BenQ SW320 4K Monitor test
Finding the right monitor for editing high-end landscape photography isn’t an easy task. Today, I am reviewing the BenQ SW320, a 31,5″ large monitor with a 4K IPS panel that covers 99% of Adobe RGB color space.
My aerial photo projects are shot with some of the highest resolution cameras out there. I use a 102mp medium format camera to cover as many details in my photos as possible. Those details are super important for me as I usually step really far away from the scenery, like when I was flying across the Arctic Ice Sheet last summer. Having those details makes you to explore the image on a deeper level. When it now comes to editing my photos, a high-resolution monitor like the BenQ SW320 with a native resolution of 3840 x 2160px makes it comfortable to view high-resolution files in full size and to tell whether an image is technically perfect.
But first, let’s step a little back. When I unpacked the SW320, I noticed that it’s a rather large monitor and with the monitor hoods attached, it appears to be a little bulky. Before, I was using a 27″ IPS panel monitor and another 27″ monitor for my toolbars. The difference between 27″ and 31,5″ is quite significant. Now I did change my work setup from two 27″ monitors to a notebook 15″ as my machine and a 31,5″ monitor as my main editing monitor.
I also needed to change to this setup since my computer didn’t support 4k video transmutation with 60Hz. At first glance, this was a little frustrating since it’s nowhere mentioned that you need rather new HDMI ports to get the monitor running on it’s full resolution. Connecting the monitor with DisplayPort to a Mac didn’t work for my side as well. I was contacting BenQ support about this and which responded that the monitors are not 100% compatible with Mac OSX. This is a point I can’t fully understand since it’s a standalone output device that should work independently from any operating system. Anyway, I now got it running with a new MacBook pro.
Apart from that, the monitor setup is quite easy. The built-in control panels let you change the brightness, color mode and other elementary settings. I shoot on my camera in Adobe RGB and have my entire workflow based in Adobe RGB. Adobe RGB is a larger color space than the standard sRGB which basically means you have more colors available to work with. The BenQ SW320 monitor from the PhotoVue professional series covers 99% Adobe RGB, which is an excellent color performance. If you are doing high-end landscape photography and do fine art printing of your work, I highly recommend basing your workflow on Adobe RGB to get the best results.
The monitor comes with an out-of-box calibration which is a very nice service, but I wouldn’t trust, so I did a hardware calibration with the Spyder 5 pro to ensure color accuracy. If you are printing your work, I highly recommend this step. After a view test-prints, I was happy with the results and had the monitor set. That being said, I noticed on my sample a slight but noticeable brightness shit towards the top left corner. In real-world usage, this is very minor and not really noticeable, so I can get along with it.
What I love about the monitor is that it comes with a detachable shading hood that significantly reduces screen glare from ambient lighting, ensuring color and brightness accuracy to all edges. Also, it’s flexible design makes it easy to rotate the monitor to vertical orientation in one step. The shading hood can be used in both portrait and landscape orientations. Shading hoods are a great add-on, especially when you have another light source around your workspace and with this monitor, they come in the package.
BenQ has also added a hardware tool „Hotkey Puck „which lets you switch between Adobe RGB, sRGB, and Black & White modes easily. The buttons can also be customized to map other modes or OSD settings, such as brightness and contrast to bring added convenience to photographers. Since I have my monitor most of the time at the same setting, it’s a nice feature but I fond myself not using it very often.
If you are a photographer or shooting video, it’s really worth having a 4k monitor and a large screen in one. Viewing your work in 100% on the screen and having some toolbars open at the same time makes it very comfortable to work with. If you are looking at a large scale monitor with a good value for money and you can put up with compromises, it’s a good choice.
What I like:
– Screen size and resolution
– 99% Adobe RGB color accuracy
– flexible design with easy vertical orientation option
– comes with a shading hood
– good value for money
What I like:
– global brightness varies slightly across the screen
– quite bulky (but well, look at the screen size)
– 31.5 Inch 3840 x 2160 UHD Resolution
– 99% Adobe RGB Color Space With IPS technology
– 100% sRGB, 100% Rechnung.709, 99% Adobe RGB
– High Dynamic Range (HDR10)
– Hardware calibration
– 10-bit display