When it comes to buying an monitor, there are many things to look for. The priorities and considerations to bear in mind differ depending on the main uses of the monitor. As a photo editor what you should be looking for is a monitor that will allow you to open and make color, contrast and other changes to images. This then needs to be translated to photobook or printer. Only a screen that gives high color reproduction is the best monitor for photo editing. What is that monitor? Here is a guide with our best picks for 2018.
Determining the Right Screen for You
Size and Resolution
This is very important because it will determine how sharp an image is. The resolution refers to the number of pixels on the screen. The more the pixels, the sharper the image will be when viewed. The size of the screen determines the ideal resolution it should have. For instance, 23” monitors give sharp images at a resolution of 1920 by 1080 whereas a 27” screen would need a higher resolution to create displays with the same sharpness. A bigger screen means more space to display icons, images, web pages and many others.
This refers to all the colors available in a device which is, in this case, the monitor. The wider the color gamut the better because the images will have each shade of color as captured. All the subtleness in the raw file will be shown. A display that has a lookup table (LUT) and In-plane switching is a great choice.
The best photo editing monitor needs to have at least 8bit LUT which allows the monitor pull up images from a color palate with 16.7 million colors. A 10-bit LUT raises that to a palette with over a billion colors. The latter is, however, too expensive for most photographers. Digital connectivity options like DVI, Thunderbolt, and DisplayPort are also very important.
There are two types of panels that you can find on an LCD monitor. The commonest is the Twisted Nematic (TN) which is the cheapest and the most common. The other is vertical alignment (VA) which is rarer but has better color accuracy compared to TN panels. They have the best blacks but viewed from a wrong angle, the colors may be weird.
The best option in a good photography monitor is one with In-Plane Switching (IPS). Though more expensive, IPS panels have wider viewing angles and display more color among other likable features.
Color space (sRGB and Adobe RGB)
Color space is the set of colors that define a standard. This standard can be a digital representation of colors, a set of color swatches or any other. The color space, given in percentage, is the number of colors the monitor can display in any color space. The best monitor for photo editing should have 100% sRGB. This translates to 70% Adobe RGB space which is among the best.
This is the ability of a monitor to display colors exactly as they should be. The accuracy can shift due to many factors and hence one needs to keep calibrating this color accuracy often. It is advisable to carry out calibration at least once a month. Most screens have an inbuilt calibration tool. In most cases, this is an external colorimeter that is draped over the monitor in the calibration process.
During this calibration process color patches are shown and then an ICC profile is created using the software. This adjusts the colors properly. For those shoes monitors do not come with a calibration tool, a good choice for photo editing monitors is either the Datacolor Spyder 4 or the X-Rite ColorMunki Display.
Our Top Picks
Best Monitor for Photo Editing 2018
1. BenQ BL2711U 27-Inch IPS 4K ($455.73)
To allow you see everything on the screen clearly, this 27-inch long LCD monitor has 3810x2160 resolution. With this you get 4K HD enabling you to watch 4K videos seamlessly and see all the details of an image clearly.
The IPS panel technology in place qualifies this to be the best photo editing monitor. There are many viewing angles, 178 in both horizontal and vertical planes to be precise. This means images that remain vivid regardless of the angle they are viewed at.
This screen has 100% sRGB which means you will be getting access to most colors even when using the most demanding photo editing software. You can enjoy over a billion brilliant colors on this monitor. This monitor has a dynamic contrast ratio of 20,000,000:1 which gives exceptional accuracy.
2. LG 34UC80 B 34 Inch 21:9 ($599)
The screen measures 34” long with an aspect ratio of 21:9. To make even more use of the space, the screen can be split in two. You get access to four different Picture-in-Picture (PIP) options. It has a resolution of 3440 by 1440 which makes images sharp and clear with 109 PPI (pixels per inch).
This screen can be viewed from different angles without affecting the color thanks to the IPS technology. Us the adjustable stand to set the screen to an angle you are comfortable with. The sRGB is 99% which means that you will get the perfect color for all your images and graphics. The colors are very accurate making this the best monitor for photo editing.
All work with no play is no fun and LG knows that. They have fitted this screen with AMD Freesync which enables seamless gaming. The game mode makes gaming more fun. When you need to recharge your phone do it with the USB 3.0 Quick Charge port that charges up to four times faster.
3. BenQ 27 Inch 2K Photographer Monitor ($595.29)
If you do most of your photo editing in photoshop, then you need to buy this monitor. It is the best monitor for photoshop. It has a commendable 60Hz refresh rate. It is 27 inches long and comes with 2k QHD resolution (2560x1440) translating to 109PPI which ensures clarity and fine details can be seen clearly in images. You can work even in areas where the glare is in excess because the shading hood will reduce the glare.
For wider viewing angles, this screen is fitted with IPS technology. For high color accuracy, use the hardware calibration and palette master element software. Other calibrators supported by this monitor are Data Color, Spyder, X-Rite and i1 Display Pro. These will maintain the color performance at its optimum.
The 100% sRGB 99% Adobe RGB will allow you to reproduce colors without any trouble. You will have realistic colors in any image whether taken indoors or outdoors. The 10-bit display has a color gamut of over a billion colors so images look exactly like the original piece. To make the RGB accuracy, this monitor comes with a 14-bit 3D LUT.
4. Samsung CF791 Series ($749.99)
The screen is 34” wide and curved for a larger viewing window. The deep curve (1500R) puts everything on the screen at a place where the eye can catch it fast. Multi-tasking is made easy by the 21:9 aspect ratio, picture-in-picture feature and Picture-by-Picture feature. The latter allows users to connect DP and HDMI while maintaining the image quality. The resolution is ultra WQHD 3440X1440 which enables it to deliver sharp images.
The CF791 has Quantum dot technology which allows it to display many colors. These are shown as crisp and bright thanks to the factory calibration. Thanks to the 3000:1 contrast ration, the blacks are deeper while the reds and greens are natural. That is because it has Vertical alignment panel type. This means that the viewing angles are very limited.
5. BenQ PV270 27” ($899.00)
The 27” long screen has a resolution of 2560 by 1440. All images are sharp and clear. The brightness uniformity all over the screen gives a consistent viewing experience. This is one of the best monitors for photography with 72Hz refresh rates.
The IPS technology allows wide viewing angles without affecting the color appearance. The screen has PV270 which covers 100% of the Rec. 70-9. This also supports 96% of DCI-P3. This means you will see colors just as they are because there are many options to choose from.
The 99% Adobe RGB allows photo editors to edit images with colors that are as natural as possible. This is aided by 14-bit 3D LUT which gives great color mixtures. The color accuracy is one of the best. The color display clone feature automatically adjusts images to the ambient light conditions giving the much needed consistency.
Hardware calibration can be easily done on this monitor. There are two preset modes that save the calibration results directly in the monitor. Combine this with the Palette Master software and you will have great color accuracy. The software is very easy to use.
6. Dell UtraSharp 4k ($1,083.66)
This 31.5” screen has a resolution that is four times that of HD screens. The 4K resolution (3840x2160) ensures crisp and sharp images are displayed. It has an IPS plane which makes it easy to see clear details regardless of the angle you are viewing at.
The monitor has PremierColor which gives high-quality color precisely. It has 87% DCI-P3 and 100% REC 709 color coverage. As for sRGB and 99.5% Adobe RGB coverages, they are 100% and 99.5% respectively.
This screen is calibrated at the factory so the color accuracy is high. You can also do the calibration yourself with the included Dell UltraSharp Color Calibration Solution software. Combine this with the X-Rite i1Display Pro Colorimeter for best results. As for the color gamut, you will be getting access to over 1.07 billion colors.
7. ASUS PA329Q ($1.248.94)
The 32” screen has UHD resolution (380 by 2160). You will see all the details in the images you will be viewing. The IPS panels ensure the color and other details are seen clearly from different angles.
The color reproduction is very commendable with the monitor having 100% Rec 709 and 99.5% Adobe RGB. To ensure this color is as natural as possible, the monitor is factory calibrated and has a color accuracy of DeltaE. The 14-bit LUT is part of the ASUS ProArt calibration technology. It is also compatible with many hardware calibrators like X-rite i1 Display Pro.
Photo editing is all about colors and images. The best monitor photo editing needs to give clear details on the image and colors as natural as possible. Choose a screen that has coverage on a wide variety of colors and can give crisp and clear images. Choose any of the above and you will not be disappointed.