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When shopping for monitors, well, it can be overwhelming.

BHPhoto currently lists 1,116 different choices on their site alone with features ranging from:

  • Resolution (do people even perceive 8k differently than 4k?)
  • Screen size (bigger is...better?)
  • Curved screens
  • Panel (IPS, AH-IPS, PLS, TN)
  • Colors for display
  • Refresh Rate (here comes the epilepsy)
  • LED vs LCD

Prices also range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

What are the key features that a photographer would want in their monitor and what features are more personal preference over specifically aiding the photo to print experience?

This question may be a complete dupe of this older one: What should I look for in a monitor for photo processing? But I'd have to imagine that things have changed in the decade since it was asked.

  • Interesting to see how this one will pan out - I get the fact that it's a 'dupe' but the old could certainly do with a good wash & brush up & would probably [assuming good answers here] become the 'dupe' itself. Interestingly, for those with sufficient rep to see the deleted answers, that's exactly why I [still] own Dell U27xx to this day - same 'glass' as that once-magnificent iMac screen. [Of course, you can do better today… but I'm waiting to win the lottery ;) – Tetsujin Feb 3 at 19:05
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Things NOT to get:

  • TN panels of any kind. Their color rendition varies on viewing angle. IPS and its variations (including PLS and AH-IPS) is what you want.

  • Any monitor that isn't at least specified as 100% for the colorspace you want to work in. Might calibrate to 98% or so of it... still, far better than a design that does not try.

  • Monitor(s) your PC cannot interface with well - eg if you have a single, modern DisplayPort connector as your only digital monitor port, you need to look into MST connectivity; if you use DVI/HDMI, know the difference between single and dual link interfaces and cables. You will want to avoid VGA connections if you can.

Depending on use case, there might be more merit in getting two $399 monitors, one portrait and one landscape, and a $200 calibrator, than one $998 monitor.

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  • +1 on the two monitor suggestion. I do a variation of this, a cheap 4k 55" HDR TV for seeing detail + a cheap 22" 1080p monitor w/ accurate colors for color work. Much cheaper and IMO better than spending $$$$ on a large 4k+ screen that also has accurate colors. – Nate S. Feb 3 at 20:35
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    I've used TN panels that were very good as long as one was properly positioned in front of them. I'd rather have a true 8-bit TN panel than a 6-bit + FRC IPS panel. You just have to pay attention to your viewing position. The main problem with TN panels on the market these days is that they are made to be as cheap as possible, and thus are very low quality, even for TN panels. – Michael C Feb 4 at 6:09
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The basics

Price

I do not mean to get the cheapest one. I mean to define what a monitor/features you want and are worth for you. Are you running a studio for fashion photography for a magazine? Or it is a hobby.

In my opinion, the best monitor to have is the one you can purchase now and not in an undefined future.

Size

Yes, size matters. Are you connecting your monitor for "live preview" on your product photography studio? Is it close? Are you using it for photo retouching?

Imho, the best size is a 27-28" if you are using a 16:9 proportion and when working on a desktop.

But probably you could need a better quality monitor at the expense of size.

Viewing angle

Some cheap monitors change in color depending on the viewing angle. That is not good.

Decent brand

Any monitor of a decent brand will be "good enough" Benq, Samsung, LG, Dell, Asus, View Sonic, HP, Eizo... But there are some specific features like the color range on specific series.

There are 2 predominant backlight systems these days. Led and OLED. The old Fluorescent lams are outdated now. The main difference is the blackness of the dark point. Because on an OLED the pixels are really turned off, versus a Led display that has them only covered by black.

Resolution

You do not need more than FullHD on a 24" monitor.

On a 27-28" monitor you do not "need" more, but it can be a nice feature to have.

The specific

Color space

But here is the really important feature to look for when you think in a "monitor for photography". Color space.

To this date, (2020-01) Benq website is the one that has the more useful classification of monitors with a targeted audience.

enter image description here

The specialized monitors for photography (and design) are the ones that have a wider color range. There are several relevant spaces. The bigger the better.

For photography, the relevant ones are sRGB and AdobeRGB. The ProPhoto is currently too big to be covered with current technology as far as I know.

For video. sRGB, Rec709, NTSC, DCI-P3.

Some monitors for photography, claim to cover 99% of AdobeRGB. Use that information as a reference.

This is a topic that needs to be studied further:

Make some searches like these, combining and comparing color spaces to find more information:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=adobeRGB+vs+rec+709

Some not important features

  • Refresh rate. If you are not a gamer this is not important.

  • Curved or not.

  • Glossy or not.

  • Led or not. This can have some effect on the black point, but it is not a feature to look for, but the overall result.

  • Integration with GPU. This is also a gamer's feature.


Cost vs quality.

If you want to have a pro workflow, but limited on a budget choose in this order.

  1. Brand

  2. Widest color space you can have

  3. Size

  4. Resolution


In addition to a monitor, you can consider a calibration device like ColorMunki or ColorSpyder.


We live in a social media world today. One more thing to look for in a monitor in 2020 are... user reviews. Basically, to identify some of the points I am describing (and some others that I'm not)

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    I think you missed backlight uniformity, which varies greatly between models, and is measured by the better review/comparison sites. – Toby Speight Feb 4 at 11:50
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    Prophoto cannot be usefully rendered in any real monitor, since its blue and green primaries are "imaginary" — they are outside human perception. – Please Read My Profile Feb 4 at 18:29

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