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What is the ideal brightness of a photographer’s monitor?


Photographers tend to have a preferred setting for the brightness level on their monitors. They usually decide this level based on the need to work comfortably for long hours editing pictures and the preference to work in dark environments. However, brightness can have an impact on the accuracy of your results.

Have you ever found that your printed photos do not look the same as on the screen even with a calibrated monitor? That is because brightness affects how colors appear on your screen and calibrating your monitor for accuracy is only half the task.

Why brightness matters

Brightness is more and more a critical spec for monitors. In the realm of video content, brightness is in part responsible for achieving HDR quality. When dealing with photography, brightness makes colors on the screen look more vivid. Therefore, many monitor manufacturers focus on increasing the nits in the monitors as much as possible to present their products as more technologically advanced. 

For color-critical professionals, like photographers, this is not necessarily a benefit. While higher brightness might make things on the screen look better, there might also be an unintended effect on the color-accuracy. Screens and printers display images in very different ways and making sure these match as closely as possible means making adjustments within very well defined parameters.

Besides color space specifications and calibration, adjusting the brightness is another step you need to take to obtain the most accurate results..

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If your prints don't look the same as the picture on your calibrated monitor, consider adjusting the brightness.


What is the ideal brightness?

Within the Adobe RGB (1998) Color Image Encoding white paper is a section dedicated to the “Reference viewing conditions”. What this means is that besides having a reference monitor, the viewing conditions need to be controlled to obtain the optimal results.

Concerning the brightness level, the white paper states, “The luminance level of white displayed on the reference color monitor shall be 160.00 cd/m2”. This means that, in order to obtain results as stipulated by the Adobe RB standard you should set your monitor’s brightness to 160 nits or as close as possible.


Using a color-accurate monitor is only half of the equation to get accurate prints. The second part is making sure the viewing conditions match those of the original specification of the Adobe RGB standard. Amongst other factors, setting your monitor’s brightness to the right level ensures that the colors on your prints look just like they did on your screen.

All of our AQCOLOR SW-series monitors already have a default brightness of 150 nits out of the box, meaning you don’t need to make any adjustments on your side. Regardless of the maximum brightness of the AQCOLOR monitor you choose, you can rest assured colors will look right when working with the default brightness.

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