Editing and Screen Resolution


TPF Noob!
Jul 28, 2010
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How can you tell if you have the resolution on your computer screen set correctly? Is the higher resolution always better? I have a Dell desk top computer with a regular old screen. It seems that the pics look somewhat different in different programs. I would like them to be as close to what they will look like when printed while I am editing them.
I tried editing some at my sister's place the other day. When I got home and looked on my screen they looked totally different. Having a good monitor is important.
Monitor resolution shouldn't matter, AFAIK. However, keep in mind that the way an image is displayed, may be different...depending on the software you are using. One thing to look at is the zoom level you are viewing the image at. For example, in many versions of Photoshop, images don't look as good at 'odd' zoom levels. For example, it might look better at 50% and 25% zoom, than it does at 33%...and so on.

And of course, the calibration of a monitor's display will make a difference when going from one to another. If you are serious about editing images, it's rather important that you properly calibrate your monitor so that what you see is actually close to what the image 'should' look like on other monitors or when printed. To do it properly, you need a hardware device to read the display and create a profile to be used by the monitor or the video card.
Having a good monitor is important, and having it calibrated is very important. I strongly recommend that everyone involved in digital photography purchase a monitor calibration system very early in their "career". There are a number of different makers out there. Huey and Spyder are two popular choices.

It's also important to remember that not all programs treat colour information the same. Even though you have your monitor calibrated, many browsers interpret colours however they want. Photo-editing programs generally use the colour profile stored in the image, so, in short: If Internet Explorer and Photoshop are showing the image as looking very differently, believe Photoshop.
It's a good idea to have it set to the highest resolution available without distorting the aspect ratio. But, more importantly, be sure that you have the hgihest amount of colors supported... that will usually read as 'True Color' in your display settings.

Between two different computers, the images will always look different... and they will never be all that close to how they will look when you print the photograph. This is a huge issue even for amateurs and professionals alike. The fact of the matter is that solving the difficulty of "how will this look when I print" or "how will this look on different screens" is incredibly difficult. Every monitor has a different idea of 'pure white' than the next. Every monitor has a slightly different idea of the optimal color settings. Thus, every monitor inevitably shows the image a little different than every other.

There are color meters designed specifically for calibrating your monitor to ensure the colors are as accurate as possible, but cheaper displays don't really even allow enough customizability to tweak the colors properly anyway. Most monitors that are even half-way affordable still can't properly display the full tonal range of RAW photographs, either.

As far as high-fidelity when printing... well, it's just as complicated. There's a specific technique, called 'soft-proofing', that involves getting profiles for your printer and the paper you will be using. Certain programs can then incorporate the qualities and color of the paper, as well as the properties of the ink, to give you a fairly accurate rendition of how your photo will look when it's printed. Even soft-proofing isn't always that accurate, though.

Without upgrading your monitor, buying a color meter, and acquiring printer and paper profiles... you're really just stuck making do with what you've got. Make sure your monitor is set to a nice, high-pixel count and that you are using True Color. It's the best you can really do.

People that make decent incomes off of photography still occassionally struggle with printing and display problems... it's just not that easy to contend with.
I've been saying this from day one.
Yet several have argued the point.

With all the critiquing going on here, people never stop to think that everyone, and I do mean everyone, is seeing something different than the next person for the reasons cited above.

Going to and from different software also has a major effect.
Going from Fastone image viewer, to adobe Lightroom3 , images look different.
Going from either of those to the Windows 7 image viewer, and images look different.

Monitors on the other hand , have a major impact on what the eye see's.
Thank you all very much. You answered my question and a lot more. Love this forum.:wink:
Always remember though, a good photograph is always a good photograph, and so it will appeal to the viewer even if the tonal range is slightly different than what you saw or imaged...:D
I have learned in my short time that my pictures when printed at a store always are a tad darker than what I see on my screen. So when doing editing I kind of tend to go a little bit on the lighter side and so far I have had good results in the end.

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