The best monitors for photo editing are good investments for all kinds of photographers – enthusiasts as well as professionals. Unless you plan to only ever look at you photos on the screen they were edited on, broad colour coverage, accuracy and uniformity and essential to ensure your photos look the way you expect when you see them on another device, send them to a client or print them out.
With an inadequate screen, or one that's not been calibrated, you could spend hours editing an image to get it perfect and then find that it looks completely different on another support. This is because different screens display different amounts of colours, have varying degrees of colour accuracy and uniformity across the whole display. Brightness and contrast also impact how your work looks, and even on a single screen these factors change over the display's life, which is why it's also important to regularly calibrate your monitor (see the best monitor calibrator tools) for that.
A monitor that isn't up to the job can result in edited photos that are too bright or dark or contain over or under-saturated colours. The best monitors for photo editing can avoid that by supporting wide colour spaces such as Adobe RGB, accurate colours and adjustable brightness and contrast.
Below we've made our pick of the best monitors for photo editing looking out for these and other useful features based on our own reviews and recommendations from our contributors. We've provided recommendations at different price points in order to provide options for enthusiasts as well as professionals. This is because the best monitors for photographers overall are far too expensive for many non-professionals to consider, but there are alternatives that aren't as perfect but offer decent specs at affordable prices. Just note that while some of the more expensive devices come with their own calibration tools, with cheaper options, you'll defintely need a monitor calibrator.
Most photographers today want to work on 4K screens, especially if they work with video as well as stills. We've included some options here, but we also have a specific guide to the best 4K monitors if you want more. And we also have a guide to the best monitors for video editing. Meanwhile, if you want a tactile screen, which can be useful for making selections for localised photo editing, take a look at our roundup of the best touchscreen monitors.
The best monitors for photo editing today
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We rate the BenQ SW321C as the best monitor for photo editing overall. It's not cheap by any means, but it's not the most expensive screen either, offering a good balance between price and quality – because the quality is fantastic. It boasts 99% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB and 95% P3 gamut coverage, and you can quickly switch between colour spaces thanks to a separate control unit. And the screen comes expertly calibrated, although it also offers hardware calibration independent of your computer.
We've found the colour precision and uniformity across the screen to be close to faultless, and when combined with the detail of the 4K display, this is a screen that allows you to view your work in glorious detail. There are plenty of other useful touches. The Paper Color Sync mode helps you create a colour space based on your printer and paper type for more accurate previewing, while M Book mode makes the screen more closely match a MacBook Pro to allow easy transition between screens. The monitor supports USB-C with power delivery up to 60W, so you can connect a laptop and get power and data over a single cable.
See our full BenQ SW321C review for more details.
If a stunningly specced monitor like the BenQ screen above is way too much of an outlay for where you are in your photography career (or hobby) at the moment, then this LG monitor should appeal. It's very reasonably priced, but there's much to like in the specs too. It offers 98% coverage of the sRGB space, which is more than enough for many, especially if you're not editing professionally.
There's also HDR 10 compatibility plus AMD FreeSync for anyone interested in a spot of gaming when they're done editing photos. It even includes a colour calibration tool so you can check that you're seeing what you should on screen, making an ideal monitor for photo editing.
Eizo has a reputation for being the ultimate professional photo-editing monitor brand, and the first time you see the clarity, vivacity and brightness of an Eizo display, it’s immediately obvious why – and why its photo-editing monitors are so much more expensive than those of competitors – and more expensive than most PCs.
The latest version of Eizo’s flagship 31-inch professional monitor, the Eizo ColorEdge CG319X boasts 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 colourimeter. And new to this generation are hybrid-log gamma and perceptual quantisation for working with HDR video – something that will be of most interest to studios and freelancers working with high-end imagery.
The CG319X is designed – and priced – for a niche professional audience that needs the best possible colour, and when we tested it for ourselves, we found that it certainly delivers, offering phenomenal colour accuracy and excellent features in a solid, sturdy, if not particularly exciting looking build. Most of us will skip this option after taking one glance at the price, but if money is no object, this is the best monitor for photo editing you can buy, only placing at number 3 because of the cost. See our full, in-depth Eizo ColorEdge CG319X review for more details.
This LG monitor has a lot going for it indeed. First off, it's a big 32-inch 4K screen packed with pixels. It offers 95% P3 colour gamut support, HDR compatibility (though the brightness is fairly low at 350 nits), and even, accurate images that look truly authentic. It also boasts great connections, including USB Type-C.
But it's the 'Ergo' part that really sets it apart in our eyes. The adjustable arm allows you to position the monitor however you want in terms of height, rotation, tilt and how far forward you want it. The pillar support clamps to the back of your desk, so it actually leaves you more space on the desk too. We find it a delight to work with, although we recognise that not everyone will use this flexibility.
We've mentioned 4K monitors so far, and 4K resolution is fast becoming the norm, but you may not really need it, especially if you're only working with stills photography and don't need to edit video as well. Dell’s UltraSharp range always delivers a great image and, while the monitors' designs don't exactly stand out from the crowd, the tiny bezels around this display do make it easy on the eye.
Dell makes quality displays with great colours, making them ideal for photo editing. Although this isn't a display designed specifically with colour accuracy in mind, the Dell UltraSharp U2719D is a great all-round QHD offering that's more adjustable than most – you can pivot, tilt, swivel and adjust the height of your display. The pivot is particularly useful, and the USB hub is a handy extra feature for connectivity.
We generally recommend going for a reasonably large screen (between 27 and 34in when choosing the best monitor for photo editing, but that can be a challenge if you don't have the desk space (or don't have the office space for a larger desk!). But the HP M24FW is rather unique in that it's a relatively small screen with very respectable color space coverage, and it's also an absolute bargain, costing $150 – $200 / £120 – £150.
It offers 99% sRGB color space coverage and the colour and contrast consistency that comes with IPS LCD screen tech. It even looks rather smart with its sleek stand stand and narrow bezels. The Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen resolution is nothing special, but it's high enough to keep things looking crisp on a display this size. Connectivity is limited to just a single HDMI port and an old-school VGA port, but that does mean compatibility with older computers should be simple.
Ultra-wide monitors are usually aimed at gaming or general computer use, so it’s nice to see ViewSonic offering 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 as you can view webpages, file explorers and multiple editing applications 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. However, the monitor has a 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.
We were a little disappointed when we reviewed the new Apple Studio Display. Only a 60hz refresh rate, no HDR, and you have to pay extra if you want to be able to adjust the height. Also, while a built-in webcam of any kind on a monitor is a relative rarity, that on the Apple Studio Display is a bit mediocre.
All that aside, however, when it comes to editing photos, this monitor is not a bad choice, especially if you're a fan of Apple products and you're looking for an option to pair with a Mac mini or to expand the screen on your MacBook Pro. It offers decent multimedia features and consistent colour and brightness, which are the main priorities when it comes to photo editing.
Read more details are our full Apple Studio Display review.
How to choose the best monitor for photo editing
There several things to consider and look out for when you're choosing a monitor for photo editing. Some of the most important are to decide what size monitor you want. There are also minimum requirements you should look for in terms of resolution and colour accuracy. We'll discuss some of those questions below.
Why do I need to choose one of the best monitors for photo editing?
Images look different on different screens because displays differ in their colour coverage and accuracy. That means that if the screen you work on has poor colour coverage and accuracy, your work could look very different on a different screen or when printed out.
Good colour coverage is especially important if you're doing HSL adjustments and colour grading. While you can't guarantee what screen your clients or public will use to see your photos, you can at least ensure that you're own screen is allowing you to make the most accurate edit possible.
Which is the best monitor for photo editing?
The very best monitor for photo editing in our view is the Eizo ColorEdge CG319X at number three in our list above. We only place it at number three rather than at the top because we've also taken price into consideration, and monitors such as this are simply not an option for many enthusiasts, and even for many professionals.
We currently recommend the BenQ SW321C as the best monitor for photo editing for those looking for a balance between professional specs and a slightly more accessible price.
What size monitor should I use for photo editing?
One important thing to consider when buying a monitor for photo editing is the size of screen that you want to work on. Many displays come in the standard 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, although a taller screen (or a screen that you can rotate like the LG Ultrafine Ergo in our list above) can be useful for editing images in portrait orientation.
Ultra-wide monitors will give you a lot more screen space to work on so that you can have multiple windows or panels open, but they aren't necessarily the best for focused work. They also take up a huge amount of space. Generally, we find that most photographers like editing on a monitor that's between 27in and 32in.
What monitor resolution do I need for photo editing?
Put very simply, the higher the resolution, the better the sharpness and detail of the image, but that depends on the size of the monitor – and of course, higher resolution monitors are usually more expensive. When looking to pick the best monitor for photo editing, we would recommend going for a resolution of 4K (3,840 x 2,160) if you can afford it.
Most of the screens in our list of the best monitors for photo editing are 4K displays (double check that your PC or Mac supports 4K resolution if it's quite an old device), but we have also included an QHD and FHD screen, both much more affordable while still offering the good colour coverage you want for photo editing.
Do I need a 4K monitor for photo editing?
Not at all. We recommend using a 4K screen since it will offer a sharper, cleaner and more detailed image if the screen is large enough, and since 4K monitors have become more affordable, it's not so much of a difficult decision. But if you prefer a smaller screen (less than 27 inches), then you're not going to see much of a difference between 4K and FHD, and the interface scaling may make things too small to be comfortable.
What else should I consider in a monitor for photo editing?
If you're buying a monitor for photo editing, colour is vital and it's a good idea to look for a that display supports colour spaces like Adobe sRGB. You'll also want a uniform brightness across the screen. The best monitors for photo editing include their own calibration tools, but this is not an essential since you can also buy an external monitor calibrator to perform regulator calibration of your screen.
Connectivity is a key issue, too – many monitors have HDMI, but some also support Thunderbolt or USB-C meaning you can have a single cable going to your PC or Mac that powers it and also carries the display signal. Whichever monitor your choose, you'll want to make sure you regularly calibrate it using one of the best monitor calibrators. And if your workspace has harsh lighting, you might want to consider applying an anti-reflective coating too.