Best monitor for photo editing: 10 top models tested and rated

Best monitor for photo editing: 10 top models tested and rated

What is the best monitor for photo editing? Colour-accurate monitors offer true-to-life reproduction of photographic images, but price and performance varies. We’ve tested 10 of the top models available to see which monitor is best for photography.

Best monitor for photo editing: 10 top models tested and rated

Choosing a monitor for photo editing can be a daunting proposition, especially if you need it to be better at one particular task than at any other.

In this roundup we want to find the best monitors for photo editing, so we’re looking for great colour reproduction and vibrant, bright displays.

This depends on the technology used – newer ‘IPS’ LCD panels have better colour reproduction than their older ‘TN’ counterparts, so this is worth looking out for in the specifications. All the panels here are IPS LED backlit displays.

The viewing angles are also far better with IPS screens, so if you ever sit at your computer and show someone else photos they are a must.

Screen size is important too – make sure your display is physically big enough for the work you want to do (we recommend 24-inch as a minimum now and that’s the smallest here).

Also, while most of the monitors here are height-adjustable, not all displays have the same level of fine-tuning, so do watch out for that.

When buying a high-end display, it’s important to make sure your computer’s graphics hardware is up to the task of displaying the high resolutions some monitors are now capable of.

You’ll need to research the capabilities of your own machine to do that. If you’re going to be connecting up a laptop, especially, make sure it has a good level of graphics capability.

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Best monitor for photo editing: 01 Apple Thunderbolt Display 27-inch

Best monitor for photo editing: 01 Apple Thunderbolt Display 27-inch

Price: £899, $999
Buy it:
This 27-inch display costs as much as a pro-level one, yet doesn’t have significantly more features than some of the cheaper displays on test – it won’t even tilt or pivot.

On the plus side, it does have a built-in 2.1 sound system and webcam.

It also has Apple’s fast Thunderbolt connection, which enables you to daisy-chain devices. That’s great if you’ve got a Mac, but PC users won’t want it.

Images look terrific and there’s a 2560×1440 pixel resolution. Apple is great with design, so this looks fantastic (SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 camera – 8 things photographers need to know). If you already own a Mac, it will be tempting.

Pros: A no-brainer for Mac owners who love Thunderbolt.
Cons: Expensive compared to others such as the Viewsonic.
We say: A trend-setting display, but too expensive.

Score: 3/5

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Best monitor for photo editing: 02 Asus ProArt PA248QJ 24-inch

Best monitor for photo editing: 02 Asus ProArt PA248QJ 24-inch

Price: £374, $463  
Buy it
This 24-inch monitor may have a more standard Full HD 1920×1080 resolution and a utilitarian design featuring push buttons, but it’s brilliant for the money, with excellent colour reproduction.

We were awed by its performance, and loved its ability to tilt and swivel. The input selection is terrific, with HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI and even VGA.

There are also four USB ports. What’s more, the package includes a calibration hood plus Spyder4 Express Calibrator (it is pre-calibrated, too).

You’ll be hard pressed to get such a brilliant, high-end display for this money.

Pros: Great clarity and colours with calibration tools, too.
Cons: Screen size is the only reason why you wouldn’t buy it.
We say: Our value choice; we loved the Asus’ performance.

Score: 5/5


Best monitor for photo editing: Apple Thunderbolt Display; Asus ProArt PA248QJ
Best monitor for photo editing: Eizo ColorEdge CX271; NEC MultiSync PA242W
Best monitor for photo editing: Samsung Series 9 971; Viewsonic VP2772
Best monitor for photo editing: Dell U2711; Samsung SyncMaster S27B970D
Best monitor for photo editing: NEC MultiSync EA273WM; Eizo ColorEdge CG243W
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  • Patrick Hui

    Uh the PA248Q is 1920 x 1200 not 1920 x 1080 as stated in the article…

  • ravi

    There is no understanding of colour management in this article. The Apple display has an awful reputation with professional (high-end commercial) photographers and retouchers.
    You do NOT want vibrant bright displays for photo-editing! You want true colours with a decent bit rate (I believe the Apple is a 6 bit monitor?). RAW images are shot at 14 bit. We generally edit 8 bit in Photoshop and the Apple display can’t even show us what the computer’s doing, it crushes colours to compensate. That’s a huge reduction in colours, so when it comes to print you have no idea what you’re going to get. Calibration is not made at the monitor level either. The Apple is a sweet looking piece of kit, fine for most purposes, no bother if you’ll never print a pic but number one on a list of ‘best monitors for photo editing’? Big fail. No.

  • Dwayn Evans

    Good points, but they’re not in order of greatness. The Apple monitor actually received the lowest marks in the list.

  • ravi

    Maybe it was the big ’01’ that threw me. Certainly didn’t see any list with marks. You may say that these are not listed in any order of greatness but position one is a clear-cut endorsement. Perhaps they spend more on advertising.

  • Dwayn Evans

    They all have a score rating with marks out of 5!

  • Matthew “fotomatt” Lit

    Well, I won’t be recommending this article to my students. Next please…

  • grizzledraver

    Once again, as per the last time we had a review of monitors, I make this point – unless you can totally control the environment in which you do your editing, the finer points – or maybe not-so-fine points – of any monitor are irrelevant.

    If light sweeps across your room as time goes on, you’re not seeing the same result from the same image from one minute to the next. This applies to light falling directly on the screen (disaster) or as light reflections of walls the monitor can ‘see’ (90% as bad).

    A monitor will only perform to its spec in a black room with no ambient light and a work light carefully placed – AND NEVER MOVED. Anything less than this is a compromise. If those compromises are constant, fixed, the results can be refined to optimum, eventually. If not, it’s a lottery. You might as well buy something plain-vanilla in a size you like and wing it.

  • KubaWer

    Hardware calibration is the most important thing here.. plus pro quality of the image. So the only ones to use for work from this test are: EIZO’s CX and CG.

  • giuped

    about asus pa279q?

  • MrWonderful61

    I have a hard time believing that they couldn’t find a single acceptable 4K monitor for the list.

  • Olga Celle

    Amazon lists an Asus ProArt PA248Q24 and 27-inch. Are these the same monitor?

  • Stan Chung

    It’s always the poor bums that bitch about apple products as if they are being held at gun point to buy them.

    Such losers. Listen to yourself. lmao.

  • findrealsolutions

    Maybe one of you who commented on this article know enough to help me make a good purchasing decision.
    I have a Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5237 laptop running Window 8.1 64 bit processor.
    I don’t play games.
    I sometimes watch movies from Amazon or a DVD
    I am a data analyst by day, but I enjoy photography and do some photo editing, but my passion is helping people with picking paint colors for their homes. I have about 400 physical painted color sample boards and have samples of all of them downloaded to my computer based on the paint manufacturer HSL values.

    My issue is that the display on my laptop does not render the colors accurately. I have calibrated it, but it is still way too cool and it just doesn’t work for my purposes.

    If I email my color samples to my work computer the colors are better, but still off. The monitor on my work computer is an HP Compaq LA2306x.

    I have a budget of $500 to spend on an external monitor for my laptop.
    Touchscreen would be ideal, but not if it means giving up color accuracy.
    I like the size of my work monitor (23 in). It is sufficient for what I do.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • stormwatch

    There is nothing that can be compared to EIZO.

  • Kyle

    I’m so lost how a person can write an article titled “Best monitor for Photo Editing” and not include Sony Pro, OSEE, Flanders, or iKan monitors. Instead they include consumer monitors that ship to you uncalibrated, and don’t store calibration LUTs as @Ravi is pointing out there is no understanding of color management in this article.

    The Apple display is good for kids doing YouTube videos or family photo albums, but is unacceptable for any kind of professional work. I would suggest doing a bit more research into real monitors that have True 10bit displays, offer 700:1 contrast ratio, and offer factory calibration with probes and calibration software (suggested ad ons).

  • Alex5000

    Apple’s Thunderbolt Display uses an 8-bit LG LM270WQ1 panel. I have an old 20″ 8-bit Dell Ultrasharp, and I was able to get it to pretty much match my printer’s output to the degree that there were few, if any surprises when making prints.

  • Maciej Skyba

    Eizo or Nec pro displays cost more the Apple display and no one I know is complaining so nobody’s bitchin bout the Apple, it just sucks and is completely worthless for color critical applications…

  • Maciej Skyba

    The Nec PA series can be hardware calibrated.

  • Stan Chung

    So go buy an Eizo doh. Apple doesn’t advertise it has the most accurate colour monitor. Get over yourself.

  • Maciej Skyba

    lol, it ain’t me that’s making childish comments about “the poor bums that bitch about apple products”
    Seems like you’re the one that’s got a fanboy problem 😛
    As far as Eizo goes I have 5 and just run outta room for more on my desk 😛

  • Trevor Penfold

    Sorry this doesn’t seem to be a top ten best fore photo editing. Who sets the brightness at 300cd for editing images!!!!!!!!!. Some of the top models aren’t even here.

  • Stan Chung

    Lol. I can feel your butthurt. Stop. You can say you have ten for all I care.

  • Matthew Schmitz

    In production editing rooms the lights are almost completely off, Very very dim, just so you can see where you are going. And I have never seen an apple display used for proper editing work, only for a secondary display dedicated to histograms (not color dependent, just need the graph info.)

  • grizzledraver

    Well. There we have it. The general consensus is that this article should have been called something else like “Monitors we like, especially for their very smart bezels”.

    I’ll say it one more time, just in case it saves someone spending money they didn’t need to – unless you can consistently and rigorously control the light levels in your editing environment, choose a monitor by specs on paper, especially size, to fit your budget.

  • sgc

    What did you end up with? I’m in a similar situation…

  • Eddy Baker

    144hzmonitors (dot) com has a much better list of the best photo editing monitors! and they even update it every month, this guide is just insane.
    in the menu hover over “Buyer’s Guide” and select “Photo Editing”.

  • jpcreative

    LED backlighting has nothing to with the display panel used. That point is completely wrong. IPS panels have been around long before led backlighting (the backlighting method used to illuminate the pixels the panel is made up of) was ever used.

  • jpcreative

    Dell Ultrasharps have typically been excellent for a mid-range display, calibrate well and I have had great printed results from them. They are what I personally use.

  • jpcreative

    You can buy hardware color calibration software and tools readily. So I don’t see why this is a need for you.

  • Harry Jackson

    Great post. I found many useful info in it that helped me complete my post on the best photo editing monitors.

  • Sashimi

    Apple’s screen simple have nothing to do in an article related to accurate photography / colour display and editing. That is the point. Now please stop being an asshole.

  • Stan Chung

    I don’t know why you felt the need to chip Sashimi, someone who is anonymous and probably doesn’t have an Apple monitor. If you read the article the Apple monitor only scores 3/5. Calibration is possible to get fairly accurate colours but I didn’t need to do any when I sent my pictures via email to a professional printer.

    The reason listed as a con is that it is expensive. So please stop being an ignorant ass.

  • Sergey Nikitin

    Did apple OS support 30bit workflow? :)

  • Jeff Beer

    Come on! The Asus specs are wrong. It’s 16:10, 1920 x 1200 optimal HD A+ IPS panel.