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Which panel technology to choose to editing photos and videos? Large gamut or sRGB ? - 4/8

Published on April 13, 2019   |  Updated on March 07, 2020


To display beautiful colors, the panels of our displays have long used three major technologies. With the advent of OLED technology they are now four: TN, VA, IPS and therefore OLED. They have all their advantages and disadvantages and that's what we're going to see on this page because depending on whether you're retouching photos, editing videos or both, you'll have your preference. We will also see that the choice of technology can also influence the uniformity of the panel and its delta and therefore its color display accuracy...

High-end displays have all used the same technology for a very long time: IPS panels. Today, this top-of-the-range supremacy is challenged by the famous OLED technology with its deep blacks. What about the end of 2019 and how to choose between the two? Unless you still choose a TN or VA panel?
And we will see that this is not always without consequences on the uniformity of our panels and the quality of their colors...




Panel technology : TN, VA, IPS or OLED?

Today, four display panel technologies (and their variants) are competing for the market: TN, VA (or PA), IPS or OLED. They all have different advantages and disadvantages unless... unless the most recent one - OLED - brings together all the advantages of each of them and agrees on them in the long run?

1 - TN (Twisted Nematic) panel

This technology makes it possible to vary the position of the liquid crystals in each pixel very quickly to make the light pass or not.

Principle of liquid crystal movements in TN panel


This technology therefore allows very high refresh rates and will be of direct interest to players or even videographers who do not want blurred or remanent effects on moving objects in their videos. The other advantage of TN panel is their very low cost; TN panel are not expensive.
But of course, they also have some flaws and not the least for photo retouchers: their angle of vision before the image darkens is not very wide. To look at the image correctly so with its clarity you really have to look at the panel in front of you so if someone looks at the screen next to you, they won't see at all the same thing as you.


TN technology screen: the image is dark when viewed from the side

TN panels are very sensitive to the orientation of your eyes towards the screen. Brightness and contrasts vary greatly.


Their second major defect is for us, Men of images, their poor quality of color reproduction which would make it almost a redhibitory criterion and, finally, these TN panels do not offer great contrasts. For a photographer who prints a lot and therefore needs a good match between the screen and his print, it will even be an advantage. On the other hand, not at all for a videographer or video editor.

To summarize, the TN panel are:

  • Very reactive (240 Hz) therefore with refresh rates in video games or in very high fast video scenes,
  • Response time 1 ms,
  • They offer the lowest viewing angles on the market so our images quickly become very dark when you don't look them in the face,
  • The quality of color reproduction is the lowest of the four technologies,
  • Their contrasts are also low,
  • These panels are rarely uniform.

These "economical" tiles can be found in most laptop or office computer screens "unfortunately" for image makers... but fortunately for less fortunate players.


My opinion - Essentially for gamers - Avoid for us photographers or videographers even if their high refresh rate might interest them if they have a limited budget.

2 - The panels VA (Vertical Alignment) or PA

Their technology is much better at "stopping" the light from the backlighting than on TN panels. This offers two advantages.


Principle of liquid crystal movements in VA panel

Their blacks then appear deeper and, due to the ricochet effect, their contrast is higher. These panels are therefore already more interesting for us image men, animated or not, even if their color reproduction is not yet at the top.
On the other hand, these panels are slower for players or to display scenes with fast moving objects. Unpleasant persistence effects can then be observed as in the image opposite. Finally, if their angle of vision is wider than on TN panel, it is not yet the panacea!

To sum up, VA panels are :

  • Quite reactive (200 Hz) so with refresh rates in video games or in fast video scenes still rather high,
  • Response time 4 ms,
  • They offer slightly better viewing angles than on TN panel without equaling the panel below,
  • The quality of color reproduction is improving significantly and there are some good surprises,
  • Their contrasts are significantly higher than on TN panel.

My opinion!  If you can, still prefer the following technology or OLED but there may be some good surprises in this category! In short, if players can expect even better refresh rates, we are progressing towards photo quality (angle of vision, contrast and especially color reproduction quality) without reaching the heights offered by the following two technologies.

3 - IPS (In Plane Switching) panel

IPS technology (which has several variants) has long been the only very good or even excellent technology for making panel for photographers or video makers. In particular, it offers viewing angles close to 180° without any noticeable change in the display of the image in contrast and brightness, unlike the TN or VA panel above.


Principle of liquid crystal movements in IPS panel


IPS panels do not darken or change color when you change your viewing angle in front of the screen or when you are two in front of it. IPS panels are also known for their very high quality of color reproduction and very good contrast. Unfortunately, these panel are the slowest on the market. We can't have everything... unless with the latest and most recent technology: OLED (below).
Depending on the manufacturer's expertise, the homogeneity of the panel will also be more or less correct. On paper, IPS panels are a guarantee of quality but as always not an absolute guarantee at the entry level. It is still an excellent technology for photo editing or video editing screens, even not too expensive, with possibly a wide gamut at least equal to 95% of the Adobe RGB or DCI-P3, LED lighting... Note that the iPad or iPhone panel (up to 11) uses IPS technology, (just that!) as well as more and more high-end laptop screens as on some Asus, Acer laptops and of course Apple MacBook Pro and Microsoft Surface.

To summarize, IPS panel are:

  • The least reactive (165 Hz) so moving images show remanence effects,
    Response time 4 ms,
  • They offer the widest viewing angles on the market,
  • The quality of color reproduction is the best on the market with OLED technology,
    Their contrasts are also quite high so sufficient for photo retouching but perhaps insufficient for video.
  • You can find perfectly uniform panel, especially at Eizo.

My purchasing advice !  If your budget allows it, choose a laptop or an IPS panel desktop screen. There are more and more of them, even on laptops, and as I have measured it, especially on Dell or Apple panel, the results are sometimes surprisingly good.

4 - OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) panel - The newest and most promising!

This technology, still expensive at the end of 2019, has many advantages to such an extent that it could eclipse all the others when its price drops from its peaks! Blacks are indeed absolute, even blacker than on VA panels, the viewing angles like those of IPS panels, the contrasts are infinite and the color reproduction is often excellent, as on IPS panels. And all this for a simple reason: there is no need for backlighting. A black pixel is therefore really black and not grey because there is no light source behind each pixel that you have to try to block with some kind of liquid crystal movement technology of varying speed. Each pixel is an independent light source and this changes everything.


OLED slab principle - © LG


To summarize, OLED panel are:

  • The future!
  • The most reactive (240 Hz),
  • Fastest response time of the 4 technologies,
  • They offer the widest viewing angles on the market, such as IPS panel,
  • The quality of color reproduction is the best on the market with IPS technology,
  • Their contrasts are simply infinite!
  • Low consumption.

My buying advice!  If your budget allows it, choose a laptop or a desktop screen with IPS or OLED panel.

Apart from their prices at the end of 2019, these OLED displays only have qualities in theory... and which are beginning to be verified in practice!

Finally, here is a summary table:



The homogeneity of the panel

The very great strength of the high-end screens known as Graphic Art lies in their homogeneity, particularly at NEC and EIZO. They display the same brightness in levels and color temperature (with a few exceptions) throughout the screen.
Is this fundamental ? Of course not! It's very pleasant and more practical but it's not a deal breaker. Especially since when the screens are not perfectly uniform, it often happens that it is very light at such a point that if the control sensor perceives it the eye, even if warned, will not be bothered. That being said, sometimes it's really sensitive and I've sent back a Dell or BenQ screen because of that. (This is their main problem at the bottom and middle end of the market). So unless there is a real problem, the surface is always large enough so that you can touch up in good conditions even if a corner is a little darker.

Screen tile lacking homogeneity

Display not very homogeneous, especially in color temperature... rather frequent with medium or low-end displays.


Here's a true story : a friend, a professional photographer and retoucher, prefers to work on a very large screen (30-Inch) in order to have space rather than on a homogeneous screen. He knows very well where to look at his screen when he has to be precise knowing its limits.

My purchasing advice!  If you want to work on a very large screen (27-inch and over), homogeneity will be difficult to achieve unless you spend a lot of money (more than 900 dollars). Other criteria will then have to be monitored.... Uniformity can be expensive !
It is up to you to determine if the screen size is very important in your workflow. You can also consider the dual-screen solution...

The best way would be to be able to buy your monitor in a store where you can exchange your purchase quite easily in case the measurements of your calibration sensor are really too far from the ideal. When I returned a screen one day, I didn't need a calibration sensor to see it !

Do not focus on homogeneity. It is very pleasant but not "essential" except maybe for professional retouchers or obvious defect. That said, there are obviously limits, often crossed by screens below 300 dollars. Colors are now controlled by many manufacturers, but uniformity is still often poor. Dell, for example, with its Ultrasharp displays has made significant progress in this area without reaching the tops of the Eizo.

Next pages...

5 / 8 - Luminosity and contrast ? sRGB or wide gamut?

6 / 8 - Which graphics card to buy?

7 / 8 - Hardware acceleration and Look Up Table?

8 / 8 - What is the purpose of the 10-bit display?




Through these 8 pages I will share with you my advices to choose your photo editing or video editing monitor...
- Generic advice
- Which screen size to choose ?
- Switch to 4K... or not yet ?
- Panel technology, gamut, homogeneity... 4/8
  - Panel technology : TN, VA, IPS or OLED?
- Warning about uniformity
- Which gamut : sRGB or Adobe RGB?

- Which luminosity, HDR or not, Which gamut?
- Which graphics card and which LUT table ?
- Hardware acceleration and LUT table ?
- What is the purpose of the 10-bit display ?


- 2020 monitors buying guide
- How to calibrate your monitor?
- My 35 full monitor reviews!


Calibrate your monitor with the best
colorimeter: X-Rite i1Display Pro !

Read my full review...


Calibrate your monitor with your favorite colorimeter : Datacolor SpyderX PRO !

Read my full review...










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