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Screen luminosity for editing/printing

Enthusiast ,
Jan 14, 2023 Jan 14, 2023

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Hi guys,

When Apple still offered their in-store one-to-one program, I used to sit with one of their "creatives" to help me with Aperture - Apple's defunct editing program. The one thing I was told, and still follow, was that Apple designs its screens, or monitors, to be used at full luminosity. And that's how I've set my screen up for years, ln particular for editing/printing. In fact, that's what I'm mosy confortable with.

 

Now,  museum quality paper and inks are expensive and so are test prints. Is there a bible on the matter? And what does it say about screen luminosity for regular viewing/editing/making prints (besides the fact that for some it may be a personal matter, a discussion I prefer not to enter)?

 

Thanks a lot.

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2023 Jan 14, 2023

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I don't present myself as anything of a printer, so if I had to cite a "bible" I would probably fall back on Jeff Schewe's book 'The Digital Print'. That said, as in everything, fully clarifying the goal gets you 90% of the way.

 

What reflectivity of a print are you aiming for - which equates to, whether its desired viewing conditions are to be brightly lit, or dimly so. Proofing for a print seen under normal room lighting is a very different target to aim for, AFAICT, than for one viewed under a bright task-light, or for on-screen viewing by the typical visitor to a web gallery. I imagine the latter two options could be catered for OK by a brightest-possible monitor backlight setting. But it is unnecessarily extreme and unsuitable IMO, if you have more mixed output purposes in mind. A well engineered display should in my opinion not presume max backlight, before it will display consistently. It might not need to be said: any adjustments of monitor brightness will then require a re-calibration, generating an altered monitor profile.

 

So possibly this statement about Apple's approach was merely the advice that particular supplied monitor profiles would be presuming, and were appropriate for, a max backlight setting. But if you have got profiling hardware, you can accommodate these display settings to your output needs, and then still achieve proofing accuracy on that customised basis. Accompanied by print viewing arrangements that will offer a suitably lit (luminance and colour spectrum) comparison alongside this monitor.

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Enthusiast ,
Jan 14, 2023 Jan 14, 2023

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Thank you for your kind response. Experts, like paper manufacturers and profiling labs I’ve queried on this matter tend to respond more like: the brightness of the screen must match the brightness of the paper or - set the luminosity in the middle range and then refine. These are actionable, common sense responses I can handle. But I always like to hear from several sources because the truth for me will always be straddling multiple responses, truth being perceptual. So thank you so much for your quick and meaningful answer. There’s a lot to chew on in there. 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2023 Jan 14, 2023

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The recommendations I've seen, and the default for my Calibrite (formerly X-Rite) i1 Display Pro calibrator is 120Cd/m2.

I print to an Epson P700, but I've just changed to Mac Studio with a Samsung monitor, so haven't tested as yet. You could create a custom print layout with 4 cells, and just add one photo in different cells and use one piece of paper to run 4 tests if it helps. If you want to be accurate though, you need a viewing lamp. 


Sean McCormack. Author. Magazine Writer. Former Official Fuji X-Photographer.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2023 Jan 14, 2023

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quote

Hi guys,

When Apple still offered their in-store one-to-one program, I used to sit with one of their "creatives" to help me with Aperture - Apple's defunct editing program. The one thing I was told, and still follow, was that Apple designs its screens, or monitors, to be used at full luminosity. And that's how I've set my screen up for years, ln particular for editing/printing. In fact, that's what I'm mosy confortable with.

By @raphaels28255986

 

In the Aperture era about 20 years ago, displays were not as bright as they were today — especially CRT displays, which were relatively dim. If the maximum luminance of those displays was in the 120-140 nits range, editing at that level probably would have produced acceptable prints.

 

But in the last 20 years, display luminance has constantly risen. Maximum luminance for affordable displays now can be 300–500 nits. Editing at that level will probably create dark prints, so editing for print at maximum luminance on a current display is not recommended.

 

The last big change has been HDR-capable displays, such as Apple displays with the XDR label. These can exceed 1000 nits, which is fantastic for true HDR viewing and editing (Adobe is working on true HDR previewing in photo apps), but not useful for print editing.

 

If you’re going to edit for print on a non-HDR display, calibrate/profile it at whatever luminance gets you predictable prints, probably between 90–120 nits.

 

Some of the newest Apple desktop and laptop displays support a new thing called Reference Modes, presets for various types of media creation. If you end up working with one of these displays, you can simply choose the Photography (P3-D65) reference mode selected in the left picture below, which sets the gamut and white point and locks the luminance to 160 nits.

 

This is ultimately my answer to your question: I believe that the Photography reference mode represents what Apple would now recommend as good display settings for photography. 

 

But I also think that mode’s 160 nits is designed for photos going to social media and websites viewed on screens, and too high for (the now less common medium of) print. So I use a reference mode that I customized: You can see a group of three Photography presets near the bottom of the menu on the left. Those are three customizations I created at different combinations of luminance and white point, because I’m still deciding what works best. But you can see that I tend to work in the 100–110 nits range for print.

 

 

macOS-Settings-Display-XDR-customize-preset.jpg

 

I second Richard’s recommendation of Jeff Schewe’s books. When Jeff wrote The Digital Negative and The Digital Print, he had Ansel Adams’ The Negative and The Print in mind and wanted to create similar references for the digital era.

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Enthusiast ,
Jan 23, 2023 Jan 23, 2023

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Thank you Conrad and apologies for the late response to your thoughtful exposé.

I've made a lot of museum quality prints - with my screen at full luminosity, for my book and for gallery exhibits using my Macbook Pro from late 2012 (with has minimal-to-none screen adjustment capabilities) - and which now must finally be replaced by a current model. I also moved from a most temperamental Epson to a more reliable and rational Canon printer. But having enough Epson Hot Press paper left in stock, I had to have a profile developed to be able to use it on the Canon. Such are my circumstances at the present. Please note that I don't know didly-squat from nits, unfortunately. 

 

It's an interesting situation to be in and I'll figure it out step-by-step with the help of wonderful people like you guys on this community site. To be continued 🙂 Please don't hold back if there's more you want to say on the subject. 

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 10, 2023 Feb 10, 2023

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Thank you, Conrad; I ordered a used copy of the book and I'll read it when I'm back as of March 14.

 

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LEGEND ,
Jan 23, 2023 Jan 23, 2023

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quote

Hi guys,

When Apple still offered their in-store one-to-one program, I used to sit with one of their "creatives" to help me with Aperture - Apple's defunct editing program. The one thing I was told, and still follow, was that Apple designs its screens, or monitors, to be used at full luminosity.


By @raphaels28255986

 

Well, that's rubbish! 

The Cd/m2 is based on how you'll view the prints next to the display under controlled conditions. Without that being defined, there is no 'correct' setting (except that which matches). 

This might help:

Why are my prints too dark?
Why doesn’t my display match my prints?
A video update to a written piece on subject from 2013
In this 24 minute video, I'll cover:

Are your prints really too dark?
Display calibration and WYSIWYG
Proper print viewing conditions
Trouble shooting to get a match
Avoiding kludges that don't solve the problem

High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/Why_are_my_prints_too_dark.mp4
Low resolution: https://youtu.be/iS6sjZmxjY4

 

Of this visual:

Print_to_Screen_Matching

I calibrate to 150 Cd/m2. 120 would be way too low, max would be way too high. 150 Cd/m2 is "correct" because of the illustration above; it is how my GTI viewing booth is setup. YMMV! 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Enthusiast ,
Jan 24, 2023 Jan 24, 2023

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Thank you DigitalDog. That's a lot of worthwhile information and I appreciate your time. I will definitely look into these 2 links.

Be well.

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 11, 2023 Feb 11, 2023

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Thanks so much DigitalDog for providing links to your detailed presentation. It is detailed, logical and based on experience (trial and error) and common sense; it also allows for predictable variations and opportunities to reduce their recurrence and intensities. I am not very good at technology but I am good at logic and ... followed your presentation to the end with great interest. The summing up ant the end is a stroke of genius. Naturally, I am going to have to watch your video a few times to get it straight (when I get back from France).  I have to replace my Macbook from mid-2012, with their new model and hope there will be enough options to calibrate the display. I will also buy the lamp you suggest for viewing and calibrating - does it have to be enclosed inside a box? (I'd use a corrugated paper box) 

Talk again soon, I am sure.

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LEGEND ,
Feb 11, 2023 Feb 11, 2023

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A viewing booth doesn't have to be enclosed. The most important attribute is control over the light not spilling on the display. 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 11, 2023 Feb 11, 2023

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Thanks again DigitalDog.

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