Contents > How to choose your monitor 1 / 8


How to choose the right photo or video monitor? - 1/8

Published on May 15, 2015   |   Updated on November 27, 2019


A good photo monitor is essential for photo editing or video editing but is the subject of many fantasies! And even if Eizo is often considered a kind of Graal, Should everyone invest such a sum of money into a monitor though? What are the real differences between monitors side by side and not the ones we imagine because it's more expensive? So here are my tips for choosing the right one for you...

To choose your monitor for photo or video edition, I identified seven points that seem more or less key to me. Here they are but before that, I'd like to share with you a few preliminary remarks since I hear many fears, beliefs and fantasies about monitors. To sum it up, some low-range screens are totally under-rated and the most expensive ones often over-rated, not that they're not good enough, to the contrary, but rather that many cheaper monitors are not so far behind or even at the same level, but without all the warranties and accessories.

Did you know it?  Between a monitor at $900 and another one at $1,750, for the same brand, you'll get the same panel and backlighting but the manufacturer will have taken care of making a first selection of the copies, to stuff his monitor with uniformity aging monitoring sensors and so on in order to make sure that the screen doesn't change a single bit from one second to the next one. Put in other words, the screen at $860 will display colors exactly like the one at $1,800 at a given time without reassuring its user! I just remind you that when you measure average Delta E at 0.25, you are so far below the threshold where the eye sees a difference (>1) that it no longer matters except to decide between them at any cost!





Opening remarks... my approach and criteria for choice!

Two big opening questions come to my mind:

 Is there an ideal screen for us photographers? And by ideal, I mean a screen that any photographer or video maker should have...
 What are the real differences, and not the ones we imagine, between screens?

Eizo monitor

Here is my opinion through these pages...

We are all different, with different priorities, different approaches, different paths and "accessorily" different budgets! We are all at different stages of our "photographic maturity" and I do not see how there could be an ideal monitor to meet all those criteria and that would require everyone to buy the most expensive monitor. Is there an "ideal" painting, an ideal musician? No, it is obvious. Well, concerning photography, this ideal screen should exist!

Do not look for it... (or take an Eizo CG2420 or Eizo CG277 and don't ever think about it again!) but find your own ideal screen, according to your budget and criteria... One with which you feel good day after day. Or else said, one that makes you accept its (small) defects if you don't buy the most expensive, the one you "should" buy!

What are your needs? Do you often print your photos or do you work on the Internet? What is your maximum budget? These are the real questions in my opinion. Who are your clients? What kind of photo editing do you perform? Are you printing on matte or glossy paper? Do you work very saturated pictures or not? Are the screen as an object and its design important to you? Is panel homogeneity fiercely important to you or not? And many other questions...

It is so tempting to think that this famous screen exists, especially when you're looking towards Eizo ColorEdge or NEC Spectraview. And I'm also tempted to admit that these are indeed beautiful screens, even perfect according to my own tests. But I also know that the differences with cheaper screens are also overrated. Just one example: the entry level of the famous EIZO ColorEdge, the Eizo CS2420 under test on this site, gets a Delta E with excellent calibration software but not the reference, of 0.25 !!! And that even if it were 0.50, it would be well below 1, the threshold where a very good eye no longer sees any difference. So it's the same visually except that the numbers can designate a winner!


Just a first recommendation... calibrate your monitor in any case, you won't regret it!

i1Display Pro colorimeterWhatever screen you buy, I urge you to calibrate it with the latest generation of calibration sensors. They have made a lot of progress and systematically optimize your screen. This is non-negotiable!!

Choose your colorimeter  suivre



What monitor for what use?

There are as many photographers, graphic designers and video makers as there are different levels of expectations. A professional editor won't have the same level of expectations as a beginning photographer who tries to do things the right way and accessorily... doesn't have the same budget. And unlike an old belief, more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better but rather with more guarantees...

1 - You're a professional studio photographer, a printer or a professional editor...

Your needs are your clients'. No need to shilly-shally: I think you need to buy a top-range screen by EIZO, with a wide gamut, and certified to the different ISO norms of the moment (worth over $1,300 incl. taxes). You must offer your clients display guarantees - now and later - if they require you to use precise colors, Pantone for instance, in particular color spaces, whatever the final printing medium.


You would have done as good a job with screens a bit cheaper, but without this guarantee. These screens are also very easy to calibrate and reach a color temperature of 5000K without the screen becoming yellow. You'll treat yourself to the top of the basket and enjoy it a lot. And consequently, your job will get a lot easier!

2 - For professional or demanding amateur photographers and video makers...

Do you really need all the monitoring and other guarantees offered by the Reference or ColorEdge serials for $850 more? An  Eizo CS2420 or its big brother in 27-Inch , the Eizo CS2730 already offer perfect colors, in the color space Adobe RGB for $860 or $1,300. Add an excellent sensor i1Display Pro or SpyderX Elite and you'll be fully satisfied, I can tell.


3 - For amateur photographers and video makers...

Of course, you can have a glance at the above category and treat yourself to a great Eizo CS2420 for $860 "only". With that said, you'll find good references noticeably cheaper by Dell or Eizo and you might not need a screen with a perfect homogeneity or an Adobe RGB display. In many cases, sRGB is completely sufficient. I'll explain it with details in a page dedicated to the choice of sRGB vs Adobe RGB.

4 - For beginning photographers...

As long as you won't have put a good "low-range" screen but very good for the price and a so-called "Graphic Arts" screen, you will underestimate one and fantasize about the other. I'm lucky enough to like comparing in real life and I own this type of screens: two Asus VC239H monitors (which I will replace with Dell P2419H) under $200 I recommend to beginners which is already surprising and will introduce you to the world of color management and monitor calibration in good conditions. If I tell you that the grey gradients, so ugly on so many screens on the market, are already very progressive, without real tone breakings (with this screen and probably many others) you don't have to believe me, but I'll show you it's true if you stop by my place! Don't let yourself be influenced by marketing arguments of screens manufacturers. The best screens have already been excellent for five years and they don't know what more to invent to sell you the next ones. In the meanwhile, more generic brands are making progress. If you're a photographer and I tell you about the progresses made by a brand like Sigma, do you get what I'm talking about? Of course, an Eizo ColorEdge is wonderful but the difference reduces with lower-range screens...The colors are now often extremely close and the difference really lies into uniformity. Eizo is still Eizo!


About Delta E...

Delta E of a screenTo evaluate the quality of a screen at least partly objectively, it is common nowadays to measure its delta eusing a sensor, meaning the gap it presents relatively to an ideal display. As most eyes are able to distinguish a difference between two shades of a same color at 1/100, it is common to say that this delta e must be under 2, and ideally at 1. Even at 2, the colors are so close you need to be in very good conditions of comparison to see the difference.

In 2020, the number of monitors able to reach an average delta e under 1 (according to the 2000 norm) is impressive. The best screens reviewed on this site even get an average of 0.25 (Eizo CS2420Eizo CG2420, iMac Pro Apple, etc.) !!! They are thus perfect monitors! To a point that it is not even necessary anymore to calibrate them with optimized software solutions (ColorNavigator and friends) to get even better results: the eye can't see a difference anymore. Our mind is still tempted to classify those screens but our eye is perfectly unable of it.

Nowadays, from a certain level of quality - all the screens in my purchasing guide - the colors displayed can be considered perfect or almost. The difference, however, can lite into the uniformity of the panel. Here, my reviews are absolutely positive: not any brand can call themselves Eizo but here again, the gap is so tight that if you're not over-quibbling, you can probably work in great conditions even with a screen that is not perfectly uniform because here again, sometimes the sensor is the only one able to perceive this slight defect. And finally, nowadays, honor is safe: Eizo manufactures the best screens in the world.  

Next pages...

2 / 8 - What monitor size to choose? Single or multi-screen?

3 / 8 - Switch to 4K... or not yet?

4 / 8 - What panel technology to favor? Wide gamut or not?

5/ 8 - Panel uniformity ? sRGB or wide gamut?

6 / 8 - Which graphics card to buy?

7 / 8 - Hardware acceleration and Look Up Table?

8 / 8 - What is the purpose of 10-bit display?



Through these 8 pages I will share with you my advices to choose your photo editing or video editing monitor...
- Generic advice - 1/8
  - Opening remarks..
- What monitor for what use?
- About Delta E...

- What monitor size to choose?
- Switch to 4K or UHD... or not yet?
- Panel technology : IPS, TN, VA, OLED?
- Panel luminosity, HDR or not, sRGB or wide gamut?
- Which graphics card and connector to choose?
- Hardware acceleration and Look Up Table?
- What is the purpose of 10-bit display?


- 2020 monitors buying guide
- How to calibrate your monitor?
- My 35 full monitor reviews!


Calibrate your monitor with the best
colorimeter: X-Rite i1Display Pro !

Read my full review...


Calibrate your photo printer with the
best value for money: X-Rite i1 Studio !

Read my full review...  










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