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Best 4K Monitor for Photo Editing

Taking a Closer Look at 5 Awesome 4K Monitors Built to Streamline Your Photo Editing Process

You could be the best photographer in the world, but if your computer monitor isn’t up to scratch, your brilliance simply isn’t going to translate past the editing process. I know, I know…it’s not fair.

Photography is already such an expensive pursuit, but unless you plan on reducing your editing process to hand-coloring only, you really do need to invest in a quality monitor.

When you view your shots on a subpar monitor, what you’re actually seeing is a poor approximation of the original image, and when you edit through this reductive lens, it’s almost impossible to do the shot justice.

Not to worry, though, fellow shutterbug; we’re not going to let something as avoidable as a subpar monitor steal the magic from your work.

After weeks of painstaking research, we’ve composed this list of the five best 4K monitors for photo editing you can buy.

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Best 4K Monitor for Photo Editing – Comparison Table

Best 4K Monitor for Photo Editing – Reviews

Our Pick
BenQ SW321C 32” 4K IPS Photo & Video Editing Monitor w/AQCOLOR tech 99% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB/Rec.709, 95% DCI-P3/Display P3, Hardware Calibration, Paper Color Sync, Uniformity tech, HDR, USB-C w/PD
Our rating:

This 32” monster from BenQ is nothing short of a masterpiece of photo editing technology. Encompassing 100% of the sRGB color space, 99% of the deeper Adobe RGB gamut, and 95% of the DCI-P3 spectrum, it ensures your prints will always look like they do on screen.

BenQ doesn’t just provide you with a detailed calibration menu, they go a step further and hook you up with dedicated Palette Master Element calibration software, and what’s more, USB-C support allows you to connect external calibration tools too.

This amounts to impeccable color accuracy, improving the fidelity of screen-to-screen and screen-to-printer transitions.

With IPS panel technology at the heart of operations, no matter how acute your viewing angle becomes, color and picture remain exquisite, reducing eye strain during hefty sessions at the desk editing a wedding’s worth of shots.

Putting the icing on the 4K cake, it’s completely rotatable, allowing you to work on portrait shots with ease.

Pros
  • IPS – Great viewing angles, less eye strain.
  • Color Gamut – Can represent more than one billion colors.
  • Dedicated Calibration Software – Super accurate calibration.
  • Rotatability – Screen turns 90° for portrait editing.
  • 32” Display – Offers great visuals on your shots.
Cons
  • Price – It’s not cheap.

Dell Ultrasharp 32' UP3216Q Monitor, UHD 4k 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz, 16:9, 99.5% AdobeRGB, 100% REC709 and 87% DCI-P3, IPS, HDMI 2.0, DP 1.2
Our rating:

Dell really delivers with this fantastic Ultrasharp design that covers 100% of the sRGB color space, 99% of the Adobe RGB space, and 87% of the DCI-P3 spectrum, which simply put, means you’ll have 1.07 billion shades at your disposal – pretty neat, huh?

It also has a Custom Colors Mode, allowing you to fully calibrate every aspect of the color accuracy, amounting to perfect parity between printed and on-screen images.

Another IPS monitor, it exhibits fantastic contrast and non-degradable viewing angles, so you don't always have to be front and center, and your eyes won’t fatigue as quickly, meaning you can work harder for longer.

Measuring 31.5 inches, it presents your shots like you’ve never seen them before, and the 4K pixel-density ensures optimal picture acuity, so even the finest details don’t go unnoticed.

Pros
  • 31.5” Display – Facilitates more in-depth edits.
  • Color Gamut – Over a billion shades.
  • Custom Color Mode – Detailed calibration facilities.
  • IPS – 178° viewing angles.
Cons
  • Calibration – It can be complicated.

BenQ 32 inch, 4K UHD Monitor, IPS Panel, sRGB and Rec. 709 PD3200U Gray/Gloss Gray
Our rating:

We’re back to BenQ at number three with this awesome 4K monitor, and who could blame us. This is a company that consistently pays mind to the creative computing community and delivers time and time again.

It’s an IPS monitor (can you see the trend?) which means the display will be crisp and bright, giving you an opportunity to view your shots in great detail in sun-saturated rooms.

You can also look forward to spectacular viewing angles with little to no degradation, keeping your eyes feeling fresh.

Covering 100% of the sRGB spectrum, it has a truly deep color repertoire, especially for a monitor at this price point, and there are numerous custom modes for switching your settings on the fly.

Calibration is done with the included Palette Master Element software, giving you full access to every minute detail of its color potential, so you can trust that when you share your work, people are seeing exactly what you see.

Then, to truly sweeten the deal, BenQ offers you an OSD control that basically gives you instantaneous access to display functionality without the need to go menu diving, saving you time and energy that can be spent editing your shots.

Pros
  • 32” Display – Big visuals on your work.
  • IPS – Great viewing angles, brightness, and contrast.
  • 100% sRGB – Huge array of colors.
  • Dedicated Calibration Software – Highly customizable color performance.
  • Price – Great specs for the price.
Cons
  • Black – Could be darker.
  • Backlighting – Some claim it’s not as uniform as it could be.

LG 27UL650-W 27 Inch 4K UHD LED Monitor with VESA DisplayHDR 400, White
Our rating:

Budding photographers aren’t always paid what they’re deserved, so we feel it’s important to explore the options at the lower end of the market too, which led us to this fantastic 4K LG monitor.

Covering 99% of the sRGB color space, which equates to roughly 70% of the Adobe RGB space, you won’t be dissatisfied with the gradation detail, even on your most dynamic shots.

The consistency of the picture provided by the IPS paneling keeps your eyes feeling fresh, which is a godsend if you’re working to deadlines for an important client or competition.

The display is 27 inches in total, which is quite a bit smaller than our other picks, but while a mammoth display can help with the editing process of highly detailed landscape shots, it’s not strictly essential.

Plus, what you lose in screen real estate, you gain in office space.

Pros
  • IPS Panels – Great color accuracy and viewing angles.
  • 99% sRGB – True to life colors.
  • Space-Friendly – Suited to small workspaces.
  • IPS – Pristine viewing angles.
Cons
  • Contrast – Not as great as more expensive options on the list.
  • Calibration – You have to choose between preset modes.

Dell S2721QS 27 Inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS Ultra-Thin Bezel Monitor, AMD FreeSync (HDMI, DisplayPort), VESA Certified, Silver
Our rating:

It took some doing, but after hours of research looking for a suitable 4K curved monitor to share, we came across the Dell S2721QS, and, my friends, it was worth the wait.

The beautifully arcing 27” display provides a more natural field of view, taking the pressure of these tired peepers of ours, and inviting us into our shots on an almost VR level.

It’s only 27”, which seems a little underwhelming compared to the 32” goliaths further up the list, but it falls well beyond our 23” minimum requirement, and the reduction in size only intensifies the clarity of the 4K resolution.

It covers 100% of the sRGB spectrum and 70% of the Adobe RGB color space, which, again, is beyond the minimum requirements set out in our buyer’s guide.

It offers a deep enough color repository to reproduce your shots in a true-to-life fashion, whilst simultaneously opening the door for tonal experimentation when inspiration strikes.

Our only real gripe with this elegant monitor is that the colors can be a little off out of the box, so you’ll need to sit down for a lengthy calibration session to get them on track.

Pros
  • Curved Screen – Immersive viewing and less perspective distortion.
  • 100% RGB – Deep color improves parity between printed and on-screen images.
  • Price – Amazing value for money.
  • IPS Technology – Bright screen, good viewing angles, and less eye strain.
Cons
  • Calibration – Needs tweaking upon arrival.

Best 4K Monitor for Photo Editing – Buyers Guide

You may be an absolute whiz behind a camera, but computers are a different matter entirely, which is why to steer you in the right direction, we’ve included this concise buyer’s guide on what to look for in a photo editing monitor.

Panel Type

As you’ve already settled on a 4K monitor (a wise choice, my friend), we’ll skip resolution and jump straight into panel type.

You may not realize it, but there are actually quite a few different monitor technologies, each with its own visual parameters.

The good news is that you don’t need to learn about them all individually because we’re about to tell you which one you need — gosh, we’re good to you.

The panel type you need for photo editing is known as IPS, which is an abbreviation of In-Plane Switching. These monitors offer immaculate viewing angles, a bright display, reduced optical fatigue, and outstanding color coverage (but more on that later).

Screen Size

You may be a minimalist at heart, but when it comes to editing monitors, there’s no room for modesty. You need to go BIG! Seriously, the bigger, the better, with 23 inches as an absolute minimum.

One of the beautiful things about 4K is that you can choose a bigger display without sacrificing image acuity, and the larger you can see your shots, the better you’ll understand them, and the more you understand them, the more successful your edits will be.

Color Space

To our human eyes, color is essentially infinite. We can perceive countless different shades, and they tend to flow into each other in an immeasurably smooth gradation, but to digitize colors on a computer screen, each shade has to be cataloged individually and given a unique address.

You can think of your monitor's color space as the amount of these individual shades it’s capable of reproducing.

There are multiple color spaces, each covering a certain stretch of the cataloged color spectrum. For example, sRGB is the most commonly covered color space, but it’s not all that detailed, whereas Adobe RGB is much deeper, with way more shades overall.

For top-notch photo editing, your monitor needs to cover at least 90% of the sRGB color space and at least 70% of the Adobe RGB color space.

I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that being able to see the true color of a project is essential to the editing process, otherwise you may accidentally ruin the feel of the picture with odd filters and color tones.

True Blacks

For the same reason you need pristine color accuracy to edit your photos, you’ll need a monitor that can display the deepest blacks possible.

This can vary from IPS monitor to IPS monitor, so try and source some examples of prospective monitors’ truest blacks and do a side-by-side comparison.

Rotatability

I know what you’re thinking…rotatability isn’t even a real word…and you’re correct, it’s not in the dictionary, but it’s one of those words that comes into being out of necessity when technology advances beyond the parameters of established lexis.

If a monitor is described as having rotatability, it means it can spin a full 90° and be used in portrait, which is fantastic when you’re editing, you’ve guessed it…portraits.

Flat vs Curved

Don’t get us wrong, a flat monitor is absolutely fine, but curved displays offer a more true-to-life view of an image, which can really help you to inhabit the scene, leading to heads-up editing decisions you wouldn’t have thought of on a traditional monitor.

Calibration

Detailed calibration settings essentially allow you to utilize the color accuracy baked into your monitor. Even if it has the ability to reproduce whole color spaces, the shades will be slightly off before calibration.

Color calibration is sort of like focusing up a camera, but for shade rather than sharpness.

You should be looking for a monitor that offers complete 8-bit calibration.

Frequently Asked Questions

As monitors are complex devices, we figured you might still have a few questions that the buyer’s guide didn't cover directly, so before we part ways, let’s run through a quick list of FAQs.

Is a 4K monitor good for photo editing?

4K monitors are fantastic for editing photos! As one of the highest resolutions in existence, 4K provides truly crisp and detailed representations of our shots, and what’s more, you can choose a larger monitor without sacrificing any perceivable dip in picture quality.

Is 99% sRGB good for photo editing?

Yes, 99% sRGB is great for photo editing, as it covers just over 70% of the more detailed Adobe RGB color space. As long as your monitor is calibrated correctly, the colors should be highly accurate, leading to better editing sessions.

Are gaming monitors good for photo editing?

As gaming is such a visual experience, there are plenty of gaming monitors that are sort of…accidentally amazing when it comes to photo editing.

However, gaming is a much more demanding activity, so you may end up spending money on features you don’t necessarily need for editing, such as high refresh rates.

Are Mac monitors good for editing?

Yes, newer Mac monitors can be fantastic for editing photos, but there aren’t many readily available 4K variants at this moment in time, so we haven’t included any on our list.

What monitor do professional photographers use?

The pros will use all sorts of monitors. There is no single monitor that is objectively right for everyone, but whatever they’re using, it will definitely be 4K, sizable, and offer impeccable color coverage.

Is 4K really better than 1080p?

Yes, 4K is decidedly better than 1080p, especially when it comes to photo editing. Some gamers prefer 1080p as it can display more frames per second with weaker hardware, but 4K has the sharpest image by far.

Do I need a 4K monitor for editing?

Need is a strong word, but investing in a 4K monitor will certainly improve your editing, as it will present details you wouldn’t have noticed in lesser resolutions.

What brightness should my monitor be for editing photos?

It’s important not to have your screen too bright while editing your photos, as they’ll print out darker than you expected them to be.

The ideal brightness is typically around 110 cd/m2. Default brightness on some monitors can be as bright as 300 cd/m2, so it’s best to dial it back a bit before you get a good workflow going.

Final Thoughts

We’ve been on quite a journey here today, and we’ve seen some truly epic monitors for photo editing. Hopefully, at least one of them caught your eye and got your creative juices flowing — we feel there's a little something on the list for just about everyone.

Designed from the ground up as a photo/video editor, the BenQ SW321C is our number one choice. It’s pricey, but it blows every other monitor out of the water, on all fronts, from color coverage to calibration detail.

The Dell Ultrasharp almost goes toe-to-toe with the SW321C in terms of color coverage but doesn’t quite get there, and again, it’s an expensive monitor.

If you’re looking for something with more of a modest price tag, we recommend the LG UHD 27UL650, but if you can stretch your budget just a little bit, skip right ahead to the curved wonder that is the Dell S2721QS.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, the BenQ PD3200U features a lot of the things that make the SW321C great and drops the one thing that makes it not so great…the hefty price tag.

Last Updated on 2021-03-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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