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  1. #1
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Unhappy New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    Hello,

    I'm new to the forums. I did a search to see if someone has already asked my question, but I did not find anything. I'm sorry if this is a repeat.

    I bought a 20" iMac in January, mainly for my photography business. I had always heard that many photographers and graphic designers prefer Macs, so I researched and bought one. I LOOOVE this thing.

    The only problem I'm having is my photos came back from my lab too dark, but they look normal on my screen.

    I've since heard that Macs have very bright screens, but mine doesn't seem too bright to me. So my question is, do I just need to turn down the brightness? If so, how do I know how much darker to make it? If that isn't the solution, then what is?

    Surely with all the photogs that love Macs I can't be the first one to have this problem. I would really appreciate any help or tips you can offer, or any articles you would recommend I read.

    Thanks!

    P.S. Sorry about using the word "question" in the title...I can't figure out how to edit it or I would. Trying to follow all the rules!

  2. #2
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    D3v1L80Y's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrapulous View Post
    The only problem I'm having is my photos came back from my lab too dark, but they look normal on my screen. If that isn't the solution, then what is?
    This is likely due to two things.

    One, you need to calibrate your display. You can do this by going into "Displays" in your System Preferences. It will walk you through it, step by step.

    Two, glossy screens (like the ones on iMacs now) oversaturate colors. What you see on the screen is not what you will see when you print. Calibration will help this, but even with proper calibration, glossy screens still oversaturate and muddle colors.
    Glossy screens may look good for games, movies/videos... but if you are doing any sort of graphics work that isn't intended to be broadcast on a monitor (in other words, printed), then your colors will not be 100% accurate.
    Quote Originally Posted by scrapulous View Post
    If that isn't the solution, then what is?
    I would recommend getting an external/additional display and make sure it has a matte screen. That way, once you calibrate that display you can use it when you do any sort of work that needs to be printed.
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  3. #3
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    My understanding is that calibration only fixes colors, not brightness levels.

    Any other ideas? I can't get a new screen right now. I'm sure there has to be other photogs out there who use a 20" iMac and get good results. I just need to figure out how to set the screen I have to show me what the photo will really look like printed.

  4. #4
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    D3v1L80Y's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrapulous View Post
    My understanding is that calibration only fixes colors, not brightness levels.
    Not quite.
    What you are describing is a clear case of an improperly or uncalibrated monitor.

    These links might help explain it better for you:

    Monitor Calibration

    Monitor Calibration: Is Your Monitor Calibrated?

    Monitor Calibration

    Monitor calibration and gamma


    Now, even a properly calibrated screen will distort color saturation and brightness if it is glossy. Nothing will really overcome that, it is just the nature of that display type.
    However, even with a glossy display, proper calibration will allow you to get a more accurate on-screen display of color than you currently have.
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  5. #5
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Great. My screen is glossy. So, how can I proof photos on a glossy display? And I'm irritated that no one at the Apple store told me I should get matte. I don't even know if it's an option. They knew I was buying this for my photography.

  6. #6
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Forgot to say thanks for the links. I'll buy something and calibrate it and hopefully that will help.

    but I gotta say I'm starting to feel like I wasted $2000 on this computer if I can't even get a true idea of what my pics look like.

  7. #7
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    D3v1L80Y's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrapulous View Post
    Great. My screen is glossy. So, how can I proof photos on a glossy display? And I'm irritated that no one at the Apple store told me I should get matte.
    In their defense, they are salespeople, not artists/designers so they likely wouldn't know the difference.

    All is not lost though. Start with the calibration, that will get things much closer than they are now. You may have to do a little trial and error with things in order to figure out the difference. In other words, your screen may look "wrong", but the prints will come out "right"... which is more important in the end.

    I would still save up for a second matte monitor later on. Dual screens are always a big plus for anyone doing photography/design/video work.
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  8. #8
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Thanks for your help. The other thing is that when I tilt my screen the brightness level changes. (I only notice this with photos, not when I'm reading here or on other websites.) So I don't even know how much to tilt my screen in order to get the correct brightness for proofing. Ugh. I feel sick.

    Off to decide which calibration tool to get.

  9. #9
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    D3v1L80Y's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrapulous View Post
    Thanks for your help. The other thing is that when I tilt my screen the brightness level changes. (I only notice this with photos, not when I'm reading here or on other websites.) So I don't even know how much to tilt my screen in order to get the correct brightness for proofing. Ugh. I feel sick.

    Off to decide which calibration tool to get.
    The built in calibration is a good start. Your iMac is a great computer and with a little calibration 'tweaking' it should be fine. It will just take some getting adjusted to.

    As far as tilt, my monitors are pretty much immobile. I have them set at a very slight 15 degree (+/-) angle (seen here) and that seems to work pretty well for me.

    It might be different for you, but after a little work you will find what works best for you.
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  10. #10
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Scrapulous, don't despair. I have a 24" iMac with a glossy screen and also a 23" Mac matte screen. I run iPhoto, Aperture and Photoshop on and with the screens properly calibrated and brightness fiddled with manually to suit, the differences are not enormous and it is perfectly possible to get the screen and prints to be a close match. Just experiment and keep a note of your settings.

    You can save different calibration settings so if the one you prefer for photo print work is different to the one you prefer for other things on the mac, it is quite easy to switch between them.

  11. #11
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Thanks AJB. I feel better about it today. Yesterday I was on frustration overload and just needed to step away from the problem for a bit. Overall I LOOOVE my iMac, I just need to get this sorted out, and I'll be fine.

  12. #12
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    mac57's Avatar
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    scrapulous, there is one more thing to note. Unfortunately there is a difference in technology between the screens used on the 20" and the 24" iMacs. The 20" screens use TN technology whilst the 24" screens use the superior IPS technology. I have been told that you can see a fair amount of color banding and a poorer viewing angle response from the 20" vs. the 24".

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I thought I would pass this along.

    bryphotoguy, anything to add? You seem to be very knowledgeable in this area. Thanks!
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  13. #13
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    What screen angle/tilt is correct for viewing photos?
    My post further down talks about my brightness issues with my 20" iMac. So now I've calibrated, but I'm still having issues with the tilt angle of my screen.

    There is a big difference in brightness as I tilt up or down. So how do I know which angle is "correct?" The difference is so great that when the screen is all the way down, it's very bright, and when it's all the way up, it's much darker. So I know somewhere in the middle is probably right, but exactly what angle? How do I know?

    And once I find the right angle, if that's even possible, how can I make the tilt permanent? There's no way to tighten this thing in place, is there?

  14. #14
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...
    bryphotoguy's Avatar
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    Your eyes, if looking straight ahead should be level with the top of the screen. From there, tilt the screen so it's parallel to your face when you are looking at it directly in the center. That should give you the best angle, in my opinion, to view photos with minimal distortion.

    January 2008 Member of the Month

  15. #15
    New here, question about brightness of iMac screen...

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    Thanks! I'll try that and see how the photos come back from the lab. Hopefully they match my screen! I may have to play trial and error on this.

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