Eizo CG318-4K Review

Over the past month or so, I've had the pleasure of having an Eizo CG318-4K display in my hands for some real world evaluation. During my use as a reference display for color grading projects and calibration, I was continually pleased with the performance of the display, not only by its excellent resolution and pixel density but also by its accurate DCI-P3 color rendition. As a colorist and finishing artist, the quality and accuracy of our "reference" display is of incredible importance and often under appreciated, as we can only fix what we can accurately see. Without any doubt, I give the Eizo CG318 my whole hearted approval if you are looking for a high resolution wide gamut display for creative video and photo use. At a MSRP of $5999, it may appear a bit pricey but it provides a huge amount of bang for your buck when compared to other wide gamut reference displays, especially when the high UHD & DCI 4K resolution is taken into account.

One of the first things you tend to notice with a large display, such as the CG318, is how flexible it is in your work area. I was impressed by the variety of movement & adjustments offered. The monitor easily moves up and down, allowing you to set its height perfectly to your eye level. You can also rotate via the base and column to align with your other displays. The thinly design column supporting the display allows you to place it without losing too much precious desk real estate, needed for other devices such as a color grading panel, keyboard and mouse. It comfortably sits right at the edge of my desk without being at risk of falling off. I greatly appreciated the ~62mm back of the base, which allowed it to sit VERY close to the edge of my desk. Wherever you can fit this massive 31.1" display, it will sit comfortably and secure. On the backside, you will find two DisplayPort 1.2 Connections and two HDMI 1.2 connectors. I'm sorry to see they didn't include HDMI 2.0 connections, which would allow for 60hz viewing, but you can still get 60hz out of the DisplayPorts (which you likely won't find on your output card sadly). Also missing are SDI connectors, which are a commonplace on typical reference displays and a bit of a disappointment, in the eyes of this video professional. I have no problem using HDMI but I would have really liked to see either HDMI 2.0 or SDI as a possibility. 

 

One of the crucial aspects of any reference display is its ability to display 10 bit images and allow for color calibration via a 3D LUT, or look-up-table. Any display being used for color accurate work should be regularly profiled and calibrated. The CG318 comes equipped with a built-in colorimeter and Color Navigator NX software for those not extremely invested in calibration equipment and software, and supports direct calibration LUT upload from both Calman & Lightspace for those who prefer a more manual and intensive calibration with a third-part spectrometer \ colorimeter. For those working with video color correction, I highly recommend looking into either Calman or Lightspace along with a supported calibration device (such as an i1 DIsplay Pro for entry level) for the most accurate and consistent calibration performance. The built in calibration is great for the average user, but for professional use, the external solutions are significantly more accurate and detailed in ensuring the CG318 is displaying exactly what it should, as any bias will be visible in your work. If you have any questions, I recommend getting in touch with Steve Shaw at LightIllusion, who is a fantastic source of guidance and advice in the areas of display calibration and profiling. Also, Mixing Light has created an excellent series focusing on Display Calibration & Profiling (how to do it, why, when, etc). I highly recommend you check out both of these resources.  

 

If you are wondering what resolution and color gamut this monitor supports, I'm fairly confident you won't be disappointed. Out of the box, the display supports 4K DCI, which is 4096 x 2160, UHD, and HD. I very much appreciate the nod to professionals by supporting true 4K, which is commonly confused as UHD in the consumer market. Whether you are working with color correction or high-end video editing, your eyes will not be disappointed by the extra resolution offered by true 4K DCI support. Also, if you need to do video finishing, you can be assured that you can view pixel-to-pixel 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) without a problem. Just be sure your video output card or display card supports the resolution before you complain about a no signal error, as some output cards only support up to UHD, but still say "4K". Color reproduction was also very impressive, supporting 100% sRGB, 100% Rec709, 99% AdobeRGB, and 98% DCI P3. Now I personally wouldn't rely on this monitor to verify your P3-based video work, as most P3 is typically in the XYZ color space and generally difficult to quality check outside of a theatrical environment, but be assured the monitor supports almost all of the colors used within the standard. I had no trouble calibrating the monitor to Rec709 (the most common video display standard) with acceptable Delta-E levels for video QC. The monitor is rated at 1500:1 and my own tests got as high as 1250:1, although my calibration was based on "accuracy" and not "Max Contrast". I found the black levels to be VERY good for an IPS display,  but you will be disappointed if you are expecting OLED-like black levels. Panel wise, the display uses a white LED IPS display, capable of a 9ms grey-to-grey refresh rate. I was a bit disappointed by the refresh rate, as very fast moving action scenes show a small bit of tearing, but unless you deal with those constantly, it likely will not be a huge issue for you. It isn't a huge issue but really depends on the type and speed of content you typically work with. Overall, I found both the resolution, pixel density and color reproduction to be excellent for a monitor of this range.

Software wise, the monitor sports some great built in features, such as broadcast\cinema presets, safe area markers, & auto calibration with the built-in colorimeter. I personally use a third party probe and software for calibration, but it was nice to see this feature included for those who don't remember to calibrate the display regularly.  ColorNavigator was very easy to use, even for someone not familiar with calibration so you can quickly & easily get up and running right out of the box. While Eizo does state that each monitor has a Delta-E rating of <3 from the factory, I highly recommend running SOME type of calibration when the display is installed and in the exact lighting you typically use during work. Remember that your environment has a huge effect on how you perceive color and contrast, so be sure you have an appropriate environment in your viewing area. Eizo does support a neat 6500K bias light that can be purchased as an accessory. 

Last Words: Now I'm not saying this display will best a high end Sony OLED reference display, but it certainly doesn't cost anywhere near as much at $5999. For typical color correction and video editing, this display provides excellent color reproduction, resolution support, and some great built-in features, so it comes highly recommended. I also appreciate the 5 year warranty & included monitor hood. I'm a bit disappointed by the lack of SDI connections, older generation HDMI 1.2, and 9ms refresh rate, but I'm being a bit picky especially when you consider the price, built-in 3D LUT support, and other high end features. If you are in the market for a high quality, wide gamut 4K capable display, be sure to check out the Eizo CG-318

Koji Advance Plug-in \ LUT Demo and Review

Film emulation is all the rage these days, from plug-ins to LUTs. Products like Koji Advance, Magic Bullet Film, FilmConvert, Visioncolor Impulz and many similar products aim to "emulate" popular film stocks to add a less "digital" look to your image, mimicking as if it were shot on film instead of a digital camera. Many would ask, "Why do such a thing? It looks so clear and sharp". It might sound like a strange idea but its easy to understand when you think about how pictures and "selfies" are typically shared: usually highly manipulated in some application like Instagram or Lightroom with a look that usually degrades the image in favor of a highly stylized feel. These "film emulation" type of plug-ins aim to do a similar effect with video, although to a far lesser extent than most of the photo based tools. The true accuracy of the "film emulation" to a specific film stock is always a big question, but its clear this hasn't been a detractor for many who enjoy using these effects for quick and easy color starting points.

For this review,  we'll be focusing on the Koji Advance plug-in and LUT package. The plug-in comes from the same team that developed Koji Color, a set of film emulation LUTs developed under the supervision of color timer Dale Grahn. The Koji Advance plug-in is compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Apple Final Cut X. However, they've also included a huge variety of LUTs, in case you want to do more manual color correction in DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Speedgrade, or any other application that accept 3D LUTs in a .cube format. 

Koji 2393, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 2393 N, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

As a colorist, I crave control over the colors in an image and that control is not usually associated with plug-ins, look presets, and other "shortcuts". However, my numerous tests with Koji Advance left me feeling surprising creative. As a benchmark test, I regrading a project I had graded with a Kojicolor LUT in Resolve, and I was pleasantly surprised how close I had come (ignoring the secondary corrections, power windows galore, and other fancy business done in the Resolve version). This is partially due to the fantastic looking film stocks available with Koji Advance, no matter if we are discussing the plug-in or the LUTs. Although there are only 5 film stocks to emulate (each with a few variations), I found these subtle emulations to be fantastic starting points for a huge majority of my color grades. A key aspect I've found important to film emulation is using it as a "starting point" and never assuming its won't require additional color correction or grading. If you are looking for a one-touch button for color correction, you'll likely be disappointed with this plug-in (and with most plug-ins, for that matter. It just doesn't work that way....yet). 

Koji 3523 S, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 3523, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Moving onto the specifics of the plugin, it supports a huge variety of cameras and formats, both Rec709 and LOG. Essentially, if you have a somewhat recent camera, it is likely supported directly within the plug-in, but if not, they also support generic Rec709, Log, and Cineon options to cover you. White balance is offered within the plug-in, using manual kelvin (K) temperature or with the automatic function (which I found worked quite well for an "auto" function). Basic Lift, Gamma, and Gain controls allows you to adjust your image, should it be too dark or bright after the emulation is applied. Printer point controls allow for some quick but powerful adjustments over your image, should it have any type of color cast or white balance issue not fixed by the WB control. The appearance of printer points is a welcome addition, as its a control rarely seen in most recent color correction plug-ins or effects, except for dedicated color correction packages. Lastly, the plug-in allows you to add film grain to your image, sampled from a variety of different film stocks. Sliders for contrast and film grain saturation provide additional control over the look and feel of the film grain, allowing you to really customize its look and feel. 

 

Depending on your system specifications, your NLE, and your graphics card set-up, this plug-in may or may not play in realtime for you, especially if you have numerous effects stacked on top of it. However, most tests using both HD and UHD material played back in realtime using Adobe Premiere CC 2015 for me. I did not get a chance to test the plug-in is Final Cut X.

Koji 2393, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 2393 N, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

The LUTs provided can almost be seen as a bonus for most, as the plug-in is really the main attraction, but for some, these may be of interest. Having personally used these LUTs (and previous versions of them), I can easily say they are the BEST film emulation LUTs I have used, period. They are extremely subtle, never imposing a "look" I am forced into, and they work on a huge variety of formats and cameras (as they supplied specific versions for each camera \ format). 

As a quick note, I cannot state if the LUTS & plug-in exactly match the Kodak or Fuji print stocks represented, but I can say they provide a very pleasing image that seems similar to my research on the film stocks and several films that have used them. That being said, I cannot attest to their exact "technical" accuracy and in the long run, I do not think it truly matters to a certain extent. Many argue till end of days about film v. digital, and films emulation, but ultimately, I feel its all about the look and feel you prefer. I've found this product extremely useful, especially the LUTs, and would highly recommend it to those looking for a tool to help establish a good starting point for a color grade. 

I put together a quick video demo \ review as well, if you would like to see it in action. Be sure to check out the plugin at www.kojicolor.com.

Koji 3521, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 3521 N, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 2303 BW, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz