New ( 2011 ) iMac screen

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jeremy_wakefield, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Hi
    I need to replace my ageing white iMac soon and I am wondering whether to go for a Mac Pro or the quad core 27 inch iMac.
    I would not hesitate about going for the latter except for the issue of screen brightness. Does anyone know if there is a way to get the new iMac screens down to 100 cd in luminance? This is what my print lab requires but I have never been able to get my current screen down below around 155 and I've had to use shades as a workaround. I'd rather not do this anymore so if someone can confirm whether or not the new iMac is able to do this, I would be most grateful.
  2. cant say for sure since I dont own one but it's my understanding that the new screens don't have the 'nuclear bright' issues that the 2008/2009 series did. Also, software like ColorEyes or BasicColor (or even Shades) can drive down the luminance.
  3. There’s nothing at all special or even good (in terms of calibration quality) of Apple displays. If that’s important to you, go for a desktop or something that will allow you to attach a much higher quality display for imaging (I’m keen on NEC SpectraView II’s). Especially if you want a wide gamut, easily calibrated display system.
  4. Thanks folks. I'm veering towards a seperate display. I will certainly look at the NECs. I'm also now wondering if I'd be better buyting a Macbookpro and using it with the NEC?
  5. I have a 27inch quad and yes the luminance can go down to 16.. far lower than your need ; )
    i also have a NEC attach to it because i need it, but the imac 27inch is more than enough for many demanding prosumer and serious hobbyst.
    You dont need anything special other than a regular spider3 pro, or better a eye1 display2 to calibrate it.
    Theres is just no need for most of the people i know that do photography for a Mac Pro.. well, i like to think that if I dont need it and i do this for a living.. other that do this for *fun* certainly dont need it either.. but that is my opinion ; )
  6. To answer your question: Does anyone know if there is a way to get the new iMac screens down to 100
    cd in luminance?

    Yes, that's not a problem. I have a new 27" iMac (and a MacPro) and the problem you speak of was with
    respect to the older display which was fluorescent lit. The new ones are illuminated with LEDs and there's
    much better control.

    Also, by holding down Shift + Option while adjusting brightness, you can make changes in smaller (25% of a click)

    My 27" iMac display will go down to 13 cd/m^2 using an Eye-One (making an assumption the device is still accurate at such low values).
  7. Now if someone can prove with visual evidence either verbally described or photographed and posted here inline that an NEC display is better than an Apple display with regard to editing and viewing images, THAT would be some HELPFUL information.
  8. Visual, sure. I have both, duel display system. Big difference.
  9. Big difference? In what way?
    Are you talking about the gamut clipping issue converting to sRGB from ProPhotoRGB with certain saturated yellows, oranges, blues and cyans?
  10. Gamut, purity, smoothness of gradations. Ease to profile. Profile options.
  11. i was using Bill Atkinson's 'twenty-eight balls' test image and was amazed at the difference between the iMac screen and the NEC PA241. the iMac viewing angle isn't bad but the NEC is a whole 'nother thing. Also, when I got the NEC out of the box, the little plastic piece that locks the stand up/down motion was broken. No questions asked, they sent me an entire new stand assembly (vs. just the little piece).
  12. Also, when I got the NEC out of the box, the little plastic piece that locks the stand up/down motion was broken​
    I had the same problem (initially). There’s what appears to be a left/right slider for locking. I couldn’t get it to move either way. I practically broke the plastic. Then I figured out, you have to push down on the display from the top, then the lock moves quite easily. Its not intuitive nor do I recall seeing it explained.
  13. Well thanks to everyone for their help. It is much appreciated.
    I'm likely to get a Macbookpro and upgrade the hard drive to the 7200RPM option, and combine this with a NEC screen. Although a bit more pricey than the iMac on its own, I reckon that will give me the benefit of the NEC screen and the flexibility of the laptop. The upgraded hard drive should give me pretty much the same performance as the iMac I would hope, and certainly enough for my needs.
  14. William, I have a 2009 iMac and the screen is not at all too bright for me, though I don't use it in a darkened room and I haven't ever tried to properly calibrate it. I wouldn't recommend using a laptop as a desktop machine though, unless you need to use it half the time on the road. Laptops run a lot hotter than iMacs, especially if you're going to run it in the closed position. I'd run it in the open position and use the laptop screen as a second monitor. Also, when the cpu works hard in a laptop, the fan starts spinning fast and it can be quite loud. The iMac, even when stressed, is wonderfully quiet. Plus you won't get that nice 27" iMac screen as part of the deal.
    I'd consider getting the maxed out iMac i7 27" and a second monitor if you think you need one. The iMac has a high end IPS panel already, so you may be able to use it as your primary calibrated monitor without having to spend extra money on a second monitor. And as for a pro LCD panel, I wouldn't buy anything but an EIZO, and they start at around $1250 for the entry level one.
  15. Run a dual 27” with one display being really good, the other not so much.
  16. I have the new iMac with the 27inch monitor and an additional separate Apple 27 inch monitor (2 TB drive and 16 GB of RAM). I looked at the Mac Pro, but chose the iMac and could not be happier. I have a very large Apple system with an Xserve at the top and it works its way down to iPads, iPods and iPhones. I had my choice of systems and CPUs. I chose the full house iMac because of what really amounted to superior performance for my requirements. Unless you are doing serious real-time video production, the Mac Pro has little to offer over the iMac (except a higher price). My system has 24 TB of memory and the iMac serves it just fine. I run the full Adobe CS5 and do not find any fault with the system.
  17. I've certainly decided I don't need a MacPro and as far as power goes, both the Macbookpro and the iMac have more than enough for me. I intended to run the laptop with the screen up using it for the editing software controls and the NEC monitor for the image.
    Given that, I'm not sure I can see any advantage in going for the iMac option. I don't really need two 27" screens and I'd like the versatility of the laptop. I would like to use it for tethered shooting away from home.
    Given this, are there really big disadvantages in going for this combo which I have overlooked?
  18. Given this, are there really big disadvantages in going for this combo which I have overlooked?​
    Nothing that’s a deal breaker. I’ve done just that with one system and it works well. I’ve got quite a few drives daisy chained but it works.
  19. @Brad:
    Also, by holding down Shift + Option while adjusting brightness, you can make changes in smaller (25% of a click) increments.​
    Thanks! I never knew that and have always wished I had finer control over screen backlighting. That is so fun.
  20. William, it is 2 really good setup.. 2 that i have and still use.
    Imac 27 + NEC (who need / want a Eizo? why...) for photo editing is a perfect setup.
    Macbook pro 15 + NEC is another really good one, one that i use while assisting photographer on location.
    both are good, the Imac is just faster to process images (LR export for example) but im talking seconds here per images... 3sec vs 4-5sec.. not bad just for 1 image, but another story when you need a fast 500 pict export ; )... many time a day.
    The only thing is i would take the 13 inch macbook pro personnaly instead for better / smaller / less heavy option while on the road, and have a NEC at home / office to hook the system when i need it.
  21. I am currently using both the new iMac 7 quad core with the 256 solid state drive and 2TB hard drive along with a MacBook Air with 256 solid state drive. I just couldn't be happier with this set up. The solid state drives are great to base the applications on with the files stored on the hard drive. The MacBook Air is so much more convenient than my MacBook Pro, which now sits neglected. I can't comment on improving this set up with a NEC monitor, perhaps what I don't know is a good thing; however, I am certainly very pleased with the iMac monitor.
  22. Lowering the screen luminance is not a problem. That's a thing of the past. I don't know how perfect the screen is, but I just did a series of medium 12-18 prints and the match is very very good. Some people like to sneer down at the iMac because it's not as good as a NEC, but it's still a very good screen. I haven't had any problem calibrating at all.
  23. >>> Thanks! I never knew that and have always wished I had finer control over screen backlighting. That is so fun.

    You're welcome. BTW, that works with increasing/decreasing sound volume as well - 25% of a click increments.

    >>> Some people like to sneer down at the iMac because it's not as good as a NEC, but it's still a very good screen. I
    haven't had any problem calibrating at all.

    I'm also extremely pleased with the iMac display. Is it the "best?" No, but neither is my photography.
  24. who need / want a Eizo? why...​
    Imaging professionals...
  25. i meant "who want a Eizo, when you can buy a NEC for the same visual quality for less money for comparable model ".
  26. Also, by holding down Shift + Option while adjusting brightness, you can make changes in smaller (25% of a click) increments.​
    Great tip Brad! Thanks!
  27. Eizo is better, has built-in hardware calibration. Most cheaper panels, including Apple, only have software calibration, which is not nearly as capable or powerful. Eizo is the professional standard for Imaging. Higher end Eizo displays can display the full Adobe RGB color gamut.
  28. Eizo is not better than a NEC.. they are in the same high end categories.
    I had the chance to have for 1 month, both on my desktop, and didtn see any visual difference, so i end up with a NEC for close to 800$ less for a comparable model at that time.
    Eizo, NEC and LACIE (witch is a rebrand NEC) are the professional standard for Imaging. Higher end Eizo and NEC displays can display the full Adobe RGB color gamut.
    Lets not fight over a monitor brand since it seem whe both know what whe are talking about ; )
  29. Eizo is not better than a NEC.. they are in the same high end categories.​
    Exactly. I’m still waiting to hear what the premium buys.
    I don’t know what body or group has claims that Eizo is the standard for professional imaging. Sounds like marketing speak.
  30. regardless of Eizo vs. NEC, there will always be a subset of any group that strictly equates $$$ w/ quality regardless of actual, empirical truth or test results. Even if the Eizo is 'better' (whatever that means), it is minimally marginally better for significantly higher cost. As long as the vendor can maintain that cachet and mindset, the vendor wins.
    It'd be interesting to see high-end imaging professional market share #'s between some of the various panel makers.
  31. Well folks, I have now bought the NEC PA241WW monitor and connected it to my white iMac. The results, and I haven't calibrated it yet, are very good and significantly better than the screen I have on my Apple machine. I intend to buy a MBP in the future so I'm upgrading in stages.
    I have the X - Rite i! Display 2 and will give that a go tomorrow so I'm expecting an even better result. So far so good and many thanks for your help everyone
  32. Oops sorry meant to also ask about the " Ambient Light Comp" feature on this monitor. This apparently corrects luminance for the ambient light level. I am slightly confused by this. Will it have an adverse effect on accuracy once I have calibrated it and if so is there a way of turning it off?
  33. yes, you can turn it off and that is what I did on mine.
  34. i'm just checking the manual and although I can find how to turn off auto brightness and auto contrast, I can't find how to turn the ambient comp function off. Could you explain how to do it please?
  35. it's in the manual on page 18 under Tag2 of the OSD. You can also use Multiprofiler s/w (a VERY handy download) to turn it on/off.
  36. Hi Howard, and thanks. In my manual under tag 2 the only entry for the ambient light comp says:
    "Luminance setting depends on ambient light compensation. Mostly affects black reproduction. NOTE: AUTO DIMMING SENSOR measures ambient brightness when power is on and affects image and color quality settings. NOTE: Do not cover environmental brightness sensor (AUTO DIMMING sensor)."
    It doesn't say how to turn it off. Am I missing something?
    I'm not sure what the other thing you refer to is but I will check it out.
    Thanks again
    EDIT Doh! Hold on, does turning off auto brightness also turn off the ambient light comp? Is this what I have missed?
  37. Ah! Sorry, I must be losing my faculties. I found it now under "advanced". Pretty clearly shown actually. My only excuse is the lateness of the hour.
    Also I found out about multiprofiler and it looks most useful indeed. Thanks for that information. I will download tomorrow.
    Anyway, I am most grateful for your help in solving my problem. Thanks again
  38. William, could you do me a favor and drag and drop the color swatches below and open in Photoshop and convert to sRGB and tell me if you see a color shift? The swatches are in AdobeRGB so if you get a no embedded profile warning just assign the Argb color space and convert to sRGB.
    I'm trying to verify/rule out if a wide gamut display remedies color shifting I get on my sRGB-ish iMac. Back in 2009 in this thread...
    Patrick Lavoie verified he got a color shift on his NEC 2490, but he didn't get a shift viewing in Firefox browser with CM enabled.
    I'ld appreciate it, thanks.
  39. Clearly none of you have worked in the professional imaging industry...
  40. Clearly you, Dave, haven't given any proof descriptively or photographically that supports your claims Eizo's are best for professional imaging.
    Are we to just take your word on it? No one learns that way.
    Did you try the conversion swatch I posted? Did it shift?
  41. Tim, tried it on my Eizo. Yes, the blue shifts slightly (less vibrant when viewed within Photoshop). Blue is converted from 0, 181, 226 to 0, 183, 229, and the orange shifts some too. What does this show or not?
    Also, this seems like an Eizo hating crowd. All I can say is I love my Eizo :)
  42. Tim I will repeat once I get back to my desktop. I'm not at home until later this evening ( UK time ) I will report back then
  43. Ziggy, this color shift experiment is not a damning of Eizo or any display if that's what you're implying. I don't have any problem with any display brand as long as they are reliable, have great screen uniformity and look gorgeous which I'm sure the Eizo does. The point is many want to know what they're getting for the higher price compared to the other cheaper displays. Just claiming it's the gold standard for professional imaging doesn't cut it on the web.
    Now as for the color shifting issue, I've now eliminated the display's gamut as the cause. Andrew and I discussed this a while back. I was suspecting maybe an ICC based algorithm conversion error caused by software either through Adobe or ICC standards and the video system, but we also suspected display gamut because Andrew confirmed he didn't get the shift on his wide gamut display. Now we know this isn't the case from others getting the shift on their wide gamut displays.
    It could also be evidence of plain old clipping going from a wide gamut color space to the much smaller sRGB. This usually doesn't happen or is known to happen between synthetic matrix color spaces in the past probably because we didn't have wide gamut displays, only CRT's to witness this.
    However, seeing I don't get a color shift converting to my sRGB-ish custom display profile may support the premise that we're just seeing the maxing out of our displays gamut which is probably larger with certain colors like the swatch above than sRGB where the conversion is just showing the effects of clipping converting to sRGB.
  44. Let me simplify what I just said.
    To confirm... my display, though close but larger in some areas to sRGB, allows me to produce colors like the swatch above that happen to be outside of sRGB but within my display's gamut.
    The shifting is caused by clipping converting to sRGB which can't reproduce those colors faithfully.
  45. Clearly none of you have worked in the professional imaging industry...
    Clearly, i didtn think i need to show you my badge (sorry Tim, he kind of ask for it ; )... but since you wrongly assume.. have a look at my web site, retouching is what i do for a living... so in the professional imaging department i know i thing or two ; )
    Also, this seems like an Eizo hating crowd. All I can say is I love my Eizo :)
    No Ziggy, not a hating Eizo crowd, they are perfect monitor, such as NEC and Lacie.. you just cant say that Eizo is THE best one, since they are virtually the same as NEC.. saying that show that you (well not you) never look at a NEC or just dont care to look at the spec. If you compare both, you will quickly discover the same specs on both family, since they are both high end monitor. So theres is no "And as for a pro LCD panel, I wouldn't buy anything but an EIZO" meaning that theres is no alterntive.. because that is not true.
    As i previously said, i thought that the discussion would have end sooner on the mine is best than yours.. since it was not what the OP ask.. and clearly by now, he made is choice.. a good one.
  46. William, look out for dead pixels on an iMac. I have one right where it is a real pain. Apple won't replace an iMac for 1 dead pixel even though that's how it came right out of the box :-(. I run with a separate monitor plus the iMac and find that it's now not an option for me any more.
  47. Oops sorry meant to also ask about the " Ambient Light Comp" feature on this monitor. This apparently corrects luminance for the ambient light level. I am slightly confused by this.​
    You really do want it off.
  48. (sorry Tim, he kind of ask for it ; )...​
    No need to apologize, Patrick. We need your feedback from someone who actually is a working professional especially on this topic since no one wants to provide proof one display is better over another so everyone can make an informed buy which is what this entire topic is about.
    In fact I'm seriously thinking of getting a newer system to replace my old 2004 G5 iMac whose processor is heating up out of the blue to the point it's just shutting off especially when having Safari open on a page and editing Raw images to upload to PN. In fact page scrolling with the mouse makes the temp jump 15 degrees where seconds after letting go the entire system shuts off.
    My little color swatch experiment was to rule out that a wide gamut display prevents a color shift converting to sRGB. But I now confirmed that if I get a WG display, that I might be able to pull a wider range of color out of my Raw shots I haven't seen before due to the fact that I've been editing in the iMac's smaller gamut. When I shoot intense yellow, blue and orange flowers I get this shift all the time converting to sRGB.
    So I may not even go the iMac route and just get a used Mac Pro tower and a WG display because the Dell 2209WA's gamut that I have which is gathering dust does the same thing to that swatch converting to sRGB but without converting which means I would NEVER produce those colors due to the fact I would never be able to see them.
    It's hard to go back to a lower gamut display once you've seen the colors a wider gamut produces even on a 6 year old iMac. I can't imagine what colors are available on a much wider gamut display.
  49. Below is an example of the potential color capabilities editing with a wide gamut monitor. It's a Raw shot I took with my Pentax K100D of a print of the cyan swatch (inset) on my $70 Epson NX400 on Ultra Premium Glossy Photo Paper. This cyan is close to Pantone 312C and is impossible to reproduce accurately with my DSLR. No matter the adjustments to ACR's HSL I couldn't replicate the intensity I actually see under my 5000K GE Sunshine tube. Viewed under a Solux lamp would look even more intense even more than direct sunlight! I tried it. It's a gorgeous color.
    It's not a perfect match but it's just to demonstrate how the inkjet ink formulation technology is improving far beyond other technologies can keep up with. I had to convert to my iMac display profile instead of sRGB because it would further kill the intensity of the cyan both on the print and the original synthetic version inset that was created in Lab space.
  50. Tim
    I did what I thought was right. I dragged the image to my desktop and opened in CS5. I checked the colours in aRGB and got the following
    30 for the first bar
    for the second
    and then
    for the third
    I then converted to sRGB and the results were the same
    Hope I have done this right/
  51. Tim, I looked at the image on my calibrated NEC p221 in ICC-aware firefox, then opened the image in Photoshop and assigned AdobeRGB and then converted in Photoshop to sRGB. All 3 images look identical.
  52. William, did the preview change after converting to sRGB? That's all I'm wondering about. Two here have already confirmed it does on their wide gamut display.
    Not interested in the RGB numbers since they don't mean anything in color managed previews.
    Roger, drag and drop the swatch from another browser like IE. Not Firefox. It should already have an embedded AdobeRGB color space at least it does when I drag it out of Safari back onto my desktop. I do believe Firefox is implementing it's own take on ICC standards generated color managed previews. Its CM previews aren't exactly like Safari, Apple's Preview and Adobe's Photoshop which makes me suspicious of Firefox.
    That 2009 link to Patrick Lavoie's "sRGB For The Web" discussion shows this on the two cyan squares. This is why I'm suspicious about the image's integrity once it's dragged and dropped from Firefox.
    Thanks everyone for the time and effort to confirm this for me.
  53. Okay, I opened this thread using IE8. The three squares look duller in IE than in Firefox or Photoshop. The orange and yellow are more noticably dull than the cyan. For what it's worth, looking at the Spectraview info window, my monitor seems to have more saturated reds than blues.
    Using the file dragged from IE8, there's no difference between Photoshop using the embedded AdobeRGB and converted to sRGB.
  54. Something seems odd here. Why would CS5 not behave identically here. My RGB numbers change when I use Edit, Convert to Profile, and select sRGB (where the embedded profile is AdobeRGB). We should be getting identical RGB numbers, should we not?
    And for the record, I might buy the NEC 30" as my second monitor, as Eizo at 30" becomes a bit too ridiculous in price :)
  55. Thanks for getting back on this, Roger and Ziggy.
    Yes, Roger, it's suppose to look dull in IE since it's not color managed and not previewing AdobeRGB numbers as intended.
    So Roger doesn't get a slight preview change in vibrancy converting from AdobeRGB to sRGB in Photoshop, but Ziggy does on his Eizo as do others on NEC wide gamut displays and sRGB-ish displays like my iMac.
    Wonder what's making the difference. It's not a PC/Mac thing, it's not a Photoshop version thing since Ziggy is using CS5 and I'm using CS3. Maybe it's something to do with building a display profile with X-rite VS Spyder calibration package. I guess the mystery continues.
    Wonder who would be an authority on answering what's causing this?
  56. Hi Tim
    All righty. It does indeed chnage quite noticeably on my screen too. Hope this info is useful to you
  57. It is useful, William. Thanks. It tells me I don't have to get an AdobeRGB-ish gamut display to get the same color I get on my 6 year old iMac whose 3D gamut model is only slightly larger than sRGB but just enough to give me the colors in that swatch.
    Mac displays aren't as bad as some make them out to be and they've strapped a pretty good one to the newest iMacs, so now I have more options available to me.
  58. Atthis point I unless you absolutely have to replace you iMAc I wouldn't for a couple of months. Apple just today introduced new Mac Book Pros. Two major technologies to note in the new machines:
    1) faster, more efficient Intel "Sandy Bridge" i5 & i7 processors.
    2) "Thunderbolt" I/O connection for external drives, peripherals and displays. This is apparently what until now has been called "LightPeak" -- much faster than FW800 or USB 3.0 . You can read about Thunderbolt here: and here:
    but the news here is speed: Apple & Intel say it is 12x faster than FW800 and 2x faster than USB 3.0
  59. I have been looking at the new iMacs just announced and they look great. One concern I have is when viewing the blackpoint test at
    the first black square only becomes visible at a level of 15, my very basic Eizo (calibrated with Coloreyes and a DTP94) shows the first square at 4. I realise that the iMac screen would need proper calibration but this does seem to be a large discrepancy. I have tried this in 2 different shops with the same result. Comments?
  60. calibrated ... is the keyword here.

    I have a iMac 27 and when it is calibrated I can see all the square from a 21 step gradient
  61. Thanks Patrick.
  62. Patrick,
    Are you using Snow Leopard, and what calibration software? I understand that Coloreyes has a few problems with Snow Leopard.
  63. snow leopard + eye1 display2

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