Finding Your Perfect OLED Monitor for Professional Video

OLED monitors have become the display of choice for many video professionals. With their ability to turn each pixel on and off individually, OLED displays achieve perfect blacks, incredibly vivid colors, wide viewing angles, and ultra-fast response times. This makes them exceptionally well-suited for color critical tasks like color grading, editing, VFX work, and other applications where color accuracy, contrast, and motion clarity are vital.

Compared to even the best LCD monitors, OLEDs represent a major step up in image quality. The precise per-pixel illumination allows them to handle subtle gradients and details in a way that LCD panels simply can’t match with their constant backlighting and light bleed. The deep blacks and near infinite contrast that OLED enables takes your content to a whole new level.

Given the advantages, it’s no wonder OLED monitors are rapidly displacing LCDs in professional video workflows. More and more models tailored specifically for media creation are coming to market from major manufacturers like Sony, Canon, Panasonic, SmallHD and others. With so many options now available, choosing the right OLED display for your needs and budget can be daunting.

This article will cover the top models on the market and provide tips on picking the best OLED monitor for video editing, color grading, broadcast monitoring, and related production applications. Let’s dive in!

The Best OLED Monitors for Professional Video

Here are the top 5 OLED monitors used by video professionals today:

Sony BVM-X300 V2

The Sony BVM-X300 V2 is widely considered one of the finest OLED video monitors you can buy, albeit at an extremely high price. The 30-inch 4K panel delivers outstanding color accuracy, high dynamic range support, and exceptional contrast thanks to a per-pixel dimming OLED processor developed by Sony.

With a compact and rugged design, extensive input connections, advanced calibration tools, and a fully customizable picture mode, this monitor provides everything needed for high-end color critical work. It’s the monitor of choice for many leading production houses and colorists. The price reflects it though, at over $30,000 it is firmly in the “we have a gear budget greater than the GDP of a small country” category. But for those who can afford it, it’s arguably the best 4K OLED mastering monitor available.

Canon DP-V3120

At nearly half the price of Sony’s flagship, the Canon DP-V3120 provides a more affordable 31-inch 4K OLED option. Image quality is fantastic, with superb color accuracy and impressive uniformity across the large display. Canon built in many high-end features for broadcast monitoring like CMOS sensor-based camera metadata decoding, waveform and vectorscope displays, and support for 12G-SDI. Physically smaller and lighter than the Sony BVM, the DP-V3120 takes up less space in an edit suite or truck. It’s a great OLED choice for $15,000 or under.

SmallHD OLED 27 4K

SmallHD takes a different approach, optimizing their OLED 27 4K monitor for portability and field use rather than critical color work. At 27 inches and just 7.7 pounds, it’s a highly compact 4K monitor that can fit easily into tight spaces like camera rigs and small crew vehicles. The OLED panel renders a bright, punchy image with excellent clarity and contrast. Extensive software tools like false color, zoom, frames guides, and 3D LUT support make this $5,000 monitor ideal for shoots where flexibility and mobility are key.

Blackmagic URSA Studio Viewfinder

Purpose-built as a viewfinder for Blackmagic Design’s URSA broadcast cameras, the Blackmagic URSA Studio Viewfinder incorporates a 7-inch 1080p OLED screen with outstanding brightness – up to an incredible 1600 nits. That makes it usable even in full daylight. Beyond the display, the Monitor houses useful recording tools like a built-in recorder, talkback audio, and camera control. At $2,500, it’s the most affordable unit on this list and a great pick if you shoot exclusively with Blackmagic URSA cameras. But more universal monitors may better suit those working with gear from multiple brands.

Panasonic BT-4LH310

The Panasonic BT-4LH310 brings a flexible, modular approach at the higher end of mid-range pricing. Available in 31-inch and 25-inch versions, both with 4K resolution, it produces accurate colors and deep blacks thanks to an OLED mastering panel. For broadcast users, the BT-4LH310 includes signal analysis tools, audio level meters, and network control capabilities. But what sets it apart is a design that lets you configure precisely the inputs, outputs, and signal interfaces you need through add-on boards and licenses. Expect to pay under $10,000 for this customizable OLED monitor.

Picking the Right OLED Display for You

With the top contenders covered, let’s explore what factors you should consider when choosing an OLED video monitor.

Size and Resolution

Display size and resolution is where you should start. Consider the typical viewing distance – how far away will you sit? – and whether this will serve as your primary monitor or as a secondary reference display.

For 4K resolution, you’ll want a screen at least 27 inches to appreciate the full detail without excessive pixel density. Compare true 4K monitors which give you a full 3840 x 2160 pixels to “Ultra HD” (UHD) models which quarter the pixels in a 1920 x 1080 pattern. True 4K is preferred.

At HD resolutions, screen sizes under 20 inches are functional, but you’ll likely be more comfortable with 24 to 27 inch monitors. This gives you sufficient screen real estate that you aren’t squinting and hunched over.

Keep in mind that OLED monitors aimed at consumers (e.g. LG’s OLED TVs) tend to prioritize smaller 4K panels. But for serious video work, larger professional displays are ideal for revealing nuances in footage and avoiding eye fatigue during long sessions.

Color Performance

Given OLED’s reputation for color accuracy, any monitor you’re considering should produce superb, lifelike colors and handle gradients smoothly. Pay particular attention to gamma and gray-scale tracking performance – these impact how smoothly dark and light areas transition.

Look for specs showing a wide color gamut over 90% of DCI-P3 or Rec. 2020 color space. Consumer-grade monitors usually cover around 100% of sRGB only. The expanded gamuts ensure colors don’t get clipped or compressed.

10 or 12-bit color depth, 4000:1 contrast ratios or higher, built-in calibration tools, and extensive color settings let you fine tune the display to perfection. For HDR workflows, some monitors allow calibrating different modes for SDR, PQ, and HLG content.

Features and Workflow

OLED monitors tailored for video provide the specialized inputs, outputs, and features that streamline your workflow. This starts with essential video connections like 3G/12G SDI, HDMI 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3 to handle 4K footage sources. Extras like scope signal outputs and network control expand your monitoring capabilities.

Production focused models also include recording to SD cards or SSDs, false color for exposure assistance, pixel-to-pixel zoom, and support for 3D LUTs. This gives you more confidence in creative decisions by enhancing image analysis on set and in post.

For broadcasting, tools like waveform monitors, vectorscopes, and quad split viewing are critical. You’ll also want monitor calibration to conform to standards, quality control alarms for error detection, and critical listening to judge audio quality.

Ergonomics

You’ll likely spend many hours each day staring at your OLED display, so ergonomics impact the monitoring experience.

Look for screens with wide viewing angles so colors stay accurate even when viewing at an angle. An adjustable stand with tilt, swivel, and height adjustments tailors the ideal viewing position. Centrally located, easily accessible touchscreen controls offer convenient operation.

Consider thin, lightweight panels in the 25 pound range which can be installed on arms or moved between rooms easily. Talent may prefer the beautiful image yet subtle reflection of a flat matte screen versus a glossy one.

Warranty and Support

Given their premium price, it’s important to protect your investment with a strong warranty and manufacturer support. Aim for at least a 3 year warranty covering parts and labor. Check the manufacturer’s policy on permanently replacing panels that develop dead pixels during the warranty period.

Do some research on the OEM’s reputation for promptly addressing technical issues and replacing defective monitors. For quick turn-around on repairs, local dealer support is preferred over shipping back to the factory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s wrap up with answers to some common questions about purchasing an OLED video monitor:

Why are OLED monitors better for video work than LCDs?

OLED displays utilize per-pixel dimming rather than uniform backlighting across the LCD panel. This gives OLED superior contrast with inky true blacks, and eliminates light bleed. Their panels are extremely fast – response times under 0.01 ms – thereby virtually eliminating motion blur. OLED also provides consistent color at wider viewing angles compared to LCD. When you add up deep contrast, fast response, and wide viewing angles, OLED wins hands down for critical video monitoring and mastering.

What’s the difference between OLED and QLED/quantum dot monitors?

Quantum dot LED (QLED) monitors still use an LCD backlight. The quantum dots act like a filter to improve color gamut and brightness. But without per-pixel dimming, QLED cannot match OLED’s near infinite contrast ratios and true blacks. For color critical work where perfect blacks and highlights matter, OLED remains the superior display technology. QLED does offer higher luminance which makes it better suited for extremely bright viewing environments.

Is burn-in a risk with OLED monitors as with OLED TVs?

It’s true that permanent image retention, commonly called burn-in, is a potential issue inherent to OLED technology. Displaying static content like channel logos and screen layouts for prolonged periods can lead to uneven pixel wear and visible artifacts. This is especially a concern for consumer OLED televisions displaying broadcaster logos continuously.

However, for professional video use burn-in is far less of a worry. Video content is varied rather than static, and colorists/editors are constantly adjusting their screens. Most modern OLED monitors also include anti burn-in features like pixel shift to evenly distribute wear. If image retention starts appearing, the monitor will dim itself before permanent damage occurs. Following best practices like hiding static screen areas, using screensavers, and limiting peak brightness virtually eliminates any burn-in risk with professional use.

How long do OLED monitors typically last?

OLED panel lifespan is usually over 30,000 hours to half the original brightness when used conservatively at 150-200 nits peak brightness. With the high brightness video pros need, regular use may lower the lifespan to 15-20,000 hours depending on how aggressively the monitor is driven. Still, this endurance is quite comparable to LCD technology. Numerous factors affect real-world longevity – following the manufacturer’s recommendations helps maximize your display’s usable lifetime.

Should I get an integrated or standalone monitor?

Monitors like the SmallHD OLED 27 are designed as integrated companion displays for a specific camera system. This allows tailoring features and sizing perfectly to popular cameras like the Sony FX6. Integrated monitors are typically lighter, more portable, and may connect seamlessly to your camera. But they are less flexible for using with other gear brands and future cameras you add down the road.

Standalone monitors from brands like Sony and Canon offer wider compatibility and customization for broader uses. But these pro displays carry more weight and bulk.

Evaluate whether you always pair monitors with just one camera system or need to use different cameras flexibly. Also consider the importance of portability – productions on the go benefit from slim integrated monitors versus bulkier standalone units.

Is Rec. 2020 (wide color gamut) support necessary?

Not absolutely critical yet for today’s workflows, but Rec. 2020 support ensures better future-proofing as more content creation and distribution moves to this wider gamut standard.

Look for true 10-bit panels and specs from the manufacturer showing what percentage of the Rec. 2020 color space the monitor reproduces – 80% coverage or higher is excellent. While full implementation remains rare and expensive, you’ll be better equipped for HDR mastering or other applications that demand the most expansive color gamut and precision.

What resolution should I choose – HD or 4K?

If you’re monitoring HD footage, then an HD 1080p OLED monitor usually suffices. Larger screen sizes in the 24 to 27 inch range are recommended for comfortable viewing.

To see the full resolution of 4K without scaling, you need a native 4K panel. Under 32 inch screen size, 4K provides less dramatic visual benefits. But it does allow more flexible sizing, provides ample screen real estate, and ensures you can monitor UHD and 4K deliverables down the road. If upgrading, also budget for a new GPU and cables that can handle 4K.

Take a close look at your current primary workflows – if you’re still shooting predominantly HD with no near term plans for 4K, an HD OLED monitor saves cost. But if you are steadily incorporating more 4K shooting and post-production, a 4K display becomes a better investment.

Conclusion

Given their exceptional color reproduction, deep contrast, and motion clarity, OLED monitors represent a major upgrade for video professionals. Different models cater to diverse needs across editing, color correction, VFX, and broadcasting. With screens large or compact, HD or 4K, full-featured or portable, there’s an OLED monitor well-suited for any production and budget.

When selecting your ideal display, carefully consider size, resolution, color performance, features, ergonomics, and manufacturer reputation. Do your research to make sure the monitor fits both your technical requirements and budget. While OLED monitors remain a premium purchase, they provide video creators the visual accuracy to make confident creative decisions and deliver professional, eye-catching content.

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