The best monitors for photo editing
Many of the most prominent sales pitch features of monitors are a focus on gaming. They highlight displays’ refresh rates, frame syncing technologies, and response times. As important as those are for those looking to win the next round in their favorite multiplayer title, they’re not needed by professionals. For those planning to use a display for a detailed task like photo editing, you need something a little different.
The best monitor for photo editing is one that’s large and has a great resolution, but most importantly has as-near-perfect color accuracy as possible. We took all of those factors and more into consideration in putting this list together, so that you can make your next professional monitor purchase an educated one.
BenQ SW271 ($1,100)
Considering how much we loved the older SW2700PT, it should be no surprise that the BenQ SW271 tops our list of the best photo editing monitors out there. This 27-inch IPS display ticks just about every box you could hope for: 4K resolution, HDR, and great color support. BenQ claims it can handle 100 percent of the sRGB gamut and 99 percent for Adobe RGB. At a brightness of up to 350 nits too, it should be bright enough for most users’ tastes.
Thanks to being an IPS panel it enjoys a near 180-degree viewing angle horizontally and vertically and it has a native contrast of 1,000:1 for deep blacks and stark whites. It’s not the biggest display out there, but 27-inches is a good sweet spot for pixel density and gives you enough room to appreciate the detail offered by the ultra-HD resolution and HDR support.
With a whole host of connection options too, from USB-C, to HDMI 2.0, to DisplayPort 1.4, you can have your pick of how it connects up to your system. The built-in calibration tools will make sure that it looks the part the first time you turn it on. At around $1,000 too, it’s not the most expensive monitor in the world, but if you’re happy to sacrifice resolution to save a little, the SW2700PT with its QHD display is still a solid choice.
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BenQ PD3200U ($800)
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Another great photo editing display is the BenQ PD3200U, which at $800 is one of the more affordable options out there — especially considering its feature set. At 32-inches diagonally with a 4K resolution, you get a lot of screen real estate for your money, making it easier to pick out individual details of your photos. It also has near perfect color-accuracy, which is easily one of the most important features of any monitor competing in this space.
With a brightness of 350 nits and a native contrast ratio of 1,000:1 (we found it more like 670:1 in our testing) this IPS panel has a lot going for it. The only real area we found it let us down was in its color gamut support. Although BenQ claims 100 percent coverage for the sRGB and Rec.709 gamuts, when it came to AdobeRGB we found it fell behind the competition and only managed 75 percent.
Still, with everything else going for this display, it’s definitely one worth considering for your next upgrade.
Read our full review of the BenQ PD3200U here.
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Eizo ColorEdge CS2730 ($1,300)
Eizio monitors don’t have the same flash and pizazz in their bezel and frame designs as some displays, but what they lack in exterior aesthetics, they more than make up for in display quality. In the case of the CS2730, it’s hard to find a monitor that delivers a better picture for photo editing.
Although lacking a full 4K resolution, the IPS panel used in this display is still QHD (2,560 x 1,440) with gorgeous color support at 99 percent of the AdobeRGB gamut. It also has a great brightness of 350 nits and a solid contrast ratio of 1,000:1.
Some of the additional features of the CS2730 really help it stand out from the others however. Alongside the monitor itself, you also get Eizo’s quick color matching software, which automatically adjusts your monitor, printer and retouching software to create a uniform look for your images.
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HP Z27s ($500)
Ranked in our roundup as one of the best 4K displays out there right now, HP’s Z27S impressed us with its new perfect color accuracy and solid feature set. With support for 99 percent of the sRGB gamut, this IPS panel has a lot going for it, despite the relatively diminutive price.
Although it debuted at $700, it now enjoys a substantial price cut, which makes this 4K panel the most affordable of all the monitors we recommend for photo-editing. While it suffers from some of the physical-styling blandness of some of the other professional grade monitors, that’s hardly a concern when you’re looking for substance over style.
With a full range of connections, from HDMI to DisplayPort and miniDisplayPort, you have plenty of ways to connect it up to your system. It even has easy big-screen functionality for mirroring a laptop or smartphone screen to it.
Read our full review of the previous version here.
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Asus Designo MX27UC ($550)
Although most known for its gaming displays, Asus does create some effective professional ones too. As one of the nicest looking monitors on this list, it’s hard not to be impressed with your first glance of the Designo MX27UC. It might be a little old as far as designs go, but it has a lot going for it, and the thin bezels make it look right at home with more modern display options.
With a 27-inch IPS panel and 4K resolution, the MX27UC has great clarity and pixel density, pairing nicely with its 100 percent support for the sRGB color gamut. Its brightness is a little lower than others, but at 300 nits is perfectly acceptable. It also has a claimed contrast ratio of 1,300:1, which is a welcome increase over most of the competition.
Better yet, it’s one of the most affordable displays on this list. Although there are better monitors out there, for $550 you get a lot for your money and a display that looks the part too.
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