very important in editing photos. There are external factors in the room that you don't want interfering with your photos. These can be: Light reflecting on your monitors surface, your monitor reflecting your self and other objects around it when working on blacks. A matt display will be reflection free.

What kind of controls you have?
Can you adjust the RGB gains, fine tune the brightness, contrast and black levels. The (Imac - Macbook Pro gives brightness control but not as sensitive as it should be) recomended brightness is Luminance of 120 cd/m2. If you don't have full control over these, you wont be able to calibrate the monitor it its fullest potential.

What is the backlight? 
Though now the backlight technology has improved since last 5 years, (before the LED backlight monitors could not represent accurate colours, so many High-end monitors thus they vere CCFL backlit. (like mine)

Monitor Calibration.
This is by far most important thing if you are using a Wide gamut monitor for photography. Simply put, if you are using a high end wide gamut, 99% Adobe RGB accurate, IPS matt display monitor without hardware calibration, then you might as well shoot Jpeg with Hasselblad H5D and print the images on toilet paper.

My Setup: 
My Current setup is 15inch Mid 2012 Macbook pro (Matt display) 2.7 GHZ Quad core, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 1GB VRAM, 1TB Crucial SSD. Connected to LACIE 324i monitor via Thunderbolt Display port.
Monitor calibration Software and Hardware: X-Rite i1 Display Pro

My latest monitor calibrating result

Useful links to Read:

Link 1 (keep on going to next page)

Link 2 (keep on going to next page)

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