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Review: BenQ SW320 Photographer Monitor

A brief look at BenQ SW320 Photographer Monitor

As professional wedding photographers of today, your work has the maximum reach on the internet. You post your work on Facebook, Instagram, your website, and so on. You have portfolios on different wedding portals, and you get featured on various online and print articles. Basically, you work is everywhere online. While reviewing your online work, have you ever noticed that your photo looks different depending on the medium it is viewed on? Whether it is on two different devices or on a screen and in print. Mobile phone makers often boost and over-saturate colours on the devices. So no two phones will display one picture as the same. It is impossible to achieve a 100% colour uniformity across different devices.

However, as professionals it is important that you deliver the best quality and accurate colour prints – be it albums or hard copy prints – to the client. Imagine how disappointed a bride will be, who bought her wedding lehenga specifically for a favourite colour, and sees a different shade on the wedding album. Not only will you ruin a cherished memory but your credibility as a professional wedding photographer will also be affected.

If you find that your final delivery to the client (as albums or prints) look different from what you expected them to be, it’s probably that the monitor you’re editing on is not properly colour-calibrated.

What is colour-calibration, you ask?

Colour calibration basically means adjusting your device’s colour settings to match a standard value of known accuracy.

Computers read colours (red, green and blue) in numbers. So for example, if you type in a numbered code for a green with no red and blues, you will see that specific green on your monitor. However, if you plug in a different monitor, you might see a difference in the shade of green. Calibration is setting your monitor to certain values so that all colours look the same in different mediums or screens or brands of devices. It ensures consistent display across all screens.

There are several ways you can calibrate your monitor. There are built-in calibration tools in both MacOS and Windows. You can even find some calibration tools online to help you adjust your monitor settings. Or, use an external device called a colorimeter and spectrophotometer.

Even after all these measures, a 100% colour accuracy is neither possible nor guaranteed. External calibration devices and manual settings can only do so much in ensuring precision. Your best bet would be monitor’s that are professionally calibrated and tested for exacting colour accuracy, like the new BenQ SW320 Photographer Monitor.

My pictures look great on the screen I edited on. So why do I need to colour-calibrate my monitor?

People are seeing your photos on every screen possible – mobile phones, tablets, laptops, television and so on. Each of them has a different colour and brightness setting. Which means that every person views your work differently than how you envisioned it. Their display settings change the colour, brightness, saturation and exposure of your images. Now we certainly cannot control the medium that people consume our photos on or calibrate their settings to ours. However, we can minimise the error on our end as much as possible. Which is where colour-calibrating your monitor comes in. It ensures that your clients are seeing your images the way you want them to.

All our calibration and colour-correction woes were put to rest recently when the amazing folks at BenQ India sent us an SW320 Photographer Monitor. And our experience with it has been exceptional.

The first thing that strikes you is the size of the box that the monitor comes in, it’s quite huge! It is a massive 31.5-inch display, 4K UHD resolution monitor with 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB colour space and boasts of the most perceptible quality in graphics, designs, and photos that human eyes can see. We were impressed from the second we switched it on!

You find a “Factory Calibration Report” first thing on opening the packaging. All the other parts are neatly packaged and packed. There is a small manual with directions for assembling and setting the monitor and its parts. It was really not that difficult, once you get everything out of the box. We were able to assemble the entire thing in about 20 minutes or so.

The stand is quite sturdy for the heavy 18.7 kg monitor. You can also adjust the screen up and down on the stand for better positioning. The monitor further boasts of a GamutDuo – enabling you to see different colour spaces on the same screen for side-by-side comparison. Another novel feature is the HotKey Puck that allows you to switch between Adobe RGB, sRGB, and Black & White modes effortlessly. You can also customise the HotKey buttons for other modes and functions.

The monitor has been specifically designed with photographers in mind. While you are editing your photos, a hundred things can affect the display on your monitor – the time of day, reflections from your surroundings, lighting, colours, brightness of your display and so on. The BenQ SW320 has a matte screen that eliminates any reflection that could distort the way you view your work on the screen. It also has a detachable shading hood with black velvet insides to prevent any external glare. This comes in extremely handy while you’re editing stills or videos. You can be assured that the outside world will not manipulate your work. You can also quite easily set up the monitor along with the shading hood in portrait mode while working on portrait images. The screen can also make an upward tilt and a 45 degree right or left swivel.

SW320 also includes a DisplayPort 1.4  and HDMI 2.0 port with the addition of three USB 3.0 ports for connectivity. There is also a port dedicated to the HotKey Puck and a headphone jack.

The monitor is professionally factory-calibrated for exacting colour accuracy. The colours are really incredible on the screen. Although we use Apple monitors in our studio, which are claimed to be colour accurate, the difference between the two was quite something to see. We were absolutely blown away by how our images looked on the BenQ monitor!

It would be fair to say that the BenQ SW320 Monitor is a great investment for the professional photographer and videographer! Its 31.5-inch screen display provides a better viewing and editing of images. Our confidence in the colour accuracy of our systems was taken in for a ride when we viewed our work on the BenQ monitor. It provides a much better resolution and colour, and our images looked quite stunning on the screen. The functions are easy enough to understand and work with. The HotKey Puck had us in thrall of the way it increases our work efficiency. We also took a few test prints by hooking up our Epson SureColor P5000 to the monitor and were ecstatic with the results! All in all, the monitor is a great buy for its price. We are excited to work on it and discover more features and witness better results in our work!

Have any questions about colour calibration or the BenQ monitor? Drop us a comment and we’d love to answer any questions!

P.S.: A detailed post on the monitor and more on colour calibration coming soon!

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