iMac 24" (2009) - can't get below 200cd/m2

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by test1, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. Hi,
    as I wrote in previous post , my attempt to get Eizo S2242W failed. I've ended up bringing home new and shining iMac 24" (make early 2009 according to the package). When I turned it on it became apparent that screen is way too bright for my comfort. I've ran System Update, then started calibrating it with Spyder3 Elite. The white luminance I've got initially was 300cd/m2 and even putting monitor brightness/backlight all the way down it's still whooping 209cd/m2. Not even talking about color accuracy, this brightness hurts my eyes after just half an hour working with the screen.
    Have I got bad sample or is it "normal" for iMac to have such high luminance? I've searched the net and found people mentioning mostly 140-160 range as minimum they get on their iMac's, but posts date back a year or so. Those of you who have both new (latest) iMac and some hardware for calibration, what current/lowest luminance do you achieve?
     
  2. my imac go down to 135-140..so 200 seem indeed too high..but im talking about a 2008 december model, so maybe they again change the panel. Can you go to a store close to you, drop the luminance to 0 and see if the scfreen look like yours..maybe you got a defect one?
     
  3. Keep in mind that you'll never get a monitor to look precisely like paper since they operate on completely different principals. If you get the color balance pretty much right, learn how that converts to an effective print, and then use the calibration to keep things consistent you'll be fine.
    I use the 24" iMac and I don't turn the brightness down. First, I can't see subtle details in the image that I must evaluate during post if I darken the screen to the point that it starts to look like a paper print in poor light. Second, the print could be displayed under a variety of lighting conditions - not just whatever lighting you attempt to emulate on your screen. I'm afraid that this ends up being out of your control.
    If the only issue you now have is screen brightness, I'd give up the search for the "screen=print" holy grail and get on with learning how to work with what you have. It can be done. And you'll always still have to make a small test print before producing your final large print.
    Dan
     
  4. you're going to need something like ColorEyes software ($$) that manages the overall brightness of the screen by bringing down the 3 primaries in tandem. I know iMatch doesn't do that; I dont know if Spyder software can do it.
     
  5. My ColorMunki sets the iMac brightness automatically based on the parameters I set for it...
     
  6. Take the darn thing back to Apple and tell them the brightness hurts your eyes as advised by your attorney and make sure you mention the attorney part and throw in a team of doctors as a back up.
    This is just friggin' ridiculous of Apple letting a very reputable product as the iMac go out the door in this condition. I guess when they designed the internal electronics of the iMac they assumed everyone would be using it with a bank of a dozen or more 4 foot 40 watt fluorescent tubes blazing away 24/7. Apple! HEAR THIS NOW...it's for home AND office use. Think about that when you design the internal electronics of your products!
    I still have my 2004 G5 iMac and can get it down to 90 cd/m2 and lower. I can edit color and fine delicate detail with no problems. It reads 250 cd/m2 with the brightness cranked all the way up making it un-useable so I can understand the OP's concerns.
    I think there needs to be a petition started against Apple to Tone It Down literally on the types of panel electronics they're building into their products. That, and a good volume control warning on their iPod otherwise their future customers will end up being too deaf and blind to use any of their products.
    Ahh...feels good to vent.
     
  7. Is it possible on a Mac to do that via the video card/adapter's settings or somewhere else in the OS? Not the best solution I know.
    Until I got the BEST ADVICE EVER from Patrick about using 110, it was so hit and miss trying to figure out the invisible differences; lots of wasted ink and paper.
     
  8. i open mine only during winter time to get more vitamin D! LOL
     
  9. Unfortunately what you're seeing is normal for that generation of iMac. Consumers crave excessively bright displays and the marketplace is delivering. Apple, Dell, all the monitor manufacturers... It's endemic to the whole industry right now.
    You can either fake it 'til you make it or get rid of the iMac.
    Even in standalone monitors, NEC and Eizo (and the manufacturers who rebadge their stuff like LaCie) are pretty damn close to all that's worth buying at the moment. It's awful.
     
  10. Brad,
    that is how certain software (ColorEyes, Munki, ....) do it. they effectively lower the brightness by lowering the overall output of the card. basically, they lower the slope of the input/output mapping. I would think that in severe cases, it could well create banding since you're throwing away video card output but it's the only game in town.
    Personally (I recently bought a 2009 iMac), I also got a Dell 2209WA since the overall screen lighting evenness on the iMac wasn't great even after a replacement. I use the Dell for final color decisions and proofing
     
  11. OK, my very (very very) highly opinionated take on the whole issue...
    Raise your room light.
    Seriously. Dan is right, you don't want the screen to look "like a paper print in poor light". That makes it hard to edit, your ability to work with mid and shadow tones is diminished. But you do want whites on your display to match any white objects in the immediate area (including paper) and you want those white objects lit by "good light". The eye adapts its concept of "white" to different "memory colors" in the visual field, so matching paper and room lights is essential (sorry Dan).
    Note: there's no reason to work in "poor light". 80-100 CD/m2 was a brightness standard based on government energy savings guidelines for how much light to shine on papers on a desk in an office. And since that's all that CRTs had to compete with, and making CRTs brighter is a royal pain, 80-100 CD/m2 was all the manufacturers pushed for. It doesn't represent reasonable working conditions for a graphics professional, which is one reason why it's relatively hard to edit at that level. Good light makes it easier to work, and good light fills you with a feeling of well being.​
    I keep playing with my levels, currently I'm at 160 CD/m2 with Philips 98 CRI T8 fluorescent tubes. Best lights you can get, and it takes 128W (four 32W tubes, with ballasts that take them to 100% ballast factor instead of the government mandated 70%) to give me that 160 CD/m2 on a 6x12 "island of light" that includes a white wall, a pair of 30 inch Dells, a 17 inch Epson, 2 13 inch Epsons, and a place to tack up a reference print.
    If anyone saw my previous setup with the 6 tubes in a "zigzag", that bit of artistic expression is now gone.​
    My software is the older Monaco OptixPRO, and after the calibration (twiddling monitor controls) step, it does bring the display down to the desired levels in the profiling (setting LUTs and making tables) step. Of course, the monitor performs better when you bring brightness down in the first (calibration) step. You get the full bit range of the graphics card and monitor. Dropping from 200 CD/m2 to 100 CD/m2 wastes one bit, leaving you 7 on an 8 bit drive.
    An alternate solution. A couple of years ago, a Mac Head friend had a calibration and room light matching problem. We took his MacMonitor down from over 300 CD/m2 to 120 CD/m2 by using a piece of neutral colored gray Pilkington glass. The glass was flat agaisnt the LCD for calibration, but then tilted about 3 inches away from the top of the display (under a pretty 6 inch deep hood) so that there was no visible glare on the glass. Man, the blacks on that thing looked like inky night black. The tilting was achieved by having a piano hinge at the bottom of the glass, and four pegs in the hood. Two pegs held it flat for cal, two pegs let it tilt out.​
    To really work the shadow details, forget all about "what you see is what you get" and concentrate on "see what you want". Tweak shadow detail using an adjustment layer as a "viewing layer", brighten on the adjustment layer, but work on layers under it. Turn it off or delete it when you're finished. That way, monsters don't pop out of the shadows when you print, or when you view on a monitor with a slightly lower black point. You can do the same thing on highlights with a "darkening" viewing layer.
     
  12. Hmmmm. Too bad they don't make ND filters for monitors :) When I started using 110 I discovered that not only did the prints match much better, but I could use the computer longer without eye strain in every application, even on long flights in Flight Simulator.
    My NEC 20WMGX2 (IC-S) comes with a ridiculous default brightness setting. It looked nice at first, but after about ten minutes it was excrutiating. Otherwise it's been a great (older) monitor.
    I wonder if anyone is doing a long term study of any permamnent effects of these ultra-bright monitors on the eyes. Most people I think leave them that way.
     
  13. Just try a program called "Shades". It works, and can be used in conjunction with Spyder 2 Pro. Don't know how it works with others.
     
  14. "Dark Adapted" is another free app for Macs that controls brightness.
    http://www.aquiladigital.us/darkadapted/index.html
    Don't know if it's compatible or works with hardware calibration packages.
     
  15. Thank you all for responses!
    I've just called Apple support and after 8 minutes of waiting queue and nearly 20 minutes of conversation the support person told me that luminance between 200 and 290cd/m2 is normal according to their tech specs. Curiously their public pages say that typical luminance is 300, so the values I got from support person are lower than what they advertise to public. From the way conversation proceeded I conclude that getting anything else from Apple support is unlikely, so the only thing I can do now is to increase light level in my room.
    And on a side note, so much for advertised "free telephone support within first 90 days" - their support number is actually one of those with premium charge applied.
     
  16. The most use luminance is 110-120, if your monitor is higher than this you will need extra light in your room to get a close match between your monitor vs print..i dont know about you, but i like working in a normal dim environement..not in a outside full blast kind of light..so setting your monitor to 160 is kind of a non sense for me. The point is not to be able to see more details in the shadow that you have for real, or details that wont be printable until you add a curve that remove 30% of ink making your print flat..the concept is to be able to pre determine the result printed by looking at it on your monitor.
    All the people i know want to have a brigth and poppy screen, and the Imac is not target to pro but to family..no family i know like to have a dark monitor..they want LIFE, color, brigthness...and this is what Apple give them. Its a pleased them all computer, for 1200$. If you want full control, you get yourself a better monitor with your imac and calibrate it or te a real station. I dont say that the Imac is not good enough for pro, i have one, and a macbook pro, and a tower..they all served me well and for different situation.
    Any calibvration device will be able to drop the luminance to a certain extend, depending also of where your mac could go, and still get good images without problem. So i suggest you drop the luminance to is lowest possible value first, in your case 200, calibrate dyour monitor as normal, then use the shade application install it turn it ON AFTER the calibration, and set it to around 70-80% and you should now hit what you need..you wont see any number, but by experience those value should be pretty close to 110-120 in the end.
    I know its not THE best solution, but you cant fight it; teh Imac screen are too bright and they are not intend to be use by profesional period. You can fight as long as you want, give them rants..still you wont get a lower number because its not suppose to be use by pro. So your only solution is to use this free software AFTER calibration or to get another expensive monitor aside...free or a 700$..tic tac tic tac..your choice.
     
  17. Patrick,
    I was thinking about installing 'Shade", but isn't it doing the trick by modifying video card LUT? If so, then there will be two applications (Shade and Spyder3) overwriting each other changes.
     
  18. yes.
    The first one Spider3 will create a monitor profile, then the second one will drop the luminosity after the calibration. It is not the best way of doing it, but what are your choices? I have done it since the Aluminum Imac, and a lot of user in PN also with good result..from the email i receive ; )
     
  19. I don't know of any normal home that is lit up to the extent required to balance to 200 cd/m2 or greater. Most homes are lit by a couple of 60-100 watt bulbs with lamp shades or track lighting. You look at any home decor site and you will see what a normally lit home environment looks like and I can guarantee you no one would be able to withstand staring at a monitor that bright for any length of time at these given ambient light levels and not come away with a headache or eye strain.
    However, I'ld suggest you get at least 2-4 four foot T-12 5000K fluorescent tubes and position them high above on or close to the ceiling where they don't shine directly on the glossy surface of the iMac to avoid reflections. Two brands are Philips mentioned here and GE Sunshine or Chroma 50's as it's labeled on the tube.
    I thought Apple was an Eco-friendly company, but this display design is not conducive to energy efficiency in any way, shape or form.
     
  20. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I was thinking about installing 'Shade", but isn't it doing the trick by modifying video card LUT?​
    Yup, its a hack which hoses color management. Toss it.
    Apple displays basically kind of suck (there's nothing special about em, and as you've seen, they are too darn bright). Best you can do is raise the viewing conditions of the print viewing conditions (NOT the overall ambient light, keep that low).
     
  21. Andrew, why would you recommend keeping the ambient light low with a blazingly bright 200 cd/m2 display?
    I've got my ambient light low to balance the brightness of my 100 cd/m2 iMac which is just on the cusp of being irritating but tolerable. We're talking about eye strain, ergonomics and health concerns which far out way anything else.
    You still have a problem with my suggesting the use of fluorescent tubes or what?
     
  22. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Ambient light doesn't equal print viewing conditions. Ambient light is just that, the light all around the reference media. You need to control that but you need to control the print viewing conditions using a print viewing booth (Fluorescent off the shelf, Solux etc). That has to correlate to the luminance of the display. If the display is brighter than the viewing conditions, and you can't lower that display luminance you must raise the print viewing conditions. That doesn't have to be ON all the time, only when soft proofing (using paper and ink simulation in full screen mode) when also trying to view a print to see if they match. My GTI and Solux lights are off most of the time, I still have low ambient light. When I want to view a print and see how it matches the display, the booths go on and they are configured to produce a visual match with the display with soft proofing on.
    Fluorescent lighting is not ideal but necessary in some workflows (matching the print viewing conditions of others outside your studio for example). For some prints, the effects of OBAs and the spikes in the spectrum can cause issues with color.
     
  23. What Andrew say is you need to keep the overall light low, and have a color managed flashlight in your face all day..the good thing is pretty soon you wont be able to discerne good or bad color because you wont see it anymore..thats cool ; )
    Seriously, dont you think 200 is kind of too much for a monitor? Bare in mind also that people who bought a Imac alone, are normally not the type of perosn who really need acurate to the point color management..so i think that for them, Shades is a nice alternative to fix there problem keeping the color management close enough for there need..at least i think so. To be honest it is the setup i use at home, and my Imac is pretty close to what i get print at my studio BUT i always review my final file on my NEC just to make sure, and most of the time i play a notch with the color setting and luminosity just to refine it to my desire..but im not that OFF (too much for my pro need, but close enough for my girlfriend need ; )
     
  24. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Seriously, dont you think 200 is kind of too much for a monitor?​
    Not if the print viewing conditions match. Would I prefer control over the display? Yes. If you buy an Apple display or iMac, well you need to be prepared for a less than ideal viewing experience for ideal color managed work. Pro displays are simply no longer on Apple's radar.
    Shades is a nice alternative to fix there problem keeping the color management close enough for there need​
    It interferes with proper display calibration and profiling. The profile is not reflecting the actual conditions of the display. Again, far, far from ideal.
     
  25. Andrew im 100% agree with you and you know it..but the fact is as you said last time, if it work..it work, speially for beginner or intermediate user ; )
    Many user cant justify the price of a NEC or Eizo, many user are not too much knowledgeable about color management and things need to stay simple. Too many user keep complaining about how there print are darler than there monitor..and for those i said to lower the screen britgness to 110-120 max..and if you are a Imac user, get ColorEye Pro at 300$ or a freeware that will give you those number..even if it mean that is not a ideal solution.
    But the fact remains; you want a good match monitor vs print, you need a good calibrated monitor, a good lighting condition to judge it and a good once of experience and knowledge to get what you want..that i can t fight the basic concept of it ; )
     
  26. On another note, do you have the chance to test the new Eye-One Display LT? i wonder how it does against is big brother the i1D2 or a spider 3 pro?..i m igth have a chance of testing it in a near future but would have like to have your oppinion on it.
     
  27. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    The EyeOne D-2 hardware is identical (short of those OEM'ed with special filters for wide gamut displays). So the differences here are software and the various options provided.
     
  28. my understanding is that the LT hardware is the same as the D2 hardware so if you're using a 3rd party piece of software to calibrate (BasicColor, Coloreyes, etc), and not the iMatch s/w, then why pay more?
     
  29. Back in the last months of 2008 I had the chance to check out the 24" iMac at my local Best Buy. Don't know if this is the same model as the OP's. The desktop had a scene of some forest landscape with a cabin and a lake. Looked great. Eyeball calibrated it using Apple's calibration utility and it looked even better.
    It didn't look that bright to me and didn't strain my eyes even cranking the brightness all the way up, but I had to account for the fact that Best Buy like all big box stores are very well lit at a brightness level that allowed me to see the smallest spec of dust into the darkest corners of the store. Even the emergency "Exit" doors are well lit and can be seen viewed from the other side of the store. My eyes adapted quickly to the store's ambient light level which I'm sure accounted for the perceived brightness on the iMac. So I'm assuming this is the ambient brightness level that has to be duplicated at home to make for comfortable viewing at extended periods of time.
    For a typical 12'x14' living room or bedroom studio this shouldn't require that many light fixtures to achieve the same light levels.
     
  30. Without a comparison or measurement device it's hard to tell if it's too bright until you're in front of it for a while and your eyes start hurting.
     
  31. @ Patrick and Andrew- When using Spyder 2Pro and their software to calibrate, the time to turn on shades is during the calibration, not after. If you use the calibrating process with "setting your own luminance" and use the ambient room light method of calibration, which some say is less accurate than not using ambient light, but which has not been true in my case, there will come a time during the calibration to set the lut. Program will read the light level and suggest a luminance value for your room. In my room it suggests about 120. Calibration process will then go through allowing you to change luminance and keep remeasuring until you get your chosen value. This is the time to turn on shades and use it to get your brightness to the desired setting. It's trial and error method, adjust - remeasure, and so on. when you get where you wanted, you accept that setting and continue on. The program then goes and calibrates the color. Once the brightness levels are set, you can't change the brightness level on shades or the monitor or it will knock out you accuracy, but given that, the monitor does profile correctly and prints are relatively accurate when soft proofed. Unlike what several have said, the time to use shades is during the process not after. Unfortunately, don't know about results with other calibrating programs. Another caveat is, that this method works for me on a "white" matt screened 24. I've never had the opportunity to use it on a Al, glossy screen version.
     
  32. All ambient light does is measure the amount of light in the enviorenment, it's where you will view most of your prints. To truly match lighting, what you need and which very few home studios will have because they can be expensive, is a "viewing box" and a hood on your monitor. The viewing box is a recessed viewing box with a light source that has both the brightness value AND the color tempeture setting on your monitor. This is so you have matched lighting to ameliorate the effects of metamerism. this is a whole area of color management. Like I say, most people don't have this at home and many get very fine prints anyways.
     
  33. Barry i agree that this is the standard procedure normally..but i discover, or it append more than once, that depending of the OS / Hardware use to calibrate that the Shades software kind of panic.. i mean when i tried it with a spider3 and turn it ON before, when the spider read the luminance, the screen was going before / after / before / after and so on during calibration..then i simply turn Shades OFF, calibrate then turn Shades back ON and it work flawlessly, this is how i got the 75_80% number.
    If when you turn it ON before calibration it doestn cause a problem, use it as it should..but at least the other method is bullet proof ; )
     
  34. I don't turn it until the section of the calibration occurs that is for the purpose of setting brightness value. So the Spyder reads the value, and then you turn shades and trial and error. What's good about it is, you now know that your luminance value is exactly where you want it, no need to guess.
     

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