Using one of the best monitors for photo editing is a must for any photo editor or retoucher, and even enthusiast photographers will want a screen that provides good colour coverage and accuracy for editing their images. Why? Because tweaking exposure is hard to get right if you don’t have a screen that delivers a uniform level of brightness, while accurate HSL adjustments and colour grading require good colour space coverage and accuracy.
Whether you use a PC or a Mac – and if you use a laptop, you might want to consider a second screen – an accurate display can make all the difference to getting the right edit. In our selection of the best monitors for photo editing below, we’ve chosen screens that support colour spaces such as Adobe RGB and that have calibration options so that you can regularly test and configure their handling of colour. In each case, we’ve either tested them hands-on ourselves for photo editing or we’ve based our evaluations on the monitors’ specs and the opinions of photographers in our network of contacts.
The best monitors for photo editing overall tend to be expensive, so we’ve also taken value for money into account to provide some more accessible options for non-professionals. So if you’re looking for hands-down the best monitor for photo editing that money can buy, jump to number three, the Eizo ColorEdge CG319X, which is our reviewers’ favourite. It comes in at number three because its price is a distinct drawback.
We’ve included several 4K screens below, but we also have a guide to the best 4K monitors in general if you’re looking for more options. We’ve also selected the best monitors for video editing, and if you want a tactile screen, see our roundup of the best touchscreen monitors. Scroll down to the questions section at the bottom if you’re unsure of what to look out for in a display for photo editing, and if you opt for a screen that doesn’t come with its own calibrator tool, make sure you get one of the best monitor calibrator tools to ensure it’s showing accurate colours.
The best monitors for photo editing
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.
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.
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-rounder offering a 4K display 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, too.
Another option from Dell’s UltraSharp range, this 31.5-inch 4K screen is one of Dell’s best monitors for photo editing (with a price tag to match). It boasts a large range of professional-grade features that results in colour accuracy that many of its rivals simply can’t offer. You get a large 4K screen with support for the DCI-P3 colour spectrum. It hits 99% Adobe RGB coverage and 87% DCI-P3, delivering great picture quality. So, while there are more affordable monitors on this list, if you have the budget, this is a great investment.
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.
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.
What size monitor should I use for photo editing?
The most 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. 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. All in all, a lot of 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 image quality, but of course, higher resolution monitors are usually more expensive. When looking to pick the best monitor for photo editing, you really need to go for a resolution of at least 4K (3,840 x 2,160) these days. You should make sure that your PC or Mac supports that resolution before you make a purchase (most recent models will).
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. 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.