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The best monitors for photo editing

Whoever said “bigger isn’t always better” never edited digital photos. Of course, choosing a monitor for photo editing isn’t just about size. It’s also about color accuracy, brightness, and contrast, which are all vital elements in viewing and editing photos.

Whether you’re a photography student, a professional, or are just dabbling in the hobby, using the best monitor for the job will enable you to edit your photographs to an optimal standard. We’ve picked the very best monitors for photo work that we’ve found during our reviews, starting with the photo-dedicated BenQ SW271. 

The best

BenQ SW271

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 too. And at a brightness of up to 350 nits, 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, from USB-C to HDMI 2.0 and 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, the BenQ SW271 is 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.

The rest

BenQ PD3200U

BenQ PD3200U review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Another great photo editing display is the BenQ PD3200U, which at $700 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 on 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), the BenQ PD3200U 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.

MSI Prestige PS341WU

If you’re looking for an ultrawide to facilitate your photo work, this 34-inch, 5k Prestige model is designed specifically for top-notch color results. It offers 16.7 million color support (98% of the DCI-P3 color gamut) that’s pre-calibrated for best results, along with MSI’s Creator OSD software for micromanaging screen settings to meet your unique standards whenever necessary.

Picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes are both offered for comparing before and after images, and the Nano-IPS panel includes an anti-glare coating so reflections won’t be as troublesome. On the back you’ll find ports for HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, and USB-C to manage your connections. And while the MSI Prestige PS341WU‘s screen is extra large, it’s still possible to tilt, swivel, or mount it to get just the angle you need.

HP Z27

HP’s Z27 monitor has been one of our favorite 4K displays for some time, and with good reason. Not only is it a decent form factor at 27-inches with a solid frame, but it’s 4K resolution to boot, and it has a fantastic 1,300:1 contrast ratio. It’s response time isn’t great at 8ms, but this isn’t a gaming display — this is a professional display and it does a fantastic job as that.

It features excellent color accuracy and is backed by HP’s Zero Bright Dots guarantee, so if there are any problems with your screen post-purchase, HP is more than happy to sort it out for you. It’s also powered by just a single USB-C cable, so there’s no need for additional power connectors, making for a sleek look to your desktop space. Other options, if you prefer to use them, include DisplayPort 1.2, mini DisplayPort 1.2, and HDMI 2.0.

Despite all its high-end features, the HP Z27 is a very affordable 4K professional display too. Even when not on sale it’s not much north of $500.

LG 32UD99-W

LG 32UD99-W review full
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you want extra screen space that is versatile and offers great visuals, the LG 32UD99-W is an excellent choice. This display stands out with its thin bezels and clarity. It comes with a modern and stylish stand that will look great on your desk. The basic specs include 4K resolution, HDR support, and brightness that hits 350 nits. The LG 32UD99-W displays a wide range of colors, and we fell in love with its impressive color accuracy when we tested it.

With an IPS panel, this screen delivers popping colors and great viewing angles and provides an excellent representation of whatever you’re viewing. You will have to tweak the display yourself to achieve the optimal screen display, so don’t take the automatic settings at face value. We aren’t sure why you have to adjust the settings yourself, but we can assure you that it is not hard to calibrate the settings yourself to get the highest image quality this screen offers.

HDR support isn’t fantastic with Windows at this time, but it is there, and when in use, it looks fantastic — just don’t expect it to be quite as bright as it is on high-end TVs with greater brightness. Also, keep in mind that direct light creates a major glare on the LG 32UD99-W screen, so be sure to pick a location out of direct light contact.

We recommend the LG 32UD99-W for professional uses because of the color quality and how easy it is to share your screen with others. You can use it for gaming as well, though the 60Hz refresh may be a limitation for some games, especially HDR games. It’s probably why the manufacturer doesn’t advertise this product as a gaming display. That said, in our experience, we felt that the wide viewing angles, 5ms response time, and FreeSync support made this monitor comparable to a lot of gaming displays on the market.

Editors' Recommendations