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Which is the best Monitor for MacMini. MacStudio and Final Cut Pro?

Apple will be releasing a new MacMini in the next few weeks, this adds to the move away from all-in-ones like 27” iMac to modular computers like MacStudio, or even a New MacPro. With this change there is now a real call for external monitors that suit the macOS.


This video tutorial will tell all.


You aren’t just restricted to Apple’s Studio display and the XDR Monitor - which are expensive, but do suit the macOs perfectly.


So what other displays suit the macOS and in particular - the use of Final Cut Pro?


What is involved in choosing a more reasonably priced non Apple external display?


The video Tutorial discusses what’s involved in choosing a more reasonably priced non Apple external display. The focus will be on what a Final Cut Pro editor should buy to suit a MacMini or MacStudio or even a MacPro when it is finally released.


There are two major considerations that a Final Cut Pro editor needs to be aware of when buying an external monitor to suit the macOS and be perfect for Final Cut Pro.


There are also other important issues I’ll discuss that will affect the purchase.


The two major issues are:

1/ Color accuracy - factory Calibrated

sRGB, Rec709, DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB

DCI-P3 is the most important for Final Cut Pro users

2/ Mac Optimised - 109 ppi or 218 ppi

Then there are these issues:

3/ screen real estate suitable for Final Cut Pro

4/ one or more separate monitors

5/ one wide split screen

5/ Webcam

6/ Calibration - whether factory or manually after purchase

# 1 Color accuracy - factory Calibrated


When considering a monitor for video and Photography the main feature is to have a monitor that will produce results and colors that will be consistent for all viewers.

It's no point in adjusting the your monitor so it looks pleasing to you, the creator, to have the exported result looking unrealistic when viewed by your intended audience.

This means that the creation monitor must be accurate to the standards: sRGB, Rec709, Display P3 or Adobe RGB

Here is the way to look at it.

You will have heard of WYSIWYG.

What-you-see-is-what-you-get.


It should be:

WISIWYG:

What-I-see-is-what-you-get

You need to be exporting results consistent for all viewers


I mentioned the standards: sRGB, Rec709, DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB. You will find some Monitors specs will flaunt these and others will not mention them. The simple answer is if it’s not mentioned in the specs the display does not meet the standards.


The standard you should be looking for in a monitor will depend on your intended Publishing destination. For this exercise I am focusing on web delivery at 4k so in this series of tutorials I will concentrate on monitors that are close to 100% DCI-P3.

To make it easy though, the standards overlap so a well calibrated monitor will likely be good for most needs.

It’s all well and good that a monitor can show a particular standard of accuracy, but it’s another thing that it is celebrated to produce the accuracy.


That means that a factory certification is important to show the monitor is accurate out of the box. To be sure of a continuing accuracy, a Calibration tool should be considered.


They have the added advantage of matching the colour on your monitor taking account of the brightness of the room.


Like Datacolor SpyderX Pro.



#2 Mac Optimized - 109 ppi or 218 ppi


Once you have your color accuracy sorted the next and perhaps the more important consideration as a Mac user is how will the monitor works with your Mac?

Mostly the macOS will work with any non Apple monitor that you attach. BUT, Very few monitors work natively with the macOS

Monitor Companies talk about resolution - High definition and 4K, 5k and 6k in the case of the Apple XDR monitor - but for the macOs it’s all about PPI - pixel per inch.


You will be hard pressed to find a monitor optimized for the Mac's native 109 and 218 PPI.(218 is what a Retina display outputs).


Before I get into the detail, as I said the macOs will work with any monitor but for most monitors it will need to scale the resolution to suit - meaning there is a processor overhead.


In other words the computer will need to devote some power to the scaling that could be used elsewhere on your editing processes.


The OS gives you the ability to select the scaling of the text to suit level comfortable to your eye. This is done in display setting in the preferences under the Apple menu.


But that’s not all.


You need to be aware that even though the macOS scales the display there is an issue with the sharpness of text that can show a little blurry even on a 4k rated monitor.

To avoid both the processor overheard and the sharpness issues you need to look at the PPI of monitors that are close to that magic 109 or 218 figure and to balance that with the price and features that the monitors offer.


Be aware those in the 109 PPI range will be more pixelated than the 218 PPI. As 109 PPI is an HD standard not 4K.


Not all manufacturers will show the PPI on there specs.

You can use this calculator to find out the PPI for the display you are looking at:

Of course, as I said, Apple monitors - the 27” Studio display and 32” XDR Display fit the macOs requirements perfectly but are expensive.


In Australian dollars $2,500 for the Studio display - with height adjustment as and extra and a Wooping $8,500 for the XDR with the stand at around another $1000.


Here is a chart that shows how some non Apple monitors fit well and how most are in the red zone that will require more scaling by the MacOS.


#3 Screen real estate for Final Cut Pro.

The size and aspect ratio of the monitor will affect how you view the Final Cut Pro interface.


You may think that the bigger the screen the better. But consider the practical considerations.


A wide monitor will be 21x9 ratio so you will find the Final Cut Pro viewer will still be much the same size as what you will see on a 27’ monitor - you will get a longer timeline though.


The bigger the monitor the more distance you will have to move the curser across the screen


The bigger the monitor the bigger the pixels so they will be more visible - the smaller the pixels the less they will be noticeable. Best look at the screens before buying.


In my opinion 32 Inch is optimum if you opt to ignore the processor overhead and go for 4k, 34” is too big.

27” is best for 109 PPI models. Anything smaller will make Final Cut Pro hard to view.


In the next few weeks I will be reviewing various monitors to check how they look with Final Cut Pro and the different sharpness of the non Apple monitors compared to the Macs optimal 5k 218 PPI monitors.


#4 One or more separate monitors


If you are thinking of two or more monitors, then the 27” 109 PPI models make sense. Don’t be tempted into a 34” inch or bigger 109 PPI model, thinking you can split the screen. The pixels will likely be really noticeable.


I intend to review a 34” 109 PPI model so that will be interesting to see in an upcoming tutorial.


#5 One wide split screen


I will be reviewing a 34” 5K monitor that can be spilt into two screens so that may be an alternative. But it is a curved monitor and that may have ramifications of its’ own for video editing. It will be interesting how a straight line like two Final Cut Pro timeline will show up on a curved monitor.


# 6 Webcam


A webcam is a necessity in today’s world. Very few non Apple monitors come with a built in webcam. So that should be balance with the price of the monitor.


Consider at least a 1080p webcam. For 4K, I don’t think you can go past the Logitech BRIO – Ultra HD $270 Aust.


But consider that video conferencing only uses HD so if that is your only need for webcam, then a 1080p model will be adequate.


When looking for a webcam consider the thickness of your monitor bezel, otherwise the webcam could block some of the display area on your screen.


Also - don’t forget that you iPhone can work as a webcam. Consider Camo Studio as the software to make the iPhone into webcam.


Or FineCam


I have a particularly like the iPhone on a tripod infront of my monitor as it means I can look directly at the screen and appear to be looking at the viewer. A top mounted webcam always gives the impression I am looking up and away.


I’ll compare webcams attached to non apple monitors compared to the built-in Apple webcam.


#7 Calibration - whether factory or purchase a calibrator


If your monitor does not come with a factory calibration and to be sure of a continuing accuracy, a Calibration tool should be considered.


They have the added advantage of matching the colour on your monitor taking account of the brightness of the room.


Watch out for more Videos in the coming weeks.


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