1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Screen Brightness When Editing

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by YoshiK1, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. YoshiK1

    YoshiK1 Well-Known Member


    I've been editing for a long while now and on occasion I look at my photos in work or my friends see them on Flickr and some of them are dark. This is all post-editing. I have my screen on my MacBook Pro on square 9 of brightness and it normally stays around here but I do change it. Is anyone using a MBP and is able to tell me their brightness setting they're using so I don't make my photos darker when I think they're over exposed?

    Or if anyone else has any info on how to get the correct setting I'd welcome it.

  2. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    Try this web page: http://www.photofriday.com/calibrate.php

    If you can easily see the difference between the black and the darkest grey increments, chances are you have your screen set too brightly (in as far as that is objectively possible). They should be only just distinguishable from one another.

    Adjust screen brightness to alter shadow areas and the contrast setting (if you have it) to alter the brightest areas if necessary. These two controls together alter dynamic range, but you may not need to adjust highlights after dealing with shadows. It helps if you edit/calibrate in fairly subdued light.

    An appreciation of histograms also avoids photos being made too bright by editing. It's always possible that it isn't your monitor at fault, unless your work/friends' monitors are calibrated.
  3. Meredith

    Meredith Well-Known Member

    A good starting point is for screen brightness to be 120 cd/m2. Depending on your editing position you may need to adjust from that value.

    You will need some sort of meter to set your screen brightness properly. A good monitor calibration device will do it.
  4. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Can't comment upon any peculiarities of Apple hardware but, in general, monitor calibration hardware/software such as Spyder Pro will calibrate for brightness as well as for colour.

    I use SpyderPro4 to calibrate both screens on my PC set-up and it works well. (You do have to assume, however, that anyone looking at your images on a different computer has their screens correctly calibrated too.)
  5. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    You have to be a little careful with the assertion/assumption that Spyders calibrate for brightness. They don't do that unless you specify a luminance level, and even then you normally have to manually adjust the brightness while the Spyder gives you feedback on its candela-per-square-metre measurement. It's not possible at all with the Spyder Express package.
  6. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Yep - that's what I meant. If you follow the prompts you will end up with the correct (or should I say "optimum") brightness for the measured ambient light conditions.
  7. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

  8. Joysy

    Joysy Member

    I plan on editing photos and would like to know which screen is better if I use Photoshop?
  9. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    The one you've got, or the best one can afford. Either of those will be perfect.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Tony,

    Or if not perfect, at least better than the alternative.

    I use an old Iiyama CRT for the best colour at the best price (I've had it 20 years).


  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi Joysy, for next time it is better to start a new post than pick an old one.

    If you are serious about editing images as the main activity for that monitor then it is worth getting one designed for it. The attributes needed are stable/uniform colour, low contrast and wide colour gamut. The last two are important if you will print your own work. Monitors labelled "best for gaming" are to be avoided because they are optimised for change not stability. You can look at the websites for Colour Confidence and Wex for some ideas. There are more affordable ones than there used to be. A monitor needs also to be used in a controlled lighting environment - I can't edit in the mornings because the sun shines into my office and makes it too bright. Monitors also need calibrating which will add about £150 to the cost for a third party device, some more expensive ones now come with calibration tools attached.
  12. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Limited funds mean I am still using a 13 year old 20 inch 5x4 ratio LCD monitor at 1280 x 1024 pixels.

    But I have had some large prints done that have turned out well. The trick is to make sure that you are seeing the best possible image on your screen. If you have the room's lights too bright and shining on the screen, and then turn up the screen's brightness and contrast so that you can see the image, you will lose definition because of over-saturated colours and overbright highlights. And if you adjust the screen's colour balance 'by eye' whilst light sources that are not a perfect 'daylight' colour temperature are shining on it you may not get it right.

    Try having no lights in your room shining directly onto the screen, then dim the remaining light(s), and then adjust the screen brightness and contrast to low settings which will give you the best definition. (This advice also applies to Plasma and LCD television screens.)

    Only after you have got the room lighting adjusted, and the screen's brightness and contrast suitably low, can you look at the screen's colour balance. I have been using a head and shoulders portrait taken outdoors at mid-day in overcast light, with my camera body's colour temperature set to 'daylight' (definately not 'auto' for this). The image has flesh tones and not too much contrast. I have an old 1960s photographic book about shooting with colour film, and the author always shot a picture of his model holding a Kodak colour chart, so that when he printed the negatives he could tell if the colour balance was correct.

    Also, having adjusted my pictures in editing software to prepare versions for printing (including making them a little brighter than appears perfect on the screen because printed images are seen by reflected light and appear less bright than images seen on a screen), I have found it best to always make sure that any automated 'image enhancement' is turned off when the image is printed. (The Jessops website, for example, allows this.)

    If you a printing from JPG images that you have not adjusted, then ignore the last paragraph because the camera's processing will have already adjusted the brightness and contrast. Perhaps not perfectly for printing, but try a few and check the results.

    Notice that none of the above requires the spending of any money, just some of your time.
  13. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    Good post. I find the topic confusing and subject to conflicting advice. I often edit at night either with the light dimmed or turned off. Although I have a Color Monki to calibrate my screen, I gather this approach is not recommended. Why?

    I should say that all the prints I have had done by labs after using this method have been fine, with one exception.
  14. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    You should calibrate your monitor and that process involves setting the brightness (white point) and contrast (black point). Room lighting should be enough to see clearly but not bright. For exact colour reproduction room lighting needs to be calibrated.

    Using an existing monitor is OK if you have one. If you have to buy one then it is worth getting the best you can. The brand Benq has good reviews. I use the lowest cost NEC of its day (10 years old now) and when it needs replacing I think I'll look at Eiso.
  15. Joysy

    Joysy Member

    But I'm also wondering - Mac is better for this?
  16. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    If you like macs! I have an imac (2012) the screen is Ok. It doesn't have the gamut of the NEC and the surface is rather shiny but it is OK to use. I bought the NEC before I bought the mac so I use a 2 screen set up. It is convenient to have one screen dedicated to image processing and the other used for everything else.
  17. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    You can calibrate your monitor without any hardware at all. The main disadvantage is that you can't return it to the exact same state with each calibration.

    The monitor should be the brightest object in your line of vision. The whole point of editing in subdued light is not reflections off the screen (anti-reflective coatings should combat this), but the ability to discern shadow detail. This is hampered even if you display contrasty photos on the web against a white background.

    To perform a basic calibration you'd adjust the black point on a website like lagom.nl until the darkest patches were barely discernible; you obviously need low ambient light for that. Then you check the white level to ensure that the brightest parts of the image aren't blown out. (Note that "white point" refers to colour temperature in monitor language.) Dry Creek Photo is another site where you can calibrate your monitor.

    All of this can be legitimately done with no cost at all, although you'll still be lacking a monitor profile. That's not a must-have for High St or online labs because virtually none of them are colour managed anyway. Their system is designed to be approximately accurate and no more.
  18. Joysy

    Joysy Member

  19. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

  20. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    Whilst I agree that calibrating your monitor is a start, it won't help one iota unless you calibrate and profile your printer and paper as well. In most cases the printer output has far more effect on the final print colour than the monitor.

    If however all you want to do is view on the monitor, and not produce a print, then just simply adjust your monitor brightness and colour settings until you get the look you like.

Share This Page