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You’re only as good as your monitor!

Ok, so that may not be strictly true, but a good monitor is one of the most important tools in your retouching arsenal. 

Lower quality monitors may be fine for browsing the internet, the odd movie or playing a few games, but when it comes to creative projects, a purpose built monitor will almost certainly prove to be a worthwhile investment. 

What to look out for:

Monitors come in a range of configurations; high refresh rates for gaming, wide viewing angles and contrast for multimedia, and low cost do it all monitors for offices.

What we need in the photographic industry above all else is colour accuracy across wide colour gamuts. 

Now, it seems people in the creative industry fall into two broad camps; the free spirited artisans who have no interest in gear, and the tech nerds. Obviously there is a broad spectrum (pun definitely intended) of people in both groups, but even the more technically minded amongst off can be put off by topics like colour gamuts. All you need to know about gamuts, are that they relate to the range of colour that a monitor can display. You want to be on the lookout for high coverage of AdobeRGB and ideally high contrast and brightness levels.

Next up on the list of considerations is resolution. Now most of us are well aware of the benefits of higher pixel density, and a higher resolution monitor can certainly make retouching easier. There is often a trade off at lower price points between colour accuracy and resolution, with the better high resolution monitors being considerably more expensive. 

My top picks of monitors for retouching in 2020

EIZO ColorEdge CS2740

Eizo is world renowned for their industry leading monitors. The CS series of monitors do not disappoint. 

The CS2740 is a 27 inch, 4k IPS monitor (3840 x 2160) with USB C connectivity and 10-bit simultaneous display. You’ll get minimum glare, fantastic colours, and with 99% AdobeRGB coverage, you know those colours will be accurate. Aimed at Hobbyists and Prosumer, this monitor is perfectly suited for photographic, design and video applications.

EIZO ColorEdge CG319X

The CG line makes up Eizo’s professional monitor offerings, and they certainly pack a punch, and this is The Big Daddy.

At 31.1 inches and DCI 4K resolution (4096 x 2160), the massive CG319X gives you plenty of screen real estate. Small desk users beware!

With a built in calibration sensor, the CG319X will automatically keep your colours accurate across its wide gamut. Able to reproduce 98% of the DCI-P3 standard used in digital cinema, 99% of the Adobe RGB color space and also almost the entire ISO-coated and US web-coated CMYK color spaces used in printing, this is a powerhouse of a monitor.

The downside is you have to pay for this premium product, and the large price tag will put off many.

BenQ SW2700PT

Sitting at a more affordable price point, especially for those earlier on in their career, the BenQ SW2700PT is a pretty remarkable monitor.

With 10-bit display, 1440p and 99% Adobe RGB coverage, this monitor delivers. It even includes a shade hood, something the more expensive manufacturers will change a premium for.

A solid choice for retouchers.

NEC MultiSync PA311D

Contending for the same market space as Eizo, NEC monitors have carved their name as a brand professionals can trust.

The flagship of their MultiSync range, the PA311D is colour accurate across Adobe RGB to 99%, boasts 10-bit DCI 4K and has a built in calibrator and USB C connectivity. At a slightly lower price point than the CG319X, it’s a good choice for those looking for the highest quality.

Dell UltraSharp UP2716D

The Dell UP2716D offers 100% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB as well as 100% REC 709 and 98% DCI-P3, making it ideal for retouchers, video editors and designers who deal with colour-critical projects. It’s 27 inch, 1440p screen puts it in a similar bracket to the BenQ above. Coupled with the price, it’s a great choice for the prosumer and early stage professional market without totally breaking the bank. 

That’s my rundown of my top choices for monitors for retouchers right now. However, I would also recommend looking into some of the following brands to see if they hold a product that fits your needs. 

Colour critical monitors certainly run more expensive that your standard desktop monitor, but they are build to last and ensure your work stays at a professional grade day in, day out.

Happy retouching!

Brands to consider:

These are some of the leading names in monitors, and cover a range of prices:

  • NEC
  • Eizo 
  • Dell
  • Samsung
  • BenQ
  • Acer
  • MSI

Want to improve your retouching workflow? Check out the Professional Still Life Retouching tutorial!

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