If you’re a video editor or aspiring filmmaker, having a professional monitor specifically designed for color grading and post-production work should be at the top of your gear wishlist. The right display can make a world of difference in your editing speed, efficiency, and creativity.
But with so many options on the market, how do you pick the best monitor for your specific needs and budget? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing the ideal professional monitor for video editing and getting the most out of your display.
Why You Need a Professional Monitor for Serious Editing
Before we dive into specific models, let’s look at why a professional monitor is essential for color grading, editing, and other color-critical tasks:
- More accurate colors – Consumer TVs and monitors are made for entertainment, not professional work. A dedicated editing monitor will showcase colors, contrast, and brightness much more precisely. This allows you to make more informed editing decisions.
- Increased resolution – Higher resolution displays allow you to see fine details in your footage. This helps with tweaking sharpening, spotting issues, and other precise work.
- Better contrast – Pro monitors have stellar contrast ratios and black levels. This makes it easier to discern subtle shadow and highlight details.
- Consistent brightness – Editing monitors sustain consistent brightness across the panel. Consumer displays can vary, making it hard to judge exposure.
- Perfect calibration – Professional displays come calibrated out of the box for color accuracy. Many also include built-in calibration tools.
- Bigger screen – A large screen provides an immersive editing experience and eliminates eye strain.
For any serious editing or color grading work, a professional monitor gives you the visual fidelity and features to get the job done right. The boost in speed, accuracy, and creativity is well worth the investment.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an Editing Monitor
With a basic understanding of why pro displays beat consumer models, let’s explore the key factors to evaluate when choosing your ideal video editing monitor:
There are a few main panel types used in professional displays, each with their own pros and cons:
- IPS – IPS (in-plane switching) panels offer the best viewing angles and color accuracy. But they have slower response times.
- VA – VA (vertical alignment) panels have excellent contrast but suffer from color shifting at off-angles.
- OLED – OLED (organic light emitting diode) panels feature perfect blacks and wide viewing angles. But they can be prone to temporary image retention.
Many professional monitors use IPS technology for the optimum blend of color fidelity, viewing angle, and motion handling. VA and OLED both have advantages in certain areas if visuals are more important than perfect color.
Resolution and Aspect Ratio
For resolution, aim for a monitor with at least 1920 x 1080 (1080p). Higher resolutions like 2560 x 1440 (1440p) and 3840 x 2160 (4K) allow you to edit with more fine detail and give you flexibility to view your footage at different zoom levels.
The standard widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9 works well for most editing scenarios. But ultra-wide 21:9 monitors provide extra horizontal room if you frequently work with many tracks and timelines at once.
Size and Pixel Density
A minimum of 24 to 27 inches is recommended for an editing monitor. Bigger displays in the 32-inch range let you see your full timeline and tools with less panning and zooming.
Pixel density (PPI – pixels per inch) is also key. A 24-inch 1080p monitor has a lower density of 92 PPI. The same size screen with 4K resolution yields a sharper 185 PPI. High density reduces eye strain and artifacts.
In general, aim for monitors with at least 100 PPI pixel density or higher for best results. Or easily calculate it: take the resolution’s vertical pixels and divide by the screen height.
One of the biggest advantages of a professional display is color accuracy. Most pro monitors cover at least 100% of sRGB, while high-end models may reach 85 – 90% of the wider DCI-P3 color gamut used in digital cinema.
Delta E (dE) ratings measure color accuracy compared to a reference. Lower numbers mean less visible difference between shades:
- dE below 2 – Excellent accuracy
- dE 2-3 – Very good for most editing tasks
- dE above 3 – Noticeable inaccuracies
Calibration can improve any monitor’s dE ratings. But accurate factory calibration under 3 dE gives you a great starting point.
Brightness and Contrast Ratio
Having sufficient brightness for your working conditions is crucial. Standard displays range from 250 to 300 cd/m2 while HDR models can reach 1000 cd/m2 or higher.
A high contrast ratio like 1000:1 ensures vivid details in shadows and highlights. OLED panels offer essentially infinite contrast but may be prone to image retention.
Ports and Connectivity
At minimum, your monitor should include HDMI and/or DisplayPort inputs to connect your computer or deck. Some models add USB ports for extra connectivity with peripherals and calibration devices.
Premium monitors include features like support for HDR content, built-in calibration tools and presets, blue light reduction modes to decrease eye fatigue, and onboard scoping tools or LUT previews. Prioritize features that fit your workflow.
The Best Professional Monitors for Video Editing
Now let’s look at some top-rated professional monitors well-suited for editing, color grading, and post-production work:
1. Dell UltraSharp UP3221Q
Our current top pick is the Dell UltraSharp 32″ UP3221Q, an outstanding IPS monitor with 8K resolution and excellent color accuracy.
- Large 32-inch size with wide 178° viewing angles
- Impressive 7680 x 4320 resolution for editing fine details
- SD/HD/UHD/8K support over HDMI and DisplayPort
- Vibrant color coverage (98% DCI-P3) with great gradient handling
- Calibrated color accuracy with low 1.9 dE average out of the box
- Ergonomic stand with height/tilt/swivel/pivot adjustments
- Blue light reduction mode for extended editing sessions
With gorgeous 8K clarity that can display four 4K streams at once, Dell’s UltraSharp 32-inch model is ideal for future-proofing your editing rig. Stellar color accuracy right out of the box makes it a superb choice for color grading and VFX work.
2. BenQ PD3220U
A close second choice is the BenQ PD3220U – a 32-inch 4K IPS monitor loaded with pro-level features:
- Large 32″ screen with 3840 x 2160 4K resolution
- Accurate factory calibration – dE under 2 out of box
- 95% coverage of DCI-P3 for rich cinematic tones
- HDR10 and Thunderbolt 3 support
- Hotkey Puck for quick access to tools
- Reader mode for reduced blue light
BenQ packs great color performance and accuracy into the PD3220U monitor. Built-in calibration tools and Hotkey Puck controller make it easy to dial in the perfect picture. 4K resolution gives you ample room for tools while editing.
3. Dell UltraSharp U2720Q
Our budget pick is the Dell UltraSharp 27″ U2720Q, providing fantastic color under $700:
- 27-inch screen with 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution
- Very accurate sRGB and Rec. 709 coverage – ideal for video
- Calibrated for great out-of-box color (dE 1.9 average)
- Sleek slim bezel design with small footprint
- Flexible stand with extensive adjustments
- Supports HDR content playback
For the price, the UltraSharp U2720Q gives you excellent color reproduction in sRGB and Rec. 709 – perfect for editing video projects. IT’s a compact but powerful monitor choice for color grading on a budget.
4. EIZO ColorEdge CG319X
If you need outstanding color accuracy for 4K HDR editing, look at the EIZO ColorEdge CG319X:
- Large 31.1-inch 4K display with DCI-4K resolution
- reference-level color accuracy – ideal for color grading
- 98% coverage of DCI-P3 for cinema and HDR projects
- 1500:1 contrast ratio and HDR gamma support
- Built-in calibration tools like ColorNavigator
- Reduced glare panel with wide viewing angle
With nearly perfect color reproduction, 4000:1 contrast ratio, and built-in calibration, the ColorEdge CG319X delivers tremendous visual fidelity for 4K editing and VFX work. It’s a premium monitor built for the most color-critical use cases.
5. LG 38UC99-W
For extra editing real estate, check out the LG 38UC99-W ultra-wide monitor:
- 38-inch screen with 2300R curve design
- Cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio
- QHD+ 3840 x 1600 resolution
- SRGB over 99% color gamut
- Reader mode for reduced blue light
- Picture-by-picture for dual inputs
- 3-Side virtually borderless display
The curved LG 38UC99-W provides an immersive experience for editing timelines or viewing ultra-wide footage. The 3840 x 1600 resolution gives you ample desktop area. And 99% sRGB provides vibrant, accurate colors for video work.
Choosing the Best Monitor for Your Specific Needs
With so many great options available, choosing the right monitor depends largely on your budget, editing needs, and viewing environment.
Here are a few key questions to ask yourself when deciding:
- What resolution do I need for my workflow – 1080p, 1440p, or 4K?
- Is color accuracy or a wide gamut important for my projects?
- Do I prefer an IPS panel for color fidelity or VA/OLED for contrast?
- Is an ultra-wide aspect ratio beneficial for my editing style?
- Do I need HDR support for next-gen formats?
- What size display will fit comfortably in my space?
- What connectivity options (Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, etc.) will I need?
Take the time to carefully evaluate your situation so you choose the right monitor to boost your editing and meet your creative needs long-term.
Properly Setting Up and Calibrating Your Editing Monitor
To get the most out of your investment, it’s important to properly set up and calibrate your professional editing monitor. Here are some best practices:
- Carefully calibrate your monitor’s brightness, contrast, RGB color balance, gamma, and black levels using either built-in tools or an external colorimeter. This minimizes any inaccuracies in the display.
- Establish proper viewing conditions in your editing suite by controlling ambient light, positioning your screen appropriately, and setting the monitor to the right brightness for the environment. This helps color appear consistent.
- For multi-monitor setups, ensure all displays are calibrated to match. Position external monitors at the proper height and angle. Your primary screen should be directly in front, with secondary displays offset to each side.
- Create custom color profiles tailored to your monitor’s specific characteristics. Use these profiles within your NLE or color grading software so color appears consistent across devices.
- Set up and use a dedicated controlled full screen viewing mode on your monitor when evaluating creative decisions to avoid distractions.
Proper physical and software setup establishes ideal viewing conditions so you see colors and details as accurately as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Professional Editing Monitors
Do I really need a professional monitor? Can’t I just edit on a TV or normal display?
You can certainly edit on a consumer TV or basic computer monitor. But the colors, brightness, black levels, and calibration will be far less accurate. This makes it much harder to make creative color grading and exposure decisions. The boost in speed, quality, and accuracy a professional monitor provides is a wise investment for serious editing work.
What resolution monitor should I get for video editing?
Aim for a professional monitor with at least Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. For future-proofing, a higher QHD 2560 x 1440 or 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution gives you flexibility to view timelines and footage at different zoom levels. Just make sure the display still meets size and pixel density recommendations.
Is refresh rate important for an editing monitor?
Not as much as color accuracy, resolution, or contrast ratio since you won’t be gaming. A standard 60Hz refresh rate is fine for video editing tasks. Curved displays may have higher rates, but it likely won’t impact day-to-day editing.
How much brightness do I need in a professional monitor?
Look for a monitor with at least 250-300 cd/m2 brightness. This allows you to see subtle shadow details and ensures colors don’t appear washed out in brighter rooms. HDR monitors offer up to 1000 cd/m2 brightness, giving you headroom to display specular highlights in HDR content.
What size monitor is best for video editing?
A minimum of 24-27 inches is recommended. For more immersive editing, larger 32-inch displays are ideal. Ultrawide monitors from 34-38 inches also give you additional horizontal room for timelines and tools.
Should I get a monitor with HDR support?
If you edit HDR video or need to preview HDR content, a monitor with HDR10 capabilities will allow you to view the extended contrast range and wide gamut. This lets you make HDR exposure decisions accurately. But SDR content will still look great on non-HDR monitors.
Are ultra-wide monitors good for editing?
The extended width of an ultra-wide display gives you more room to stretch out timelines and see more tracks horizontally. This can boost editing efficiency. But color accuracy and resolution are still top priorities in your monitor. Only go ultra-wide if it meets your critical visual needs first.
How often should I recalibrate my professional monitor?
Most pros recommend recalibrating your monitor every 2-4 weeks minimum to ensure colors stay accurate over time. Work in critical color spaces like Rec.2020 may require more frequent calibration. Built-in calibration tools make regular adjustments quick and easy.
What’s the best way to set up dual monitors for editing?
For a dual monitor setup, position your main editing display directly in front, calibrated and adjusted ergonomically for your seated position. Off to either side, place secondary displays like scopes, preview monitors, or your GUI toolbar at a 10 to 20-degree angle.
Can I use a professional editing monitor for gaming too?
You certainly can use a pro video editing monitor like the LG UltraFine or BenQ SW320 for gaming if it has a fast enough refresh rate and low response time. Just don’t expect the same ultra-low input lag as monitors designed primarily for gaming. Picture quality will be superb, but reaction time may be slower.
Invest in Your Editing Display for the Long Term
Choosing the ideal professional monitor involves carefully weighing factors like color accuracy, viewing environment, display size, resolution, and budget. But finding the right monitor tailored to your editing needs pays dividends through faster workflows, better creative decisions, and reduced eye strain over many years of use.
By understanding key performance characteristics and your own priorities, you can invest wisely in a pro-grade monitor that brings out the best in your editing skill and abilities. Take the time to research options thoroughly and find the perfect display to bring your video projects to life. Your eyes and your clients will thank you!