Compared with the Apple Pro Display XDR, all but one DreamColor models, Sony multisystem consumer HDTV sets I have reviewed and broadcast JVC monitors I have covered in articles, the just released Apple Studio Display has begun to show severe limitations for video editing and grading (etalonaje). The same day of its release, some people grumbled about the Studio Display not having ProMotion (variable rates up to 120 Hz), that really didn’t concern me. (It did concern me that some other news outlets simply assumed that it had a 10-bit panel, not just 10-bit processing. Rene Ritchie has now seconded my suspicion about that.) That day, we knew that the Studio Display had a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz, but now it appears (at least with current firmware) to be 60 Hz only! That means no 59.94 (also ideal for 29.97 projects), no 50 (also ideal for 25p projects), no 48 (also ideal for 24p projects) and no 47.952 (ideal for 23.976p projects). Ahead I’ll share the evidence from multiple sources. One of them even indicates that new M1 Macs currently restrict non-integer rates to Apple displays only (but not the Studio Display, since it apparently doesn’t have any of them, at least with its current firmware).
Rene Ritchie seconds my 8-bit FRC suspicion
In the above video, Rene Ritchie seconds my 8-bit FRC suspicion, although he avoids the technical term FRC, and describes it as dithering 10-bit information to an 8-bit panel, which is what FRC is.
Jeff Taylor of Beaker Films discovers Apple censorship of non-integer rates to non-Apple displays
Fortunately, new M1 Macs offer non-integer rates to specific Apple displays like the internal ones in M1 laptops with the internal display and with the Pro Display XDR (See screenshot above, where the M1 MacBook Pro offers non-integer rates including 59.94 and 47.95 —which is Apple’s truncation of 47.952). Unfortunately, Apple is not offering these non-integer rates when connected to the HP DreamColor 4K Z27xs G3 (see screenshot below).
When I tested the HP DreamColor 4K Z27xs G3, it indeed accepted all non-integer rates like 23.976, 29.97, 47.952 and 59.94… and properly locked to them. I imagine that only reason why Apple doesn’t offer them when connected to the same model DreamColor would be to favor Apple displays like the internal ones and the Pro Display XDR. Thanks to Jeff Taylor of Beaker Films for these two screenshots.
Brian Russell of Red Shoe Film discovers no rate adjustment with Studio Display
In the above screenshot, a Mac Studio connected to a an Apple Studio Display shows no rate adjustments at all. Thanks To Brian Russell of Red Shoe Film for the above screenshot.
9to5Mac seconds the 60-Hz exclusive rate in the Studio Display
In the second comparison chart in its March 11, 2022 article Here’s how the new Apple Studio Display compares to the Pro Display XDR and LG UltraFine, 9to5Mac seconds the 60-Hz exclusive rate of the Studio Display, while confirming that the Apple Pro Display XDR offers a range from 47.95 to 60 Hz (which we already knew includes 47.952, 48 and 59.94).
Why 2x rates are fine for local monitoring
Some readers may be asking why I say that it’s fine to monitor 2x the project framerate (as exemplified ahead):
- It is fine to monitor 23.976 as 47.952
- It is fine to monitor 24 as 48
- It is fine to monitor 25 as 50
- It is fine to monitor 29.97 at 59.94
…even though camera shyness (as covered in many recent articles) is very bad and should be eliminated by camera manufacturers via future firmware update after you complain to them. Monitoring lower rates like the ones listed above at 2x is not only fine, it’s inevitable since human vision wouldn’t tolerate slower rates natively anyway. That’s why —even though standard film production is done at 24 frames per second, commercial film theaters play those 24 frames per second twice, by repeating each of the 24 frames, so the screen receives 48 frames per second. The projector is not doubling the speed. There is a special shutter that makes each frame project twice, each one at 1/48 of a second.
Having said that, I would still prefer that Apple offer the lower native rates like 23.976, 24, 25 and 29.97 too in case someone is recording the output of the Mac with a hardware recorder or streaming with an external hardware encoder, like the Blackmagic Web Presenter HD I recently reviewed (shown below), since it will make it more foolproof and save a step which a human operator could forget to do within the Web Presenter HD’s settings. Both a 2x recording and a 2x stream are bad, since it’s a waste of bandwidth.
My current conclusions about Apple’s so-called “Studio Display”
Despite it’s raved internal speakers and other unique features (i.e. microphones and webcam), I cannot recommend the so-called “Studio Display” for the Program Output for video editing or video grading (unless Apple opens it to many more rates via a firmware update). It may be fine for other things like graphic design. For video editing or video grading (etalonaje), most of the DreamColor monitors I have reviewed are more appropriate since they accept the full range from 23.976 to 60 Hz, including exact 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 47.952, 48, 50, 59.94 and 60.
In fact, the DreamColor 4K Z27xs G3 I recently reviewed (illustrated above) costs only US$674 including matte (“antiglare”) at no extra charge. At only US$674, you’ll still have plenty of cash leftover for powered speakers and a webcam if you need them. In fact, you’ll even have cash leftover for a Blackmagic interface so you can feed the DreamColor proper and appropriate non-integer rates if Apple doesn’t stop censoring those rates to a non-Apple display.
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