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Color gamut is a range of colors. In general life, color gamut may refer to the total range of colors we can discern with our eyes.
Color gamut in photography is a little more precise, referring to the total range of colors we can record and display. Color gamut monitor resolution is an important factor in choosing a monitor for editing.
Monitor Accuracy is Important
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As we get more serious about our photography and videography, we find ourselves more and more concerned with accuracy and quality. This quest includes sharpness or resolution, contrast levels, and also color accuracy.
Our camera is capable of recording a very wide range of colors and exposure values in addition to whatever resolution of sharpness it is capable of recording. The view through the eye level optical viewfinder or EVF is going to be an accurate representation of the scene in front of us, but it's the rear view screen that shows us what was actually recorded.
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We can be pretty sure our camera is presenting a very accurate view of the information recorded in the file, but there’s only so much we can do for editing in camera. Besides, that’s a pretty small screen for editing.
So, we use a computer for most of our editing, using a full featured post processing program for photographic editing and a full featured video editor for our videography. The accuracy of the computer monitor is important since we need to know what we’re doing as we edit.
Our laptop monitor or the monitor that came with our desktop kit is also going to be very high quality, but many advanced and professional photographers and videographers will upgrade to a larger monitor for the improvements achieved by using a separate monitor.
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Electronically, devices require a color space or standard to record and display color information. There are several standards used in photography and videography or cinematography. The two most common color spaces used by cameras are sRGB and Adobe RGB.
Other less common (for photographic purposes) color spaces are NTSC, the USA TV standard, EBU, a TV and graphics standard for Europe, and DCI-P3 which is a professional motion picture standard.
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The sRGB and Adobe RGB color space standards are what most of us will be concerned with as we edit our photo and video files. Color calibration tools are used to adjust or fine tune our monitors to display the most accurate colors possible within the color space we’re using.
If we capture our files in one color space, we will usually be editing with our program and monitor set for that same color space. We can change back and forth as needed, since these two standards are mostly compatible.
What is a Good Color Gamut?
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What some photographers choose to do is record in Adobe RGB since it has a wider color gamut than sRGB and then save in sRGB color space to display or print since more devices are capable of using sRGB. It’s like recording in RAW for capturing a full range of exposure info and then saving as a JPEG.
Now, if we’re capturing a 12 or 14 bit RAW uncompressed image file with Adobe RGB color space, we should be using a monitor that is fully capable of reading and displaying that range (or gamut) of information. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to record and edit in the highest quality possible and then convert down as needed.
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As far as the post processing and video editing programs available, I like to recommend that we should be using one that is full featured and actually capable of doing more than we need right now. Many of the top programs are offered with periodic upgrades with some being sold in a subscription model that continuously updates for improvements and new features.
Top Color Gamut Monitor Choices
There is a new style of computer monitor being used by graphic designers, photographers, and videographers. High resolution, ultra wide screen, large, curved screen monitors are some of the best things for advanced digital photographers.
ViewSonic makes two that are extremely high quality while remaining reasonably priced, the VP3881 38” monitor and the VP3481 34” monitor. These monitors are so good and affordable that you could even set up a dual monitor editing studio. I did this for my own editing studio and I can’t stop talking about it.
If a dual monitor studio isn’t an option, the main two differences between the VP3881 38” and the VP3481 34” monitors are the volume of screen size and the price. While 4 inches doesn’t sound like much difference, when you consider the total volume of area, there is an obvious difference. Also, the 34” version is about 2/3rds the price of the 38” monitor which might ease the decision to upgrade from the laptop monitor.
Some of the things that influenced my choice of ViewSonic monitors are their
super high resolution which shows all the detail in our photo and video files, the ability to tile programs which eases our editing workflow, and the curved ultra wide screens which provide an immersive viewing experience and greatly reduces eye strain.
The color gamut is absolutely amazing. ViewSonic has made these monitors with the ability to accurately read and display 4.39 trillion colors. Basically, the color gamut monitor capability surpasses our own eyesight. So, we can edit with full confidence that we can see all the sharpness and color we need for superior results.
Color Gamut is Another Tool
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Knowing all about the color gamut we’re using in our camera, post processing programs, and external monitors, we have yet one tool for making our photos and videos show exactly what we intended. It’s more important to upgrade our skills and knowledge than any equipment upgrade, but it doesn’t hurt to also have high quality gear.