Review of the BenQ SW2700 PT 27” QHD Monitor for Photographers
As photographers, we spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to obtain the highest quality images as possible – the best camera sensor, lenses and lights. However, as so much editing is done on a computer, it is vital that the monitor we work with is able to provide accurate representation of the image-files. Sometimes the disappointment in viewing our final images, whether printed or on-screen, is due to this weak point in the process – where the colour and contrast in the photographs do not appear as they did on screen.
I have been using an external monitor for my editing work for sometime. Whilst there is an array of brands available, the diversity in the prices and options between them can often lead to confusion as to what is a good enough external monitor with which to work.
Personally I had been using a BenQ Monitor (GL2706PQ) plugged into my Macbook Pro for some time for my editing. BenQ is a company based in Taiwan and has a reputation for providing a range of very high quality and budget-friendly monitors. My original monitor provided excellent colour representation sufficient for my needs at the time. Recently BenQ sent me a SW2700 PT so that I could review and compare this with my current model.
Just a brief summary of the basic information of the SW2700 PT:
• It is a 27” monitor with a resolution of 2560×1440 (QHD) in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
• It uses an IPS panel which allows relative consistency in colour and brightness when being viewed from an angle.
• 1000:1 native contrast ratio
• Wide Colour gamut of 99% Adobe RGB
• 350cd/m2 brightness and 5ms response time
• DVI-DL, Display Port 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 inputs
• USB 3.0 hub and SD card reader
• Can be rotated from Landscape to Portrait orientation
• Shading hood to reduce glare • Assignable remote controller (OSD) for quick mode change
• Individual factory tested colour calibration report
The BenQ SW2700PT is a monitor that is being directed specifically at photographers (rather than other users such as gamers), who require a specific range of features, such as a natural accurate color representation and consistent brightness. Other monitors are available to do this but usually these come at a higher price-point. BenQ is attempting to change this with the SW2700PT.
Unpacking and Setting Up The Monitor
Naturally the monitor arrived extremely well packed and was simple to set up. The stand is nicely weighted and affords a wide variety of viewing angles, from high to low and various tilted positions. The screen can also be completely rotated to portrait mode, which is a very useful option. The extensive array of ports (see above) allows for the monitor to be easily connected to your computer and including the cables is also a nice addition and well thought through.
The monitor has an OSD remote which plugs in and sits in a space at the base of the monitor stand. This is a useful quick-navigation device that enables the monitor to show Adobe, sRGB and Black and White colour-spaces at the click of a button.
The monitor screen itself has a matte finish and therefore is a non-glare and non- reflective. This makes the screen a pleasure to use to edit images and there is such a noticeable difference when using looking at the screen on my Macbook Pro.
It is also extremely useful that BenQ include a shading hood with this monitor so that any stray ambient light can be kept to a minimum. The velvet coating on the inside of the hood is a very nice addition to ensure that no light will reflect from the plastic of the hood itself. The hood itself also has a sliding panel so that a calibration device can be used without the need to remove the hood.
The colour accuracy of the monitor is ultimately the most important aspect for using an external monitor. It is crucial for photographers to be able to know that the monitor is showing all of the available colours in the image with the utmost accuracy. This monitor offers 99% of the Adobe RGB and accordingly it has an extremely high colour precision.
The first stage in this process of colour management is to ensure that the monitor is calibrated correctly to ensure the utmost colour accuracy. Although the SW2700PT comes with a calibration sheet from the factory (and it was reassuring to have this information) using an external calibration device such as an i1 Display Pro or Spyder can help check this. BenQ also have their own ‘Palette Master Element’ software that can be downloaded, although you still require the external calibration device to utilise it. Personally I preferred to use the software that came with my calibration device.
Whilst it is rare that calibration is not necessary for a new monitor (best practice is to do this regularly) it seemed that the result left little to be required and that the factory settings were very accurate. Just to be sure, I connected my calibration device to the monitor (a Spyder 5) to utilise it’s own calibration software to double-check the accuracy. This reduced the magenta slightly and provided a slight improvement to the overall look.
I tested the monitor again after a month or so of use and was extremely pleased to find that there had been no change in the calibration information. Consistency within the results was excellent.
I have been using the monitor for some time now and have processed an extensive range of images and it is definitely an excellent monitor to use. It is actually hard to find a fault at this stage (despite possibly trying too!). I have had numerous images printed for clients and when comparing these, all of the final imagery has been a true representation of what I can see on screen.
The OSD controller has proven extremely useful for the quick switch in colour modes at the press of a button. One final mention needs to be that the button navigation on the monitor itself is extremely user-intuitive and simple to use and adjust if and when needed.
I think that the BenQ SW2700PT is an excellent monitor for photographers and digital editors looking for an affordable and extremely colour-accurate monitor. It has fantastic build and image quality and it has quickly established itself a permanent place in my studio.