As we all know, files can appear completely different on your computer screen as compared to the screen of your laptop or your colleague’s computer. And prints can differ dramatically from the monitor display, even though you simulated the print settings in softproofing mode with the correct ICC profile. And the hard part is finding the error in the workflow. Is the monitor itself responsible, or are the settings causing the problem? Are the colour settings determined by the operating system or the image editing software? Is the printer causing the problem, or could there be multiple causes?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but experience dictates that the monitor is often the main reason for the problem. And the truth is that without a professionally-calibrated monitor that displays your files without deviation, you will not be able to produce colour-proof work and you will be leaving your results up to chance. The monitor is the first step in setting up a colour accurate workflow. But what kinds of features should you be looking for in a quality graphics monitor?

How does a monitor generate colours?

Each pixel in the monitor is made up of three subpixels: red, green, and blue. Each subpixel can be illuminated at one of 256 brightness levels. A conventional 8-bit monitor has 256*256*256 pixels, and there are over 16.7 million variations for achieving the desired colour for each individual pixel. There is only one right combination – all others variations are incorrect. This means that red stays red. However, graphic content relies on fine nuances and even small deviations can result in visible display errors.
The practical result of such errors is that the image you see on the monitor is not the correct file, but rather a distorted image of the original. This image can be edited and optimised, but it does not reflect the actual content of the file. But because it is not the visual impression of the designer that is sent to the printer, but the file itself, there can often be deviations in the final result. Often, the printed file is too bright, too dark, has unnecessary colours, or the contrast is off.

Maximum Precision Throughout the Colour Workflow

To ensure that the monitor display reflects the contents of the file, the display must fulfill two requirements: First, it must be optimised for the special requirements of graphics applications. Secondly, it must be calibrated regularly and losslessly, because every monitor ages with time.

Calibration for Homogeneity and Colour Purity

ColorEdge with DUE Other monitors without DUE

No monitor panel comes complete with perfectly calibrated brightness and colour purity. Each monitor is darker is some places than others, and some places display unnecessary colours. This is caused by the production process, and each individual LCD panel is different. When editing graphics, the user must be sure that shadows or unnecessary colours are part of the image and are not being caused by a poorly-calibrated monitor.

EIZO monitors undergo a special procedure to rule out this source of error. Each panel is measured across the whole panel area – in different sectors and brightness levels – and then calibrated accordingly. This process, known as the Digital Uniformity Equaliser (DUE), is time-consuming, but it is the only way to guarantee homogeneous image display across the entire monitor area.

Gamut

Conventional monitors are normally only able to display the sRGB gamut. They are not normally capable of displaying the much larger Adobe RGB colour space, which is the preferred gamut for graphics applications. Wide-gamut monitors such as the EIZO ColorEdge CS2730 can display the complete Adobe RGB colour space as well as a number of relevant print gamuts.

Calibration – What Does That Mean?

This is the problem: We can only measure the image signal that the computer sends to the monitor. We do not know how the monitor interprets that signal. There is no back channel to tell us that. This is the mechanism employed in the calibration process. This process utilizes a calibration sensor and calibration software to compare the defined colour commands and the actual monitor display. Normally, this process detects deviations of different sizes. But that is only the first step. The next step is to correct these errors.

Hardware or Software Calibration

There are two methods for correcting errors: the hardware method and the software method. Both methods require a calibration sensor and calibration software. For the software calibration, a calibration profile is created to adjust the graphics board signal to compensate for the errors in the monitor. This operation produces an error-free monitor display.

In the hardware calibration process, the image signal is not adjusted. Instead, the monitor is calibrated by modifying the look-up-table (LUT), or the internal colour handling table of the monitor. This corrects the combination ratio of the subpixels. Unlike the software calibration process, hardware calibration does not affect the quality of the image, and is therefore preferable. For this reason, EIZO ColorEdge monitors are designed to be hardware calibrated. The models of the CG series are equipped with a built-in calibration sensor that enables automatic calibration. This can save time and money.

16-bit-LUT

16-bit-LUT

The monitors of the EIZO ColorEdge series are equipped with a 16-bit LUT, instead of the conventional 8-bit LUT. This means that billions, rather than millions, of different hues are available. That ensures that there are always enough colour gradations to display images perfectly in spite of all adjustments and calibrations, even in a 10-bit workflow.

Summary: What features are required for a graphics monitor?

  1. Wide gamut
  2. Precise colour control
  3. Consistent colour reproduction and brightness
  4. Reliable and intuitive colour management software
  5. Precise hardware calibration

Impressive total package

In addition to their visual qualities, the EIZO ColorEdge monitors offer the following additional features: They can be tilted and adjusted to the perfect height, and they are equipped with an antireflection coating. The light protection shield reduces reflection and increases display precision. In addition, EIZO provides a five-year warranty with an on-site exchange service. That makes ColorEdge monitors reliable and ideal tools for graphics applications. Now, unnecessary calibration and printing errors are things of the past.

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