September 21, 2014

What brand monitor do you recommend for digital photography?

BenQ PG2401PT
            One question I get almost everywhere I go when giving a digital imaging program is “What brand monitor do you recommend for digital photography?” There are as many different answers to that question as there are brands and models. 20+ years ago, the new digital photography technology forced photographers to spend some serious money on a good CRT monitor.  There was not that many affordable options out there and we knew we needed to really have something that would yield a decent image. After all, we are visual artists. We make corrections and enhancements on digital images based on what we see on our monitors. If the monitors are not properly calibrated and profiled, we are making changes on incorrect information. Its no wonder so many photographers are having a problem with their color output. If the monitors are not yielding proper information, everything downstream from there is going to be effected.
            Now…  it’s over twenty-three years since I gave up the stability of film for the world of digital capture. In the beginning, before color spaces and practical color management, I would output a high-end color transparency of a finished job that was used to let the client know what the digital file was supposed to look like. Back then, clients were used to viewing transparencies and trusting the color. Digital photography on a monitor....   not so much... That was much too expensive of a way to proof a digital photography project at a cost of about $125 per sheet of 8x10 film output. Then came the ability to purchase a colorimeter at a reasonable price. That along with Adobe Photoshop’ version 5.5 that now had the new color spaces sRGB, Colormatch, Adobe 1998, and ProPhoto, we started to have better way to describe and predict our color output.
            When we moved from CRT monitors to the flat screen LCD monitors we use now, prices dropped and many different brands appeared to give us many more choices for digital imaging. With so many models available for just a few hundred dollars each at the local electronics stores, many photographers started buying cheaper monitors and relying on their colorimeters to get these inexpensive monitors to look reasonably correct. 
            Well…. you get what you pay for like anything in life. Asking photographers to pay $2500+ for the most expensive monitors is sometimes too much to ask for when we see monitors with the same screen size for about $250 and at first glance think they look about the same to us. Finding the correct balance of quality and price is a hard thing to do.              
            For the last few months I have been working with a new model monitor from BenQ, the PG2401PT. This new model designed for accurate graphic arts reproduction and professional photography with a price of just $999 is that perfect balance. I knew it was going to be a great monitor when I first plugged it in and opened my special calibration file I use to confirm color values, and it looked perfect even before I profiled it with my X-Rite i1 Pro system
           This is a file I created years ago and use it to view on monitors or print output to be sure I’m on target with color brightness and saturation of my digital images. You are welcome to have a copy by downloading the file by clicking this link.
         It’s made up of different targets and setup numbers of white and black tones for both Photoshop’s 0-255 and Lightroom’s 0-100 value system. The key numbers to watch are the 240-245 white with detail and 20-25 black with detail values.When I see both of those values have the separation I'm looking for on the monitor, I know I can trust my eyes to me making the correct file enhancement  decisions.
            After profiling the BenQ monitor I noticed it looked the same and that’s not usually the case after profiling…  It just looked that good right out of the box. This 24 inch monitor is set up for Adobe1998 and CMYK color conversions with an impressive list of specs. Monitors I’ve worked with in the past with any specs close to this have been in the $2000-$2500 range.

            Proper start to finish color management has been a big part of my success as a commercial photographer. Without the best possible representation of the image in the beginning of raw file processing, nothing you do from that point on has the potential to be the best it can be. In this business, anything less that perfection is just a picture.... and everybody's a photographer....and I mean everybody..... I want to craft fine photographs with every click of the shutter....   not just take pictures......  

1 comment:

Benq Monitor said...

When we moved from CRT monitors to the flat screen LCD monitors we use ...