When it comes to printing out your photos or sharing them online, you’ve noticed they don’t look right.
It’s probably because you don’t have the best monitor for photo editing.
In this article, we’ll go through the types of monitors available. And what you need to know before buying, and budget-friendly options.
Types of Monitors
At the moment, there are three main types of monitors offered by manufacturers:
- CRT – These are the oldest type of monitor, and still, exist, even though newer LCD / LED backlit technologies have almost completely phased them out.
- LCD – These are currently the most popular and most widespread monitor type.
- OLED – This is the future technology that will replace LCD.
Basically, CRT monitors are dead, and as of today, we sit in between LCD and OLED technologies. OLED is a new technology, still in its early stages of development.
When it comes to LCD systems, there are at least four different types of technology. They differ substantially in the way they reproduce colors and tones.
When it comes to editing your photographic work, accurate color reproduction is extremely important.
To get the best from your images, you need to have a thorough understanding of what these technologies offer.
- TN (Twisted Nematic). The most popular and the cheapest type. These monitors are great for watching movies and playing games because they have fast refresh rates. They have very limited viewing angles, and cannot accurately reproduce colors. In addition, these monitors can only represent 6-bits of color as they use dithering to display all colors. They offer a very limited gamut of colors.
- IPS (In-Plane Switching). IPS monitors are true 8-bit (no dithering), have wider viewing angles and are capable of accurately reproducing a bigger color gamut. Some of the older generation IPS monitors have low response times, but generally, 5/ms is considered great and more than enough. these are expensive and they are primarily used for professional design and photography. High-end Apple screens, including the new iPad use IPS displays.
- MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment). This type sits between the TN and IPS. They offer good viewing angles and fast refresh rates. they have better brightness and color reproduction than the TN, but definitely worse than IPS. These monitors are 8-bit.
- PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment). The PVA is an alternative version of MVA, but with a higher contrast ratio. The latest “S-PVA” offers excellent viewing angles, fast response times, 8-bit color gamut and very a great color reproduction.
What to Look for in the Best Monitor for Photo Editing
Here are some of the things you should look for in the best monitor for photography:
- Minimum 8-bit (and not 6-bit + dithering), ideally 10-bit+ wide gamut;
- Widescreen instead of square (because most DSLR cameras produce widescreen images);
- IPS panel type for best color accuracy and reproduction;
- Wide-viewing angles;
- Large monitor size of 24 inches and above (preferably at 1920×1200 resolution and above);
- Good uniformity with minimum or nonexistent color tinting and shifting;
- Good black depth;
- Minimum of 1 Display Port connector;
- Fairly good response time (great for videography as well).
Monitor Size and Resolution Considerations
When picking a monitor, you need to make sure you choose the right size and resolution for your workflow. If you don’t do a lot of post-processing, neither print your images or post online, then a $3000 monitor might be excessive.
Think about desk space limitations, but if it isn’t an issue, go for 24″ and above. The size will help you comfortably edit your images. If you are searching for something really productive, then you can never go wrong with a dual monitor setup.
In terms of resolution, a bigger monitor doesn’t necessarily mean a better resolution. Some laptops are much smaller than desktop machines, yet provide more resolution.
With modern monitors providing 4K displays and higher resolutions, you might think that more resolution is better for editing.
This is also not necessarily the case. You need software that is optimized to upscale itself when working with a high-resolution monitor. If you don’t, it might make it a pain to work with.
In addition, your images might either look too small on such monitors or potentially even look too blurry.
It comes down to upscaling your images to match your screen’s resolution but making them bigger than the image’s resolution.
The final point is that there are no good budget 4K+ monitor options available on the market. The low-end budget monitors do not provide a good color reproduction for serious photographers.
Unless you are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end high-resolution monitor, stick with a standard resolution 1920×1200 monitor.
5. LG 32UD99-W (Low-Range)
The LG 32UD99-W is a 31.5″ monitor with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (UHD). Not quite 4K, but not far off. The higher resolution means a more detailed image. That comes in handy when you are editing images which have a lot of detail in it. Landscapes, product shots, black and white portraits are just a few examples.
This monitor features in-plane switching true 8-bit technology. Basically, it has a much wider viewing angle and is capable of accurately reproducing a much bigger color gamut.
Its width allows for more image on the screen, resulting in a better photo editor. The viewing angle is 178 ˚.
In terms of brightness, the LG boasts 350 cd/m² and it has a 5 ms response time. Sure, there are faster monitors out there. But since we are talking about the best monitor for photo editing and not gaming, you won’t need anything faster. The monitor supports DCI-P3 95% color standard.
The refresh rate is 60 Hz, more than enough for editing. Being a gaming monitor, it does have a few cool features. features as well. AMD FreeSync technology is designed to tune the monitor’s refresh rate with that of the frame rate output of the graphics card. The faster your processor, the faster the refresh rate.
Plus you get HDR capabilities as well. That means you will be able to get a much better (and detailed) image across the dark to medium to bright tones.
There are several connectivity options, but the one that stands out is the USB-C port. It is the latest and the fastest.
4. BenQ PV3200PT (Mid-Range)
This is the second BenQ in this article, showing they are one of the best manufacturers of photographic monitors. The BenQ PV3200PT. This is a 32-inch screen with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (UHD), same as the LG in place 4.
Brightness level lands on 350 cd/m². Being an IPS panel, its viewing angle is pretty big at 178 ˚. The response time of the monitor is 5 ms.
The monitor supports up to 1.07 billion colors and its refresh rate hits 60 Hz. There isn’t much difference so far between this and the LG.
The monitor supports 100% Rec. 709 color space as well as 100% of the sRGB color space. It also comes with a 14-Bit LUT (look-up table) which enables a much larger color palette compared to other monitors. This allows for better color accuracy.
If you are worried about calibration software, there is one already integrated into the monitor.
Alongside this, you also get the Palette Master Element software. By acquiring an external calibrator, you can recalibrate your BenQ PV3200PT as and when you feel its necessary.
On top of all of this, you also get an OSD controller. This special remote controller ensures that you can switch between different display settings as and when needed.
3. Dell UltraSharp U2717D (Low-Range)
The 27″ Dell UltraSharp InfinityEdge monitor comes with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. It isn’t a 4K monitor, and it’s not even 3K, but still useful nonetheless.
Why? Well, it’s better than the full HD display on most other monitors.
This monitor incorporates IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology as well as the useful anti-glare. This gives you a better viewing angle and better contrast, even when used in a brightly lit room.
The monitor comes with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and support for up to 16.7 million colors.
Nothing special about the refresh rate of 60 Hz, perfect for the photographing father but not for the gaming son, who wants games. One of the negative points is that there are no USB-C ports – only USB-A.
2. EIZO CS2730 ColorEdge (High-Range)
The 31-inch Eizo ColorEdge is one of my favorites and best monitor for photo editing. This is definitely a professional grade monitor.
Why? Well, it’s down to the accurate color display, which is essential for professional photographers who edit their photos.
It features full sRGB coverage, 99% of the Adobe RGB spectrum and 98% DCI-P3. It fully supports 10-bit color, taken from a 16-bit look-up table (LUT).
The CG318-4K has a 4096 x 2160 resolution, compared with the 3840 x 2160 resolution used in other 4K resolution computer displays. It goes above and beyond to bring you the best and most accurate reproductions for print and onscreen image quality.
All of these features come together to produce a jaw-dropping photograph, making your photos ‘pop’. There’s also a built-in calibration tool to constantly keep the colors as accurate as possible.
This is a neat system for any kind of photography, from wedding to real estate. If you can afford the huge price tag.
1. BenQ 4K PhotoVue SW271 Monitor (Mid-Range)
The BenQ 27″ 4K PhotoVue monitor (SW271) is an amazing monitor, and definitely one of the best monitors for photo editing. It supports 100% of the sRGB color gamut and 99% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. This means your prints and uploaded photos will match those you see on the screen in front of you.
This is a 4K (UHD) monitor, giving you a resolution of 3840 x 2160. It incorporates IPS technology, meaning it has a wider display angle, unlike the TN panel monitors. The aspect ratio of the BenQ is 16:9, the refresh rate is 60 Hz and the contrast ratio is 1000:1.
The monitor uses a 14-bit (3D) LUT, giving you a wider color gamut than what is possible with other 12-bit or smaller LUT systems. It comes with a USB-C port, allowing you to plug in external calibration tools for sustained true color output and accurate reproductions.
However, this USB-C port as a docking station for the purpose of connecting a laptop. The system comes with the Palette Master Element Calibration Software giving you the best quality calibration possible.
There you have it. Five of the best monitor for photo editing around. Now, there is no excuse to not providing us with the best possible images.