How to Select the Best Monitors for Photography
Last Updated: July 27, 2017
Ever wonder why your printed digital photos look different from when you viewed them on your monitor? There is a good chance that you are not using the best monitor for photo editing. If this is a situation you are currently facing, this article is for you.
As always, we here at I/O Techie strive to provide our readers with the most up to date and accurate information on laptops and their best features, including specific tasks.
With that said, we are going to take a look at specific features you should be watching for in a monitor that makes it ideal for digital editing and will help to improve your results. We will also cover five of our top monitors so you will have an idea on what to look for.
At a Glance: Our Top 5 Photo Editing Monitor Picks
Photo Editing Monitor Features You Must Look For
When looking for the right monitor, there are certain features that you should be looking for that will have an impact your photography results. Remember that you can hook an external monitor up to a good photo editing laptop as well. Sometimes that really can help a lot. Here, we are going to breakdown these features as well as provide you with what they do and what you should look for when you start shopping for your next monitor.
This refers to the image's width and height on your display. For example, most 17-inch monitors have a 4:3 aspect ratio and are not suitable for digital photo editing.
If you want to have the best results, look for a monitor that has an aspect ratio of 16:10. Larger monitors, such as the 20-inch models, typically come with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Many consumers are confused over LCD and LED monitors. While many think they are the same thing, the fact is that they are not. They both use liquid crystals as the basis for delivering the image to your computer screen, but they use different types of backlights.
This difference is what makes LED monitors better for photography editing than LCD monitors. LED’s will have brighter, sharper blacks than that of an LCD, making them ideal for the digital photo editor.
Brightness is basically self-explanatory. However, using a monitor with an inadequate brightness level could have negative results on your final images. This feature is shown as cd/m2, candelas per square meter, and the higher the number, the better brightness level will be.
Most displays will have an external colorimeter that will come with it when purchased. The colorimeter features a series of patches that are different colors and is draped over the monitor. The software is then used to create an ICC profile that will make sure that the monitor is properly calibrated.
Some monitors will have an internal calibration tool or even a calibration sensor built into the display. Knowing what type of calibration method a monitor uses will give you an idea on what you will have to do to ensure the colors of your images are accurate.
If the monitor you purchase doesn't include one, don't worry. Here's a really good guide to help you calibrate your monitor.
For photo editing, look for a wide-gamut monitor. These types of monitors have a billion color options in its palate. This variety of colors is ideal for those that are working with 16 or even 14-bit RAW files.
Along with a large color gamut, the monitor should also have a Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, or DVI digital connection. Look for a monitor that also has an 8-bit lookup table, at a minimum, and in-Plane Switching.
This feature refers the ratio of the brightest color to the darkest that the monitor is capable of displaying. The higher the number, the better the contrast. This feature is more than likely one of the most visible aspects regarding picture quality.
Twisted Nematic, TN, and Vertical Alignment, VA, are the two most used types of panels with Twisted Nematic being the most common. TN monitors are fairly low cost and deliver adequate responses times.
VA panels typically do a better job at blocking unwanted backlight and can deliver contrast ratios between 2000:1 and 5000:1. Combine this with the fact that they tend to be less likely to display clouding around the edges of the screen, VA panels are ideal for video editing.
Refresh rate, often times confused with responsiveness, is how many times a display will refresh in a second. A monitor with a refresh rate of 120hz/240hz will have a motion resolution better than those with a slower refresh rate.
Milliseconds, the unit of time used to measure the response time of a monitor, is another important factor you have to consider. The lower the number, the faster the response time. For most photographic work, a 2 millisecond response time is acceptable.
While overlooked by many, the finish on a monitor's screen plays a large role in the quality of an image. High-gloss screens typically will not display true colors like a monitor with a matte finish will. Screens that have a matte finish also help to reduce background glare while you are editing.
Size / Resolution
The size of a monitor is usually a personal preference. However, the large of a viewing area you have, the more you can view, just remember to stay within your budget.
Most 27” monitors have 2,560 x 1,440 resolution that can easily handle 20 MP images. 4k monitors growing in popularity and are considered by many to be the new industry standard.
With that said, if your budget allows for it, you may want to consider a 4k monitor. Additionally, you should invest in a second monitor for heavy editing sessions.
Our Top 5 Best Monitors for Photography
1. Samsung U28E590D UHD LED 28-inch Monitor
- Large 4K Screen
- Connectivity Ports for Ultra HD Devices
- TN Monitor
- Included Stand is Wobbly
- Refresh Rate of 60Hz
- Fewer Connection Ports Than Other Models
The Samsung U28E590D features Flicker-Free and Eye Saver Modes that will help to reduce eye fatigue. Also found on this model is an inventory of colors that surpass 1 billion and the PIP 2.0 should help with multitasking.
With a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and excellent DCR contrast ratio, the finer details often missed by other monitors should be easy to spot. The monitor also features plenty of connectivity ports for Ultra HD devices.
The modern design makes the unit aesthetically pleasing and the T-shaped stand reduces the use of space required in your work area.
This monitor is a great value considering it is large, 28-inches, features 4K performance, has AMD FreeSync response times of 1ms, and can be connected to a variety of devices.
2. Asus PB238Q 23-inch Monitor
- Good Value for Quality
- Matte Screen & Narrow Bezel
- 3 Year Warranty from Asus
- Slight Bleeding Around Edges of Viewing Area
This IPS ASUS model is equipped with complete sRGB coverage, 178-degree (H) / 178-degree (V) viewing angle that helps to minimize color shifting. The included stand allows for height, tilt, swivel, and pivot adjustments and can be used with a wall-mount.
The PB238Q is also equipped with the QuickFit Virtual Scale that helps to ensure the photo, or even documents, can be viewed before being printed in its actual form, in other words, what you see will be what you get after printing.
This model also features an HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub, DisplayPort, and four USB Type A ports. This model features a large 23-inch screen that clearly reproduces images in the sRGB color space with precision accuracy in colors. It also has an impressive contrast ratio of 80,000,000: 1 so it delivers crisp blacks and bright whites.
Given the average price tag, you would be hard pressed to find a monitor with this type of quality and features any cheaper. Along with the power cord, this monitor also comes with an HDMI cable and a Display Port cable.
Additionally, the PB238Q also comes with a 3-year warranty that includes free two-way shipping and the ASUS Rapid Replacement service.
3. BenQ BL242OPT 23.8-Inch Monitor
- Physical OSD Controls
- Robust Card Reader & USB Ports
- Good Value for the Money
- Top Notch Customer Service
- Bleeding Around Edge of Viewing Area
This model from BenQ provides users with plenty of viewing space with its 23.8-inch screen. Video and photo editing are made possible with the BL242OPT’s RGB and Rec. 709 color space that consists of over 1 billion colors. The included stand is ergonomic and adjustable to the individual user's needs.
The BL242OPT features several modes, including low blue light, tailor-made card/cam, and animation mode. Using IPS technology, the BL242OPT has a wide 178 degree horizontal and vertical viewing plane for clarity.
Given the level of performance it offers users, the BenQ BL242OPT is a good value for a quality monitor that is designed for photo and video editing. This monitor works well with most wall and dual mounts and should be easy to incorporate into any pre-existing setup.
4. Dell UltraSharp U2515Hx 25-Inch Monitor
- Large Screen Size
- Plenty of Connectivity Options
- Matte Screen
- Display Bleeding due to IPS
- Only Comes with Power Cable & HDMI Cable
The Dell U2515Hx has precise coloring and great screen clarity. With QHD 2560 x 1440 resolution, the 25-inch screen provides users with excellent color consistency and accuracy and is tuned with a delta at 99 percent sRGB.
The monitor can be tilted, swiveled, pivoted, and raised or lowered to suit the individual's needs. Extensive ports are also featured on this Dell model and make connectivity issues a thing of the past. The U2515Hx can be easily wall mounted to just about any popular mounting system.
While this monitor might be a little more costly than many of the other models on the market, the U2515Hx seems to be worth the higher price tag. With nine connection ports, plenty of viewing area, and the 3-year warranty, the U2515Hx has plenty of value.
5. Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor
- Ultra HD 4K Monitor
- Plenty of Connectivity Options
- Large Screen
- Very Stable Base
- Bleeding can be an Issue due to IPS
- Not Ideal for Gaming
Our second 4K monitor to make the list, the Dell Ultra HD, has many of the same features as the U2515Hx reviewed above. The screen can be adjusted on various axis, tilt, swivel, or lower and raise, and has an sRGB color coverage of 99 percent.
The monitor can also be rotated between portrait and landscape positions. This monitor has a resolution of 3840 x 2160, four times that of Full HD and over 8 million pixels, which should be enough pixel density to help with editing fine details in photos and videos.
The Dell Ultra HD 4K makes connectivity easy with a large inventory of ports for connecting devices. As a bonus for the environmentally conscious consumer, this model is mercury-free, arsenic-free, PVC/BFR-free, and uses over 25 percent post-consumer materials in the chassis.
The price tag on the P2415Q may be a little high, but it is a 4K Ultra HD monitor. The included base is very stable and the matte finish on the screen helps to reduce glare. This model also works well with MacBooks.
Of the five monitors that we have reviewed, our pick for the best would have to be the Samsung U28E590D UHD LED 28-inch Monitor. While it may be basic TN technology, the performance and size of the screen make this model ideal for editing photos and videos while viewing them in 4K resolutions.
The price may seem a little excessive, but when you compare what you get with the other monitors reviewed, you are actually getting more for a little less.
Additionally, this monitor works great for Windows and Apple systems, making it a great selection for those that either share monitors or have multiple devices with which they work. We hope you enjoyed our review of the best monitor for photography and found the information to be helpful.