A monitor suitable for photographers is essential notably if you print your photos or publish them online. Until now I have used the screen of my iMac and MacBook Pro when I have post-processed my photos. However, I always noticed that the colors I saw on other screens such as my iPhone and iPad but also prints did not reflect the deep range of colors I saw on my screen where I post-processed the images. Eager to strive for perfection, not only on the field but also when it comes to post-production and final result of the photo, I made some research to understand what makes a monitor suitable for photography.
Monitor for photography
What key qualities should be taken into consideration when looking for a monitor to use for photography? In order to narrow down alternatives for a monitor that is best adapted for photography below features are essential:
The bigger is not always the best option, but a too small screen is neither an alternative. The optimal screen size should be where you have a good overview of the image, without having to turn your head in order to see the entire photo. That would be a screen size ranging between 24” and 27”.
Having a high resolution is something that can make the difference in your post-production review process. A few years ago, one of the most common resolution you could have found in a monitor for photographers was 2560×1440, but thanks to the progress in technology, nowadays it is possible to find monitors with 3840×2160 (the well known 4k) without spending a fortune. If you’re looking for a 24”, then probably a 2560×1440 resolution would be optimal, but I believe that if you’re going for a 27” solution, the 4k is something that you should take into consideration.
For photographers it’s important that the monitor we use when post-processing our images covers 100% of the sRGB color space (publishing images online) and that it also covers the color space Adobe RGB as much as possible (preparing images for print). The gamut is the range of colors that are available in the screen so make sure to ensure the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces are covered high enough.
Once we defined that Gamut express how many colors a monitor can display, we need to identify a parameter that tells us how accurate the monitor is on displaying them. This parameter is called DeltaE, and in order to have a monitor that can be considered professional, its average value should be below 2.
Also important when post-processing is the fact that the screen brightness should be consistent on the entire screen otherwise your post-processing could be affected.
IPS panel for best color accuracy and reproduction
Its quiet mandatory that a monitor that will be used for photography should have an IPS panel (IPS = In-Plane Switching). Depending on what angle you are looking at the screen the saturation and contrast will remain. This means adjustments made to the photo will look the same from any angle.
Photographer Monitor – BenQ SW271
In the quest of the monitor most suitable for photography covering the features listed above I have had the great opportunity to try the monitor BenQ SW271. It is a monitor that BenQ specifically has created with photographers in mind. With this 27” monitor BenQ levels up putting a new benchmark for monitors suitable for photo post-processing with the quality of its 27” screen including HDR capabilities, 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB color space that are just a few of the great features of this beast.
The BenQ SW271 – What is included ?
Let’s have a look on what’s included in the delivery of a BenQ SW271 before understanding why this monitor is suitable for photographers.
BenQ SW271 technical characteristics :
- Screen size : 27”
- Backlight technology LED backlight
- Panel type: IPS (In-Plane Switching)
- Resolution : 3840×2160
- Aspect ratio : 16:9
- Display area (mm): 608.8 x 355.3
- Brightness: 350 cd/m²
- Native Contrast (typ.) 1000:1
- Viewing angle (L/R;U/D) (CR>=10) : 178°/178°
- Refresh rate : 60Hz
- Color Gamut 99% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB
- Color bit 10bits
- 3D-LUT 14bits
- Flicker-free technology
- Display screen coating Anti-Glare
- Net weight with stand and base : 10,5 kg
Included accessories :
- Shading hood
- Individual Calibration Report
- Hotkey Puck
- Cables such as USB-C, mDP to DP, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1
With its 4K ultra HD resolution the BenQ SW271 monitor provides excellent work experience but also exceptional accuracy of details and textures as you can see in the sample image below.
Thanks to the 99% Adobe RGB color space you have the pleasure to finally see much more realistic color representation from your photos, especially landscape photos as the color reproduction for shades of green and blue are larger in the Adobe RGB color space.
10-bit color display
Say goodbye to banding issues! With the 10-bit color display the color gradations are incredibly smooth. In fact the 10-bit capability means that for each color channel we have 1024 colors available, for a total of billions of color combinations against the only 16 millions colors available with the standard 8-bit display that can reproduce only 256 colors per channel.
One feature that is very convenient for photographers is the GamutDuo viewing that the BenQ SW271 offers. Thanks to the possibility to connect the computer to two connections at the same time you can visualize your photo side-by-side in various color spaces. This function is great when you are preparing your images for print or online publishing. The GamutDuo simply enables you to see your image in for example sRGB and AdobeRGB at the same time on one screen. The only thing you have to do to use this function is to connect your monitor to your laptop with two different cables (for example USB-C and HDMI) that are already included with the monitor!
BenQ simplify it even more for photographers with the remote controller, the Hotkey Puck, that you find on the base of the monitor stand. Thanks to this remote control you can easily switch between different color spaces but also set different calibrations adapted for you’re the various papers you use for the printing, all with a simple click!
Least but not to forget, the shading hood! Working in a studio with lots of light this shading hood is indispensable for me. The monitor hood is detachable and you can use it in landscape and portrait mode. The benefits of using a monitor hood is that it enables you to process your photos in an accurate working environment as its mainfunction it to shield the light from the display. Thanks to it’s velvety like lined inner coating that absorbs the light it also eliminates any external glare.
As a photographer you might spend hours on post-production, the BenQ monitor has a industry-leading eye-care technology that reduce harmful blue light and harmful radiation letting you spend even more time doing what you love without any worries.
Setting up the monitor
The box is quite huge and heavy, containing many different parts, but don’t worry, within 20 minutes you will easily be able to assemble the monitor! When opening the box you will also find the “Factory Calibration Certification” and all cables and different accessories are carefully packed in the box.
Thanks to the cables already included in the package, connecting the monitor to my MacBook Pro takes only a few seconds and I can take advantage of a direct USB-C connection thanks to the dedicated port.
Even if the monitor comes with a calibration certificate, one of the great advantage of this monitor is that you can perform the so called hardware calibration, that in other words it means that you can take advantage of the internal LUT of the monitor. This will let you have not only a more accurate calibration, but it will also be more durable than the standard software one.
To perform the calibration you can both use a third party solution or the calibration software included with the BenQ SW271: Palette Master Elements.
You can download it on their website, it exists in versions for both Mac and PC and supports colorimeters such as X-Rite i1 Display Pro / i1Pro/i1Pro 2 and Datacolor Spyder 4/5. Calibrating the screen deserves a separate blog article which I will publish soon.
Ever since I saw my photos for the first time on the screen of the BenQ SW271 monitor a whole new world has opened up for me. First of all, the pleasure to see my photos with all the fine details, the immense range of true colors and color uniformity when viewing from different angles was simply mind blowing. It made me travel back to the places where I had taken the photos and relive the great adventurous moments. But the BenQ SW271 offers much more than time traveling, thanks to its 27” screen you can better view and edit your images and with all its great features you can easily improve your workflow and take the result of your images to a higher level.
The past weeks I have used the monitor to post-process my photos and I have been extremely impressed. The quality and the color accurancy is top notch, it’s a solid monitor and it has definitely improved the result in my work. Before I was not sure how a great monitor would impact my prints or the photos I publish online, but after using the BenQ SW271 I have understood the great role it plays in the post-processing part of images. An investment for any professional photographer working with online and print.