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What is Delta E<2 for Monitors? Why Is It Important for Color Accuracy?

What is Delta E

In this article, we explain what is Delta E<2 for monitors and why is it an important parameter for your next monitor purchase.

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While you are searching for a high-end monitor, you perhaps get confused on “What is Delta E?” Briefly, it shows a measurement of how much a displayed color can vary from its input color. Color accuracy is better if Delta E is lower. What value of Delta E is good enough? Well, it depends on your requirements (the below guide discusses Delta E values).


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When it comes to business electronics and consumer space, ample terms are available to ensure shoppers don’t get confused. Earlier, we have discussed a few topics like resolution and lumens. But, one of the more theoretical terms you can come across in the space is Delta E (commonly expressed as ΔE, or E*).

Delta E is a value that performs a prominent role in assessing color accuracy. Creative professionals like graphic designers, video editors, and photographers must focus on this standard because it is vital for selecting a professional-grade monitor.

Artistic professionals should comprehend the importance of Delta E. But considering the complexity of this topic, the definition may get lost in translation. Keeping this in mind, now let’s closely look at what Delta E means and how you can use this metric to make a wise decision when buying visual types of equipment.

What is Delta E?

Delta E represents a standard measurement — made by the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage (International Commission on Illumination) — which calculates the difference between two colors appearing over a screen. While buying a digital display or a projector, you need to find equipment with Delta E level, which is as near to zero as possible.

Delta E levels show the variation between the displayed color and the input content’s original color standard. Lower Delta E value shows greater color accuracy, whereas high Delta E levels show a considerable mismatch.

Letter E in Delta E represents “Empfindung.” It is the German word for sensation. Moreover, Delta is a Greek word indicating the incremental modification of a variable. Overall, the term Delta E indicates a difference in sensation.

Delta E is calculated on a scale ranging from 0 to 100. 0 represents less color difference, whereas 100 shows full distortion. According to an explanation from Zachary Schuessler in this guide, standard perception ranges are:

  • <= 1.0: Cannot be perceived by the human eye
  • 1-2: Perceptible through close observation
  • 2-10: Perceptible at a glance
  • 11-49: Colors are more identical than the opposite
  • 100: Colors are just the opposite

Why is Delta E Important to Professionals?

Professionals must comprehend the meaning of Delta E. The reason is, as clarified earlier, this metric is the basis of color accuracy. Represented in a single figure, this metric can measure whether a display accurately shows colors instead of depending on subjective views.

Rising above viewing ability and aesthetics, when an individual owns a collection of monitors having low Delta E values, it implies that they can carry out high-end tasks, including editing videos and graphics, over multiple monitors. These tasks will be accomplished without any significant distortion.

How to Calculate Delta E in Color?

Delta E shows the total color difference, and it is based on delta a*, delta L*, and delta b* color values. All these values offer a comprehensive numerical descriptor of the particular color in a rectangular coordinate system. Corresponding meanings are as below:

  • dL* signifies a lightness difference between standard colors and the sample.
  • da* signifies the difference in greyness or redness between standard colors and the sample.
  • db* shows blueness-yellowness differences between standard colors and the sample.

Concerning the levels stated above, the higher the value, the more the difference in that dimension. Because Delta E is dependent on 3 core elements, it is simpler to compute than you would anticipate.

For computing, all you need to do is square the difference between these values, i.e., L, a, and b values. Subsequently, you need to add them. Now take out the square root of the total. For this formula, the mathematical expression is a bit more daunting, as below:

The aforementioned formula offers an important highlight of the variations observed between the two colors. A more accurate formula is Delta E(94). This Delta E(94) formula is considerably more complex compared to the standard Delta E formula. Therefore, it is out of the scope of this article.

Why You Must Opt for a Monitor with Delta E of ≦2?

When buying professional electronics equipment, you would wish to buy devices with Delta E values below 2. This is because, at that point, our eyes can see the demonstrated colors like they are originally planned to be shown.

Usually, top-of-the-line displays, priced considerably more than traditional devices, come with Delta E levels of one or even lesser. The value cannot go down to zero. There are some high-end, superior quality devices with a Delta E value ≦2.

How Do You Measure Colors?

A typical question confusing the people when discussing Delta E levels is how one can accurately measure colors. You can take the help of rulers and scales to measure size and weight, but the light is slightly vaguer. Based on the color space being used, different formulas are available.

In regards to hardware to quantify light, you can buy a colorimeter. These devices quantify light via a set of XYZ filters. These are optical filters specially designed to resemble the optical facets of tristimulus (XYZ) values. In simple terms, Tristimulus values are the basis of color language. They are also regarded as the CIE color system.

What is CIELAB?

CIELAB is a color space that is alternatively recognized as “CIE L*a*b*” or “Lab color space.” Prepared in 1976 by the International Commission on Illumination, this value signifies color as three values. Its general elements are described below:

  • L* signifies lightness. 0 represents a perfect black with 0% transmission or reflectance. A 50% rating shows a middle gray, whereas a 100 rating shows a perfect white. The same signifies 100% reflectance and impeccable clarity.
  • a* signifies the redness-greyness of the color. Its positive values are red, whereas negative values are green. 0 level shows neutrality.
  • b* shows yellow blueness of the color. Its positive values are yellow, whereas negative values are blue. 0 level shows neutrality.

CIELAB is calculated based on 3 dimensions, and therefore, infinite color possibilities are available. The CIELAB model follows perpetual uniformity. It allows the standard to more efficiently estimate human vision. This offers a noteworthy benefit compared to RGB and CMYK color standards that are less accurate.

The accuracy presented by CIELAB exists at a level where it needs considerably more data per pixel, unlike CMYK and RGB standards. Because the standard’s gamut is higher than most of the computer displays, infrequently, there is a certain loss of precision. But technological advancements have suppressed the influences of such issues.

The CIELAB model is device-independent. This aspect implies that the color definitions are developed regardless of how they are displayed or made. The most typical application of this color space is when the need arises to convert graphics for print from RGB to CMYK.

Because the lab space is entirely mathematically defined, the CIELAB is license-free and copyright. Also, it is completely in the public domain, which means that it is fully free to use and assimilate into your projects.

Other Color Spaces of Interest: RGB and HSV:

CIELAB is one of the greatest common industry standards, but it is distant from the only major color space in the industry. Here, it is important to discuss the HSV and RGB color spaces because they play a major role in digital graphics quality.

The RGB color space is an additive color model. It means that any color can be produced by using varied proportions of those lights. This color model was exclusively created for display purposes like projectors and screens.

Several displays are composed of red, green, and blue lights. If seen from far away (like 2 feet or more), the colors amalgamate. But when analyzed closely, the human eye can view various sources.

RGB is an effective standard, but computer graphics professionals perceived it challenging to use for creating sophisticated color shades. Therefore, it gave rise to the creation of the HSV color space. It is a more expedient demonstration of the RGB color space.

Unlike other standards, HSV (hue, saturation, and value) offers a more precise color perception level. The reason is the color space s composed of more than 3 components. Elements existing in the HSV color space are as follows:

  • Red: ranges between 0° and 60°
  • Yellow: ranges between 61° and 120°
  • Green: ranges between 121° and 180°
  • Cyan: ranges between 181° and 240°
  • Blue: ranges between 241° and 300°
  • Magenta: ranges between 301° and 360°

HSV is not so frequently identified as the RGB standard, but several graphics professionals opt for using this color space while working in sophisticated graphics editing software suites.

Understanding It All:

Irrespective of the color space you utilize for your displays or projects –RGB or CIELAB, or HSV, you always need to consider the Delta E levels of your device. When you pick devices with a high value of Delta E, you could not see image colors intended to be displayed originally.

It is inevitable to choose a monitor or projector with a Delta E value less than 2, so you must make sure you choose a high-quality display, for example, the ViewSonic ColorPro. Though these higher-end devices seldom cost higher than devices with lower Delta E levels, you would obtain great satisfaction as you have bought an advanced solution.

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