As a content creator, your videos will be viewed by your audience on a range of screens including computers, tablets and phones. However, you may only get to see your work on your computer screen while you edit it. That is why it’s vital that you can rely on the monitor you use to show you the true colors of the content you’re making.
This article will break down the features you should look for in a professional monitor. It will also explain the terms and technology that make a good monitor so that you can make an informed decision as you shop. It will also look at two of the monitor solutions offered by leading manufacturer BenQ.
Color accuracy is one of the first features you should look for when choosing a monitor. You need to be confident that the colors you see on your screen will be consistent with the look your audience will see. Professional color grading monitors can cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, for many content creators, there are cheaper options that will meet their needs.
Some monitors are calibrated for color accuracy in the factory at the time of manufacture. They may also come with a certificate showing the results of the testing and the color accuracy score. There are also 3rd party certifications. Calman, for instance, is the most widely used calibration software for verification of a display’s performance.
In addition, you can get monitors that are Pantone Validated which means they can faithfully simulate the full range of Pantone Colors. However, this is more relevant to print publishing than video content.
A color space is a defined range of colors. There are several color space standards for video monitors including sRGB, Rec. 709, DCI-P3 and Rec. 2020. A monitor that can accurately reproduce these color spaces will be useful in helping you manage the color of your content.
Bit depth refers to the number of digital bits of data used to define the color of each pixel in your video. The majority of consumer monitors, televisions and projectors are 8-bit devices. This means they can display around 16.8 million possible colors. While this may seem high, you only get 256 shades of red, green and blue for each pixel. This means you can often see color banding in areas of gradation in tone in your image, such as a blue sky.
A 10-bit monitor has 1024 different shades of red, green and blue for each pixel. This means that the monitor can display over a billion colors. It also means that shading and gradients will be smoother with no banding. If you are recording your video in a 10-bit file format such as ProRes or a RAW format, which could be 12-bit or even higher, you will need a 10-bit monitor to see all the detail in your recording. For more information on bit-depth, read Understanding Bit-depth and Color Rendition for Video.
HDR video can produce whiter whites and blacker blacks while also distinguishing more shades of gray in between compared to standard dynamic range video. The two main standards for HDR video are Dolby Vision and HDR10. In addition, most modern cinema cameras can record video with 13 or more stops of dynamic range which is perfectly adequate when shooting HDR video. For more information on HDR video, read What is HDR video?
Your monitor needs to connect to your computer system easily so that you don’t lose any time or functionality. Monitors may have several different connection ports to input your video signal. These can include HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort. You must ensure that your computer graphics card has an output that matches your monitor.
Mac or PC compatibility
Make sure your monitor is supported by your computer. Not all monitors work with Mac computers. Look for the ability to connect thunderbolt 3 or USB-C. Many times this means the monitor has a USB hub giving you the extra ports you need over what your system provides.
Creative work often takes time. This means you will be spending a lot of time looking at your monitor so it’s important that it’s comfortable to use. Your monitor should have a height adjustment so that you can bring your work to eye level.
Tilt adjustment is also useful as it means you can make sure your screen is at the best angle to view. In addition, some monitors can rotate 90 degrees on their stands. This lets you can use them for portrait video as well as the more traditional landscape video. This can be useful if you create content for smartphones.
Your monitor needs to a flexible so that it is suitable for all the work you do. Many content creators will work on photographs and graphics as well as video content.
You may be tempted to go for a UHD or 4K monitor on the assumption that having more pixels is always better. However, for screens up to 25 inches, HD resolution of 1920 by 1080 is often the right choice unless you regularly work with 4K video.
With screen size, again bigger isn’t always better. Make sure your screen fits into your workspace without feeling cramped. The size of your monitor also depends on factors such as how far away you sit from it. 24-inch monitors used to be the most common size however now many users prefer a screen between 27 and 34 inches.
Most monitors are 16:9 widescreen, which is the same aspect ratio as your television. However, you can also buy UltraWide monitors with a 21:9 ratio. In addition, there are some Super UltraWide monitors with a 32:9 aspect ratio. That’s the same as having two 16:9 screens side by side. Wider aspect ratio screens can be very useful for video editing as they allow you to use a longer timeline.
If you have a desktop computer and a laptop you may want to connect both devices to a single screen. Some monitors have a built-in KVM (keyboard video mouse) switcher. This allows you to connect two computers to one monitor and control both with a single mouse and keyboard.
PiP / PbP
Some monitors allow you to display images from two connected computers at the same time. Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode has one source filling the screen and the other displayed as an inset window. Alternatively, Picture-by-Picture (PbP) splits the screen in half and displays both sources side by side.
One cable solution
Thunderbolt 3 connectivity can be useful if you want to connect more than one monitor to your computer. With Thunderbolt 3 you can daisy chain monitors so that only one is attached directly to your computer. You can then run another Thunderbolt 3 cable from the first monitor to the second monitor. This simplifies your cabling and makes for a tidier workspace.
BenQ PD3220U and PD3420Q
BenQ is a leading manufacturer of monitors and makes a range of screens that are ideal for content creators. The BenQ PD3220U and PD3420Q monitors are two examples that offer all of the features you need to create content at a high level. While these monitors have an exterior design to complement your Mac, they are both Mac and PC compatible.
The BenQ PD3220U and PD3420Q are 10-bit monitors, which means you will get a high-quality image with smooth gradations of color. They also have a built-in hardware KVM switch so you can connect two sources at the same time. Both sources can be displayed at the same time with Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture functionality. In addition, the monitors have a hardware Hotkey Puck which has a dial and buttons to control your monitor and switch between functions.
The PD3220U has a 31.5 inch 16:9 aspect ratio screen with a native resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels at 60 Hz. It has a very high color accuracy displaying 100 percent sRGB and 95 percent Display P3 color spaces. The PD3220U has a screen brightness of 250 cd/m² and a full range of connectivity including Thunderbolt 3.
The PD3420Q has a 34-inch 21:9 UltraWide aspect ratio screen with a native resolution of 3440 by 1440pixels at 60 Hz. It has an even higher color accuracy displaying 100 percent sRGB and 98 percent P3. The screen is also slightly brighter at 350 cd/m². The PD3420Q doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 but has HDMI, DisplayPort and USB-C.
Both the PD3220U and PD3420Q have Calman and Pantone Verified certifications. The monitors also come with a calibration report so you know that you can rely on the color accuracy of your screen.
As a content creator, your monitor is an important tool that helps ensure your videos are the best they can be. Armed with the knowledge from this article, you can now make sure the screen you choose will meet your needs. To find out more about the BenQ monitors that were featured, go to https://www.benq.com/en-us/monitor.html