Replacing A Monitor

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Dual Monitor Setup

I’ve finally retired my Apple Cinema monitor after 12 years of faithful service.

When I first set up my studio in 2006, I purchased a Mac Pro, Intel version PC with two Apple Cinema displays.

The Mac Pro has been retired for several years now. I sold off the 30″ Cinema Display some years ago but kept the 24″ Cinema Display for use on my new Windows desktop. They were both good monitors for the day, but time moves on and their specifications were a little behind the curve. The 24″ monitor remained as my second display with a newer HP 2511x as my main studio monitor.

There are a lot of choices for computer monitors in the market. The days of the standard VGA analog connection are coming to an end. Most monitors these days have a HDMI interface or the even newer Display Port (USB-C) connection, but it’s still possible to find monitors with DVI and VGA connections.

It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks but I finally decided that new technology was going to have to be my choice.

The biggest concern I’ve had with desktop PC monitors was the ability of a new monitor to reproduce a full sRGB color gamut. Most displays on the market fall short when it comes to reproducing a full RGB color space. Kinda interesting when you think about it, as raw files from cameras can normally be set for Adobe RGB which is has a larger gamut range than standard RGB, and editing software can handle extreme color gamuts, such as Adobe Lightroom which will work in ProPhoto gamut. The problem with using high color gamut profiles in your workflow is that everything has to pass through the funnel and the output device is your desktop monitor. There aren’t many monitors that will come close to handling the range of color that a high end digital camera can reproduce. Nor can they come close to handling the higher photographic dynamic range that today’s camera sensors can reproduce. Everything has to be stuffed into the same color space that your monitor uses, so all that “extra” stuff is more or less useless for final output.

My goal was to replace the old Apple monitor with something current that could handle a full sRGB range. Secondarily, I wasn’t going to spend over $400 on a replacement monitor.  My HP 2511x cost me $250 brand new about 5 years ago and when calibrated, the color gamut measured about 102% of the sRGB gamut. It’s a backlit monitor, thus it has a very good brightness and contrast ratio. If I could find something akin to that type of performance on a budget, I’d be a happy camper. Additionally, I wanted a 27 inch or larger monitor with at least 5ms response time and 75 hertz refresh rate, to keep HD video performance tolerable, though I don’t really do a lot of video editing on my system.

I cruised the selections on Amazon and B&H photo and found a few considerations, all of which were running in the $300 – $400 price range. I was holding off though, thinking that somewhere out there was a monitor that wasn’t going to cost me that much. I’m on a budget like anyone else, so every penny saved is a penny earned.

The other day, my wife was out doing her weekly shopping at Sam’s Club. While she was there she took it upon herself to go over to the computer area and see what they had on the shelf. She texted me some photos and model numbers of what they were selling and among them was this LG Model # 29WK50S-P ultra-wide display. Price, $219 (at the store.)  I quickly looked up the specs and bingo. It had everything I needed and was quite affordable. The video interface was HDMI, which is good for me, as my video card supports everything except the new Display Port interface. The beauty of HDMI is that it’s a fairly common digital interface for televisions, so I can hook it up to just about anything.

I asked her to buy it, not knowing what to expect when she got home. Hey, if I didn’t like it, I could take it back.

Well, it turns out, I like it. A lot!

Nothing fancy, no frills, a super wide 21:9 aspect ratio which turns out to be excellent for using it with Adobe Lightroom. I can now do my editing without having to compress the side panels. I did a color calibration on it with my Spyder calibrator and the gamut was measuring noticeably above the sRGB envelope. The matte finish on the screen keeps the glare down too.

So, I’m not promoting any brand of product here, but if you are looking at a new replacement monitor for your photo editing and general office use and don’t want to spend a fortune, give these new ultra-wide monitors a look. I recommend this particular LG monitor, but there are other comparable brands and models out there. The ultra-wide format is quite nice. The monitor’s footprint is not huge but the viewable area is more than enough to make me happy.

Best of all, it cost a third less than many of the other monitors with these specifications. It’s light weight and the image quality is excellent.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get what you want. Just have my wife pick it out for you.