Samsung 5k 27" & Dell 6k 32" monitors announced at CES

casperes1996

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Over the last two days I’ve been thinking more about display “dimming zones,” and whether that’s something I’d need or want.

Not having a display on my desk with that feature means I can only speculate (perhaps with insufficient understanding and information), rather than experiment and come to a more concrete assesment.

So far, the short answer is no, not for the kind of photographs I like to make (rather than “take”), the post-processing I do, and how I make prints to hang (or put into book form) or display online. Certainly not with 12 dimming zones, and very likely not with 576 on the XDR.

I'm just not seeing the point, and can see situations where it would routinely interfere with post-processing/printing and get in the way of producing prints or online images.

Perhaps that display feature isn’t meant for photographers who post-process and print. In case I’m missing something, if anyone feels differently please weigh in and set me straight.

I have the 16" MacBook Pro with M1 Max. I can't remember how many dimming zones it has, but if memory serves it's more, relative to size, than anything you listed. However, it's very very far from the pixel count of the display. I must say that even while trying to stress it, I never really notice the zones. I think there's more going on than simply adjusting area-brightness of the backlight; Compensating pixels that shouldn't be affected by adjusting the LCD layer or something. But there's no odd luminance as far as I can see. That said I've only really tried video and moving content in the HDR space where it's not just flatly lit anyway
 

Nycturne

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So far, the short answer is no, not for the kind of photographs I like to make (rather than “take”), the post-processing I do, and how I make prints to hang (or put into book form) or display online. Certainly not with 12 dimming zones, and very likely not with 576 on the XDR.

I'm just not seeing the point, and can see situations where it would routinely interfere with post-processing/printing and get in the way of producing prints or online images.

Perhaps that display feature isn’t meant for photographers who post-process and print. In case I’m missing something, if anyone feels differently please weigh in and set me straight.

A good local dimming setup does provide for better contrast in a screen. The big issue if there aren't enough zones is blooming. For video it's probably more useful as a way to get closer to reference contrast without actually needing a reference monitor, but 12 zones just isn't enough. But as you add more zones, the blooming is diminished to the point where you can't really see it anymore. The question is more: what is the ratio of pixels to zones where this happens?

I don't know the answer to that. I had a TV that was full-array backlit with over 100 zones, and it was possible to see blooming from time to time, but otherwise was good for movies. I haven't used an XDR for any length of time, so I don't know about that. But at 2500 zones on my 16" MBP, I can't really tell that there's local dimming involved, even for photographic content, and it does help with contrast for some of my photos with clear light and dark regions and get closer to what I'd see on prints. Now, in a completely dark room, maybe things are different, but when I'm setup to do work at 100nits in a properly lit room, I don't notice.

I mostly look at it this way: If the screen doesn't have enough zones, disable local dimming. Local dimming with edge lit panels is basically useless since each zone is a full column or row, and with 12 zones, I expect the Dell is doing that. But with the XDR or other displays with at least 500 zones, I'd probably start with it enabled and only disable it if the blooming was noticeable enough to bother me.

I'm honestly hoping the XDR gets an update with the newer mini-LED tech used in the MBPs. More is still better when it comes to dimming zones.
 

theorist9

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Based on a close look, the top bar of the Dell 6k appears to be a cloth-covered soundbar. I don't mind cloth speaker grills, but I worry about the durability of cloth on monitors, espcially a pricey one like this that might have a 10-year lifespan.

Given that Apple users are an obvious part of the market for this monitor, I'm surprised Dell chose a look that is pretty much the opposite of Apple-sleek. I guess you have to give Dell credit for going its own way regardless—betwee the cloth covering and the large-sensor camera, Dell is leaning heavily into its tradition of favoring function over form with this display (cloth probably gives better sound transmission than perforated aluminum; then again, can a sound bar sound good enough for that to matter?).

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Citysnaps

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Based on a close look, the top bar of the Dell 6k appears to be a cloth-covered soundbar. I don't mind cloth speaker grills, but I worry about the durability of cloth on monitors, espcially a pricey one like this that might have a 10-year lifespan.

Given that Apple users are an obvious part of the market for this monitor, I'm surprised Dell chose a look that is pretty much the opposite of Apple-sleek. I guess you have to give Dell credit for going its own way regardless—betwee the cloth covering and the large-sensor camera, Dell is leaning heavily into its tradition of favoring function over form with this display (cloth probably gives better sound transmission than perforated aluminum; then again, can a sound bar sound good enough for that to matter?).

View attachment 20747

Seems that would be the logical place to grab to adjust display tilt. Guessing after a few months it would look a little schmutzy, especially if one likes to eat while using their computer.
 

Pumbaa

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Seems that would be the logical place to grab to adjust display tilt. Guessing after a few months it would look a little schmutzy, especially if one likes to eat while using their computer.
How about this then?

 

Citysnaps

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A good local dimming setup does provide for better contrast in a screen. The big issue if there aren't enough zones is blooming. For video it's probably more useful as a way to get closer to reference contrast without actually needing a reference monitor, but 12 zones just isn't enough.

Regarding hitting a target/specific reference contrast ratio… My concern would be about consistency across a wide range of user contrast goals and what could happen within a zone.

For example, depending on subject matter, I force contrast over extremely wide extremes. Some photos I aim for a very low contrast, almost etherial look. Others I punch up contrast considerably - especially B&W, and often color. Sometimes it’s a little of both, and sometimes within small areas that could be within a zone. What I’m concerned about is how local dimming handles that, specifically its predictability. While in post I would not want the display’s local dimming/brightening algorithm making judgments on its own and counteract what I’m trying to achieve in post, often in multiple local areas in the frame, and resulting in unfaithful prints. As an aside, and if my math is correct the 576 zones in Apple’s XDR display come out to an area of around 3/4 square-inch (don’t know if they’re square or rectangular).

I think I’d need to use an XDR display for awhile in order become a believer in that tech for processing photos, making a significant/noticeable difference. OTOH, at a $5K price (without stand) that’s not going to be happening. I have zero complaints with my ASD meeting my needs. I still would love 6K res in a 32” display, though.
 

mr_roboto

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But at 2500 zones on my 16" MBP, I can't really tell that there's local dimming involved, even for photographic content, and it does help with contrast for some of my photos with clear light and dark regions and get closer to what I'd see on prints.
Apple claims 10000 LEDs on the 16" MBP. Do they control them with coarser granularity than individual LEDs?
 

Nycturne

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Regarding hitting a target/specific reference contrast ratio… My concern would be about consistency across a wide range of user contrast goals and what could happen within a zone.

For example, depending on subject matter, I force contrast over extremely wide extremes. Some photos I aim for a very low contrast, almost etherial look. Others I punch up contrast considerably - especially B&W, and often color. Sometimes it’s a little of both, and sometimes within small areas that could be within a zone. What I’m concerned about is how local dimming handles that, specifically its predictability. While in post I would not want the display’s local dimming/brightening algorithm making judgments on its own and counteract what I’m trying to achieve in post, often in multiple local areas in the frame, and resulting in unfaithful prints. As an aside, and if my math is correct the 576 zones in Apple’s XDR display come out to an area of around 3/4 square-inch (don’t know if they’re square or rectangular).

I guess I'm a little lost as to what you think the algorithm does?

A way to think of it is that the LCD has a fixed contrast (IPS being ~1000:1). By controlling the backlight on a per-zone basis, you can achieve higher contrast across the whole screen, but the zones themselves can only ever reach 1000:1 contrast. Since brightness is prioritized, this means in zones where there is mixed content, you get the same result as you would with an LCD without local dimming: elevated black levels. It's the elevated black levels at edges of sharp contrast that shows up as blooming.

If your target are consumer PCs/tablets/phones, or photo prints, this may not matter that much as a contrast ratio of 1000:1 is still higher than any photo paper I'm aware of, and consumer devices aren't going to fare much better than 1000:1 anyways.

I think I’d need to use an XDR display for awhile in order become a believer in that tech for processing photos, making a significant/noticeable difference. OTOH, at a $5K price (without stand) that’s not going to be happening. I have zero complaints with my ASD meeting my needs. I still would love 6K res in a 32” display, though.

This is pretty much where I'm at. I'd love to be able to use an XDR for a while, but not at current prices. Not as a hobbyist. My setup is also paired to a gaming machine, so I wound up with a 4K 32" display that has a built-in KVM and supports 120Hz refresh. But I also spend a decent amount of time on the laptop screen too, which is where the display is quite nice.

Apple claims 10000 LEDs on the 16" MBP. Do they control them with coarser granularity than individual LEDs?

Yes, each zone is 4 LEDs, something that they showed during the keynote, but they are a bit vague in the marketing copy.
 

Citysnaps

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A way to think of it is that the LCD has a fixed contrast (IPS being ~1000:1). By controlling the backlight on a per-zone basis, you can achieve higher contrast across the whole screen, but the zones themselves can only ever reach 1000:1 contrast. Since brightness is prioritized, this means in zones where there is mixed content, you get the same result as you would with an LCD without local dimming: elevated black levels. It's the elevated black levels at edges of sharp contrast that shows up as blooming.

Thanx - I'm soaking that in...
 

theorist9

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Regarding hitting a target/specific reference contrast ratio… My concern would be about consistency across a wide range of user contrast goals and what could happen within a zone.

For example, depending on subject matter, I force contrast over extremely wide extremes. Some photos I aim for a very low contrast, almost etherial look. Others I punch up contrast considerably - especially B&W, and often color. Sometimes it’s a little of both, and sometimes within small areas that could be within a zone. What I’m concerned about is how local dimming handles that, specifically its predictability. While in post I would not want the display’s local dimming/brightening algorithm making judgments on its own and counteract what I’m trying to achieve in post, often in multiple local areas in the frame, and resulting in unfaithful prints. As an aside, and if my math is correct the 576 zones in Apple’s XDR display come out to an area of around 3/4 square-inch (don’t know if they’re square or rectangular).

I think I’d need to use an XDR display for awhile in order become a believer in that tech for processing photos, making a significant/noticeable difference. OTOH, at a $5K price (without stand) that’s not going to be happening. I have zero complaints with my ASD meeting my needs. I still would love 6K res in a 32” display, though.
I think I understand what you're worried about and, if so, I can answer this conceptually (though not practically...more on that at the end).

The purpose of local dimming is not to enhance contrast beyond that of your source material. Rather, it's to adjust the monitor so it comes closer to your source material. [With just 12 zones, the Dell is going to have a hard time doing that.] Consider an LCD monitor with a peak brightness of 500 nits and a minimum brightness (aka black level), due to 0.1% bleed-through, of 0.5 nits. This gives it a contrast ratio of 1000:1 (IIUC this is typical for IPS LCD panels).

Now suppose your source material is designed to have a minimum black level of 0.005 nits when the peak brightness is 500 nits (100,000:1 contrast ratio). When you view it on your LCD panel, you're not going to see 0.005 nits, you're going to see black areas that are 100x brighter. Thus your LCD isn't going to show you faithfully what your final post-production scenes would look like on a reference display. In particular, you're not going to be able to adjust details in the dark areas because you're not going to see the the details caused by variations in light level below 0.5 nits. However, with finely granulated local dimming, the monitor will selectively reduce the backlight behind those darkest pixels by 100-fold so that, with the 0.1% bleed, they have a local brightness of 0.005 nits instead of 0.5 nits.

In sum, with an IPS panel whose static contrast ratio is 1000:1, and with source material whose contrast ratio is significiantly higher, your starting point is unfaithful to your source material. Local dimming, properly implemented with sufficient granularity (i.e., not the 12 zones on the Dell), makes your monitor less unfaithful.

More broadly, with darker blacks, photos have a different, richer look. You're not going to see that look when you do your post-production on a standard LCD.

Thus, in sum it's not a question of having a standard LCD which, while not optimum, will at least be faithful to your intentions—vs. one with local dimming that, while fancier, might not be faithful—since the standard LCD isn't faithful either (if your material is high contrast). I guess the advantage of the LCD is that its unfaithfulness may be more predictable. Though I suspect once you get to know a monitor that has local dimming, you will be able to understand and predict its unfaithfulness as well.

But here's the practical issues that I can't address:
(1) Your goal is not to have your artistic intentions accurately reflected when your work is displayed on a reference monitor, it's to have them accurately reflected when they're physically printed. And I don't know what the contrast ratio is for photographic prints. [I'm reminded here of sound engineers that used to mix on inexpensive speakers because they knew their stuff would most likely be played back on inexpensive speakers (car radios, boom boxes, etc.). This typically resulted in music with bumped-up lows and highs to compensate for the limited frequency range of said speakers, resulting in a painfully bright and boomy sound when played back on a high fidelity system. So if the contrast ratio of photographic prints isn't great, maybe doing post-production on a standard LCD wouldn't be a bad choice.]

(2) How well is local dimming implemented, even when the granularity is high enough for it to have the potential to work well?
 
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Nycturne

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And I don't know what the contrast ratio is for photographic prints. [I'm reminded here of sound engineers that used to mix on inexpensive speakers because they knew their stuff would most likely be played back on inexpensive speakers (car radios, boom boxes, etc.).

Photographic paper contrast is in the 100:1 range. Not very high compared to modern displays.
 

theorist9

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Photographic paper contrast is in the 100:1 range. Not very high compared to modern displays.
If we assume typical room illumination would give white paper with a 1:1 gain* a brightness of 200 nits, then a 100:1 constrast ratio means the black level of photographic prints (under that same illumination) would be about 2 nits. Wouldn't that in turn mean that a standard (lower-contrast) LCD monitor would do a better job than a higher-constrast display in showing what a printed photo would look like?

[At least with respect to contrast ratio--I just read that some of Epson's printers can exceed the Adobe 1998 color space, which is in turn a wider gamut than P3. So it looks like to accurately represent a printed photo you may need a low contrast, high-gamut monitor with high color accuracy.]

*1:1 gain (meaning 100% reflectance) seems to be a reasonable approxmation, since 95 Bright paper (95% reflectance) is commonplace.
 
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Nycturne

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Would that in turn mean that a standard (lower-contrast) LCD monitor would do a better job than a higher-constrast display in showing what a printed photo would look like?

This is one point of soft proofing using color profiles for the target.

Gamut can be quite different from the screen (or other papers) and more of an issue than just the contrast range. So soft proofing is rather important for accuracy.

So long as the display’s range and gamut is at least as wide as the target, it can represent it accurately.
 

theorist9

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This is one point of soft proofing using color profiles for the target.

Gamut can be quite different from the screen (or other papers) and more of an issue than just the contrast range. So soft proofing is rather important for accuracy.

So long as the display’s range and gamut is at least as wide as the target, it can represent it accurately.
Sounds like you're talking about the colors. But I gather you can also accurately represent a low-constrast photo on a high-constrast monitor by brightening the bottom end of the range to match what a photo print would like.

However, that still leaves open this question: Given the poor contrast ratio of photographic prints, is there any benefit to having a high contrast ratio monitor (for that purpose)? And wouldn't a low-contrast ratio monitor make soft proofing easier, since you wouldn't need to do the brightening at the bottom end of the range (or at least need to do much less of it) to see what the printed photo would look like?
 
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Citysnaps

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Sounds like you're talking about he colors. I'm more curious about whether a monitor with a poorer contrast ratio might, counter-intutively, actually be a better match for representing photographic prints.

That might be the case with the ASD. For me, it just works editing and making prints.
 

Nycturne

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Sounds like you're talking about the colors. But I gather you can also accurately represent a low-constrast photo on a high-constrast monitor by brightening the bottom end of the range to match what a photo print would like.

When doing soft proofing, the ColorSync profile includes the black and white points. I should probably refer to these as color volumes as profiles cover luminance ranges as well. This is important as you lose saturation as you approach the white and black points, and different displays and photographic papers will behave differently along the luminance range.

But so long as you have both the display and target profiles, you can represent one within the other accurately.

However, that still leaves open this question: Given the poor contrast ratio of photographic prints, is there any benefit to having a high contrast ratio monitor (for that purpose)? And wouldn't a low-contrast ratio monitor make soft proofing easier, since you wouldn't need to do the brightening at the bottom end of the range (or at least need to do much less of it) to see what the printed photo would look like?

So long as you exceed the color volume of all your targets, there’s not any additional benefit. But if you use a variety of papers, you will have different volumes that don’t overlap fully. Some papers will have a darker white and black points than others, for example. So you want your monitor’s white and black points to exceed the combined range of the different papers you use. Still not exactly a tall order, but just trying to give an idea of where more contrast helps.

At the end of the day, if a monitor is solely being used for print, contrast is not going to be high on my list of needs, no. There’s a reason why photo-focused monitors tend to be focused on color volume and specific profiles (Adobe RGB), and tend to be IPS rather than VA or TN. IPS tends to be very good in terms of total color volume, but suffers in terms of response time and contrast.
 

theorist9

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This April 20, 2023 Dell Price Report ( https://www.delltechnologies.com/as...pricing/oem-msrp-price-list-april-20-2023.pdf ) appears to give retail pricing for the 32" Dell 6k: $3190.99 (might be a typo for $3199.99). Expected discounts should bring it under $3k, well under half the price of the XDR with stand ($6000/$7000). No release date yet, but Dell previously said 1H 2023.

[Note: Searching in Safari won't find it; you need to download the PDF (a 20,000-page monstrosity) and search in Acrobat. That's perhaps because it's on p. 431, putting it at about row 35,000, which might exceed Safari's search limits.]

With its high-contrast panel, this could be an appealing alternative for those who just want a big Retina monitor, and don't need the XDR's 10-bit panel and other photo/video editing capabilities (assuming it works with the Mac, and you don't mind its looks). One really nice thing about my iMac, which I assume you'd also get with all Mac external displays, is the ability to adjust brightness from the keyboard. Not sure if you can do that with this Dell. [ @Colstan: Can you do that with your LG Ultrafine which, while not Apple, is designed to work with it?]

They've also published a datasheet:



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Colstan

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One really nice thing about my iMac, which I assume you'd also get with all Mac external displays, is the ability to adjust brightness from the keyboard.
Yup, my 21.5-inch LG UltraFine's brightness is adjusted via keyboard. There are no physical buttons or switches, which I believe is the case with the 27-inch model, as well.

Thanks for the update on the Dell 6K. We are are still waiting on the Samsung ViewFinity S9 27-inch 5K, to see how it compares to the Apple Studio Display, which it is supposed to rival. I'd imagine that most of these monitors will compete on price compared to Apple, but still won't be cheap.


Also, good to see you around these parts, @theorist9. I thought I might have to drag you away from MacRumors to give us a visit!
 

theorist9

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Dell just updated its price list; the 32" 6k is listed less cryptically this time, and its MSRP has dropped to $3000. Most of the Ultrasharps on Dell's site are 20% off MSRP ⇒ $2400. That's within $100 of the 27" ASD with a matte screen and a tilt-adjustable stand (both of which the Dell offer). Though I personally prefer glossy screens for desktops because I can control the light in my room, and glossy screens have sharper text and avoid the "snowfield" effect.

Not sure how long it it will take before Dell discounts this one, given its premium nature.

Also, just as Dell followed the 32" 4k U3223QE ($1280 MSRP), which seems to have same forehead speakers & camera as the 32 "6k, with an identical version without them a few months later (U3223QE, $860 MSRP), they may do the same for the 32" 6k. If the latter has the same ~$400 price reduction, then its MSRP would be $2600, giving ~$2100 at 20% off.
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