First you need to define best. Best to you or by some other standards. And if you want to make sure that everyone views it exactly as you do... probably not a good idea. What you need is calibrated standard gamut IPS panel based monitor, proper color managed workflow and you are doing what you can do be as objective as possible. Getting the "best color" sort of speak. What happens online, is beyond your control, unfortunately. You can't influence it you can only do it by the "color managed" standards and the hope for the best.
GNapp Studios wrote: Both monitors are calibrated using the same device. One is older so the pictures on it look a bit different.
Calibration is only one part of the whole color managed workflow. And it is the only objectively acceptable way to manage color. If that is what you want.
What calibration settings did you use, what is the quality of the monitor itself, what is the ambient lighting, how you are managing the color inside the image itself by using various profile and various color managed vs. non color managed applications etc. All of that can influence how the image looks. And online all bets are off.
I think in the best possible world you should do your retouching on the best possible calibrated monitor available, but then test on lesser monitors and fine-tune to be visually acceptable across the board. Particularly if your images are not headed for print.
It's analogous to what audio engineers do in the studio. They mix/master to the fancy expensive studio monitors, but then they test on little speakers and take a raw cd to play in their car, on their iphone etc. Then they make adjustments, so that the final result sounds as good as possible on a variety of devices.
There is no 'out of the box' calibration for monitors.
If you make your own prints, you'd match your monitor for that purpose with the proper parameters adapted for print matching.
If you plan to work for web display only, you'd choose a different calibration set up.
If you plan to do both, then it would be wise to create 2 different monitor profiles.
There are plenty of variables involved in calibration - Black Point, Luminosity, Color Temperature, Gray Gamma... all which you have to decide upon, before running the actual calibration process.
John Allan wrote: It's analogous to what audio engineers do in the studio. They mix/master to the fancy expensive studio monitors, but then they test on little speakers and take a raw cd to play in their car, on their iphone etc. Then they make adjustments, so that the final result sounds as good as possible on a variety of devices.
Speaking as a sound engineer... true, but there's more to it than that. Granted I primarily do live FOH, but I've done some recording as well. Yes, a lot of times we'll check mixes on other gear, BUT only to 1. check for phasing issues that may not exist in an ideal environment and 2. compare to reference mixes that we know exactly what they sound like.
If you edit an image the way you want it to look on an accurate monitor, don't look at it on a less accurate monitor, decide it's too blue, and then correct for that. What happens when the monitor that your neighbor looks at it isn't blue enough? Then it's off by twice as much!
Many "of the box monitors" are just made for general computing use... like mircosoft office and other consumer applications... and they are usually setup from the manufacturer very bright and slightly blue to make your applications visually pop. Many people in the general computer population often leave their monitors just as they found them...bright and blue.
Photographers may have more of a vested interest in at least looking into using a more photographically accurate and calibrated display. So this group may see your images slightly darker than you intended and maybe slightly more yellow than you planned.
When you calibrate your display... a lot of what goes on is... to get your black and while levels correct...and then correct any color casts or shifts that occur in the gray middle tones. You want to be able to see pure white without it blowing out... and you want to be able to see the gradation in several of the darker chips so you have detail in the blacks...and... you want your mid tones to be totally neutral gray...and not have any color cast.
So...what many people experience are the whites being too hot... and the darks being too dark on their monitors...and many of them are set too blue out of the box. BUT...BUT...BUT...they are used to seeing everything in the world like this!!! So they never know better...or they never see anything dfferent. To them the whole web is bright and blue just like always. Everything looks bleached out and bright to them and slightly cool.
If YOUR monitor is NOT calibrated and you are using Photoshop to do the best work you can do...what happens is that your general audience and your print house...will get images that are JUST THE OPPOSITE of what your Monitor Problem is.
For Example: If YOUR monitor is too bright...then alot of other people (and print houses) will experience your images darker than you expected. If YOUR monitor is NOT calibrated...and it is a bit blue...then your general audience will experience your images a bit yellow. BECAUSE...when you were in Photoshop...you were looking at your images with a blue monitor...and you made some color corrections to bring that blue intensity down to a good normal look. To get rid of the blue cast your monitor created...you added extra yellow in Photoshop... to an already OK file. So NOW YOUR images are a bit yellow. Your original files may have been OK to begin with...but because your monitor is a not a truth teller...you will add in opposite color casts to correct your own inaccuracies. If YOUR monitor is off...your general audience will not get images the way that you intended...and your prints will be off just the opposite of where your monitor problem is.
Heres the killer!!! Since you have a bad monitor YOURSELF...you use Photoshop or lightroom to correct your inaccuracies so that your images look good to you...and your Mayhem profile looks great to you too...since you are looking at it with a jaded monitor...so everything in YOUR world LOOKS just GREAT. BUT EVERYONE ELSE is getting some other view of your images. Your files have yellow added to them and are darkened up a bit...because your own monitor looked bright and blue. Its not till you go to your local library and look at your mayhem profile there...or a friends house who does have a calibrated monitor..then your images may look dark and yellow on his machine. You downgraded your image files...because your monitor color was showing YOU the wrong stuff to correct!!!
So, thats the way you are turning out your images...too dark and too yellow...because your monitor is too bright and too blue (for example). Your images will always look GOOD TO YOU because you are using the same bad monitor that created your problem...its when SOMEONE ELSE looks at (or prints your images)...that you will start getting strange complaints. Because to YOU...they look perfect...to someone else...THEY SEE your Over Corrections... to make up for your whacky monitor.
I am in a similar configuration (iMac 20" and Nec 2080ux+ 20", both calibrated) as the OP is and asked myself almost the same question because I see some pictures that are doing extremely good on my both monitors and some don't, for instance some of mine like this one that was difficult to handle :
So I worked a tab more on it to make it somehow better, less contrast, lowering one by one in different amount the output color channels...
I was just wondering if there was not some bad steps in the retouch process to avoid in order to keep it somehow good cross platform (knowing well that every displays will show something different).
Or is there a color channel, generally speaking, that requires more attention than others ?
I retouch on a properly calibrated monitor and then "check" with a crappy monitor and sometimes a laptop to make sure that the pic looks OK on a range of displays. The main problem with uncalibrated displays is usually black crushing and highlight crushing (blow out), especially on LCDs. Often on laptops the gamma is borked too and stuff looks a lot lighter in the lower midtones than it should.
One concession I have made to poor displays is that when proofing for the web I now limit the brightest skintones to around 240 (94%) on the histogram because so many cheap LCD and laptop displays can't display any different tones above this and show everything brighter as pure, blown out white even if it's not.
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Always retouch on a calibrated monitor with a standardised image in mind. You can only know what it can look like on a calibrated monitor, chasing a moving target of people's poorly calibrated or quality monitors is folly.
This is the age old question for E commerce, but is not a concern for simple viewing reasons.
It has been addressed somewhat with the recent Retina screens that are a fairly close approximation of sRGB by default. So if you retouch on a calibrated monitor and send out images in sRGB that is as good as you can do.
GNapp Studios wrote: I want to be able to retouch on a monitor that will look best to the most amount of people, realizing most people don't color calibrate their monitors.
I have 2 monitors. The pictures always look best on the better monitor. But when I retouch on the better monitor, they look with a yellow tint on the low quality monitor.
When I retouch on the low color monitor and adjust for the yellow tint, they look fine on the quality monitor.
Which is the better monitor to retouch on so the picture looks best for the most amount of viewers, realizing lots of people use different monitors?
A careful reading of the OP points to the only logical answer if the OP's setup matched his typical audience members' setup.
If you want to move beyond that logic, why not post several images and take a poll? Your best audience for that poll would be the usual viewers of your images, whoever they might be. If your typical audience is MM members, for instance, post samples here, I'm sure many would play. In fact, right now I'm on a shitty monitor at work that is not calibrated and I have a calibrated one at home.
nwprophoto wrote: Results using a low gamut/6 bit monitor like the iMac may be fine for web and Walmart prints but you should really step up to at least a 8 bit display for best results.
Sure, I do all my retouch on my Nec display, I am very satisfied with it as when I print, I get exactly what I have on the screen.
But for web usage only, I start to do like some of you seems to be used to do, proofing on a standard display, make a few adjustments if necessary like stefano says (thanks)
-B-R-U-N-E-S-C-I- wrote: One concession I have made to poor displays is that when proofing for the web I now limit the brightest skintones to around 240 (94%) on the histogram because so many cheap LCD and laptop displays can't display any different tones above this and show everything brighter as pure, blown out white even if it's not.