View Full Version : The different 'types' of monitors available for photo editing

16-08-2011, 6:56pm
Chances are most members have no idea what type of monitor they are using. When I say type here, I am not talking about it being a laptop screen as opposed to a desktop one. There are many types of monitor screens and some are better than others for photo editing. So he is a bit of a run-down on what is available and what they offer.

The good old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)
These are the boxy tv style screens of the past. Interestingly the CRT screen has a good record and still popular in the printing and broadcasting industries as well as in the professional video, photography, and graphics fields due to their greater color fidelity, contrast, and better viewing from off-axis[/URL]. CRTs also still find adherents in video gaming because of their higher resolution per initial cost, lowest possible input lag and faster response times.

The downfall is size, these screens take up a lot of room and have simply lost favour because of it, slimline flat screens take up less space. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viewing_angle)

Are they good for photo editing, for sure.

[U]Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
The are lightweight, slim, can be inexpensive, they are made in a much larger range of sizes than CRT screens ever were. LCD's are more energy efficient and are thus used in laptops, phones, cameras, watches and more, as well as the usual desktop flat screen monitor and TV's.

What most do not realise is that there are various types of LCD, and some are good for photo editing and some are not.

TN (twisted nematic) TN screens are very cheap and have the fastest response times, but suffer from inferior colour reproduction, contrast ratios and viewing angles. Low end, inexpensive. The big issue for photographers with TN screens is that the same red can look a different colour on the left of the screen to how it looks on the right. There is inconsistency across the TN screen. Calibration cannot fix this, as calibration looks at one part of the screen to ensure colour accuracy, but the TN screen can be different elsewhere. TN screens are commonly used in laptops!

VA Panels (vertical Allignment) screens are the next step up from TN screens. They are middle of the road LCD panels. They offer better color reproduction and wider viewing angles than TN panels, but have slower response times. Therefore VA panels are not good for gamers. VA panels have the advantage of higher contrast ratios compared to other panel types, which leads to better black levels. The biggest disadvantage of VA based panels is color shifting. Color shifting is when the image viewed from one angle changes or "shifts" when viewed from a slightly different angle, making various uneven brightness levels across the display. For this reason, if you use a VA screen, you need to sit directly in front of it, at 90 degrees to the screen when editing photos.

IPS Panels (In Plane Switching) screens are generally considered the best overall LCD technology for image quality, color accuracy and viewing angles, but this comes at a price. They are well suited for photography editing and other applications which require accurate and consistent color reproduction. S-IPS panels offer the best viewing angles of any current LCD technology, with wide viewing angles up to 178 degress. The response time of S-IPS is adequate, ranging from 6ms to 16ms with current panels. This is only slightly slower than TN panels. However, gamers should take this into consideration. Fast paced games may suffer from motion blur or ghosting with S-IPS panels that have a response time higher than 8ms. The IPS screen is your best choice for accuracy when editing photos

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screens are now only just starting to come onto market, OLEDs can enable a greater artificial contrast ratio (both dynamic range and static, measured in purely dark conditions) and viewing angle compared to LCDs because OLED pixels directly emit light. OLED pixel colours appear correct and unshifted, even as the viewing angle approaches 90° from normal. OLEDs can also have a faster response time than standard LCD screens. Whereas LCD displays are capable of between 2 and 8 ms response times offering a frame rate of ~200 Hz, an OLED can theoretically have less than 0.01 ms response time enabling 100,000 Hz refresh rate. The downside is that because this screen is 'organic' it has a limited lifetime of around 14 years at present. The biggest downside at this time is that they are expensive (Sony 25 inch model currently sells for USD $30K : OUCH). These screens are the very best on offer using currently available technology. So if you take your photography seriously, start saving the pennies.

So what type of panel is your monitor? And next time you think about upgrading your photo editing monitor, maybe research the type of screen, rather than the size, pixel count, and price as the primary reasons to buy.

30-11-2013, 4:08pm
Hi Rick,

I'm about to look for a lovely new decent sized monitor to make processing easier, as this thread is a couple of years old I thought I'd see if you (or anyone else) had anything to add or change? I don't want to spend megabucks, but I don't want to end up with the wrong thing and regret the buy! Any help or advice appreciated :)


30-11-2013, 6:23pm
only thing to add would be that the prices are a bit cheaper now.

30-11-2013, 8:34pm
In that case, one new monitor and a spyder coming up :D

30-11-2013, 11:14pm
Whats a "spyder"?

01-12-2013, 8:41am
Whats a "spyder"?


Mark L
02-12-2013, 10:26pm
Whats a "spyder"?

Jeez, and I thought I was a bad zpeller,

03-12-2013, 7:27am
^ I was looking for the 'thanks for this useless post' but had to make do with the options available