Friday, September 30, 2011

Cintiq 24 HD - Monitor Calbration and Profiling

I made a video where you can see a Cintiq 24HD that has been calibrated and profiled with a basICColor Discus Colorimeter and basICColor software, in my opinion the best combo to make monitor profiles.

Just a short review of the monitor-only capabilities of this new product from Wacom,
with particular attention to color management related topics.

I heard many complains about the low quality of older Cintiq monitors and I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed when I tested the 2010 Cintiq 21UX.
Please notice that I make comparisons with “pro-grade” monitors like the SpectraView 301W and the Nec CG275W.

I found this display to be a good one also if it is not excellent. The default color temperature of 6500K is very close to the real value (6700K), the black is deep (with 105 cd/mq) My unit reached less than 0.2 cd/mq using some customs settings. Consequentially the contrast is very good, with a value of about 600:1. The average DeltaE 2000 of the validation is 0.43.

Trying different setting in the basICColor Discus I found that the best results I reached come from CIECAM02 - dark as tonal response curve and I found it a very nice solution (now I can see difference between L*1 and L*0 value in Photoshop). In this way I can clearly perceive shadows and highlights details.

I tested my Cintiq in what could be a realistic usage scenario for a digital artist, with a non-light-controlled light environment.

What I don’t like about the display is the low pixel density (compared to display that we have on mobile phones and cameras nowadays) and the angle of view, which is not very impressive for an IPS panel.

Gamut is wider than I expected. Bigger than AdobeRGB, also if AdobeRGB is not 100% inside the gamut of the Cintiq. Not as big as recent Eizos and Nec, but still good.

I don't know why ColorThinkPRO see the white as "5000K", my setting was D65 (and I can see the D65).

The validation is not extraordinary, but not bad. Please notice that I moved the Discus in another area of the screen before making the calibration (20cm away from initial position) and this could have compromised the results.

The display has a matte/anti-glare finishing that has a texture that for my taste is too much evident (more than the SpectraView series overlay for example). This means that the “perceived sharpness” is a bit low. Not a bad thing for everybody  because it makes it harder to see single pixel. The matte finishing is very useful to work also with non-ideal lighting conditions (it is very hard to see reflection on the screen).

Update (3 October 2011): Inside the Cintiq driver disk that comes bundled with the 24HD I have found an ICC profile. This profile should fit the “6500K” preset inside the OSD screen in the Cintiq.

I made a video 3D comparison between the Cintiq 24HD ICC profile provided with the tablet and the one that I made with the Discus. The software used is ColorThink Pro 3.0.3.
In full colors you can see the gamut 3D graph of the Cintiq 24HD profile that I have made with the Discus colorimeter, using the calibration and profile settings described in the article. In red you can see the profile provided by Wacom. In blue the AdobeRGB gamut is shown.

My conclusions:

The good:

1) Calibration possibilities (you can manually select single values for R, G and B, for example). Good presets (I liked the 6500K one).

2) Wide gamut (you can reproduce a lot of colors and you get good match to many other monitors and devices, if everything is correctly color-managed).

3) With proper settings you can get very good gradients. No more shadow detail lack as seen in some older generation Cintiq.

4) Works nicely also if the lighting conditions are not perfect.

5) Color matching and color critical work can be done, also if there are better screens for this purpose, this display could satisfy the needs of many artists and photographers in terms of color accuracy.

The bad:

1) Angle of view could have been better.

2) Low perceived resolution. Not only because of the low pixel density, but also because of the matte finish that seem to “soften” a little bit too much everything.


  1. I recently received my 24HD. It came packaged in a loose fitting box strapped to a movers palette. The thrill and excitement for my long awaited tablet was immediately crushed upon discovery of a dead pixel near center screen. Thanks for the great quality control Wacom!

  2. I think you can replace your cintiq totally free for this problem. Try to call the assistance...

  3. Grutch: it is always bad to read such things. I really don’t understand why Wacom is not applying the same 0-bad pixel policy of other companies. I discovered a bad sub pixel in the corner of my NEC SpectraView and they will replace it sending me a new unit before I send back mine, so that I can continue to work. Please let me know what Wacom tells you. This product is 2300 euro here in Europe if you buy it from Wacom eStore…

    Pocket Clouds: thanks, this is correct. But I have to say:
    1) What happens if I get a monitor with a bad-pixel? I know the answer, I will have to keep it.
    2) Wacom told me that they don’t know how long will it take to replace the unit.

    I have waited all day for an answer from Wacom, but they didn’t tell me anything about a possible replacement unit.

  4. From day 1 I think the reds are to bright. So I calibrated with Spyder3 and yep... sites like oder even Youtube are too red.

    I tried the Cintiq-CD-profile... my calibrated profile and gosh... RED ;)

  5. There is no red cast on my unit. The Spyder3 is known to have some problems with wide gamut display in some cases (not all Spyder3, but some older model). It could be that you have a cast without calibration and/or if you are using a wrong/bad profile. But if you calibrate your device to a specific white point and luminance and you properly make a profile than you should not have any casts, unless your calibration device is broken. Maybe you are using bad calibration settings or you are in an environment whit green lights. The fact that an internet site is wrongly displayed is not indicative (maybe the browser or the site don’t support wide-gamut monitor). What I would do is try a different device and check that all the parameters and settings that I am using are correct.

  6. You've got a red cast, well I've got a green one. Being redoing profiles all day, but my Spyder3Elite seems to make it worse. It doesn't to it to my other screens. hmm.

  7. Your Spider3 could not work properly on this monitor. If you google it, you will find that many users have experienced problems with the Spyder3 and different types of monitors. My suggestion is to try another colorimeter.

    Anyway when you talk about color casts remember that the monitor can be “correct” and your eyes could get fooled by other light sources in the room where you are.

  8. Hi Vittorio, thanks for all the info you've posted here about the Cintiq 24". I have a question regarding the colour display when working with the more subtle end of the dark and light spectrum. Having just filled out a returns form for the 12WX I got for my birthday, I want to make sure that the 24" display is capable of handling the subtle variations in tone I need as a professional concept artist. I have a background in design with a lot of photo colour correction too, and having worked with fairly decent screens from Apple, I'm very picky about subtle colour shifts. The 12WX colour subtlety was shocking and very undersaturated compared to both my Samsung and Apple monitors, and seemed incpaable of displaying strong magentas and reds. Have you had much experience with this, or know anyone that has?

  9. Hi Sam, thanks for your comment.

    The Cintiq 24HD has a good display. You should have no problems in using it as a reference monitor for shadow and highlight details. Please notice that is very important to have a device (spectrophotometer or colorimeter) to calibrate and make a profile for your display to reach good performance. You should re-do this calibration/profiling process during time (some users do it every day, other every 2 months, depending on their needs).

    The 24HD screen is a noticeable improvement over the 12WX screen and, in my opinion, is better than most of the Apple and Samsung monitors that I have tried. Some Eizo GS and Nec monitor are better, but they are in another price-range. Anyway I again suggest you to buy a good hardware (i1Display PRO should be fine) for your monitors (you could try it also on the 12WX, it may improve the 12” screen performance).

    Please notice that it is very difficult to perfectly match 2 different monitors, but with a good hardware/software combination you should be able to get them close enough to work properly.

    Maybe I will post an update review of the Cintiq 24HD monitor with numerical and graphical comparison with other monitors (and older Cintiqs).

  10. I don't know how much you follow the blog any more, but I recently bought an X-Rite i1 Display Pro as I could finally get it into the budget. I already have the Cintiq 24HD for quite a while
    I am passionate about colors and obsessed with getting them right. But I'm not a professional and not even close to being one, I think. But I do try to learn as much as I can, when I have the time.
    So, I have to say thank you.
    Because, with the i1 Display and it's software, I just couldn't manage getting a good average DeltaE nor great min. and max. values.
    So, I decided to try the basICColor software and with your settings and still using the i1 Display as hardware, I managed getting a good result.
    At least compared with the previous one.
    My averages are very close to yours.
    I will try to post the results somewhere so you can see.

    Again, thanks. ;)

  11. Today i got my 24 hd touch and since in your article you mentioned that the 24hd came with a profile on the driver cd i checked and found nothing.
    So i called wacom support and they said that for years the cintiqs have not been delivered with color profiles anymore. The 21UX were the last version (so i was told) that had color profiles on the driver cd.

    So i guess i'll have to manage with the old Gretag eye-one i got.

  12. I just read your blog frequently. Thanks for sharing your was a nice post.
    colour correction

  13. I purchased a 24 hd a year ago and have been noticing the problem of colors appearing more saturated on the cintiq vs my computer monitor. I'm assuming this is due to me not color calibrating my device? I see you use the basICColor discus, but that item is way outside of my budget range, is there another color calibration tool you would recommend?

  14. I am very choosy when it comes to buying a HD monitor because I want the best.

  15. I wonder if you might know an answer to a problem I can't seem to solve. I have a Cintiq 24HD with Alienware 17 laptop. When calibrating with X-Rite Diplay Pro the highest luminance I can reach is 44Cd/m^2, rather than 120Cd/m^2. In iprofiler I have used the settings recommended by X-rite (advanced mode, D65, 120 Cd/m^2 luminance, gamma 2.2, manual adjustments). I asked X-rite, Wacom and Alienware for help but they don't know. Any idea what's wrong, by any chance?