For a professional photographer the monitor plays a crucial role. If you have invested time and money in quality equipment to capture your photos then you also need a high-quality and high-performing monitor to use when you post-process your images.
A few weeks ago I got the BenQ SW321C, the latest in BenQ’s series of monitors for photographers. Right after I unboxed it and connected it to my MacBook Pro and saw one of my photos displayed on the screen I realized what a game-changer this monitor is. In this review of a monitor for photographers – BenQ SW321C I’m sharing some of its main features but also why I find it very useful for my work as a photographer.
A monitor is not just a monitor, there are monitors that are optimized for different purposes. For photographers there are a few things to consider before investing in one monitor and I have listed them in this article.
A monitor for photographers – BenQ SW321C
The Rolls Royce of monitors for photographers – that’s how I would describe the BenQ SW321C. Before I was using BenQ SW271, which I was very pleased with, but this later version definitely brings up the level with its 32” screen compared to the 27” of the SW271
The Rolls Royce of monitors for photographers
A part from the size difference of the monitors there are features that are the same such as that thanks to AQCOLOR technology both has 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB. Both monitors also have 4K resolution and IPS viewing angle 178°. Just as the SW271 the SW321C also has a USB-C BUT the latest monitor has 60 Watts PD vs 10Watts PD meaning that you will no longer need to charge your laptop with its charger as it will be charged through the monitor = less cables on the desk! Both monitors has a matte coating but this has a new anti-glare/anti-reflective-panel coating technology that makes your photos look as if they are printed versions. The 3D LUT is also different between these two monitors, 16 Bit 3D LUT in the SW321C vs 14 Bit 3D LUT in the SW271. This means that the monitor will be able to reference an even higher range of colors that are true to life and accurate and banding issues are even more minimized.
BenQ SW321C technical characteristics
Before having a closer look on some of the features below you’ll find a selection of the technical characteristics of the BenQ SW321C monitor and also the accessories that are included in the box.
- Screen size : 32” (16:9)
- Backlight technology LED backlight
- Panel type: IPS (In-Plane Switching) LED
- Max resolution : 3840×2160
- Aspect ratio : 16:9
- Display area (mm): 708.48 x 398.52
- Brightness: 250 nits
- Contrast ratio (typ.)/DCR (min.): 1000:1 (Panel) / 20M:1 (DCR)
- Viewing angle (H/V) (CR>=10) : 178°/178°
- Refresh rate : 60Hz
- Color Gamut 99% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB
- LUT: 16-bit Programmable 3D LUT
- Display screen coating Anti-Glare/ Anti-Reflectiion
- Net weight with stand and base : 11,8 kg
- Shading hood
- Individual Calibration Report
- Hotkey Puck G2
- Cables such as USB-C, mDP to DP, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1
The BenQ SW321C monitor is equipped with a USB-C port which replaces the HDMI/DP and USB-cable meaning that you only need one single cable to connect your laptop to the monitor! This cable will also allow you to perform the hardware calibration on your monitor. As the USB-C port on the monitor delivers 60W it will also charge your laptop at the same time, so no need to use the charger for your laptop and you will spare the space of your desk from an additional cable.
Hotkey puck G2
The HotKey Puck G2 is a new generation hotkey and is a remote controller that allows you to simplify your workflow with its shortcuts to features! It consists of a dial, a rotation key, three single function keys and a return key. Thanks to the HootKey Puck G2 you will be able to adjust the brightness of your screen, switch between the different color modes and other different features.
Its great to see that BenQ keep creating products that are up-to-date and adapted to the needs of a photographer. Its not a secret that many photographers today also create videos, as a complement to their work, to promote their business or simply sharing their skills on Youtube like I do in my Youtube-channel where I teach food photography. This SW321C monitor is equipped with HDR technology for video editing and thanks to the provided software access to the world-leading video calibration software CalMAN and LightSpace you will be able to edit and see your videos with a high image accuracy.
Even though the monitor has been calibrated before it’s shipped to you the color temperature and screen brightness will change after some time and therefore it’s important to calibrate the monitor on a regular basis. Its recommended to do it every second week. BenQ has its own calibration software called Palette Master Elements that you can download directly on their website. Together with a probe you can perform a hardware calibrate of the monitor. I have written a step-by-step guide on how to calibrate a BenQ screen with the Palette Master Elements that you can find here.
Paper Color Sync
If you print your photos you will love this new feature of SW321C! Thanks to the Paper Color Sync technology you will be able to simulate your prints and paper texture. By knowing the paper type that will be used for the print, the printer model and color gamut you will be able to see directly on the monitor. For the moment this function lets you see the result using a selected number of paper types. But still, only by the new matte finish of the monitor the photos already look very much as a print.
Screen cleaning roller
Along with the monitor a screen cleaning roller is included. Its recommended that the monitor should only be cleaned with this roller and there is a special clean method to follow that you can find on instructions that’s comes together with the monitor but also online. The roller will remove dust, smudges and fingerprints and thanks to its eco-friendly design its reusable and you clean it by simply washing it with water.
I never imagined how the upgrade from the SW271 to SW321C would be like as technically compared they are using almost the same technology and features. However, only the bigger size of the monitor with just a few inches and the new matte finish is a total game-changer. When I saw my photo for the first time on the screen I was amazed, it felt I was looking on a printed version. And not to talk about the details that this bigger screen allows you to see! It’s perfect for me as a food photographer as there are often parts I need to retouch on a very detailed level but also as a landscape photographer this monitor is a real beast! The range of true colors is even more in this monitor which is also a benefit for food photographers as food photos usually are very colorful. True to be told I was a bit worried that the bigger size of the monitor would be an issue in the matter of taking up space on the desk but as you can see on my photos it’s very slim and the size is just great for showing the details in the photos. It’s been just a few weeks I am using it for my work and I can definitely feel I am almost diving deep into my images thanks to the big screen and can work on a detailed level I have not been able to before. The sharpness and color rendering is top notch.
For any professional photographer who is keen on his work and wants to do the post-processing on a solid monitor that is a high performing, I recommend this new monitor from BenQ. No matter if you publish your work online or in print you will definitely benefit from its color accuracy, color uniformity, the size of the monitor and the matte finish giving you a feeling of a “printed” version of your photo.
Skip Coblyn13 July 2020 at 5:14
Thanks for your review. I’m saving up to get this monitor!