I would like to upgrade my current monitor (22", 1680x1050, TN panel) to something larger and better quality.

Are there any benefits getting a monitor that supports colour management when I don't work in a colour managed environment? My software (Affinity Photo on Windows) does not support 10-bit colour, nor does my current graphics card. I shoot in sRGB and do not print too many photos. While I hope to print a larger number of photos, this is for personal not professional use.

For reference, monitors I have looked at specifications for include: BenQ SW2700PT & PV270, Eizo CS2730, Dell U2717D & UP2716D

For reference, there is a similar question when printing is not a requirement: My pictures are never printed. Is there any point in buying a better monitor?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Color management is essential even on really old monitors. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 17:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rafael This question seems to me to be more about the need for a "hardware color managed monitor." If you are not familiar with the term, check it out here and here \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know, but the question do not states "hardware color managed" It only says color managed. :oS And somehow sounds still a little basic to me because it assumes that color managed is only for print. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ The reference to not being able to benefit from a 10-bit monitor due to his photo processing software is a strong clue, since all "hardware color management" compatible monitors are 10-bit, and almost all 10-bit monitors are "hardware color management" capable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 19:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ First priority should be getting rid of the TN panel :) These aren't even consistent against themselves once viewing angle changes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


While new technology does have "benefit", it doesn't necessarily outweigh the frustration that comes with trying to get it to work properly. At this time, unless you have a pressing need to upgrade your monitor, video card, software applications, and possibly also operating system, you should defer your upgrade plans. This will allow you to learn more about color management and color bit depths while the industry works out the relevant color standards.

You appear to be confusing color management and high bit depth.

  • Color management ensures that the output colors are the ones intended. It works fine with 8-bit color. For color management to be effective, all outputs have to be managed (monitors, printers, photo labs, etc).

  • High bit depth allows a greater number of colors to be represented (and possibly output). (See Can I use 10bit effectively today and if yes how?)

Some general comments about color management:

  • Whether color management is necessary depends on your tolerance for variance and the intended output media. It is usually a good idea to at least make some baseline adjustments to your devices to ensure that they approximately match each other.

  • When you say you want to print more, are you referring to using a printer at home or sending your images out to a lab? If sending to a lab, they should have color profiles of their equipment available for you to use.

  • Editing for web is problematic because the vast majority of output devices will not be managed. In those cases, it may be enough to check your results on devices you expect will be representative, such as an iPad or iPhone.

  • It is best to stick with sRGB unless you have a clear need to output to another colorspace, such as AdobeRGB or ProPhoto RGB. (If you don't already know whether you have such a need, you don't.) Improperly using a colorspace with an expansive gamut, such as ProPhoto RGB, will lead to posterization and banding in your images. (See Photos look Blotchy after editing.)

  • Color calibrating large LCD displays can be difficult because the image appears different at different viewing angles. (See Color Calibration on Sharp LC-32LB370U monitor.)

Regarding the monitors you are considering:

  • They support hardware color calibration, which Michael Clark discusses in more detail. The procedure requires the use of a color calibration device, such as a Spyder, to adjust internal color look-up tables (CLUT). These tables are used to transform input received from the computer into an appropriate color for display.

  • Mixing hardware and software color management across different monitors may give unexpected results. (See Display calibration seems oddly off for Spyder5 + BenQ + Macbook Pro.)

  • They have different colorspace modes, including AdobeRGB and sRGB. If you select AdobeRGB, the colors won't match the outputs of most other devices. If you select sRGB, you will be using the monitor at reduced capability.

  • The manufacturers recommend recalibrating the monitors every two weeks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer really does not address "hardware color management" at all, which is what the question seems to me to be asking about. Any monitor can be 'color managed' using software on the computer. Only those compatible with "hardware color management" allows the software on the computer to change the LUT inside the monitor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ To the best of my knowledge, all "hardware color management" compatible monitors require at least 10-bit to be compatible with the existing software for it. Which would explain the reference in the question to not needing a 10-bit monitor because his photo processing software doesn't support it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 19:33

Are there any benefits getting a monitor that supports colour management when I don't work in a colour managed environment?

You can do color management with a monitor that doesn't "support" color management. This is non-intuitive, but when we talk about a monitor that supports "hardware color management", what we mean is a monitor that can communicate with the computer in a way that any monitor calibration done using the computer can change the monitor's internal LUT automatically.

There's an article on EIZO's website about the differences in the calibration/profiling process between monitors with hardware color management support and monitors without hardware color management support. Talking about software calibration that changes the computer's output to offset variations in the monitors output, rather than adjusting the monitors controls via hardware support:

However, the merit of this method is that any monitor can be calibrated, not just monitors that support hardware calibration.

With a monitor that does not "support" color management, any adjustments to the monitors internal settings must be made by the user via the monitor's control buttons before running the software correction on the computer that only adjusts the output of the computer's graphics card to compensate for the inaccuracies of the monitor.

Most calibration/profiling software includes an option for the user to manually adjust the monitor's color, contrast, and brightness controls while the measuring device is actively measuring the monitor's output and displaying the measured output in one corner of the screen. This is the only way to adjust the monitor's internal LUT with a monitor that is not "hardware color management" capable. Once the monitor is adjusted as close as possible to the target, then the software does a very detailed measurement of the monitor's output at various colors and brightness levels and adjusts the computer's LUT that controls the signal sent to the monitor to compensate for variations from the target in the monitor's measured output.

With a hardware color managed monitor, the software does the adjustment by altering the monitor's internal LUT via the data connection between the computer and monitor.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Color management is done in the operating system and the graphics card. The physical button adjustments are too limited, they are just the starting point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 17:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rafael With "hardware color managed" monitors the software on the computer actually makes changes to the monitors LUT before doing the fine adjustments the way you describe. Please read the link in the answer for a good summary of the process. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rafael your comment is exactly what the answer says regarding monitors that do not support 'hardware color management': "Once the monitor is adjusted as close as possible to the target, then the software does a very detailed measurement of the monitor's output at various colors an brightness levels and adjusts the computer's output to the monitor to compensate for variations from the target in the monitor's measured output." \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Michael the linked article says "A monitor that is equipped with a look-up table of 10 bits or larger for each color is required for hardware calibration". Would this 10 bit LUT still work effectively when receiving an 8 bit signal from the computer? \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @John A monitor with internal 10 bit (or more) LUTs works fine with 8 bit inputs. I have a CG318 which has 16 bit LUTs and works with 8 bits or 10 bits input. But to use 10 bits requires a display card (like Nividia Quadro) and cable as well as an application that supports it. \$\endgroup\$
    – doug
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 22:14

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