Anyone know the proper viewing angle for a laptop?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kkamin, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. kkamin

    kkamin New Member

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    This might be a really dumb question. But I'm doing photo work off of a macbook, and the tiniest tilt of the display shifts the brightness. Is straight on the intended viewing angle? If so is there a trick to know if it is tilted "straight on" while looking down at it at an angle?
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz New Member

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    The tiniest shift changes not only the brightness but also the contrast. Given that most people sit easily within 1m of their laptop screen there's quite a viewing angle difference between the top of the screen and the bottom of the screen. The end result is that there really is only one small point at which the screen is "right" even when viewed under somewhat ideal conditions.

    Ideally view it dead on at 90 degrees. More ideally view it from as far away as possible to minimise the differences in colour and tone across the screen by reducing the angular differences at the edges of the screen. Even more ideally if at all possible, consider down the line investing in an external screen that isn't a TN film panel, as this is the biggest problem with laptops and cheap LCDs; there simply is no consistency to what you are seeing, and even a calibrated laptop gives no consistency.
     
  3. aerialphoto

    aerialphoto New Member

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    I don't know how well a macbook can be calibrated, if at all...but here's what I've done: I calibrate my laptops first, then use a scale similar to the one on Norman Koren's website (look about halfway down the page on the right side for the gamma/black-level scale).

    Look at the scale on that page in a comfortable sitting position, then adjust the laptop monitor until the gamma on the scale is "just right" at around 2.2. That'll give you a reasonably accurate viewing angle.

    Garbz nailed the problem with inconsistency though: depending on different things the gamma might shift at different parts of the screen due to your viewing position. Not much you can do about that but be aware of it.
     
  4. Plato

    Plato New Member

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    View it from the front! You can't see a damned thing from the back.

    ;)
     
  5. kkamin

    kkamin New Member

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    What is a TN film panel?

    Thanks for the info. I regret having to do any type of color correction work on the laptop for a variety of reasons (6-bit graphics, narrow viewing angle, etc), but I will get a decent monitor as soon as I can.

    Does anyone know...I've been trying my best to color correct my laptop monitor with some colorimeters without success. The first one I tried was the Spyder, but it gave everything a horrible yellow piss cast. I returned it and now have the Pantone Huey. It doesn't look bad but it gives everything a very, very subtle pink cast and reduces the contrast a little. The factory set calibration of my display still looks better, especially the pure whites (255,255,255) are super bright white , but in the Pantone Huey color profile they drop down in intensity. Is that normal?--in order to match a printable white? Or to allow the display to remain consistent as the display light degrades over time.

    Should I try the X-rite Display 1? I might be having problems because I've been spending less than a hundred dollars on these guys. But at the same time, if you make a piece of hardware designed for color calibration, you would think it wouldn't be so difficult to make them work. The gadget is scanning colors off the display, I don't get why it can't do it right? :grumpy:
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    My guess is that it's your screen and not the calibration device.

    For example, most screens are very bright, which most consumers like because it looks good. But it may be too bright, and thus cannot be calibrated properly.
     
  7. kkamin

    kkamin New Member

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    But my screen looks pretty good with the LCD color profile. You would think that a colorimeter, even an inexpensive one, would be good enough to balance it somewhat. But if I have a color cast from a colorimeter generated profile, and my screen has the capacity to look balanced (as it is fairly close with the LCD profile), I don't think it is the screen.

    I'm not being defensive about my screen. It's just that my screen is fairly close to being balanced now, I just want to get it as close as possible and it is disappointing when a piece of hardware that is suppose to fix it, makes it look like complete crap.
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz New Member

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    TN or Twisted Nematic is the display technology that is the most common for consumer LCDs, and nearly the only technology available in laptops. This is the source of all your display down sides (6bit colour, and colour shifts with viewing angles) but all the negatives are outweighed by 3 big positives. They are very thing, use little power, and have ultra fast response rates making them very suited for movies, games and other moving things consumers like to see at tech demo days. Basically it's the worst possible display technology for photography.

    Good screens for photography are the less cheap PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment) or better still but often expensive IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens. The PVA screens feature better contrast ratios and better response rates where as the IPS screens feature the most precise colour at their full 178degree viewing angles, and are thus much loved for photography.

    When calibrating any screen you will always end up with a reduction in contrast ratio the only question is how severe. Since calibrating a screen without an internal lookup table involves reducing the output of the video card the white point is lowered, and thus the contrast ratio. So yes it is normal that there's a reduced brightness when calibrating. The way to minimise this is to calibrate to the native monitor white balance rather than 6500k which is often used. More on white balance further down.

    Often the black point is raised slightly too for the purposes of more consistent dark tones as TN panels often suffer a minor colour cast when approaching blacks and PVA panels actively have difficulty displaying very dark shades. If you have a very severe loss of contrast it's likely a software issue. Lots of "photography" defaults for contrast ratio take into account the ratios specified in the standards for comparing to print. For instance I think AdobeRGB specs that a contrast ratio of 280:1 should be calibrated on the screen.

    So you always lose a little brightness when calibrating but other things to realise is that at first the calibrated setting will not seem right. When the screen is the brightest object in the room (which it should be, since a room for photo editing should not be illuminated by more than 100lx or thereabouts), the eyes naturally adjust the white balance to the screen. When you then go in and calibrate to a different white balance all of a sudden the native white point the eyes have adjusted to is different. If you do something severe like take a screen with a a native point of 5000k to 6500k not only will the screen look dark, but also horridly blue. Work with it for a good 10 minutes though and then turn calibration off, you will suddenly think the old settings had a horrid orange cast to it. This is why I suggest in your software settings use "native white balance" if available or try and guess the number closest to your native white balance so it has minimal effect on the screen output.

    The exception to native white balance is when comparing to prints, however there is a catch. You can't compare a screen to a print unless the print is under controlled lighting, and these lightboxes often aren't cheap. If you have such a lightbox than the screen and lightbox need to be calibrated to similar colour temperatures to compare to the print.


    Overall though most of use use calibration not for specifically figuring out what is white, after all our eyes will adapt to a vast array of so called "white" colours. The purpose of calibration is to ensure consistent tone and ensure consistent colour across the tonal range, and this is what is important for photography. Many of the more pedantic functions of colour management are relevant to companies which deal with colour selection and reproduction.

    Oh and I use an i1 Display 2 and have been perfectly happy with it till it broke, and then even more happy at the response that X-Rite gave me when they express shipped a replacement unit under warranty after exchanging only 3 quick emails.
     

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