I edit a substantial number of images and videos, spend some time doing graphics and animation, and, just for fun, sometimes mashup a meme or two. I have two problems: (1) resolution and (2) accuracy. So I went looking for a big, 4K HDR monitor with configurable color space and industrial-strength calibration capabilities. I found what I was looking for in the new BenQ 4K PhotoVue Photo Editing Monitor.
BenQ 4K PhotoVue Photo Editing Monitor
I've spent quite a bit of time with both the SW271 and the SW320. Both are truly mesmerizing. I've had the 32″ SW320 (MSRP $1,499) next to my 15″ MacBook Pro for the past few weeks. So far, so good. Core tech specs include the following:
- 32-inch 4K HDR Monitor, 10-bit Color, Adobe RGB
- 31.5-inch 3840×2160 4K UHD HDR
- 99% Adobe RGB, 100% SRGB color coverage
- 10-bit IPS panel with 14-bit 3D LUT Hardware Calibration
- 14-bit 3D look-up table (LUT) and Delta E < 2
In plain English: The picture looks great. I've used the monitor for gaming, watching videos, editing videos, photo editing, graphics and pre-press, and even just office suite work. Use case after use case, the SW320 never fails to impress. The colors are 99 percent Adobe RGB accurate as advertised, and the picture looked great out of the box – which confused me, because I was expecting to spend an hour calibrating it. One of the nicest things about the SW271 and SW320 is that each monitor is individually factory calibrated to assure precise Delta-E and Gamma performance. I ultimately did tweak the calibration, but the factory calibration was a huge time saver.
The SW320 (like most, if not all, of BenQ's monitors) is also easily adjustable between landscape and portrait modes. I mostly used the monitor in landscape mode, but all you have to do is swivel it on its stand.
Extra Fun Stuff
BenQ's line of monitors for photographers includes an "Advanced Black & White Mode" so that you can preview your shots in three different B&W presets before you make any adjustments in your photo processing program of choice.
I also like the "Hotkey Puck." It is a circular array of programmable buttons that plugs into the back of the monitor. The Hotkey Puck lets you quickly switch between RGB, sRGB, and Black & White modes, and can be customized to map other modes or OSD settings, like brightness and contrast. It may seem like a minor feature to bring a bit of added convenience, but in practice, it's super helpful. Paraphrasing an old adage, I sit close enough to the monitor to reach the front panel controls, but thank goodness I don't have to.
For my setup, I don't need the included detachable shading hood. But if you need to reduce screen glare from ambient lighting, it does the job, and it works in both landscape and portrait orientations.
As I've written about before, my office looks like a wasteland of long-deceased iDevices, with connectors and cables and adapters and dongles strewn about. It's helpful, then, that the monitor features HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, and USB 3.0 inputs, so I can grab just about any device and any adapter I have lying around and connect them to the display.
As for games? I hooked up my Xbox One X and fired up Red Dead Redemption 2. It looked incredible. Each monitor packs AMD FreeSync and FreeSync 2 tech that eliminates image tearing, broken frames, and choppy gameplay, which means your game looks beautiful and smooth. I can confirm: the game looked awesome!
Also nice: if you find yourself falling into an eight-or-ten-or-twelve-hour session of something that is definitely work (and definitely not Red Dead Redemption 2), BenQ's monitors feature medically backed eye-care tech to reduce eye fatigue and strain during use.
A Couple of Other BenQ Notable Mentions
If you have a different type of creative mind, BenQ has these two additional offerings I also like.
For designers, BenQ's PD series offers a CAD/CAM mode that "accentuates the finest details to produce incredible display performance in Pro/E, SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD, CATIA, or other design software." Animation mode "enhances the brightness of dark areas without overexposing bright regions" and "provides 10 levels of display brightness to bring out every subtlety clearly in any ambient lighting," while Darkroom mode "creates the optimal setting for work in darkened post-processing environments."
For post-production experts, BenQ's PV series' GamutDuo feature "enables you to view content simultaneously in different color spaces side-by-side for comparison." These monitors also support 72Hz refresh rate "for 24p film content to be displayed at native cadence without pulldown which can distort playback of the source video."
The BenQ SW320 is an awesome monitor. While you can pick up a 32" 4K display for a fraction of the cost, hardcore creatives should rest assured that the monitor is worth the price.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there are two other great options out there. One is the LG UltraFine 27″ 5K Display with 5120-by-2880 resolution and P3 wide color gamut. To give credit where credit is due, it's a very good monitor. And although I've only played with it for an hour, the new 5K Dell U4919DW 49″ 32:9 Curved IPS Monitor is also great. It's only 5120-by-1440. But if you don't need the height, you should check it out.
Considering how boring and undifferentiated monitors are for normal users, it's hard to get excited about a line of monitors. But the BenQ peeps really got my attention with the SW320. So much so, we ordered a bunch for the office.
Author's note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.