Apple Pro Display XDR: Colorist ‘Bummed’

Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 11.33.33 AM

This is a 32-inch 6K display that is brighter (1,600 nits) than almost any display that any of us have seen before and offers groundbreaking color accuracy that could make $30,000 to $40,000 “reference displays” from Sony and Flanders Scientific obsolete. – Cnet

For months, we’ve been inundated with bloated claims by tech writers and YouTubers that Apple’s display will somehow make reference monitors irrelevant, but now that we’re finally able to get feedback from real working professionals, the picture is beginning to look much different. Ryan McNeal, a freelance colorist based in Los Angeles, has this to say:

Well ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to return my XDR. I was cautiously optimistic about what it could do, and I can’t help but feel disappointed. Was really hoping for a display that was more professional and transparent, instead apple applied too much consumer tech philosophy to it and the compromises make it not worth 5K. A PVM OLED would be better than these local dimming and off-axis issues.

I’ve spent 2 weeks with it now as a GUI monitor and tried just about everything I can on it, flirted with the idea of using it as a SDR hero display, used it in Resolve new Clean Feed mode, and watched a bunch of HDR and SDR content on it. Though I think calibration controls would fix some of my issues, the local dimming keeps coming up and bumming me out. That is a quantifiable scientific measurement, I get about .079 Bmrs (Bummers) every time I notice the local dimming. 

I now think of this display as an expensive consumer display, instead of the cheap pro display we thought it would be. It looks nice, and if you shut your professional brain off, the image quality is impressive. But I can’t in good conscience recommend it as a grading monitor. If you have 5K to spend you can buy a PVM, EIZO, or a couple OLED consumer tvs and calibrate them. 

I really hope Apple continues to iterate and improve this, but they really need to move away from the whole local dimming issue. If the BM Terranex SDI-Displayport ever materializes and users get good results, I might pick up an XDR again and try it out, but for now I think I’m fully disillusioned.

The FSI XM310K, a 31″ Dolby Vision mastering monitor with 2,000 local dimming zones and peak brightness of 3000cd/m2 is currently on sale for $22,500.00.

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