Recommended Gear – Computer Monitor
Photographers need a good computer monitor. Before choosing a monitor from my recommendations, read through the 5 technical specifications photographers should look for as they shop for a computer monitor for their photo editing needs.
Once you have gone through those 5 specifications and decided on what meets your needs, here are my recommendations across various budgets and needs.
2K Entry Level Recommendations
Last Updated: 17 Oct 2023
Colorists and many photography professionals will cringe at my suggesting these monitors are entry-level. None are capable of true HDR (even when they say so) or representing the full Adobe RGB color space. They also use FRC to emulate 10-bit color gradients using 8-bit panels, but only a highly trained eye could tell the difference. They accurately cover 100% sRGB and can be calibrated. That is enough for a lot of photographers.
Asus ProArt PA278CV 27″ 2K IPS LED Monitor
Asus is working to build a stronger reputation for high quality monitors among creative professionals and is offering the best price to quality. Though BenQ is a more established brand with a longer history of consistent quality that may be worth paying for if you have the budget.
4K Entry Level Recommendations
Last Updated: 4 Nov 2023
If you decided you want 4K, which seems likely to be the only option for photographers soon, here are the entry level options that are the same as above with higher resolution.
Asus ProArt Display PA279CRV 27″ 4K IPS LED Monitor
This one is different from the rest of this group. It isn’t just a step up from 2K to 4K in resolution. This monitor covers 99% Adobe RGB making it close to mid-level quality at an entry-level price. There are two things holding this monitor back. First, it is only 27″ and text can be a little harder to read at 4K. Second, it is incredibly difficult to find it in stock. If as you are shopping you see one, you won’t be sorry for grabbing it.
BenQ PD2705U 27″ 4K IPS LED Monitor
It doesn’t make sense on paper. Not only does this monitor not cover as much color space (only about 70% of Adobe RGB), it is also $100 more than the Asus PA279CRV. The experts say that BenQ stands out from the competition with the matte finish that allows for editing without having to be in a cave.
BenQ PD3220U 31.5″ 4K IPS Monitor
Ouch, the cost escalated quickly! 80% Adobe RGB coverage and 32″ (really close) makes this the
best second-best of the entry-level monitors from a technical specifications perspective, but that is a lot of cash for entry-level. I would either go with the Asus PA329CV or save a bit more for the Asus PA32UCR-K below.
Asus ProArt Display PA32UCR-K 32″ 4K HD IPS Mini-LED HDR10 Monitor
Added to this list in November 2023, I expect this monitor will be tough to get your hands on. I debated between this being entry-level vs the mid-level. The specs are mid-level but the price is entry-level. I decided to make it my entry-level recommendation for a monitor that supports the HDR workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop (though only 400nits sustained instead of 1,000 recommended by Adobe). It is the first in this list that does. Native 10-bit color, 99.5% Adobe RGB coverage, plus it comes with a Colorimeter. If you can find this in stock and don’t have $500 more budget for the PA27UCX-K in the mid-level list, BUY IT!
Last Updated: 4 Nov 2023
These monitors are all wide-gamut, covering more color space while maintaining color accuracy and uniformity (the same color and brightness accuracy across the entire monitor). Of course that all comes with a pretty large increase in cost.
NOTE: If you rarely or never do work in Photoshop,
there is very little value in buying anything better than an entry-level monitor. See the Lightroom Classic 30-bit color section of this post for more information.
UDPATE: Adobe changed this in their updates to Lightroom and Photoshop in October of 2023, adding HDR workflows. There is value in buying a monitor that supports HDR workflows. I have those that support HDR workflows marked on this page. You can read more about it in my HDR Editing in 2023 Using Lightroom and Photoshop post.
After photographers get used to editing photos on a calibrated entry-level monitor (and frequently do work in Photoshop) it is worth upgrading to one of these and see all of the colors while editing photos.
BenQ SW271C 27″ 4K IPS Monitor
Emulated 10-bit (FRC). 99% Adobe RGB. Supports hardware calibration. No true HDR. I would pay the $300 more to get to the 32″ version (see below) but this comes highly recommended by the experts as being a “professional” model at an extremely reasonable cost.
Asus ProArt Display PA27UCX-K 27″ 4K IPS HDR Monitor
Native 10-bit panel. Covers 99.5% of Adobe RGB and 97% of DCI P3. No hardware calibration. With 1,000 cd/m2 sustained peak brightness and 576 local dimming zones, HDR that will allow for HDR editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. Plus, this price includes a colorimeter to calibrate the monitor ($250 value)! Downside is the physical size. Text is harder to read on a 27″ 4K monitor. Still, this would be my choice in the Mid-Level group.
BenQ SW321C 32″ 4K IPS Monitor
Emulated 10-bit (FRC). 99% Adobe RGB. Supports hardware calibration. No true HDR. The experts say that regardless of how it looks on paper, this is one of the best price to performance monitors available on the market with exceptional color and brightness accuracy across the entire monitor.
High End Recommendations
Last Updated: 17 Oct 2023
I only have one monitor to put on this list right now, and it is all about HDR. Everything else is insanely expensive.
Asus ProArt Display PA32UCG-K 32″ 4K IPS HDR Monitor
Native 10-bit panel. Covers 100% of Adobe RGB and 98% of DCI P3. Hardware calibrated. Vesa HDR 1400 certified. Asus says it is actually HDR 1600 capable. This is as close as you can get to an Apple Pro Display XDR at nearly 1/2 the cost.