There are three major types of computer monitors. Which are cathode ray tubes (CRTs), light emitting diodes (LEDs), and liquid crystal displays (LCD).
LCD monitors are the most popular type of computer monitors available today. Because they consume less power and are less bulky than the old cathode ray tube type of monitor that is no longer in use today. They also produce sharper and more vibrant colors.
There are three major types of LCD panels. Which are TN, VA, and IPS panels.
The reason for this difference in LCD monitor panel types is because of the different ways they reproduce colors. Remember that color accuracy and accurate color reproduction is very important for photo editing.
Watch this Youtube video below from Techquickie to understand it better;
Twisted Nematic panels (TN panels) are among the oldest LCD monitor panel technologies known today. They feature a very fast response time that is ideal for games and movies. With LED backlighting, TN panels consume less power and are brighter than most other monitor panel technologies.
TN panels were widely used and very popular then because of their fast response time. And because they consume less energy. Which is a very useful feature for games and videos. To provide a smooth motion experience and to reduce ghosting.
But they have a poor viewing angle range and are less color reproductive to compare with IPS panels. Which is not ideal for photo editing. You will experience color distortions with TN panels especially when you view their screen from wide angles. Which is a huge problem for photo editors because maintaining the same colors, brightness and contrast in a display is very crucial for an accurate photo editing experience.
Compared to other panel technologies, they are the cheapest monitors you can find in the market today. They cost even less than $100 for their budget displays. They are very popular with most desktop and laptop screens. In fact most laptop screens are made of TN panels.
Response time of TN panels can be very fast and range between 2ms to 6ms. Which makes them appealing to gamers and movie lovers. They also feature a high resolution and are very bright in nature.
You can easily recognize an LCD monitor made of TN panels by touching its screen with your finger. If it becomes lighter at that point where you touched it, it is most likely a TN panel monitor.
Another way you can tell if a monitor is a TN panel monitor is by viewing its screen at different angles and especially at wide angles. If you notice any change in contrast, brightness and color shifts at different angles, then it is most likely a TN panel monitor.
One problem with TN panels that is very important to photographers is that they are limited to a 6-bit color depth technology. Unlike IPS panels that feature an 8-bit and higher color depth technology. Which means they are not capable of displaying the full 24-bit color range of about 16.7 million colors that most video cards are made of. To make up for this, they simulate these full range of colors by interpolating other colors. Which they do with little success.
Most TN panels can only offer about 30% of the NTSC color gamut. Moreover the colors displayed on its screen are only accurate when viewed head-on. Viewing them at different angles will result to lots of color shifts especially at extreme angles and around the edges of its screen.
There have been lots of improvements however with recent TN panels. Especially those made with LED technology. But they are still far from being ideal for photo editing as IPS panels.
All of the above makes TN panel monitors not good enough for photo editing. As a photographer, there should be no excuse for you to choose to work with a TN panel monitor. Because although they are very fast in response time. And they are the cheapest monitors, they do not offer all you need in a display for photo editing. Moreover IPS panels which are the best for photo editing are getting cheaper these days. Meaning you can get them as cheap as TN panels.
So avoid using a TN panel for photo editing or any other color critical purpose you may need a monitor for. Because they are only good for watching movies and for playing games. As well as for simple office jobs such as word processing and publishing. Due to their very fast response time with no ghosting effect on moving pictures.
Among everything said, just remember the following high points about TN panels;
- Color shifts are very noticeable with them especially when you view their screen at different angles. Which becomes more noticeable at wide angles.
- They change in color and brightness when you view them from different angles. Making contrast and luminosity look different at wide angles.
- They are poor in color reproduction. Which makes them not accurate in colors.
- They look darker or lighter depending on the angle you are viewing their screen from. Which makes it difficult, inconsistent and frustrating to edit pictures with them.
Even if you are a beginner or you are in a tight budget, avoid TN panels for photographic purposes. They are only good for playing games and videos.
Vertical alignment panels (VA panels) are better than TN panels. But they are not as good as IPS panels. They are capable of an 8-bit color depth with wide viewing angles just like IPS panels. They also provide better black levels and a higher contrast ratio than TN panels.
But just like TN panels, you will experience color shifts at wide angles with VA panels. Which makes them not good enough for photo editing.
Many of the gaming and desktop monitors you see in the market today are made of VA panels.
In Plane Switching (IPS) panels are the best for photo editing. IPS panels makes use of a technology known as In-plane switching (which is where they derived their name) to create a wide range of color palettes within the sRGB color space. IPS panels offer a wider viewing angles than TN panels with no color distortion.
IPS panels feature the best color quality in panel technology with a wide color gamut range than VA or TN panels. With a wide viewing angles range of up 178 degrees without change in contrast nor colors. IPS panels are also very flexible for calibration.
You get up to 178 degrees viewing angles for both vertical and horizontal view without color shifts with IPS panels. Which is particularly useful if you or somebody else beside you needs to view the screen from different angles other than the front view. Or perhaps when you want to show your work to a client.
They also feature a better color depth of 8-bits, 10-bits and higher than TN panels. Most IPS panels offer a minimum of about 125% of the NTSC color gamut.
Response time of IPS panels is not fast enough like that of TN panels. However there have been improvements recently in their response time. These days you can get an IPS panel with about 8ms (eight milli-second) response time and less with their improved monitor panel types such as the S-IPS. Which is good enough for videos. But still not enough for very fast paced games.
They usually cost more than TN panels. High end monitors made of IPS panel cost a lot more than those of TN panels in the same category. Even in budget displays, IPS panels usually cost more. Which is why you will notice price differences between two or more monitors with almost the same features. If you check very well, the panel type might be the reason for the price difference.
IPS panels come in different variations. Such as AH-IPS, E-IPS, H-IPS, S-IPS, AS-IPS etc. The reason for this difference is the many improvements and developments made on the original IPS panels.
IPS panels are well known to be the best panel technology for photography and photo editing. Contrast and luminosity remain consistent with IPS panels even when you view them at wide angles.
Unlike the other panel technologies, IPS panels do not darken nor change colors when two or more people are in front of its screen. They are also able to offer a wide color gamut that covers at least 95% of Adobe RGB colors.
Most high end laptops, iPads, and Apple MacBook Pros, are made of IPS panels. Due to the fact that IPS panels are of a superior quality panel technology than other LCD monitor panel types. Although they are not that perfect in panel uniformity.
Colors and contrast remain consistent at any angle you view the screen of an IPS panel. Unlike TN panels, if you touch the screen of a monitor made of IPS panel, the image on screen remain stable in brightness and colors. There is less eye strain with the use of an IPS panel monitor than there is with TN and VA panel monitors.
High end monitors made of IPS panels feature an ultra-wide color gamut with high bit depths. Whose colors are greater than or equal to the colors available in the Adobe RGB color space.
Types of IPS panels
Lets take a closer look at the different types of IPS panels that you may come across in displays available in the market today.
E-IPS panels are the cheapest type of IPS panels. For the reason that they don’t cost manufacturers much to produce to compare with the cost of producing other LCD monitor panel types. But they have a lesser color gamut range than the H-IPS and P-IPS panels. They feature an 8-bit color depth with about 16.7 million colors in total. Although some of them feature a 6-bit color depth with A-FRC. Which is also known as 8-bit simulation. E-IPS panel monitors are of course much better than TN panel monitors.
Most of the top IPS panel monitors you will find in the market today are made of H-IPS panels. H-IPS panel technology is based on a technology where IPS pixels are arranged in vertical lines across the panel. For a better and optimum performance. They are also much better for photo editing than TN or VA panels.
P-IPS is another type of IPS panel that literally means Performance IPS. P-IPS panels feature a wider color gamut range than most other types of IPS panels. Most of them feature a 10-bit color depth with color palettes of approximately 1.07 billion colors. The rest of the other P-IPS panels are just 8-bit with AFRC. Which is also known as 10-bit simulation. Monitors made of P-IPS panels are very good for photo editing.
AH-IPS is a technology that was developed by LG and is one of the best IPS panel technology in use today. AH-IPS uses a function known as AFFS (Advanced Fringe Field Switching) to improve on the use of IPS technology. They provide better light transmission across their panels which helps it to consume less power.
They offer the best performance for small screen size devices with high resolution. Which is the technology that most manufactures use in producing handheld devices. Such as most Apple hand held products including the Apple iPad. AH-IPS panel technology is not widely used in the production of big screen displays. Because the manufacturing cost is very high to compare with other top IPS monitor panel types.
S-IPS panels is another name for Super IPS panels. They are among the best types of IPS panels. Because they perform very well in terms of delivering accurate colors with an excellent color reproduction. Super IPS panels feature a faster response time with better contrast than the regular IPS panels. You will not experience any color distortion at sharp angles with them and they are easily calibrated.
They also cover a wider range of color gamut than most other types of IPS panels. They also feature one of the widest viewing angles and they provide the most accurate colors. They are among the best panels for photo editing.
In all that has been said, just remember the following high points below about IPS panels.
- IPS panels are the best for photo editing compared to both VA and TN panels.
- They vary in type which are improvements on their build and technology. Which includes among others; AH-IPS, S-IPS, H-IPS, AS-IPS, and E-IPS.
- The main advantage of IPS panels to you as a photographer is the fact that they feature a true 8-bit and higher bit depth technology. Most of them are capable of 125% and more of the NTSC color gamut.
- You can view them at wide angles without distortions nor color shifts unlike other panel technologies.
- The main disadvantage of IPS panels is that they are not as fast as TN panels in terms of response time. Which makes them not the ideal choice for playing games and watching videos of very fast changing images.
- IPS panel monitors are more expensive than those made of TN and VA panels. However they are getting cheaper these days. They don’t cost that much anymore to compare with other panel technologies.
LCD monitors made of IPS and PLS (plane-to-line switching) panels are very good in reproducing colors. And they feature a wide viewing angle. Which is what you need for any color sensitive purpose such as photo editing. Because colors of photos on it will be seen more accurately even at wide angles.
TN panel monitors feature a very fast response time that is good for gaming, videos and movies. But they offer a low contrast and a limited color gamut range.
Avoid using a TN panel monitor for photo editing.
To identify a TN panel is easy. Just view what is shown on the screen from the top of the monitor. Or from its sides. If you notice color and brightness changes from what they look like when you view them directly in front of you, it is most likely a TN panel.
VA panels are accurate in colors and offer a wide viewing angle just like IPS panels. But with less performance compared to PLS and IPS panels. Because they do not reproduce colors as accurate as IPS panels.
IPS panels are the best LCD panel technology for photo editing. Because they offer a higher color gamut range than TN and VA panels. With richer and deeper blacks. And they reproduce true colors that are close to all the colors available in your digital photos.
IPS panels are slow in terms of pixel response time. Which can be discouraging to those who intend to use them for fast paced video games. But for photographers and graphic artists, this is not a problem. Because what is more important for photo editing is the ability of a monitor to reproduce colors accurately without color shifts. So that you get to work precisely with all the colors available in your pictures.
Always choose an IPS panel LCD monitor with a LED backlit for use with any color critical purpose such as photo editing and photography.
And if you are in need of one, the best of them are available for you to choose from at the best price possible here on our website.
You can also check out our list of all the best IPS panel monitors that is ideal for photo editing here.
What do you think about what have been said here about LCD monitor panel types? Do you have questions or a contrary opinion? Do you agree that IPS panels are the best for photo editing? We will love to hear from you.
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