New monitor... Wide or Standard Gamut?

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  08 August 2012
Question New monitor... Wide or Standard Gamut?

I posted this question on the forums but figured I'd ask here as well....

I work primarily with the intent of printing in CMYK or viewing on screen. I will and do occasionally output to a 6-ink printer.

I am not a photographer, but a painter and illustrator, both digital and traditional. Digitally, I work primarily in Painter and Photoshop.

Right now I am in a heavy debate with myself between going with a wide gamut display or a standard gamut display (AdobeRGB vs sRGB working spaces). I understand that a wide gamut monitor introduces some complications when trying to work in sRGB mode (maybe not as accurate as good sRGB display). However, supposedly the NEC one im looking at has a fairly good sRGB emulation mode.

I have also heard that converting from AdobeRGB to CMYK, produces more accurate results than going from sRGB to CMYK. But I don't know what to believe regarding that.

These are the ones im looking at; I'm leaning towards the more expensive, wide gamut NEC...

27" Apple Thunderbolt (Standard)
27" Dell U2713 HM (Standard)
27" NEC PA271W (Wide Gamut)

Another thing I thought I would mention... I use OS X, and have read that (As of 10.8) the OS does not yet support 10bit graphics output. Although I can not find a definitive answer. I'm not even sure if the nVidia graphics card on my 2012 MBP can handle 10bit.

So I'm wondering if it would be silly to even consider the, much more expensive, NEC PA271W, given that it is a 10bit panel. I also don't know whether OS X's lack of 10bit output would even matter here, given the NEC's internal LUT. It's all a bit over my head from a technical standpoint.

Any thoughts or recommendations, given my intended workflow?

  08 August 2012
If you're going to be sticking to Photoshop and printing, go with the NEC wide gamut. I'd only recommend a standard gamut LCD if you were doing 3D since apps like Maya and ZBrush aren't really set up for non-sRGB workflows. I don't think a 6-ink printer will get you outside of the gamut of an sRGB screen, though. I have an Epson 9890 9-ink printer and it does go beyond sRGB

edit: here are two plots inside sRGB. First the Epson R1900:

and the 9890:

if you can download the monitor profiles from the web, you can do this with Colorsync utility on OS X (Utilities folder). The lack of 10-bit in OS X (still - arg) won't affect the gamut, just the transitions but I don't think it's a big deal. You might just go with the Dell to save money since you're not going to be pushing the gamut so much with six inks. avoid sRGB emulation modes. They are problematic for calibration from what I've read.

As far as CMYK is concerned, what is your intended output? I'm an art director for magazines and I leave everything in RGB and let Indesign convert everything to CMYK when we do our PDFs for our prepress. CMYK should only be used as a final destination and if you know exactly the settings to use. You should never use CMYK with an inkjet printer. I wrote a primer here:

scroll down to "You’re not doing anyone any favours by sending them CMYK images"

Last edited by cgbeige : 08 August 2012 at 10:04 PM.
  08 August 2012
Thanks for the insight.

I'll for sure be sticking with color managed applications. Let me ask you this... As an art director do you have a preference for your designers and illustrators? Would you prefer them submit images in AdobeRGB or sRGB?

As for my intended CMYK output. Generally my print illustration work (and design work) is destined for CMYK (and sometimes spot color) offset printing, which I know is a restricted gamut as compared to sRGB (aside from the bright yellows and cyans), and especially small compared to AdobeRGB.

So I'd really like to know which is a better (more accurate?) workflow, AdobeRGB to CMYK vs sRGB to CMYK. What type of monitor do you and your designers work with?

As for emulating sRGB on a wide gamut, I hear ya... But reviews on the NEC claim pretty accurate results with the NEC... I am skeptical though.
  08 August 2012
Tried reply earlier but i guess it didnt go through.... at any rate

Thanks for the insight.

So as for my intended output with regards to CMYK. I'm speaking to four color offset printing (along with some pantone spot color printing). I know that CMYK is a far more restricted color space than either sRGB or AdobeRGB (except for some extreme yellows and cyans). However, as I said, I have heard it is more accurate to move from AdobeRGB to CMYK rather than sRGB to CMYK... seems rather backwards to my logic, but I guess it's possible.

As an art director, do you prefer your designers and illustrators to send you files in sRGB or AdobeRGB? Do you, or they, use wide gamut monitors? I only recently started illustrating, but have been a designer for some time. I have never had an issue sending sRGB in the past, but just wanted to get some more input.

The more I read, the more I am thinking to cut the Thunderbolt display from the race... It seems the glare from the high gloss screen is a deal breaker. That's unfortunate.

The Dell has an anti-glare coating (apparently a bit less so than past Dells, which is good from what im reading). Plus I hear Dell has a "no dead pixel" policy. So I guess it's really between the Dell and the NEC.
  08 August 2012
I always prefer artists to send RGB work. It can be sRGB or AdobeRGB but I doubt most art directors are as colour savvy as I am so they are probably using the default sRGB for Photoshop anyway. I use special CMYK settings to get optimal saturation for conversions so if someone sends me a CMYK conversion, it's generally worse than what I'll do. Unless you are after a specific colour from a process colour Pantone booklet, don't send them CMYK mode images.

AdobeRGB is a bigger colour space than sRGB so converting to CMYK from AdobeRGB is theoretically better than converting from sRGB but it will only make a difference if your photo was shot in AdobeRGB colour space. Some people think that making an image that was shot in 8-bit sRGB into a 16-bit AdobeRGB will magically add data. It won't do anything other than make a larger file with the same data extrapolated with no benefit. The only time it's beneficial to do this is if you need more data for a working space. A good example would be if you needed to make a bump map from an 8-bit image. If you make it 16-bit and blur it slightly, you will get smoother transitions than blurring the 8-bit image.

But if you do a lot of adjustments, you will see better quality by working with 16-bit channel images from the start. Make them AdobeRGB if you want. You can read more on quality issues in a photo editing primer I wrote here:

I wrote "fidelity" there but that should really read "quality". Also, it says 48-bit which is just 16-bit-per-channel (16 x 3)

Obviously 32-bit would be ideal but unless you're using Nuke for an image editor and your images were rendered as 32-bit, you're going to be more limited. I do all my 3D work in 32-bit and composite in Nuke until I do a final retouch and grading in Photoshop with 16-bit. Then I bump it down to 8-bit RGB for my last press-ready file and Indesign uses my custom CMYK settings to make the CMYK press PDF.

Last edited by cgbeige : 08 August 2012 at 03:26 PM.
  08 August 2012
Thumbs up

i think i just learned more about RGB to CMYK workflow than i intended too.... thanks!
  08 August 2012
If your are creating illustrations from scratch that are going to be printed on offset presses then working in Adobe RGB or any other wide-gamut space is only going to cause you problems. sRGB is much more suitable.

I think the conventional wisdom that has built up around this is totally ludicrous. The reason that people have been recommending Adobe RGB for print is because it holds a little more of the extreme yellows and cyans than sRGB - but even Adobe RGB does not have fully saturated cyans and yellows that most CMYK gamuts can hold, so the advantage there is not significant.

However the disadvantages really are significant, if you are working in a wide-gamut RGB space you are going to have far more out-of-gamut colours than if you are working in sRGB, and this is doubly true for illustration since you are making the colours from scratch.

Here's a simple test to demonstrate the potential problems, these two documents started out as Adobe RGB and sRGB respectively, comprised of very saturated greens:

When they are converted to CMYK you can see the results:

both are pretty terrible since all of those bright greens are way out of the CMYK gamut, but the sRGB document still converted better because it wasn't as far out of gamut as the Adobe RGB file. In the Adobe RGB file all of the colour information was lost.

To add to this it also has to be said that using a wide-gamut monitor is still a pain in the neck because unless they are in sRGB mode they still display any non-colour managed applications very badly. Life with a standard gamut monitor is much easier. The truth is that for professional illustrators outputting to commercial print there are no tangible benefits to using wide-gamut colour spaces, and in fact they make life far more complicated. So although there might be some theoretical advantages to Adobe RGB and above, the practical and pragmatic truth is that sRGB is much more suitable. IMO of course
  08 August 2012

Yea, that's basically what I was a worried about. I am creating these images from scratch. I'm not a photographer.

I have heard of folks (illustrators) working in AdobeRGB and converting to CMYK... But, they were restricting there available color palette in Photoshop to a CMYK Palette. Which I don't think is possible in my software of choice (Corel Painter), Although I do use Photoshop a lot to. Maybe using proofing mode? which I have never used before.

There is supposedly a really good sRGB mode on the NEC. So that would mitigate, but then I question why spend the extra $750 just to restrict the monitor. I know there are other benefits to the NEC, but the extra gamut is a big one.

What's your opinion on the palette restriction technique or proofing mode, given your post above? Also, your opinion on sRGB modes on wide gamut monitors.

  08 August 2012
double check that you can hardware calibrate the sRGB mode of the NEC. It's useless if you are stuck with something you can't actually use to simulate paper white point (temperature and brightness). I'm about to do production retouches and adjustments for press and I have to use a ghastly 5000K and 80cd/m^2 profile that looks like mud but actually simulates what happens when you print on our paper stock on a web press.

Otherwise, see if you can get a refurb NEC 2490 WUXi or some other genuine sRGB monitor that still gets great color. I have two – and, from my cold, dead hands...
  08 August 2012
Currently I use a Spyder 3 to calibrate my monitor. If I get the Dell (standard gamut) I'll stick with the Spyder 3. But the NEC (wide gamut) comes with the "Spectraview II" calibration system (software and custom NEC puck). I assume the NEC system will be capable of calibrating the sRGB mode.

Ill check into the 2429. But it seems to be no longer in production... this seems to be the replacement... tml

...Although, I'm really looking for a 27" screen. Any recommendations on a solid, professional series, 27" sRGB?
  08 August 2012
I don't think the Dell is standard gamut.

and don't assume anything about sRGB emulation. It's usually a preset and trying to profile that drops the preset and puts you back into wide-gamut mode.
  08 August 2012
The Dell U2713, based on this TFT Central review, claims just under %100 sRGB. So yea, not quite full sRGB...

My assumptions about the sRGB emulation on the NEC (and the calibration of that mode) are based on a review from TFT Central....
  08 August 2012
ok - I'd buy the Dell, then personally. I love NEC screens but I just don't want wide-gamut anywhere and that review shows that the Dell is quite good.
  08 August 2012
Yea, I'm kinda leaning towards the Dell at this point myself. If my budget was unlimited, I'd probably go for the NEC without argument... But it's an expensive pill to swallow. I think that Dell will be the best bang for the buck in that price range... $500-$750.
  08 August 2012
cheapest I found here is $850
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