Review: BenQ SW270C photographer monitor – take your editing to the next level
If you’re a photographer trying to up your editing game -without the higher cost of 4K panels – this is the monitor you want.
It’s no secret I love photography, whether it’s using my trusty smartphone or my newly-acquired Fujifilm X-T3. That means a lot of editing afterward, necessitating a quality, color-accurate monitor to edit on.
See, more than anything else in your creative process, color control is the most important thing. It wouldn’t do to have your sweet shots look one way on your camera, then another on your monitor, then another altogether on your client’s screen.
That means you have to take control at every stage, from color profiles for your camera, to white balance checking during shoots, and also accurate, color-calibrated monitors. While you should already be calibrating your monitors every so often, why not buy one that comes calibrated from the factory and ensure that you’re beginning from a solid starting point?
So, what is the BenQ monitor all about?
First off, if you’re used to how most consumer monitors come packaged, you’re in for a surprise. That’s because BenQ has packed this monitor into a box the size of a small chair. Inside, everything is properly separated by layers of rigid cardboard, making it both recyclable and protected from the whims of your local delivery driver.
Once the reams of paper products have been navigated, you’ll find the heaviest monitor mount I’ve ever used. Seriously, my gas strut arms weigh less than this. That’s a good thing, as it’ll keep the chunky panel solid while you edit. There’s nothing like a wobble on your monitor when you’re using a drawing tablet to edit photos to make you miss your stroke.
Specs-wise, you’ve got a 2560 x 1440 panel (2K), with a 60 Hz refresh rate, 5ms response rate, and 300 nits with HDR10 compatibility. That panel is factory calibrated to BenQ’s exacting standards for Gamma, Uniformity, Color Temperature and Color Accuracy, and it ships with a certificate with all the relevant info for your specific panel.
BenQ also makes it super easy to recalibrate. Its Palette Master software uses whatever calibration tool you already have to help you check and calibrate the panel, and then stores that profile back into the monitor. That means no matter which device you’re using the monitor on, it’ll always be giving you the same color results. Sweet.
Other nice touches are two USB-A ports and an SD card reader for easy transfers of your camera gear, two HDMI 2.0, a DisplayPort 1.4, USB-C with power delivery, and a Micro USB for the nifty hotkey puck. That puck lets you keep your most-used features of the monitor a touch away, like switching between color gamuts or inputs.
So, how is it to use?
Right out of the box, the 2560 x 1440 IPS panel in the SW270C is flawless. Colors pop as you’d expect from a panel that covers 99 percent of the AdobeRGB gamut and 100 percent of the sRGB one, and everything is crisp and text is easy to read from a 2K resolution on a smaller 27-inch screen.
Editing on this is a joy, whether I’m using my PC over Displayport, or using it as a second screen from my iPad Pro via the USB-C port. That port not only displays the iPad’s screen but also keeps the iPad Pro charged up while plugged in, making long editing sessions a breeze. There’s just something magical about using the Apple Pencil in Affinity Photo to edit, and you wouldn’t want to use an inferior screen to do so.
Oh, and I know you won’t be buying this as a gaming monitor, but it’s pretty great to use as one when you’re tired of squinting at pixels. The 60 Hz refresh rate with 5ms response is fine for any non-professional gaming use, and playing games like Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is a feast for the eyes. I wish my gaming monitors had the color accuracy of this panel, just with their higher refresh rate.
So, should I buy it?
The $799 BenQ SW270C is one of the best displays we’ve tested to date. The panel is color-accurate right from the factory, the backlight is consistent with no real show of “IPS Glow,” and it comes with all the creator-focused tools you’d expect from the market segment it’s aimed at.
If you’re a photographer trying to up your editing game, without the higher cost of 4K panels, this is the monitor you want. Bonus points to BenQ for its Palette Master software, which uses your existing color calibrating tools to load the calibration into the monitor, so you don’t have to run software on all your devices to stay perfectly calibrated.
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