I've been told that the anti-glare coating of the DELL U2711 makes it a poor choice for photo editing, despite the wide gamut.

I read many things about this screen on the web, but I haven't found any examples. Can someone share their impressions of how this screen performs for photography, ideally with some actual visual comparisons ?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why not save some grief and get a monitor designed for color-critical work? The NEC PA271 has the same size and resolution on a similar price. For an extra $250, NEC includes their custom color calibration (SpectraView) solution too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 1, 2013 at 23:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Itai : Here, the NEC is at 1100 € and the Dell is at 650 €. So it's a 450 € difference, near twice the price of the Dell... And if the Dell is good enough, that makes the difference. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oliver
    Jan 2, 2013 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


The anti-glare coating on the Dell U2711 is indeed problematic. Anti-glare coatings are used on a lot of screens, the majority of them in fact. Most professional grade monitors intended for high-end graphics use, such as for photographic editing, video editing, etc. usually have an anti-glare coating of some kind, although a few are glossy (no anti-glare/anti-reflection coating.)

The Dell U2711 has a high pixel density, and is apparently a very bright display. High brightness displays and glossy coatings don't generally go all that well together, and result in strong reflections. As such, most screens that are 27" 2560x1440 use some kind of coating to reduce the amount of glare from windows or light sources and reflection of objects in front of the screen (including the user). A notable exception to this rule is the Apple 27" 2560x1440 CinemaDisplay, which is glossy...and comes with all the problems associated with lacking any kind of anti-reflective coating for such a bright, high pixel density screen. It, too, is often downgraded for professional or photographic use unless you are lucky enough to have a very dull setting away from windows or other light sources that could potentially reflect on the screen during use. The older Apple CinemaDisplay 30" also had a slightly problematic anti-reflective coating that exhibited (although much more subtly) some of the same things the Dell U2711 coating does.

The problem with the Dell U2711 is the type of coating. Not all anti-glare coatings are equivalent, and there are a number of approaches one may take to reduce glare. In the case of this Dell screen, which uses "Anti Glare H3 Coating" (according to Dell), the coating is very prismatic, or results in visible refraction and even splitting of light into its component colors. This apparently leads to visible degradation in the quality of the image displayed on the screen, do a degree that most professional users dislike it greatly.

From what I've gathered in my own research of screens in my search to replace the older Apple 30" CinemaDisplay I currently own, the anti-glare coating used by Dell is really designed for screens with a larger pixel pitch. The prismatic nature of the coating works much better with smaller displays with larger pixels, or similarly sized displays of lower resolution. It seems that it is simply the combination of this coating with the particular pixel pitch of the U2711 that actually causes a problem.

If you are looking for a quality professional-grade screen that offers a wide gamut, quality color reproduction, and an appropriate anti-glare coating for the same pixel pitch, I recommend looking into the NEC PA271w-bk. It too is a 27" 2560x1440 screen, however it gets higher marks, sometimes much higher marks, in almost every respect. It also comes with a special calibration system that is explicitly designed to calibrate the PA271 and produce the best results. You will spend a little more on the NEC. List prices are about $950 for the Dell and $1400 for the NEC, however sale prices for the NEC reach as low as $950, vs. about $780 for the Dell. If you pick up the calibration kit along with the screen, you should expect to spend another $100, but it is definitely worth it (you can use other calibration devices with the NEC, however the one explicitly intended to be used with it does a much better, more accurate, and more consistent job according to my research.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, to add some "contrast", I own Dell U2711 and I've been incredibly happy with it. I've not used the NEC PA271w-bk so I don't know what I'm missing, which might be a good thing? But in comparison to most other consumer grade panels, the U2711 is in another league. There's always an element of personal taste when it comes to displays, so I'd recommend trying to see one before deciding if possible. To answer the question, the anti-glare coating has never caused me any issues with editing photos, I never even notice it. I rate the U2711 as great value for money. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2, 2013 at 4:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenCraddock: that's probably worth posting as an answer of its own. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jan 2, 2013 at 4:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenCraddock: You may be one of a unique few. There are a lot of forum threads, blogs, and other articles on the net covering the issues with the U2711 anti-glare coating. It is not an uncommon thing, especially for those looking for a high quality wide gamut display. The panel is actually excellent, and for the price generally unbeatable...but the coating has definitely raised the ire of more than a few professionals in graphics, video, and photography over the years, so its not something that can simply be shrugged off and dismissed as a non-issue...it IS an issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Jan 2, 2013 at 5:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenCraddock : do you have somewhere some pictures (very near, near, far) of the screen so we can see the effect of the anti-glare coating ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Oliver
    Jan 2, 2013 at 9:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have any pictures and I'm not sure I could show the effect of the anti-glare coating, as you'd need a calibrated source for the comparison to mean anything. I'll also add that the anti-glare coating is really good at one thing. Reducing glare. Which is really handy if you don't have a light calibrated workspace, or if you have windows or point sources of light behind you. It may be a trade-off but it makes the panel work well in far more environments than a "clean room" which is worth considering. There may be better panels, but "poor choice" doesn't describe this one. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2, 2013 at 12:53

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