Best Viewed From A Mac

by Adam Rowney

Best viewed from a Mac.

This is one term that I hear being used a lot. Obviously, the scenario is this; someone has edited an image on one computer, only to find the image looks completely different on another. What that person maybe should say is:

Best viewed from my computer.

Which of course makes sense in a weird and unrealistic way. The main issue really, is that every computer will view an image differently, even with the exact same model of computer. Things to be aware of…

1) People have a habit of changing their settings. Usually the people who do this either know a lot about computers, or think they do.

2) Computer screens need to be calibrated to show colours accurately. This still means different screens will show images slightly differently, just due to the nature of the screen quality. Also note, most professionals who calibrate their screens tend to do so regularly, maybe once a month or more. This is because screens “wander” over time. I don’t know the reason for this, but Google is your friend.

3) Most websites compress images, or even sharpen them. This has been noted on large sites like Flickr and Facebook. Flickr’s reason is to make the image look better (in their opinion), which is done by sharpening the image. Facebook images lack colour depth, which is due to the heavy compression, which it has to do. This is because it has millions of images uploaded every day, which cost a great deal to store, and is one of Facebooks biggest overheads.

4) Web browsers view images differently. You may notice a difference in colours between Explorer, or Safari, Chrome or Firefox, etc.

5) Screens tend to be set at the factory to show colours to be more saturated, and also  appear to be sharper than they really are. They are also often too bright. This is so the brand looks more vibrant when on display. This has also been noted with the results from cameras between certain camera companies.

Side Note) Printing tends to soften images, so photographers will often sharpen their images one last time before print due to this softening effect. Also, the colours viewed on screen are too numerous for any printer to be able to handle, so technically images are unrealistic in what they show in respects to colour. But this excess of colour helps greatly when editing, but that is a whole other post.

So, finally, what the photographer should really be saying is:

Best viewed from a high quality calibrated screen.