Camera screens vs Computer screens

(This includes what you see on tablets and smartphones.)

What you see in the camera:

20150821 155614 DSCF5028 XT1 pp+.7 ht+2 st-1 sharp+2_Crop_DCE

What you see on a computer screen:

20150821 155614 DSCF4484 XT1_Crop_DCE

What gives?

Is anything going wrong?

Nope. Both devices are doing exactly what they are supposed to do (because each has different goals).

The camera wants you to see (in both bright sunlight and in dark conditions) the details available in the file (for both printing and viewing later on computer screens).

  • You may have noticed that files that look too dark on a screen (but have good shadow detail) still print fine whether you go through a photo service or go through your own desk printer.
  • But too bright files don’t print well.

The computer wants to adjust viewing to what is comfortable to you in the current lighting conditions. It cares nothing about showing its maximum dynamic range or the dynamic range of the photo.

So what is there to do? 

Nothing to the devices. The devices have different goals. Making your camera monitor darker will just mess up your exposure, and making your monitors, tablets and phones brighter will just hurt your eyes. (And calibration devices won’t fix this problem, either. Sorry.)

Rock meet hard place.

*Update* To clarify: don’t do anything TO the devices. If you can, edit the photos for the best viewing on the output devices — essentially, you need to create and keep different versions for different output.

  • Keep the original for the best printing results
  • Have a variation for computers, smart phones and tablets

Don’t worry about editing everything (or you will go crazy) — many things are fine.

This is not a new problem.
Artists have been dealing with this in all types of media for a long time.


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