Wide or narrow gamut monitor?

I’m in the market for a pair of new monitors for my home office.  I am starting to get more into Photoshop, and after reading Scott Kelby’s Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers, am realizing that I need to think about wide vs narrow colour gamuts.  

“Gamut is a 3D measurement (3 ordinates x, y, z on a CIE diagram) that describes the portions of the visible spectrum that can be reproduced by a display device. The wider the gamut, the more vibrant certain colors appear. Most displays, in or before 2006, had a 72% gamut, although some professional or high-end LED-backlit LCDs and wide phosphor CRTs did exist. The following is an annotated CIE diagram of the sRGB, or 72% NTSC, color space.”
LCD Resource.com

I’m not an expert in this space - but from what I gather, sRGB is a compressed colour space optimized for use on the web and ‘normal’ monitors, whereas Adobe RGB (1998) is a larger colour space which aligns with what’s possible to achieve on an inkjet printer.  Most typical monitors can only display the smaller sRGB space.

Scott recommends using Adobe RGB vs sRGB, to ensure colours are more accurately matched between screen and your printer.  However it seems that at the moment, this is only important if you’re using your own printer (or for publication via printing-press).  Most commercial labs will expect sRGB files at the moment (although it also seems that there’s mention of aRGB beginning to take over here).

“What i should have said is that sRGB was the standard before but as we move forward with the IPS and PVA panels the aRGB is the better colour space to work with since more labs are using it on printers form what i read and been told.” - Nasha Wilson on photo.net

“aRGB has a wider gamut than sRGB, ProPhoto has a wider gamut than aRGB. A decent monitor should be able to display beyond the sRGB gamut and a substantial percentage of aRGB” - The Crofter on photo-i.co.uk

The gory technical details on the different colour spaces are shown on Bruce Lindbloom.com’s site.

99.9% of my photographs at the moment are not printed - but are shown online through a web-browser; so I’m 70% sure I only need a sRGB monitor, however I’m concerned that I’m going to regret this if I start getting into doing some of my own big-photo-prints.  Then again - if I am printing big - I’m probably going to use a lab to do the work…

One downside of using a wide-colour gamut monitor with operating systems, photography or image processing applications that are not aware of colour profiles is that colours will look over-saturated.

“I use a wide-gamut monitor, and things like Office and other general, non-graphics oriented applications are really not a problem. IE, however, is a problem, especially when viewing photography websites, as are other non color managed graphical applications. Fortunately, for web-viewing, Firefox 3 is color managed, and I prefer it for web use anyway.” - Scott Turner on photo.net

“If you’re not going to use Firefox, or if you regularly use non color aware tools to view images and graphics, you’re probably not going to be very happy with this monitor. I retract my previous statement, as I hadn’t realized the extent to which FF and my other color-aware apps were protecting me. A reasonably saturated sRGB image viewed in a non-color aware app will be garish, and even more garish.” - Later post from Scott Turner on photo.net talking about a HP LP2475w monitor

“Well, I’ve heard, read and seen (on different tech forum discussion boards where people post images of their monitors) that wide gamut monitors will not display proper colours for sRGB images. They can be set to an sRGB ‘mode’ but this apparently does not usually produce satisfactory results. Web colours still look either over or under saturated using this mode, unless the image is within an app that is colour managed. Since I’ll also be using the monitor primarily for everyday office work and websurfing, I need to know that it can be reasonably as accurate as a standard gamut for these applications.” - Ned Lud on photo-i.co.uk

It also appears that with Win7, Microsoft  introduced some support for wider colour profiles, but that they haven’t addressed the issues completely for non-colour managed applications.

Aside from colour space, the other thing to consider is technology.  These days, I think IPS panels are the way to go.  More on LCD technologies;from the AnandTech forums, or dpreview.com.

From a quick scan the two most often mentioned 24” wide gamut monitors are the two H-IPS devices - the Dell U2410 (8-bit, 102% NTSC gamut) and the HP LP2475W.  The HP monitor however is due to be replaced by a non-wide S-IPS display - the HP ZR24w - which matches 97% of the sRGB space, but only 72% of NTSC.

In choosing a monitor - you may find one of these review sites useful:-

I’ve spotted one downside for the LP2475W on dpreview.com

“Personally, I would not buy either the Dell U2410 or HP LP2475w at this time. They both use the same H-IPS panel that has been noted for issues with a green/pink tint noticeable on a white background. The Dell also had issues with dithering in its’ sRGB mode which has now been fixed with the “A01” revision.”

I *think* after reading all of that, and considering that my main usage is photos for the web - and for sharing with my friends, who’re mostly using normal monitors - that I need to be working in sRGB.  This will also save me cash - as the typical price for a ZR24W is €380, vs the LP2475W at €525.

Amazon UK links