The best monitors for photo editing in 2018

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Looking to buy the best monitor for photo editing that you can? You’re in the right place. No matter your skill level, we’ve gathered together the very best photo-editing monitors right now, for all budgets, in this buying guide.  

Whether you’re a professional photographer or graphic designer, a student or an enthusiast who just appreciates the best possible picture quality, you need a display that will bring your creative ideas to life. 

Colour accuracy – the conformance of a display’s imaging capabilities according to various globally defined specifications – affects whether you can expect an image to look the same on all kinds of devices. And for professionals, that matters a lot. 

An eye-catching book or magazine cover depends heavily on whether the artist is aiming for a deep red or muddy orange, and that job becomes much harder with a poorly calibrated, inaccurate display. And while it’s still wise to invest in a monitor calibration tool, the best monitors for photo editing will have excellent colour accuracy straight out of the box.

You'll also want to consider brightness and contrast levels: similarly, these give you the best possible perspective on black and white levels in an image. 

Additionally, there are now a whole lot of display form factors to choose from, with a range of sizes that support 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution. Ultra-wide curved monitors will give you masses of space to work in and the thinnest possible bezels, but not everyone. But if you opt for one, remember to set the monitor up at an appropriate distance and height from your sitting position. 

Either way, there’s a lot of choice out there. To help you decide which is best for you, here’s our pick of the best monitors for photo editing… 

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01. BenQ SW2700PT

A high-end monitor for photo editing that’s relatively kind to your wallet

Screen size: 27-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel technology: IPS | Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI 1 x DVI-DL | USB: 2 x USB 3.0

Affordable price for 99% AdobeRGB coverage
14-bit look-up table
No 4K support
Smaller screen size

The BenQ 27-inch SW2700PT display is a more affordable colour-accurate monitor for photo editing than some of the 32-inch behemoths on the market. It requires less desktop space to boot, but without sacrificing a high standard of image quality – making it one of the best monitors for photo editing you can get right now. It features a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution using the same 14-bit look-up table and offering the same 99% AdobeRGB coverage you find on displays from other manufacturers that can cost more than twice as much. Similarly, you get hardware calibration support and it comes with a nifty shading hood to eliminate glare from ambient light. While it may not support 4K resolution, the image quality is very good for digital photography. The SW2700PT is an excellent purchase if you want a professional display without the high prices of larger 4K screens.

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02. ASUS ProArt PA329Q

A great all-round monitor for photo editing, if you have a bit more cash

Screen size: 32-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel technology: IPS | Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 1x Mini-DisplayPort, 4 x HDMI | USB: 3 x USB 3.0

Great selection of inputs and USB connectivity
Useful joystick for OSD navigation
No USB-C

The 32-inch Asus PA329Q is a 4K monitor with a fairly hefty price tag: it's considerably more than other displays of its size. However, you can literally see where this extra money goes when you first catch a glimpse of its sumptuous image, thanks to its full support for Rec.709, sRGB and AdobeRGB (99.5%) colour spaces.

It features proper 10-bit colour depth (as opposed to cheaper 8-bit monitors which use trick called frame reference counting to simulate 10-bit colour depth) with a 14-bit colour look-up table. Features-wise, it has a lot to offer as well, with a three-port USB 3 hub, four HDMI inputs, two DisplayPort inputs and full tilt, swivel and rotate capability. Best of all, it has a joystick to quickly navigate through the on-screen menus, vastly speeding up the time to flick through all the different preset colour options or make changes to the display brightness, gamma or contrast.

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3. Eizo ColorEdge CG319X

The best photo-editing monitor for professionals

Screen size: 31-inch | Resolution: 4096 x 2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel technology: IPS | Inputs: 2 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI | USB: 3 x USB 3.0

Unrivalled image quality
High-end specification for ultimate colour accuracy
Very expensive
Some features unnecessary for non-pros

Eizo trades heavily on a reputation for being the ultimate professional display brand. When you first see the clarity, vivacity and brightness of an Eizo display, it’s immediately obvious why they’re so much more expensive than other monitors and cost far more than most of us spend on an entire PC. The latest version of Eizo’s flagship 31-inch professional monitor, the Eizo ColorEdge CG319X,  builds upon its predecessor, using an unmatched 24-bit look-up table for 10-bit colour depth, supporting 99% AdobeRGB, 100% Rec.709 and 98% DCI-P3 colour spaces. It also supports a slightly wider 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160, conforming to the professional DCI 4K standard used by some professional studios.

It has a unique built-in hardware colour calibration tool that pops down with a click every time the monitor is power cycled, ensuring the colours remain in sync without needing to use a third-party colorimeter. New to this generation are hybrid-log gamma and perceptual quantisation for working with HDR video – a feature that, again, will be of most interest to studios and freelancers working with high-end imagery.

Although most of us will take one look at the price and quickly move on, it should be remembered that the CG319X is a display that’s on another level. It's aimed at a niche professional audience where business demands the best possible colour accuracy, and boy, it sure delivers on this front.

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04. Dell UltraSharp U2518D

Superb picture quality that won't break the bank

Screen size: 25-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel technology: IPS | Inputs: 2 x DisplayPort, 1x Mini-DP 1 x HDMI | USB: 2 x USB 3.0

Full sRGB coverage
Slim bezels
Small screen size for QHD resolution

If you’re looking for a great monitor for photo editing that fits a more reasonable budget, Dell’s UltraSharp range delivers a great image. This 25-inch UltraSharp U2518D squeezes in under the £300 mark, and although it doesn’t offer the same absolute premium colour reproduction of the priciest displays we’ve suggested, it’s still capable of full sRGB coverage with a quality IPS panel that is accurate to a delta E of less than three.

Contrast levels of 1000:1 are some of the best in this price range, with 350 nits of brightness to product a crystal clear image. The response time can go as low as 5ms, making it great for gaming on too – the U2518D makes a good all rounder display whatever you’re using your computer for. This is the best budget photo-editing monitor you can get.

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05. Viewsonic VP3881

The best ultra-wide monitor for photo editing

Screen size: 37.5-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 1600 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel technology: IPS | Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI | USB: 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C

Huge amount of desktop space
Comprehensive array of colour options
Image spec behind other displays
Resolution doesn't support 4K

The ultra-wide form factor is usually found in displays aimed at gaming or general computer use, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see ViewSonic has stepped in to offer graphic artists a massive 37.5-inch 21:9 display with the VP3881. Ultra-wide displays such as this are like having two smaller monitors together on the desk, without a bezel breaking up the desktop space. It gives you space to have multiple windows open at once, boosting productivity immensely as you can have webpages, file explorers, and multiple editing applications on-screen simultaneously.

The image quality isn’t quite in the same league as other displays listed here – it offers 100% sRGB coverage but a slightly narrower AdobeRGB conformity, and the 10-bit colour depth is compensated by frame reference counting. But it has a very complete set of image customisation settings in the on-screen menus that's enough to make the VP3881 a cut above other ultra-wide screens.

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06. Acer ProDesigner PE320QK

A photography monitor that works well with games too

Screen size: 32-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel technology: IPS | Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, 1x D-Sub | USB: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C

Gaming features as well as imagery
Great all-round image quality
Higher price than other 32-inch 4K displays
DCI-P3 coverage slightly lower 

Acer’s 32-inch colour-accurate 4K display, the ProDesigner PE320QK, is aimed squarely at people who care about professional-grade graphics work and photo editing. It comes with an anti-glare hood to eliminate ambient light that may affect on-screen colour accuracy. And rated at 550 nits brightness, it supports 10-bit colour, covering 100% Rec.709 and 90% DCI-P3 colour spaces. 

Unlike the other photo-editing monitors here, there are a few extra features that may appeal to gaming use as well, such as a 4ms response time, a few gaming presets in the menus and support for FreeSync adaptive-sync technology (which only works with AMD graphics cards, unfortunately.) If you’re a gamer and a photographer, those extra features could be enough to persuade you that the PE320QK is the only display you’ll ever need.

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