5 Things Photographers Need In A Computer Monitor

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff Harmon13 Comments

Software Update Status

Microsoft has released a new build of Windows 10 here in the last part of May 2020.  This release is called Windows 10 2004 and as always I highly recommend that photographers wait before installing the new build.

There isn’t a ton of new functionality that photographers should be excited about.  There actually isn’t much in the way of new functionality overall.  Security updates, which are always good and there is kind of a big under-the-hood thing with something called Windows Defender System Guard in this update that photographers will want when it is all clear.  

If you are interested in knowing more about new features like virtual desktop names of a Windows Update troubleshooting tool called SetupDiag, hit up What’s new in Windows 10, version 2004 for IT Pros.

I also need to tell you that I still don’t recommend the most current version of Photoshop.  Version 21.0.3 is the version with the Photo Taco seal of approval and you should stay away from all 21.1.x versions thus far.

Lightroom Hardware Testing Project

I wanted to give you an update on some progress that has been made on the Lightroom Hardware Testing project.  If you don’t listen to the monthly Photo Taco podcast regularly then you may not know that I am working really hard on the ability to test Lightroom.  My goal is to have some automated testing I can use with various computer hardware and as Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft release updates.  I have done a few tests now like the Performance of External Drives With Lightroom Classic where I shared information about the impact of storage speed on using Lightroom.

I don’t have as much automated as my friends over at Puget Systems with their Lightroom Classic benchmark and their online database of benchmark results run on many different computers, but I am making progress towards something similar.  I have created AutoIT code that fully automates racking the sliders in the Develop panel back and forth as quickly as the computer allows for 1 full minute so that I can measure how much CPU, Memory, GPU, and storage speed is used by those sliders.

I am really excited about being able to do this kind of testing.  The AutoIT automate software is really good.  It is free.  Unfortunately it is not cross-platform and I am still investigating how to accomplish the same thing on Mac without significant cost.  Anyway, I am going to talk about this more with Matt Bach from Puget Systems in the June episode of Photo Taco, along with the raging battle between AMD and Intel for running Lightroom and Photoshop, so make sure you are subscribed if you are interested in hearing more.

5 Things Photographers Need In A Computer Monitor

There is far more detail about the five things a photographer needs in a computer monitor over at the Photo Taco webiste, but here they are in a quick list:

  1. Physical Size: 24″ bare minimum, 27″ sweet spot for most photographers, 32″ worth the expense if you can afford it!
  2. Resolution: Full HD 1080p if you can’t afford anything more than a 24″ monitor. 1440p (2K, QHD, 2560×1440 or 2560×1600) is the sweet spot for most photographers with the best combination of performance, ability to see fine details, and keeping the buttons and controls in the software a reasonable size. 2160p (4K, UHD) or higher can impact performance and make the buttons and controls really hard to see and use.
  3. IPS Panel: Most computer monitors have LCD screens and there are two types of LCD panels with TN and IPS. Photographers should avoid TN panel technology as the colors get washed out and the contrast reduces if your don’t have exactly the right viewing angle. IPS panels work like photographers need where everything looks good from nearly all viewing angles. Look for the keyword “IPS” as you shop for computer monitors.
  4. HDMI or DisplayPort Connection: Photographers should avoid VGA and DVI connections and use HDMI or DisplayPort to connect their computer to their monitor. Look for HDMI 1.4 or 2.0. Very important you have the right cables as well.
  5. Color Reproduction: Not as big a must-have as the first 4, but look for 100% sRGB and 10-bit color as being better for photo editing than monitors that don’t say they do that. Not a deal breaker if there is only 95% or 99% sRGB and 8-bit color, but it is worth spending a little more to get 100% sRGB and 10-bit.
  6. Not Curved. Personal preference which is why it isn’t an official number on the list. Photographers have to judge things like fixing lens distortion and it just doesn’t seem like you are giving yourself the best chance possible if you use a curved monitor.

Doodads

Jeff: BenQ PD2700Q 27 inch QHD 1440p IPS Monitor | 100% sRGB ($300) or the 32 inch version ($490). These are my current picks for a really good quality computer monitor at a reasonable price.

Reminders

Comments

  1. Curved monitor
    I thought that the reason for a curved screen. Is to insure that the viewing distance is the same.
    On a 27” I do not think it matters that much.
    But when you go to 32 and higher wide screens I think it matters because you are sitting very close to such a big screen.

    1. Author

      Yes. More immersive and to make everything more equidistant from your eyes. Photographers have told me it is tough for the first couple of weeks to see how to make horizons straight or judge lens distortion but that you do get used to it. If you have to switch between flat and curved regularly it seems like it would be a real struggle.

  2. Hi Jeff!
    Your episode on external monitors for photographers came at the perfect time for me! I was getting a bit bogged down trying to search through what’s best/available. I think I’m definitely going to go with the 32” Benq you suggested. Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

  3. Hi again!
    Just clarifying in the 32” monitor you suggested. It’s actually a VA panel, not IPS. Would you still recommend it?

    1. Author

      @Glen,

      Yep. VA isn’t quite as good as IPS for photographers, but really close. Definitely worth it for the extra inches.

      1. @Jeff,

        Is it worth spending the extra money to go with the 32” with the IPS panel “PD3200U” I’m looking to get one for my birthday.

        Thank you

        1. Author

          @Darren,

          It is worth the money for those extra inches for sure. But the 27” is very nice if it simply isn’t in the budget. I am using the 27” myself.

          1. @Jeff,

            Currently I have a ASUS 27” and trying to decide if I should add a 2nd one or just go with the 32” to save real estate on my desk

            Thank you Jeff

          2. Author

            That feels like more of a personal preference than a tech based decision. Though I will say that if you are not using a discrete GPU (like an NVIDIA or AMD card in the machine) then you will use more memory driving the two screens vs the one 32”.

        2. The 32″ screen that is in the link has a VA monitor that was never really talked about on the podcast. The one that has IPS is more like $600 from B&H. That is a significant increase.

  4. Currently I’m using a 2012 Mac Mini but I’m going to upgrade to a Windows PC once I make a decision on which processor to go with Intel or AMD. Before listening to last weeks Photo Taco episode on Intel vs AMD I was all set to build a Intel machine but now I’m having 2nd thoughts. I’m currently leaning toward the Ryzen 9 3900x. What are you thoughts?

    1. Author

      If I were building today I would go with AMD. The only thing that would make me think about Intel is Thunderbolt as I just don’t trust reliable implementation of Thunderbolt from AMD thus far. But with the insane speeds possible with USB 3.1 Gen 2 and my own testing showing that storage speed of your photos is not a significant factor for overall performance I am not sure Thunderbolt is really very needed on a desktop computer that has discrete graphics.

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