EIZO CX271 as a grading monitor

Jason Myres Jul 14, 2014

  1. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    Over the past few weeks I've been using an Eizo CX271 in a casual test to see if a good, color-accurate computer display can really work as an affordable grading monitor. Like a number of others, I've been generally against this, but I think we are now at a point much like we were with plasmas where this could be very do-able, with some important caveats.

    I put together a blog post about some of the pros and cons, since there are a few things you don't get with a computer display that you do get with an SDI broadcast monitor.


    This isn't a new idea, especially with the first gen DreamColors having been used as reference monitors for quite a while now, but for me, there are a couple things that make the CX271 the first really good choice for anyone looking for an affordable grading display:

    -10-Bit HDMI with Deep Color support.
    -LED-Backlit IPS Panel with good black levels.
    -Great design and arguably the best quality control of any display on the planet.
    -Free ColorNavigator calibration software that works on both Mac and PC.
    -Street price of less than $1500.

    I've owned a CG243W for the last three years, and as much as I've loved it, I would not have put it up for grading monitor duty. The IPS panel was good, but the minimum black level just wasn't deep enough, and the HDMI input was only 8-bit. With the CX271, you get a very good new IPS panel with 10-bit HDMI, that's not only 27-inches, but also costs $800 less than what my 24-Inch 243W cost me a couple years ago.

    I cover some of the compromises of using a computer display in the article, but if you're ok with them, and need an affordable way to get into a color-accurate grading display, I don't think there is a more complete, better-built, easy-to-use option than the CX271 right now.
    Niels Roza and Daniel Stuebner like this.
  2. I am pretty sure I read, maybe on here, that Eizo monitors aren't tru 10bit but 8bit(FRC).....how much difference do you think this makes and can you notice on the monitor?

  3. Jason, what about scaling? I mean that CX271 has native 2560x1440 resolution instead of 1920x1080
  4. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    They are 8-Bit+FRC. I mentioned that in my post, too, but so are monitors like the FSI LM-2461/2460, CM240, Z24x, etc. This has been discussed before, and I think the only real negative that some people mention is a small amount of noise or artifacting in shadow areas, but this is present in plasmas, too, and is often much less than the noise you'll see from the camera anyway.

    The CX271 is still 16:9, and scales your input up to the full resolution of the display.
  5. I know that CX271 is 16:9

    Maybe I need to ask more clearly - what`s the quality of that scaling, is there notifiable artifacts, can you clearly just noise amount in signal, etc?
  6. Jason, the CX271 is intriguing. I am looking for an affordable 24-27" colorgrading monitor that I can accurately callibrate to Rec 709. I do own the retail i1 display pro. I was first looking into the new Dreamcolor Z Displays but there is a lot of talk about uniformity issues and crushed blacks. I plan to feed a potential monitor a 10 bit 4:2:2 YUV signal via Blackmagic Mini Monitor HDMI. This could be the display I'm looking for. How accurate is this Color Navigator Software paired with the i1 Display Pro? And can the HDMI accept 4:2:2?

    Thanks for your write-up article!
  7. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    I was able to run a bunch of footage through it from 4K F55 Raw, to Canon 5D Raw, and Alexa ProRes, as well as several test patterns, and I far as I can tell the scaling is transparent. Overall, I don't think it's an issue, and I doubt the scaler in the Eizo performs any differently that the scalers in many other high-end displays.
  8. thanks for info
  9. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    The CX271 HDMI will accept up to a 4:4:4 RGB input, although like you I'm driving it with a 10-bit 4:2:2 signal, the only difference is I am using an AJA Hi-5 to convert SDI from a Decklink SDI for Resolve and AJA Kona 2Ke for Lustre.

    ColorNavigator is quite good, and one of the great things about it is that getting my CG243W and now the CX271 to match my other displays has been very easy. However, like a number of people will tell you, there is an improvement in absolute accuracy if you're able to upgrade to some sort of external calibration solution. The compelling thing about the CX271 is that you can get started with ColorNavigator and at least know you are in Rec709 without a lot of effort or expense, and then later if your jobs warrant it, you can invest in something better.
    Amos Kim likes this.
  10. Hi, Jason!

    Is the overdrive of the monitor really such a disaster? With activated overdrive there seems to be strong overshooting of colors, could you please check?

  11. Hi Peter, probably something I should know what is overdrive?
  12. guys please be aware:

    (AFAIK) ColorNavigator does (still) not support spectro offsets, so just using ur i1D3 w/o offsets makes these "calibrations" way less accurate... besides that CN only samples a few points...
  13. Hi Mike,

    Could you explain this a bit more please? If you calibrate using colornavigator and i1display probe what are the limitations compared to say buying Calman for Resolve?
  14. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    I have and if you toggle OD on and off, at least for me, it's very difficult to even see a difference. Maybe there is certain content that will make it more evident, but I couldn't see what the issue was so I have left it on.
  15. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    A few notes:

    1) The spirit of investigating the CX271 as a grading monitor is based on one question; what's the lowest possible, color-accurate, point-of-entry for those who need a grading monitor, but don't have a large budget? By definition a solution like that is going to lack a few things, and if you need those, then spend the money on a higher-end solution.

    2) Calibration-wise, the comparison here isn't ColorNavigator Vs CalMan or LightSpace. We all know they're better. The comparison is ColorNavigator Vs Nothing at all. Complaining that ColorNavigator doesn't have this or that, is like complaining that the CX271 doesn't have scopes. The idea of using this display as a grading monitor is targeted at people who have been trying to grade on their laptop screen, or their iMac, or a low-end plasma. For people in those situations, the CX271 with ColorNavigator will be a huge step forward.

    3) I would actually challenge the claim that ColorNavigator is "less accurate" given what is being perceived here as missing, because it has two huge advantages over nearly everything else; it's easy to use, and it's free. At most high-end facilities, calibrations are done before every session, but almost everywhere else, like big production companies, broadcast houses, major networks, broadcast monitors often go months without calibration. And there are often big shows being graded on those displays. Sure, those companies get their displays calibrated every 6-12 months using LightSpace or CalMan and an expensive probe, but as the months go by, those displays get more and more out of shape.

    With ColorNavigator, on the other hand, a shop could very easily have it installed at every workstation, and have a collection of i1 Display Pros circulating through the building, allowing those colorists, or online editors to calibrate every single morning before they start. Kick off CN for 5 mins while you go grab your coffee and come back to a display that is in much better shape accuracy-wise than a display that languishes between "higher-end" calibrations for months on end. I see this happening everyday, and frankly a bunch of Eizos and ColorNavigator would be a huge step up for those companies, too.
    Pepijn Klijs likes this.
  16. @ Jason: sorry, but I disagree :)

    The whole point of calibration is to get the display into a color accurate state so u can use it for color critical application. Which in your case is not just some vacation photos u're gonna edit in Photoshop for personal use, it is for broadcast and/or video distribution. So clearly, we have a professional need here to be as accurate as we can be.

    The point w/ CN being free is mood, Argyll is free and does some great work. Lightspace is what you wanna buy once you can afford it.

    CN missing meter profiling is the biggest red flag u can have. Colorimeters - such as the i1D3 and even the US$7,000 K10-A - are inaccurate already when they leave the factory, and they will drift more and more over time. That is why a professional calibration approach always uses meter profiling, a process that creates meter offsets from a spectro meter (reference meter) for the colorimeter (active meter).

    This is being done so u get the best of both worlds: spectro with it's color accuracy and ability to read any display type (display source) | colorimeter with higher read speed, better low light ability and better repeatability.

    With this approach u can keep using ur colorimeters forever (unless they develop mechanical issues).

    Not being able to do this very simple process in CN disqualifies the application for Pro use. I have been asking Eizo for nearly 3 years now to implement this very, very basic feature for their calibration sw for their Pro screens. Which is very sad as I like the (higher end) Eizos and they can be calibrated very nicely, see here.

    So in CN, u can either use a colorimeter w/o offsets, which again is not accurate and u will have to live with however far off the colorimeter is as any calibration solution solely and only relies on the readings of the meter. So u might get great delta E charts but u have visible color contamination in ur Greyscale etc... this is why there has to be visual validation (using dedicated patterns) after every calibration... if u are very lucky, ur colorimeter will not have drifted so much (yet) that it is visible to YOUR eye... but it might be for the next guy, and naturaly everybody only ever checks a few test patterns... and then u get reports that the blacks in ur footage have yellow contamination although it looks good on ur screen...

    The other option is to use a spectro only in CN. But then you get slow read speeds, and most importantly everything below 20% brightness will be very inaccurate as spectros struggle in low light...

    The third option is to use an expensive colorimeter such as the K10-A which has internal offset storage, so u create the reference offset via Klein's own sw, store it inside the K10 and then simply select that profile within CN... well guess what, CN only uses the default empty slot and does not allow u to select any other slot... so I have the K10-A - the best colorimeter in the world - and I can't use it properly within CN...

    So what's ur option on a budget ?

    Buy an i1Pro sprectro rev D (this is version 1, make sure to get rev D) used off ebay (if u can still find any) for maybe 150-200 bucks. A new i1Pro 2 will be around US$1,000.

    Another note: spectros can drift as well over time (less than colorimeters but still - if u store the spectros correctly u can use them for years) and it could be that u pick up a spectro that has e.g. a "green" push... (u would only know if u compare that spectro to an even more accurate reference spectro)... but u could either spend US$8,000 on a Jeti spectro or send ur i1Pro in for re-certification, which in case it is off will be re-calibrated it to be within allowed tolerances....

    You are only ever as accurate as your reference meter is, how accurate your pattern generator is and (not to forget) how accurate the math of the color engine is (of ur calibration solution), which is why most Pros use Lightspace.

    I have received an email from my Eizo contact in Japan a few days ago and he said that they will implement the K10 slot selection... that is great for K10 owners but won't help anybody with an i1D3... maybe it's already in CN, I haven't used CN since March...

    Once CN has meter profiling, we could then move on and discuss final calibration accuracy, patch set size etc (see here for a comparison of CN vs. LS) but not yet !!! :) :) :)

    - Mike
  17. Anyone know if one of these i1Pro sprectro rev D can work with Color Navigator?
  18. Jason Myres

    Jason Myres Moderator

    Yes, here is the full list for X-Rite on CN v6: i1 Monitor, i1 Pro, i1 Pro2, i1 Display, i1 Display 2, i1 Display 3, i1 Display Pro
  19. yes it does, but naturally your results below 20% brt will be funky...

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