Flat-screen vs. CRT - which one shows photos correctly?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by davesphotos, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. davesphotos

    davesphotos TPF Noob!

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    I have two computers. One is new, with an Acer flat-screen monitor. The other is old, with a Samtron CRT.

    Since my new computer doesn't have photo editing software, I do all of my cropping/resizing/etc. on the old computer.

    What I've noticed is that on the flat-screen monitor, the photos are bright and detailed. On the CRT, the photos are dark; in some cases far too dark.

    So my question is, when other people are looking at my photos online, are they seeing the image correctly (as it appears on my flat-screen) or too dark (as it appears on my CRT)?

    This is of great concern to me, since 99.99% of my photos are for eBay auctions, where detail is important.

    Here's an example. I shot this model railroad car with my Canon A95, using the camera's built-in light meter reading at normal exposure. Yes, it's a garbage photo; sorry. But the issue here is how it shows up on-screen. On my flat-screen, I can see all the detail: wheels, side rivets, ladder steps. On the CRT, all of those details are basically just black.

    The CRT is set to maximum brightness. The flat-screen is set to its factory settings.

    So my questions are two: first, is this photo too dark, or does it just look that way on my CRT? And second, how do I know which monitor's correct?

    Thanks, Dave.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  3. clarinetJWD

    clarinetJWD The Naked Spammer Staff Member

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    Well, the first thing to consider is this: 99.9% of the people who will see your photos on eBay will not have a properly calibrated monitor, and the vast majority of them (these days) will have a (cheap) LCD monitor. My suggestion for eBay photos is to err on the side of a bit too bright to make sure the detail comes out. It's not a photo contest, it's to show a product, so if the photo isn't as balanced as it should be, that's fine, but if it's a dark blob, that's not. For the record, I can see the detail just fine on my newish 24" TN panel LCD, as well as my older 19" PVA panel LCD.

    Which brings me to the next part of the discussion: CRT monitors generally have good color representation, but have been surpassed by higher end LCD panels for a while now. From what I can find, Samtron is a division of Samsung that made decent CRT monitors, but not necessarily the very top of the line. A decent LCD panel should provide you with an equivalent picture, and a much better one if the glass on your CRT is curved at all.

    LCD technology is broken down into 3 main groups: TN, PVA, and IPS. TN is a very cheap panel, and lacks accurate color representation, displaying only 6 bits per channel to cover somewhere between 70-80% of the color gamut (This is the percentage of the NTSC color space that can be displayed). It also has a poor viewing angle (on my 24" panel, there's a noticeable dropoff in brightness from the bottom part to the top part of the screen, and I'm constantly dragging windows down to make them easier to read). Its benefit is that it is cheap, widely available, and has an extremely fast response time, making it ideal for gaming, if nothing else.

    The next type of panel is a PVA panel. These are more expensive, but are 8-bit per channel displays, and can display over 90% of the color gamut. These are considered high end consumer displays, and are more than good enough for the vast majority of amateur/semi-pro and even many professional photographers. The viewing angle is also greatly improved (160 degrees for TN, 178 for PVA). Finally, though slower than the TN panels, it has a reasonable response time, making it decent for gaming, and good for movies. Basically, it's an all around high end monitor, but with a warning. Especially with this type of display, image processing is used to boost the color gamut, leading to input lag. This means that when you move your mouse, the cursor doesn't move on screen for a few milliseconds. Most people don't notice this, but it becomes more apparent in games.

    The last type is IPS. These are very expensive usually, and are capable of displaying over 100% of the NTSC color gamut, for the best color representation of all the types. These are generally employed by professional photographers and graphic designers. Basically, anyone who works with color critical stills.The trade off is that many times, the response time is slow on these, leading to ghosting (the previous image not completely disappearing between frames) in gaming and sometimes movies.

    THat's a lot of technical stuff that in the end means: It's complicated. Some LCDs are better than others, and CRTs, some CRTs are very good. It's impossible to say one is better than the other at this point. What you can do is calibrate your monitors. Adobe Gamma can help you out, as can a number of free tools and websites. Just search for monitor calibration, and you'll fins a ton of images to help out. If you're really worried, there are devices that you can plug into your computer via USB, and they'll calibrate your monitors for you, but I haven't used them before, so I don't know how well they work.
     
  4. AG74683

    AG74683 TPF Noob!

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    I am viewing your photo on an older CRT monitor...and cant make out much detail below the car (IE, wheels, couplers, etc...). I dont even see a ladder. Brightness and contrast are all the way up.

    So I suppose this shows perhaps not everyone is seeing the picture as you intended?
     
  5. davesphotos

    davesphotos TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the response. I think this is the most important consideration, at least as far as eBay auction photos go. I'll try to maintain a balance between visible-on-CRT and not-too-blown-out-for-LCD.
     

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