Best 7 Monitors for Photography Work in 2020
Best 7 Monitors for Photography Work in 2020 www.sleeklens.com
Though many people have ditched the desktop format for the ever convenient laptops, truth tells us that having a spare monitor around the house or office isn’t a bad investment, quite the opposite!
Along with this guide, we will explain the reasons why owning a monitor can benefit your work, plus also review the best 10 models available to date.
Reasons for Buying a Monitor
For many users, it may seem enough to work with their current gear in what respects to cameras, laptops or monitors. However, when we decide to take the leap towards professional work, quality gear defines a milestone between amateurish skills and seriousness.
The first reason why you should buy a quality monitor is that of its color rendering capabilities, also known as Colour Gamut. As photographers we are, the image is everything, so the most accurate results we get in image reproduction quality, the closer we will get to predicting the outcome of our work in case of digital mediums or printed images.
There are three common formats of Colour Gamut for handling our files:
- sRGB: Most common format used by monitors all around the world; it is also the smallest in what regards to color information. Widely used by cameras, scanners and monitors, it’s the default used by websites for browsing any kind of media file. Since it has a limited color range, you are losing tons of valuable information data for your files whilst working under this mode. The end result? The totally different print outcome as you cannot predict the final quality of the printed file.
- Adobe RGB (1998): Introduced by Adobe to encompass commercial printing processes, this format features a wider range of colors than sRGB, and up to these days several monitors, cameras, and scanners work natively with this format, as well as some professional quality inkjets. It’s a popular format for photographers as photo libraries are often synced with this format.
- ProPhoto RGB: A format meant for professional work in image development, the huge color gamut of this format can handle almost any kind of digital or printed image. The downside of this format is, as it has such a broad color range, that you ought to work under 16-bit image format to visualize noticeable changes between hues that prove to be too similar.
The second reason why you should get a monitor when working as a photographer is due to comfort, as for many of us we can find one of these scenarios:
- Not having enough screen resolution: Software like Photoshop, Dreamweaver or After Effects require higher screen resolution values for optimal work. In general, consider 1080p as the standard these days for quality work.
- Not having enough space to properly visualize your work: This is linked to the previous point, as monitors with less than 15.6” don’t have enough capabilities for reaching higher resolution values, thus, screen layout tends to feel a bit zoomed.
- Getting more comfort for showcasing your work: With two monitors, you can simply turn the spare one to show your clients your work without needing to move your entire computer setup for that work.
Either way, working with more than one monitor, or just investing in a quality one is a life-changer decision to make the sooner the better. Next, we will talk about the importance of calibration for these devices.
Calibration – Yes or No?
Even if we can say that as human beings we are we tend to look at things differently, another story is when we talk about digital images, where we can find a broad range of possibilities ranging from extreme brightness, different vividness, worn out displays, etc. Whereas old monitors could feature issues as noticeable tonal changes due to worn out bulb lights, LED and OLED monitors also suffer a similar performance impairment, though since the lifespan of a LED light is estimated in about 11 years, we don’t have yet enough facts to make strong comments on this behalf.
Therefore, what’s the importance of calibrating your monitor every once in a while? First and foremost, getting an accurate value of your hues when working with digital media. The reason for this is that we can work with multiple monitors at the same time and get different results due to their manufacturing. On this regard, monitor calibration lessens this inconvenience by setting a sort of “standard” value for visualization, where you won’t get noticeable changes besides brightness or other variables directly associated with the physical aspects of your device.
However, the most important reason for calibrating your monitor is, by far, to get optimal results when printing media. If, by chance, we don’t feel satisfied with the results we are getting when printing photos, besides the obvious mistake of printing under RGB mode instead of CMYK, then probably there’s a misunderstanding between what we are seeing and the actual values for the printed outcome.
There are several different devices we can use for this process. Most awarded products happen to be X-Rite i1 Display Pro (my preferred choice), Spyder Pro and Color Munki – it’s up to you to choose which one suits better your needs, and you should check your calibration values at least once each two months. That will set a noticeable difference in the quality of your final work.
Best Monitors of 2017
Now that we listed the reasons why we should get a good monitor, it’s time to take a look at the most outstanding models available in the market to date.
We start this list by talking about a professional Ultra-High Definition (UHD) monitor in a 32-inch format – quite big you may say, though Samsung takes its stakes towards professionals that need a high-performance device with plenty room to accommodate this expensive masterpiece.
- Clean Design, Sharp UHD image
- Accurate color performance
- Doesn’t feature many color management settings
- Huge Footprint
Click to read the full Review
With a carefully crafted design in brushed-silver and matte black finish, the U32D970Q can be considered one high stake by Samsung to enter the professional market, though it’s a huge monitor to handle, weighing over 11 kilos. The long handle may seem imposing, though it allows a range of 60 degrees of swivel, plus 25 degrees of tilt. The monitor also allows to rotate its orientation to match a portrait mode, which paired with the included software Samsung MagicRotation, the screen will also change its orientation to match the desired layout.
Paired with two DisplayPort inputs, an HDMI outlet, dual-link DVI input, headphone jack, one USB 3.0 port (upstream) and four downstream USB 3.0 ports, we now no need to rely on our computer to plug devices such as cameras, tablets and mostly graphic tablets (Wacom users can hail up on this point).
The variables we can adjust through the buttons provided are Picture Mode, Audio Volume, Brightness, Contrast and Sharpness settings, as well as Gamma, Color Temperature and Black Point. Though we can access to nine preset picture modes, there aren’t many advanced settings offered by other similar devices.
In general, we can say this is a monitor with a solid colour performance, with a bit of lag in time to react to a controller command – not noticeable unless you happen to be a professional gamer, though its price considerable puts this device down in the ranking of outstanding products. The NEC MultiSync PA322UHD is also a big-sized UHD monitor, but featuring tons of advanced colour settings for demanding users, yet $1k more expensive than this Samsung solution.
Talking about NEC MultiSync line of monitors is defining outstanding performance in short words. In this case, we are reviewing a 27-inch display with UHD definition and IPS display.
- Excellent color performance
- 4K Resolution
- Sharp display
- Wide viewing angles
- Doesn’t have many advanced color adjustments
- Ports can be troublesome
Click to read the full Review
Despite looking like a common monitor device, this unit is paired with a lower bezel with an ambient light sensor and a presence sensor on its left, quite the accomplishment for a unit below the $1k price range. Right next to these sensors we can find five touch buttons, which help the light sensor to adjust the Auto Brightness settings to the required values of the user itself. The presence sensor introduced with this unit is mostly used for power saving settings, as the monitor enters in standby mode when no movement happens to be detected.
The rear part of this monitor hosts one DVI port, one HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort 1.2, one upstream USB 3.0 port and two USB 3.0 downstream ones, as well as the audio input and two ControlSync ports for syncing our settings from the master monitor up to five additional monitors connected with these very ControlSync settings – ideal when we desire to save up time in monitor calibration.
Seven Color Presets plus six Picture Presets are available with this unit, though this shouldn’t be considered a monitor for Gaming performance. Black point performance is handled to excellence, giving rich values for those extra dark black hues we can find, as well as some interesting tonal range for gray values.
An ideal choice for those who seek a great quality-price balance without compromising much budget in the process, though we can also explore other interesting options through this list.
Though we can find many 27-inch monitors available on the market, Asus takes the challenge to a new level, crafting a design masterpiece with its MX27AQ monitor.
- Frameless monitor
- High-quality speakers
- Excellent image quality
- Limited height adjustment options
Click to read the full Review
Available in two resolution formats, WQHD and 4K, the ASUS Designo MX27 is one promising piece of gear every professional ought to consider when buying a new monitor. Its sleek design, with a frameless format and a well-crafted bezel can convince the most demanding users thanks to a modern appearance; though such advancements and design decisions also inflict a damage in performance usage as this unit can only be tilt forwards and backwards, as there’s no height adjustment.
We count with a 100% sRGB colour reproduction, all of it paired with a 178-degree viewing angle and promising features such as VividPixel for incredible sharp images.
About its connectivity performance we can find one DisplayPort connector, three HDMI ports with MHL support for mobile devices. Though we won’t find features like USB ports or card readers in this unit, we can be thankful for a curious app called QuickFit, which using the monitor’s display provides a digital grid with most common paper sizes for resizing your images when needed, not to mention high-end speakers make this product irresistible for its price.
An interesting piece of gear no doubt, but with a promising performance for professional photography work. Let’s meet the BenQ SW2700PT, a 27-inch monitor you won’t regret to acquire.
- Accurate colour rendering
- Variated image settings
- Wide colour gamut
- No HDMI 2.0 ports
- No ECO modes
Click to read the full Review
Featuring a 27-inch WQHD display, this monitor does not work under IPS technology but on AHVA one, which doesn’t mean it cannot meet up with the standards of rich, accurate colours with pronounced details in wide viewing, quite the opposite. The 14-bit LUT allows a precise control in colour management, with hardware calibration on the very same device, though not as precise as dedicated monitor calibration hardware.
Undoubtedly, the shading hood this monitor features is one distinguishing value this product has, which helps to reduce potential glare under certain conditions, though it cannot be used when pivoting this device to its portrait mode. Talking about pivoting, this monitor allows 23.5 degrees of tilting range, plus 70-degree swivel.
About its connectivity, we can find one full-sized DisplayPort input, an HDMI 1.4 one, and a DVI dual-link input. Also, we can find one USB 3.0 upstream port, a mini-USB port for its On-Screen Display (OSD) Controller, two USB 3.0 downstream ports, an SD Card Reader – quite handy! – and the ever-known headphone jack.
10 Color Mode settings are available for this unit, plus three calibration settings for Color Temperature (5.000K, 6.500K and 9.300K). Hue and Saturation can be fine-tuned with sliders per each tint value, as well as black point adjustment. The colour rendering capabilities are perfectly aligned with the ideal CIE coordinates, which translates in excellent colour accuracy without needing any extra features.
Does this unit have a downside? Yes, and it’s linked to its power consumption rate, estimated in 43 watts, a bit higher in comparison with other industry competitors, not to mention the lack of ECO-saving modes.
Having a 4K monitor is always a plus, but if we pair that with a moderate price for a 27-inch displays then we talk about irresistible gear to consider. This top-notch monitor by ViewSonic isn’t often valued for what it has to offer, but let’s open our mind to meet a powerful device.
- Sharp 4K display
- Interesting Features
- Fool-proof color and grayscale performance
- No advanced control settings
Click to read the full Review
Keeping the same layout as their usual products, this ViewSonic monitor is considerably lightweight for the size it bears, with a range of 120 degrees of swivel, 28 degrees of tilt and 90 degrees of pivot.
Thankfully it features a wide range of connectivity ports: two DisplayPort in both formats, one HDMI 2.0, two HDMI 1.4 ports compatible with MHL devices, five USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack. The bottom bezel showcases five touch-sensitive buttons to access the settings menu, plus turning the monitor ON/OFF. Please be warned that you need to be extra careful when handling them as they can become too sensitive over time and present erratic behaviour.
This monitor offers seven picture presets, ECO power-saving modes and five Gamma adjustment presets; although, we cannot alter parameters as 6-axis Hue or 6-axis saturation as we can do in other competitor products available in the market.
The colour rendering performance is acceptable, for most tints we can enjoy rich, saturated tones with an outstanding grayscale performance. Though not as impressive as NEC products, we can enjoy some unique features as a Blue Light Filter for reducing eyesight strain.
Were you considering a curved ultra-sharp LED monitor to help you with your work? Now those thoughts can easily become a reality thanks to this high-end product courtesy of Dell.
- Ultra-wide Format
- Powerful Audio
- Accurate Color Rendering
- Extreme Sharpness
Click to read the full Review
Curved monitors are still resisted by many users worldwide, though they prove to be the latest hype in what image quality refers.
Keeping up with a sharp, elegant aesthetic, the U3415W makes the dream of having a 34-inch monitor a less “bulky” experience, merging high industry standards in a valuable design solution.
The first thing we notice about this quality product is its delicate matte-black finish, with a silver stand mounting arm that allows up to 60 degrees of swivel and 26 degrees of tilting capabilities. Helping its curved format, this Dell unit is also paired with non-reflective, anti-glare coating, something that long shifter users will undoubtedly thank.
Connectivity for this device is something we should take for granted as it pairs two DisplayPort connectors, one mini-DisplayPort input, two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one MHL input for quickly charge devices like smartphones and tablets, six USB 3.0 ports and the audio outlets. Its powerful built-in speakers almost give us room to believe we do not need any extra speakers – unless, like me, you happen to be music-lovers.
Another interesting aspect to explore is the vast range of user settings organised in a user-friendly scheme to alter Brightness, Contrast and Gamma settings. Colours are rendered in high-quality values and, like it always happens with IPS panels, they have outstanding saturation and richness in what respect to its tones. You won’t find any complaints on what regards to its grayscale performance, with sharp values for covering the entire spectrum of values.
With a quick response feedback, ghosting is kept to minimum, though do not consider this unit as a multitasking device: all the units listed on this list aren’t meant for heavy videogaming sessions.
Reviewing up next this NEC MultiSync monitor unit, we can talk about the bright star of the PA series, a flagship for the company thanks to its outstanding quality in color management and grayscale performance.
Let’s meet this 32-inch device, ready to deliver extreme quality work.
- Excellent color performance
- Wide Viewing Angles
- Long list of calibration settings
- Hard to Handle
Click to read the full Review
Undoubtedly one big and bulky display to consider. Weighing over 15 kilos and measuring 32-inches, it also tends to impose with its overall depth in a matte-black cabinet format.
Like the other NEC model we reviewed before, this monitor also features an ambient light sensor paired with some option monitors for getting the best values on image brightness. Auto-rotate function handled by both software and the mounting hinge allow us to quickly change the conditions to meet a portrait orientation layout – visually appealing for studio work under certain circumstances.
Thanks to its built-in KVM switch, we can control two computers while using one keyboard and one mouse in the two upstream USB ports this unit features. Plus to that, we have four HDMI inputs, one DisplayPort input, two DVI inputs and two downstream USB 3.0 port, not to mention the headphone jack which is a must-have classic.
One of the most promising features this unit has is the advanced picture settings we can control. We can alter Hue, Saturation, Brightness for each tint, while also adjusting Gamma values in what regards to the grayscale brightness levels. The Picture Presets allow us to quickly change from sRGB mode to Adobe RGB, as it happens with most NEC units, but we can also experience other interesting modes worth checking.
Impressive no doubt, this kind of device is what we have in mind when we define the word “investment”, for which graphic industry professionals can value its broad range of settings for coming up with the best results we can imagine.
– Monitors with a wide-gamut range allow you to visualize billions of colors, a must-have feature for a photographer, which takes vital importance when working with 14-bit or 16-bit RAW files to catch the subtlest details for your work.
Screen Size – On this regard, the biggest the better, though you ought to consider how many hours do you work with your pc and your ambiance for reducing eyesight strain.
Resolution – Once again, the highest the better; therefore, aim for monitors with certification for 2K or 4K resolution whenever it’s beneath your reach.
Connectivity – DisplayPort proves to be a standard as HDMI ports, but some devices may also feature Thunderbolt connectors, USB 3.0 ports or DVI.
Integrated Calibration Tools – As many users may not have or want to buy a dedicated monitor calibrator, here’s where these tools can pay their price in gold. Beware of the fact that they aren’t as precise as dedicated hardware, but they work for calibrating your monitor every month or when required.
Finish – Matte displays show more accurate calibration values than high-glossy ones which also help our perception of the real values of the hues we are working with. Moreover, you won’t be dealing with as many reflections as expected on an LCD or LED device.
Which size should I get for professional work?
With monitors, anything above 23-inches is acceptable for professional quality work. By breaking the 23-inches barrier you will be getting higher resolution values plus also a comfortable workspace than what happens with 15.6″ laptops or similar, but do also consider your workspace area as units tend to be bulky.
Is it extremely necessary to tilt my monitor for work?
Not at all, it all depends on your personal comfort.
Is it important to count with matte-finish or anti-glare coating?
Yes, especially if your office area is constantly in presence of outdoor lighting or strong artificial light sources. By doing this, you are reducing eyesight strain.
Are 3D monitors worth the investment?
In my opinion no, and though I happen to work with 3D visualisation software, 3D displays aren’t a thing to consider unless you desire to expend extra money without a valid reason. They also tend to be more fragile and thicker than common monitors and, for most cases, require you to use 3D glasses to visualise what’s going on 3D space.
Are Computer Glasses worth the investment?
Undoubtedly yes, especially if you work for longer shifts as its anti-glare properties do wonders for our eyesight health. Please consider getting these glasses from respected brands such as the case of Gunnar.
The following two tabs change content below.
Pia Lopez is a self-taught photographer, architecture student and ArchViz artist. As Editor in Chief of Sleeklens.com, technology and art are two of her passions, which take active part in her professional training. Being an authentic Montevidean, travelling is daily routine; enjoying both the green meadows and urban surroundings as well as the beautiful beaches that are so characteristic in Uruguay's landscape.