LCD Monitor for photography – IPS LCD Panel

Recently I am busy with searching for a new LCD monitor. I found that is really difficult to choose a LCD monitor for photo viewing / editing which is affordable. For the photo viewing / editing LCD monitor, my requirements are:

  • Color reproduction as good as possible, above 95% NTSC color reproduction
  • Resolution is high and pixel size is not too small, 1900 x 1200 (16:10) resolution with 24″
  • Reasonably quick response time, so I can use wild color range LCD monitor to enjoy watching movies
  • Affordable price, I spent a lot of $ on lenses not long ago….  not much budget left…. US$600

As soon as I start researching on forums, blogs and reviews websites, I learned that it is almost imposble to find a LCD monitor that can fulfill all 4 requirements… Most of the LCD monitors can fulfill 3 of the requirements; either the 1st three or the less three (the one can reproduce more than 95% NTSC color are too expensive)

Finally, I find the perfect monitor that fulfill all 4 requirements!

LCD Panel Technologies

During my search for my ideal photo viewing / editing LCD monitor, I learned that there are mainly 3 LCD panel technologies: TN, MVA and IPS

TN LCD Panel

TN lcd panel

TN lcd panel

Twisted Nematic (TN) is the most common type of TFT LCD technology. When no voltage is applied, the chains of liquid crystal molecules are twisted to 90°, allowing light to pass through the molecules. When voltage is applied, the liquid crystals rotate and polarized light is absorbed by a special filter. TN is not only the most common TFT LCD technology, but also the cheapest. TN is a good technology for achieving keen response times and whilst viewing angles were compromised in early development, a special film has now been added to the panel surface to significantly extend the viewing angles.

MVA LCD Panel

mva lcd panel

mva lcd panel

Multi Vertical Alignment (MVA) was developed as a compromise between IPS and TN technology. It achieved relatively fast response times, high contrast and wide viewing angles but at the cost of colour reproduction, brightness and affordability.

IPS LCD Panel

ips lcd panel

ips lcd panel

In Plane Switching is an LCD Technology was developed to improve on poor viewing angles and colour reproduction of TN technology. IPS employs pairs of electrodes at the sides of each cell, running the electric field horizontally through the material. This approach keeps liquid crystals parallel to the front of the panel, increasing viewing angle. The downside to this technology was that response time suffered and it was very expensive. Super-IPS was later introduced with improved response times and colour reproduction.

For photo editing purpose, TN LCD panel is clearly not a good choice; I would pursue IPS LCD panels as first choice because of its good color reproduction ability and wide viewing angle.

Looking for the IPS LCD Monitor

After I learned that IPS is the best choice for photo viewing, I start to look for LCD monitors with IPS panel. Very soon, I find out that most of the LCD monitor makers do not state which type of LCD panel is used in their monitors.

For example, one of the very popular LCD monitor Samsung T240HD, there is no single word mentioning which type of LCD panel is being used.

Samsung T240HD didn't mention its LCD panel type

Samsung T240HD - Viewing angle: 160' horizontal; 160' vertical type

I hoped that Samsung may mention the LCD panel type in their professional models web pages… but the answer is NO. Samsung didn’t state which type of LCD panel is used in their very expensive Samsung XL24 with LED backlight.

Samsung XL24 also no LCD panel info

Samsung XL24 - Viewing angle: 178' horizontal; 178' vertical

So, how about Apple monitors? No info of LCD panel too..

apple led 24 inch display - Viewing angle: 178° horizontal; 178° vertical

apple led 24 inch display - Viewing angle: 178° horizontal; 178° vertical

Luckily, Dell tells people which LCD panel type is used it their LCD monitors. For example, Dell 2408WFP is using VA panel.

Dell 2408WFP

Dell 2408WFP

Dell’s Hong Kong website did a good job showing the LCD monitor spec clearly. Finally we have a clear picture that TN panel provide 160′ viewing angel, VA and IPS panels provide 178′ viewing angel.

Dell lcd monitor list

Dell lcd monitor list - from Dell Hong Kong website

Well, I continue my search for the right LCD monitor for quite a while, at the end I find a monitor that fit all my 4 requirements!

Affordable IPS panel LCD monitor – Philips 240PW9

Finally, after many days of searching, I concluded that there is only 1 choice for affordable LCD monitor with IPS panel: Philips 240PW9

philips 240pw9

philips 240pw9

Philips 240PW9 fulfill all 4 of my requirements,

  • Color reproduction: 102% NTSC color reproduction
  • Resolution: 1900 x 1200 (16:10) resolution with 24″
  • Response time: 5 ms (good enough for watching movies)
  • Affordable price, around £380 (around US$524)

However, you can find Philips 240PW9 in UK or even Hong Kong, but it is not available in US!

Professional LCD monitors

During my search for the affordable IPS panel LCD monitor, I came across some information of professional LCD monitors.

The funny thing is, I find that many manufactures’ US website are not good in presenting the products… either the information is incomplete or it is very difficult to find the information. So, I have to read their Japan website in order to find the product information.

HP’s Dreamcolor LP2480zx provide the highest color reproduction quality – Adobe RGB 131%… seems it is the highest number you can get now.

HP LP2480zx

HP LP2480zx - Adobe RGB 131%

I asked on professional photography forums, 9 out of 10 replies recommend Eizo monitors. They said Eizo monitors reproduce very accurate color and very uniform brightness throughout the whole screen.

Eizo CG242W

Eizo CG242W - Adobe RGB 97%

If you have plenty of budget or for professional use, these 2 monitors are good choice.

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Posted in Others | 2 Comments » March 10th, 2009

2 Responses
  1. Bruce Says:

    I have been working on the same goals and have come to your same conclusion.
    The closest I came to pulling the trigger was when Dell was offering the 2408wfp for $449 ($513 + 10% discount coupon) about 2 weeks ago.

    I ended up pulling back and moving down to a 22″ monitor for the time being (anticipating that the Phillips will come to the US or Dell will maybe bring a new 2409WA monitor).

    The monitor I found was a 22″ DELL 2209WA it is an e-IPS and there are write ups all over the web. It came to market in FEB-09 and if you call DELL they will sell it to you for $212. I have alsoe heard they will sell two for $400.

    Not the perfect solution to our dilemma but I think a good stop gap measure.

    Good luck and please drop me a note if you find your solution.

    Thank you for your posting.

  2. cc Says:

    Nice description of all LCD specially i like most Dell LCD because it’s resolution power is so good and services are also very long. LCD is capturing all the market of CRT screen. I am using Dell E228WFP 22-inch Widescreen LCD Monitor now a days.

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