How to choose a monitor for photo editing

On April 11, 2016, in Guides, by Harry Jackson
Best Computer for Photo Editing image 4

How to choose a monitor for photo editing

There are tons of computer monitors in the market today. How do you choose among them? Well the aim of this guide is to show you how to choose a monitor for photo editing.


In very simple explanatory terms that will help you understand a lot. Even if you don’t know much about displays.


At the end of which we will recommend a few top products that meets all the requirements described below.



Here’s what to look for in a computer monitor for photo editing purposes;



  • Panel type


IPS panel technology

IPS panel technology

They must be IPS (In-plane Switching) or PLS (Plane to Line Switching) panel types for optimum color results.


IPS panels offer the best color reproduction at wide viewing angles. Which helps so that the colors contained in your photos will all be displayed on screen.


Moreover you will not experience color discrepancies, color distortions, nor color shifts with IPS panels. Because they feature the widest viewing angle range of up to 178 degrees for both vertical and horizontal view.


Dell ultrasharpu2711 ips panel imageViewing angle is very important for editing pictures because it ensures you see the same colors at various points or angles you view the screen.


Meaning when you view the screen by the side, above, or below it, you see the same colors. Unlike the case with TN panels (Twisted Nematic panels) where there is always a change in the colors you see on screen when you view it from the sides. Or from the top or below the screen.


It also helps in cases where you and others are viewing the screen at the same time. You will all see the same colors without any shift in colors.


How about when you want to show your work to a client or to your friends. With TN panels, your client or friends might see different colors from what you have in mind to show them.


But with IPS panels, the same colors is present at any angle it is viewed.



  • Screen size and resolution


Monitor screen size

Size matters: A 21.5-inch display in this picture is not enough for photo editing

The minimum screen size recommended for photo editing is 24-inch with 1920 x 1080 resolution (HD resolution). Or higher.


Except you are on a tight budget, then you might consider a 23-inch screen. But do not go below a 1920 x 1080 resolution even at 23-inch. Also 23-inch should be the least size you should consider if you are on a tight budget.


The reason is that at 24-inch or higher, you get a wide enough view for the screen to display your pictures at optimum view. Moreover at a HD resolution (high definition resolution) or higher, the screen ensures you get the most of picture elements known as pixels, displayed on screen for your photos.


Of course there are larger screen sizes and higher resolutions recommended for photo editing.


Most popular screen resolutions

Most popular screen resolutions
Image source: Wikipedia

Sizes such as 27-inch, 30-inch, 32-inches, and higher are also recommended if you have the budget for it. But keep in mind that the price for higher screens gets a lot higher as you go up in inches.


As the size gets larger, the resolution gets higher as well for most screens. Because higher pixels is usually packed within the panels of large screen displays.


So for a 27-inch and larger screen, you will mostly get above HD resolutions of up to 4k ultra HD resolutions and higher.



  • Color coverage



True colors is very important for imagess on display

Color coverage is very important as it ensures a monitor will reproduce and display all possible colors of your images.


What it means is if a display does not offer enough colors due to its limited color coverage, you will not be able to see nor print out all the colors your pictures contains.


Think of your photos as containing all possible colors. A monitor with not enough color coverage will not be able to reproduce nor display all those colors contained in your photos. It will only be able to reproduce some of the colors say about 80% of the colors for example (in this case am assuming the color coverage to be 80%). But not all.


But a monitor with a high color coverage of up to 98% for example will be able to reproduce most of all

Color gamutthose colors your picture contains.


A major disadvantage of using a display with a poor color coverage is that you won’t see all the colors contained in your pictures displayed on screen when you want to edit them.


Meaning that your perfectly captured photos from your camera with all its beautiful colors will appear not so sharp on screen. Because there is not enough colors reproduced from the display for you to see and edit them perfectly. Due to poor color coverage.


Making you edit them with the wrong perception of the colors. Thinking you are editing them in full colors. Whereas there are even more colors available. But you are not seeing them due to a limited color coverage available in the panel of the display.


It delivers brilliant and superior color performance out of the box

This will also be the case if you print your pictures from a display with not enough color coverage. Because they won’t be printed with full colors.


To prevent the likelihood of these problems, check for the sRGB and Adobe RGB color space coverage of a display you intend to buy. Color coverage of 97% and above is good. But do not go below a color coverage of 95%.



  • Calibration




It comes with Eizo's special ColorNavigator software for simple and quick calibration

Eizo’s ColorNavigator software for simple and quick calibration

Calibration is a type of color correction that ensures a monitor does not deviate from displaying colors on screen the way it is meant to be seen. It is a step by step process that adjusts the color properties of a display in other to enhance it’s color performance.


Calibration is very important and should be a must for you as a serious photo editor. It is not a process that is done just once. It needs to be done from time to time as the need be.


In some cases, it needs to be done monthly, every few weeks, or once in three months. Depending on how often you make use of it. And how often there is need to color correct the display for optimum performance.



Some displays are simply too bright and blue in color when you turn them on for the first time. Which

It correlates very well with external calibration sensors like ColorMunki

An external calibration sensor like ColorMunki

might result to your images not to display accurately in colors. It is one of the reasons why it is recommended you calibrate it before first use.


Some monitors come pre-calibrated from the manufacturer. Meaning they have been calibrated already before being shipped to end users.


Some others come with a calibration tool shipped with them. That you can use to calibrate the monitor yourself even though they might be calibrated already.


While some few others come with in-built calibration sensors that help to automate the calibration process.


For most monitors, you need to calibrate them even before first use. Especially those that do not come pre-calibrated. While those that are pre-calibrated from the factory might not need you to calibrate them at first.


It provides predctable colors with any media

If possible, go for a pre-calibrated monitor. Or check if it comes with a calibration tool or a built-in calibration device.


It is not a must but if the display of your choice does not come pre-calibrated nor does it come with a calibration device, consider investing in a calibration tool such as a colorimeter. Because of the very important role calibration plays in ensuring there is fidelity in color reproduction.


Some of the top calibration tools available in the market are the X-rite Colormunki and Datacolor Spyder products.


Also remember to calibrate your display from time to time as the need be.



  • Viewing angles


No color shift due to its IPS panel and wide viewing angles unlike conventional monitors

No color shift due to IPS panel technology and wide viewing angles unlike conventional monitors

Viewing angle means the maximum angles a monitor can be viewed without affecting the colors and contrast of what is on display.


When viewing a screen from the central or focus point, you are actually viewing it at its optimal angle of view. But when you change position and view it from the sides. Or from the top or bottom of the screen, you are actually viewing it at certain angles to it.


Depending on the angle you are viewing the screen, colors and contrast could change considerably well if you are not using a display with the ideal viewing angle range. Which is always the case with TN (Twisted Nematic) panel screens.


It is a very important feature you need to take into consideration when choosing a monitor for photo editing. Because it could counter your efforts at editing pictures.


IPS (In-plane switching) panels have a wider range of viewing angles than the other panel technologies. But even at that, not all IPS panels have the ideal viewing angle range required for image editing. You still need to choose between them.


IPS panels provide up to 178 degrees viewing angles

IPS panels feature up to 178 degrees viewing angles

Viewing angle is quoted in angles of horizontal and vertical degrees. For example if the viewing angle is said to be 160/160, it means that the viewing angle is 160 degrees for horizontal view. And 160 degrees for vertical view.


In other words, it means that the angle at which you can view the screen without experiencing any change in colors or contrast is a range that is not more than 160 degrees for both horizontal and vertical view. Which for this example is not enough for our purpose here.


What to look for exactly when choosing an IPS panel display for editing photos, is a viewing angle that is not less than 178 degrees for both horizontal and vertical view.


Sometimes you might come across a viewing angle quotation where the vertical degrees is lesser than the horizontal degrees. Say for example 170/160 degrees. It means that the viewing angle range for horizontal view is greater than the vertical view.


Wide viewing angle of an IPS panel display

Wide viewing angle of an IPS panel display

But no matter what, go for a 178/178 degrees viewing angle and nothing less than that for photo editing.


If the purpose of using the display is for games or movies, it might not be a must. But for editing pictures, it should be a must for anybody that takes his or her work serious. Because it has the ability to alter the view of what is on screen. Especially for the very important aspect of colors and contrast.


You wouldn’t want to experience that. Especially if you are viewing the screen with somebody else or a client around. Because they might see a different view in colors and contrast if the viewing angle is less than 178 degrees for both horizontal and vertical view.


What it means is you may be seeing your pictures perfectly the way you edited them. But for the other person(s) around such as your friend(s), colleagues, or client, he or she might be seeing something different from what you think you are showing him or her.


Its SuperClear IPS technology and wide viewing angles compared with conventional monitor

IPS panel technology features wide viewing angles compared to conventional monitors

Which might be different colors or a brighter or darker image from your own view. Due to viewing the screen at angles not supported by the display. In this case I am assuming it is not up to 178/178 degrees.


Think about the convenience a screen with 178°/178° viewing angles will give you while viewing your images in many different angles. Without any change in luminance and color fidelity.


So add that as one of the important choices you have to make when investing in a screen for editing pictures.





  • Ergonomics


Ergonomics and adjustment options of a monitor

Adjustment range of a typical display

Ergonomics has to do with how adjustable a display is for a comfortable use.


A monitor with ideal adjustable options will allow you to adjust most points of the display the way you want. Meaning you can adjust the height, tilt it, swivel, and rotate it anyway you like.


It helps so you will feel comfortable working with it. And it makes it more flexible. Moreover it protects you from the effects of bad posture due to poor positioning.


Consider for example if a display is not height adjustable nor does it tilt. And its height is too low for you. It will make you bend a lot to view the screen properly. Making you feel uncomfortable working with it.


At the long run you might even develop some posture problems. Such as pains in the neck due to bad positioning resulting from you having to bend a lot to view the screen properly. Which is why ergonomics is a very important feature to check for in a monitor for photo editing.


It is very efficient and can easily adjust for you to use it comfortablySo check for this in a desktop monitor you are considering to purchase for photo editing.


What you need to check specifically is if it has tilt adjustment, if it can swivel, pivot, and is height adjustable. Because it will determine the extent to which you can adjust it to your desired position.


If the display of your choice does not have enough or all of the above adjustment options, just make sure it has VESA support i.e. it is VESA wall mountable. So you can purchase a stand along with it that will help make it more ergonomic for use.



  • Matte screen or Glossy screen



Apple iMac ME088LL A 27-Inch Desktop best computer for photo editing 2

A glossy screen Apple iMac display

Although glossy screen displays make colors and contrast look more vibrant on screen with deep blacks, they reflect a lot of light even when you are using them indoors.  Which could be a problem for photography and a color sensitive work such as photo editing.


Glossy screen displays are usually good for entertainment purposes. Such as for movies and games. But for editing pictures, they could be a disadvantage.


Because they tend to reflect the shape of anything in front of them including light. Which in turn has the tendency to alter the look of contrast and colors of images being displayed on screen.


Moreover glossy screens make colors look over saturated.


Matte screen displays also known as anti-glare screens are better for photo editing. Because they are non-reflective. And so there is no color interference from what is in front of the screen like what is obtainable with glossy screens.


Moreover matte screen displays are usually calibrated with more accuracy than glossy screens. Because you won’t have to deal with reflections when calibrating them.

Dell UltraSharp U2412M review image4b

A matte screen Dell UltraSharp U2412M display

Choose a matte screen desktop monitor for photo editing. To avoid the reflective nature of glossy screens. And color saturation issues that might affect the editing process.


Though it’s hard to tell if a screen is matte or glossy when purchasing online. Look through specifications to find out and make sure the display of your choice is a matte screen.


Semi-Matte varieties which provide bright colors without the annoying glare common with glossy screens are also good for picture editing.




  • Available input connections


Available inputs is what determines how the monitor of your choice will connect with your personal computer. And other external devices and peripherals such as your camera, USB devices, gadgets, etc.


It comes with multiple inputs for comfort and convenience

Multiple inputs helps for flexibility and convenience



Check to make sure there is at least a DVI digital connection, DisplayPort, or HDMI inputs. Because they will be enough to connect to your personal computer and most other devices.


Moreover they allow for high speed digital image processing and transmission. With very minimal loss in transmission. And also help to produce vivid, clear, and sharp images.


Input connections available with it

Input connections available for a typical display

Consider also that monitors with above HD resolutions usually work best with DisplayPort connections. So check to make sure a DisplayPort input connection is available if you work with above HD resolution pictures. And if you are looking to purchase a high resolution display.


If there are multiple input connections available in a display, such as DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, USB, etc., it will help for connecting multiple devices all at once to the display.


So look for those as well.




There are a few more things to consider. But they are not as important as what has been mentioned above. If you want to know more, see our detailed article here that discusses all the factors you need to consider when choosing a computer monitor for photo editing.




Our product recommendations for the top desktop monitors for photo editing


Eizo brand logo

Eizo brand logo

Popular brands in this market include Eizo, Asus, Samsung, Viewsonic, Dell, HP, and NEC. Most of these brands have offerings for the entry level, mid-range, and the high-end segments.


Because there are several good monitors. And it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which desktop monitor is the absolute best for photo editing, we will recommend one for each price category. One for entry level, one for mid-price range, and one for the high-end price range.


However if you wish to see all the top products we recommend for photo editing, go here.



  • Asus PA248Q


Asus PA248Q monitor review image3: how to choose a monitor for photo editing

Asus PA248

Asus PA248 is a 24-inch professional grade e-IPS panel display. With lots of great features that makes it ideal for color critical photo editing. Such as;


  • 1920 x 1200 resolution
  • Matte screen
  • LED backlight
  • 178 degrees for both vertical and horizontal view
  • Above 95% sRGB color coverage
  • Advanced visual technology that helps to bring out the true colors of your pictures
  • Comes pre-calibrated for an accurate color reproduction out of box
  • Ergonomic and adjustment options of tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustment
  • Lots of input connections that include DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and USB connections


All of which helps to provide sharp, consistent and accurate colors.


Click here to see our honest review of it. That will help you know more including the full specs, the pros and cons, the current price it is sold, and where you can purchase it at the best price possible.



  • Dell UltraSharp U2713HM


Dell U2713HM review image5b

Dell UltraSharp U2713HM

Dell U2713HM is a 27-inch IPS panel LED-backlit monitor equipped with a WQHD resolution. It offers great features that will enable you see every detail of your pictures in sharp and brilliant colors.


Here are features that makes it ideal for you;


  • WQHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels that helps to make images display in very sharp and vivid colors
  • Excellent ergonomic design that makes it easily adjustable in tilt, swivel, rotate, and height adjustment
  • Matte screen
  • Very good color coverage of 99% sRGB
  • Factory calibrated for excellent color reproduction
  • 178 degrees for both horizontal and vertical view
  • Complete adjustment options that include tilt adjustment, swivel, full pivot/rotate, and height adjustment
  • Lots of available input connections that include DVI-D (with HDCP), HDMI, DisplayPort, D-sub/VGA, and USB 3.0 inputs


Click here to read our full review of it.



  • Nec PA301W


NEC PA301W review image

Nec PA301W

Nec PA301W is a 30-inch professional graphics IPS panel wide gamut display. That is one of the top choice for professional graphics and photography professionals.


Wide gamut monitors are not meant for all photographic and photo editing purposes. Choose it only if you are sure of what you intend to achieve with it.


Here’s some of its features that makes it ideal for photo editing;


  • It offers extreme clarity for an ultra-wide screen at a premium price.
  • High 2560 x 1600 resolution for an excellent display of images
  • Matte anti-glare screen
  • Factory calibrated for optimal colors out of box
  • Excellent color coverage of 100% sRGB and 98.2% Adobe RGB
  • Excellent ergonomic design with the ability to rotate, tilt, pivot, and height adjust whichever way you want it
  • 178 degrees for both vertical and horizontal view
  • Input connections of a dual link DVI-D, DisplayPort, USB connections


It is considered to be among the top few that can truly be said to be the absolute best desktop monitors for professional photographers and graphic editors. Because it can handle the most demanding color critical projects you can think of.


Think of it as one of the best choice for an accurate and consistent color performance.


Click here to read our honest review of it that reveals all you need to know including where you can purchase it at the best price possible.



If you want to see more top products we recommend for each price category, click here.



With this you are now equipped with the knowledge of how to choose a monitor for photo editing.


What do you think? Do you have questions?


We will love to hear from you. Join the discussion by asking questions, sharing your opinion, or leaving comments on what you think. Use the comment button below.


Also help share the word about this article by sharing it with others. Such as your friends and colleagues.


Use the social sharing buttons below to do so now.



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: