My experiences with my new 4K Laptop and Monitor

Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
8,415
Location
Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
Background:
In June bought a new laptop: an Acer Aspire V15 Black Nitro, I7-4712, 16 GB RAM, 4K screen, 4 GB NVIDIA 960, 256 SSD and a 1 GB Hard drive, at the Microsoftstore.com for CAD $1399 including shipping, a really good deal for a premium laptop. I also got a 28 inch Dell 4k screen for $400 to go with it. Very good IQ screen, only 30 hz but the price is right. 28 is a good size for 4K, I’m not going to upgrade to a 32 inch I feel that would be to large. I'm hoping 5k will come along next year for lower prices...) Nice machine thin, light, well built, good screen no particular issues, if you don't count one sticker not being put on straight on the front, I can live with that :). It came with Windows 8.1, I have been running Windows 10 since November last year on other machines but decided that this machine was going to wait until release. Two weeks before release, I upgraded to the final build of Windows 10, had some smaller issue, bluetooth didnt work, had to upgrade drivers, the Nvidia driver was giving me problems (as has been well documented in the press) but in general it all went well and the issues where fixed pretty quick. I did have one LARGE issue with Windows 10 and that was when I tried to ingest using a USB 3.0 reader it corrupted my NEF files in the transfer! USB 2 reader worked fine. I reported this to MS and Lexar and it has been fixed after waiting 2 weeks or so. So I’m problem free and now the real adventure has started and I wanted to share how I have gotten used to 4k for my photography, my observations and take aways.

The IQ of 4k is unbelievably amazing!
I had no idea so much IQ was in my images, shots in good light with my D800e and my trusty 24-120 F4 VR G, are just stunningly detailed and sharp, every one that see it are blown away. I now realize I don’t need a new camera and lens, I needed a 4k monitor to see what was hidden for me, but wait there is more interesting stuff!

The expected and unexpected consequences of viewing on 4k monitor.
  • Sharpening: I expected that I had to do less sharpening but that has not been true I do the same as always in ACR (70;0.5;60;20) and the nice thing is that I see less halos on the side of objects, if I move to a 1080p monitor and look at the same image I can see more halos then on the 4K system!
  • Images are dramatically less noisy on my 4k monitor than the same images at lesser resolution monitors! I don’t quite understand it all why this is the case but it is clear to me that the noise I see from a given camera is monitor resolution dependent. Think about that one. Since we are all on different systems, any given image will look different on different systems, we all knew that but I had no idea it was THAT different. So If I look at an old D300s image it now looks much less noisy at 100% on the 4k monitor at higher ISO. I have always known that the printed images look much less noisy then on screen but I haven’t really drawn the full conclusion, that when the on screen resolution approaches print IQ the noise on the screen is much less! From now on when someone tell me my images look noisy my question will be what monitor resolution that person is viewing my image on…..
Good and bad, life at 4k
I have already raved about 4k IQ but there are some problems and issues that I have had to figure out:
  • Overall scaling works very well for business apps, I’m using 200% as was recommended and Office works well, Photoshop has a preferences setting to set font to largest and that works well at 4K, Probably the font is too small at 5k though, a more robust solution is needed Adobe!
  • Viewing all images in a web browser is problematic because the browser picks up the scaling by Windows 10, on my screen set to 200% and not only magnifies the text but also the images, so all images are skewed in size, they show up too big on my screen, the solution is to press CTRL + MINUS until it says 67% zoom, but then text becomes harder to read. Not a great solution but it works, haltingly. I’m going to put in a feature request (Through my own insider contacts) to the Windows 10 team to have the option not to scale the images, when you scale the rest for a high resolution screen.
  • Viewing images in the photo apps that come with Windows has the same problem, Images are too big, and when I press CTRL ALT 0 to get to 100 percent I get 200 percent (since my system has scaling set to 200%), VERY annoying, I tried all the Windows and Office 365 photo showing apps on my system and none of them could show it right at 100% and I was getting discouraged. The look ok in Photoshop at 100% both in ACR and inside CS 2015. I couldn’t make Bridge do this and finally settled on using my favorite browser Photo mechanic in full screen preview mode (double click on the image in Photo mechanic, press F for full screen, Z zooms in to whatever (and out) zoom rate you have predefined (100% is standard), R restores the preview to normal. Then you use the right and left arrow key to advance/go back to the next image, superfast solution works great! If Microsoft implements my no scaling of images suggestion this would be solved as well BTW


Performance
  • Performance in Photo mechanic with this laptop is amazing, with their pre fetch technology, zooming on and out of RAW files is pretty much instantaneous, and next image loads instantly.
  • Performance in Photoshop CS 2015 is a bit disappointing. With performance I mean loading of files, saving, Merge to Panorama etc. I thought a machine like this would be much faster with this processor and amount of RAM and Graphics memory. I have asked a friend of mine that works for Adobe to help me get in contact with a tech that can see if there are cache levels etc. that can be tweaked to help me. Graphics performance is a mixed chapter. Since there is a graphics chip in the processor one effectively has two graphics cards in the laptop, Intel HD Graphics and the Nvidia 960. And the default for all apps unless changed is you guessed it: Intel HD graphics. Once I figured that out and where to change that (globally) in the Nvidia driver, things moved along much faster graphics wise inside Photoshop, however ACR has given me problems here with the latest driver and has crashed a few time and reverted to the Intel graphics. I think Adobe has some work to do here, Photomechanic is superfast so that tells us something, Ps CS 2015 should be fast as well!
My conclusion
I’m amazed at how much information is in my images that I couldn’t see before, and I think the most important upgrade most of us can do is to go to a high res monitor system, 4k or even 5K. But if you do don’t skimp on Graphics processor and Graphics memory, one needs all the help one can get…
 
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
8,876
Location
Mill Creek, WA.
Great write up Andreas. Thanks for doing this. I have heard that many galleries are now putting 4k monitors on their walls to display prints rather than traditional as the detail is so amazing. I am holding out a bit longer to get one but it is good to know the price and quality is there now at least for the home pc.
 
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