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Best monitor for photo editing in 2021: top screens for photographers

Best monitor for photo editing
(Image credit: Shutterstock)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best monitors for photo editing are essential purchases for anyone who wants to take their photography to the next level. No matter if you're a hobbyist, amateur or a professional photographer, getting the best monitor for photo editing that your budget can stretch to can really help.

The best monitors for photo editing are professionally-calibrated monitors that specialise in displaying colors as accurately as possible, and have been built specifically for photo, video and graphic work, often with resolutions of 4K, 5K or 8K.

While many modern monitors do a good job at displaying images and reproducing colors, they just can't compete with the best monitor for photo editing. On top of offering wider color gamuts, such a monitor delivers great color reproduction, bright, vibrant displays, and enough real estate for multitasking. Typically, newer ‘IPS’ LCD panels will have better color reproduction than their older ‘TN’ counterparts – not to mention, better viewing angles. 

Some of the best monitors for photo editing are pricey, and it can be hard to find the best value when you’ve got a limited budget. For your convenience, we listed a variety of choices here, from monitors that might set you back a great deal to the more affordable options.

The best monitor for photo editing at a glance

  1. BenQ SW321C PhotoVue
  2. Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K
  3. Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q
  4. BenQ PD3200U
  5. MSI Prestige PS341WU 
  6. BenQ EX3501R
  7. BenQ GW2270H
  8. Dell UltraSharp UP3218K

BenQ SW321C PhotoVue

(Image credit: BenQ)

1. BenQ SW321C PhotoVue

Affordable pro-level 4K photo monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 32-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 250 cd/m2
Response time: 5ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: 99% AdobeRGB, 95% P3, 100% sRGB
Weight: 25.6kg
Reasons to buy
+Improved brightness and colour uniformity+USB-C connectivity+Hardware calibration with 16-bit LUT precision
Reasons to avoid
-Main connection bay is hard to reach-‘Paper Color Sync’ needs refining to be truly useful

Pro-level displays are no longer the premium priced, inaccessible purchase they started out to be. At least as far as the BenQ SW321C PhotoVue is concerned. This 32-inch 4K photo monitor is up a step or two in terms of both performance and usability, featuring an incredibly wide color gamut of 99% of the Adobe RGB color space and 95% of DCI-P3. If you’re in the cinematography or photography sphere, that’s exactly what you need. And, that’s on top of all the other features this monitor boasts. This is among the best monitors for photo editing you’ll find, and the best part is you’re getting it for cheaper than all others.

Read the full review: BenQ SW321C PhotoVue

Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K

2. Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K

A brilliant monitor for photo editing

Specifications
Screen size: 31.3-inch
Resolution: 4096 x 2160
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Panel technology: IPS
Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, 1 x VGA
USB: 4 x USB 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding color accuracy+Includes hardware calibration tool+Includes monitor hood
Reasons to avoid
-A new car costs the same

The 31-inch ColorEdge CG318-4K is our current pick for the best monitor for photo editing. This is mainly down to its color accuracy, which is essential for professional photographers who edit their photos. It features full sRGB coverage, 99% of the Adobe RGB spectrum and 98% DCI-P3. It fully supports 10-bit colour, taken from a 16-bit look-up table.

The CG318-4K has a 4096 x 2160 resolution, compared with the 3840 x 2160 resolution used in other 4K computer displays. 

All of these features come together to produce a jaw-dropping image, making your photos really stand out. There's also a built-in calibration tool to constantly keep the colors as accurate as possible.

Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q

3. Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q

Another brilliant monitor for professional photographers

Specifications
Screen size: 31.5-inch
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Panel technology: IPS
Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI
USB: 4 x USB 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Great colour accuracy+10-bit IPS panel with 16-bit look-up table
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

Dell's top-end 31.5-inch 4K display packs in a lot of professional-grade features for superb color accuracy. It is a pricey monitor, however, but then this is a large 4K screen, so you should expect to pay a bit more. It comes with support for the DCI-P3 color spectrum. It has a specification that almost rivals Eizo's monster CG318-4K, as it hits 99% Adobe RGB coverage and 87% DCI-P3, delivering great picture quality.

BenQ PD3200U

4. BenQ PD3200U

Another stunning 4K monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 32-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: sRGB 100%
Weight: 8.5kg
Reasons to buy
+4K resolution+Large screen
Reasons to avoid
-Design may seem dull to some-Some features a bit niche

BenQ has added the PD3200U, which features a massive 32-inch Ultra HD display, to its Designer Monitor range. The PD3200U is best suited for creators. 3D designers, for instance, will be grateful for the inclusion of a CAD/CAM mode, while photographers and photo editors will love in the factory-calibrated color accuracy and Rec. 709 adherence. 

MSI Prestige PS341WU

(Image credit: MSI)

5. MSI Prestige PS341WU

When 4K just doesn't cut it...

Specifications
USB-C: Yes
Screen size: 34 inches
Resolution: 5,120 x 2,160
Aspect ratio: 21:9
HDMI inputs: HDMI 2.0 x 2
Display ports: DisplayPort v1.4 x 1
Reasons to buy
+Glorious 5K2K resolution+Superb Nano IPS panel+Great feature set
Reasons to avoid
-Patchy build quality-Mediocre HDR performance

If you’re looking for a monitor that’s a cut above the 4K norm, then you’ve got the MSI Prestige PS341WU. Showing up any impeccable 4K monitor is by no means an easy feat, but this monitor does so with the huge 5K2K native resolution (and 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio) of its luscious 34-inch IPS screen. It doesn’t come cheap, but it does have a great feature set to make up for that, including a Nano IPS panel with DCI-P3 color gamut, HDR support and comprehensive connectivity. All that packed in a beautiful white aesthetic, and you’ve got yourself one of the best monitors for photo editing.

Read the full review: MSI Prestige PS341WU 

BenQ EX3501R

(Image credit: BenQ)

6. BenQ EX3501R

A brilliant ultrawide monitor for photoediting

Specifications
Screen size: 35-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
Brightness: : 300 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 100Hz
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 2,500:1
Color support: sRGB 100%
Weight: 23 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Huge display+HDR
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a bit of tweaking

If you want a lot of space to work on editing multiple photos at once, then you'll want an ultrawide monitor, and the BenQ EX3501R is in our view the best ultrawide monitor for photo editing. It comes with a 3,440 x 1,440 resoltuion that gives you a huge desktop to work on, and its 2,500:1 contrast leads to bright and vibrant images, as well as for HDR (High Dynamic Range). Crucially, it also has 100% sRGB support, making this a great choice for photographers when looking for the best monitor for photo editing, thanks to its excellent color reproduction.

BenQ GW2270H

7. BenQ GW2270H

A good all-rounder with a modern look

Specifications
Screen size: 21.5-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Brightness: 250 cd/m2
Response time: 5ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 20mM:1 (DFC)
Colour support: SRGB 91%
Weight: 7.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Two HDMI ports+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-No speakers-No USB hub

BenQ offers the most affordable full HD monitor with an HDMI connector and it doesn't look that bad. The company embraced the Bauhaus "less is more" philosophy to deliver "a celebration of minimalist" lifestyle. Those are their words, not ours. It has some standout features though; one that reduces flicker (PWM technology) and a low blue light mode which may help with headaches and sleeping disorders. With 'just' a 1080p resolution, this isn't as fancy as other monitors on this list, but it allows you to edit your photos without having to spend loads on a new screen.

Dell UltraSharp UP3218K

8. Dell UltraSharp UP3218K

Huge size and resolution makes this an outstanding monitor for photo editing

Specifications
Screen size: 32-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 7,680 x 4,320
Brightness: 400 cd/m2
Response time: 6ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1300:1
Colour support: 100% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB, 100% Rec. 709, 98% DCI-P3
Weight: 23.14 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Huge 8K resolution+Amazing image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Very, very expensive-8K may not be useful for many people

The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K is an absolutely amazing monitor for photo editing. It features a huge 32-inch screen and 8K resolution makes it perfect for photographers and video editors, and the amount of screen real estate that high resolution offers makes it an excellent productivity tool. The screen is professionally calibrated so it looks amazing out of the box, but be warned: this is a very expensive monitor. Depending on your needs, this will either be a brilliant buy, or an expensive folly.

10 things to look for in a monitor for photo editing


Should you go for a curved monitor for photo editing?

We chatted with Brett Barbour, VP at US monitor vendor, Viotek, to find out whether it makes business sense to opt for a non-flat monitor for photo editing.

When you think of the types of people that use – and love – curved monitors, three types of people come mind: gamers, gamers and gamers. But why should gamers have all the fun? Curved monitors could bring a fair bit of ergonomic benefit for office workers too. After all, our eyes have a nice curve to them. We might as well have a monitor that comes with a nice curve to match, right? Especially if we’re expected to use them at least 6-8 hours a day. Ergonomics isn’t the only benefits to curved monitors for the office.

Most of us are spending a lot of time staring at a screen, be it for work or for play. And this brings additional health risks for our eyes. Headaches. Eye strain. Eye fatigue. But research has shown that curved panels yield less eye strain and fatigue than flat panels. So they’re easier on the eyes – especially helpful if you spend most of your day in front of a monitor (or expect your employees to).

This benefit can also be further leveraged by software integrated into the monitor. For example, ASUS has their Eye Care technology; Viotek has their “Viotek Protect”; and Samsung features a proprietary “Eye Saver Mode.” These all provide a range of eye-saving benefits, including reducing the amount of harmful blue light radiation from hitting your eyes – particularly helpful when you’re looking at the screen for extended all day.

You can expect less glare and distortion with a curved monitor. Its corners are closer to you, replicating the natural curvature of the human eye. In most workspace setups, the curved monitor won’t reflect light at all, effectively reducing glare from other sources of light. The only exception being if a window is directly behind you at a certain angle. This is a rarity, but it can certainly happen.

But that's not all; normally, how nice a monitor looks is purely a question of personal preference. You like what you like – simple as. But the reality is that a curved monitor might take up less desk real estate than its flat counterpart. It might be nominal depending on the stand that it uses, but the curved ends will definitely give you some extra space to place odds and ends on your desk, from phone charging pads, pen holder or what have you.

However, it is worth looking at the potential issues they might come from. In most cases, a curved monitor still costs a bit more than its flat-screen counterpart. An LG 34WK650-W is a 34-inch flat-screen IPS monitor with 2560x1080p resolution that goes for about $396.99. Or you could grab an LG 34GL750-B 34-inch curved monitor with the same resolution and faster refresh rate for around $449.99. 

The difference might be as little as $50-75 per monitor. Still, if you’re trying to fill up an entire office, that can add up. 

But Is It Really a Con? Well, for now, maybe. But the cost gap is closing quickly, as manufacturing costs are dropping fast and certain brands (Samsung, ASUS, Viotek, et al.) find ways to pack a lot of features in quality monitors without sending the price through the roof.

There's also talks about the fact that curved monitors could hinder straight-line perception. This is another possibly niche drawback with curved monitors. It certainly won’t apply to every office. Professionals in engineering, drafting or drawing industries may find that their straight-line perception is slightly skewed because of the curvature of a monitor. There is software that can “fix” this issue, but if you’re in one of these industries, you may be better off sticking with a flat screen monitor for now.

How to choose a business monitor?

  1. Screen size is measured diagonally in inches, while resolution measures the number of pixels that make up the display. But a bigger monitor doesn't necessarily mean greater resolution; the 24-inch Eizo has a higher resolution than the 27-inch NEC, for example.
  2. A more useful measure of the 'crispness' of a display is pixel density, measured in pixels per inch (ppi). The NEC is 82ppi, the Eizo 94ppi, while Samsung and Dell weigh in at 109ppi.
  3. Monitors increasingly offer more than just a simple display for your computer, with built-in speakers, USB hubs, card readers and multiple inputs, such as HDMI, for use with a variety of devices.
  4. While true-to-life colour reproduction is very important in image editing, you may need to compromise to get all the features you want within budget.
  5. LED backlighting allows thinner displays, while IPS (or Samsung's PLS) allows for greater viewing angles.
  6. We'd always recommend using a digital interface like DVI or HDMI, but it depends on what your computer has. Do you want to plug in multiple devices? Make sure your new monitor has the same input as your computer has output!
  7. Several of these displays enable you to swivel the monitor from side to side and turn the screen 90 degrees into portrait mode.
  8. Most monitors are now capable of Full HD resolution (1920x1080) but more and more can do higher resolutions - many here are capable of 2560x1440, for example.
  9. With so many devices plugged into our computers these days, a USB hub really is something you'll wonder how you lived without.
  10. So many monitors - including several of these - are just plain ugly. Also see what people are saying about the button controls and menu system. Ensure it is usable.