Have you heard the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know”? That’s how I would best describe my relationship with professional, colour calibrated photography monitors. I’ve been a full time professional photographer for the past 12 years and during my career I’ve always used high end, all in one desktop PC’s to edit my images. Now these computers did their job as far as running the internet, storing client record management database and saving my word docs – but little did I understand the damage they were doing to my images.
I finally realised something was wrong in late 2017 when I changed over to a new computer and started experiencing dramatic variation in the colour output of my prints. What I was seeing on screen wasn’t what I was achieving in my prints – they were filled with colour casts and over saturation. I print at a professional photo laboratory, so I knew the problem was at my end. Yikes! It was costing me time and money to try to rectify the issue by editing blindly, hoping I would get the result I needed, and to constantly pay for reprints. It was a frustrating situation!
I sought advice from a local retailer (Saul Frank from Camera Electronic in Perth) and purchased my first BenQ SW monitor with 99% Adobe RGB, 4K display and ultra-high-density pixels.
As soon as I turned it on I saw the difference – I was viewing my images the way they were meant to look and how I saw them in my mind’s eye. It was a new world and made images on my computer screen look quite yellow by comparison. Everything had a polished feel to it, and it immediately took my work to the next level through instant improvement in colour enhancement and accuracy.
Fast forward to 2021, when I heard about the new BenQ SW271C. It was created specifically for photographers and I couldn’t wait to put it through its paces.
Photographers of all levels often invest in high end cameras and fast lenses and spend thousands on them without a second thought, but neglect one of the most important factors of photography – a photography specific monitor. A generic monitor not designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. The BenQ SW271C gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range. It has a 27 inch display which enables you to see all the detail in your images and gives is a true representation of what the image has captured.
Correct colour calibration isn’t only important for printing – it’s also necessary for viewing our images (and those of others) on screen, for processing images using editing software and for online image presentation. If you aren’t using a specialist monitor, chances are you aren’t seeing everything in that’s actually in your image – the colours might be muted, and the tone and details may look muddy or disappear altogether. I always want to see everything I’ve captured in each of my images and want my animal subjects to show their true colours, every hair follicle, and every tiny detail. Only specialist equipment can help me achieve this.
As a photography competition judge, I also often view images remotely and its imperative that I see them in the colours, tones and detail their creators intended. A colour calibrated monitor is the only way to be satisfied that this is occurring.
I’m not one to get bogged down in the technical side of things. I’m more of a practical reviewer and if I use something my priority is to assess whether it does what’s required, along with its level of functionality. But for those who like a little more info, here are the impressive tech specs for the BenQ SW271C.
The SW271C comes in a large box with an interior of protective cardboard compartments. Everything is very neatly packed inside and all components are easy to find. The assembly and set up of the BenQ SW271C is extremely simple. It comes with a visual instruction sheet and each element is carefully described. I clipped together the stand and hood, then attached the monitor, plugged in the relevant cables and hooked up my laptop. With the instruction sheet as a guide, it took me less than ten minutes past and zero fuss to set up my BenQ SW271C and to begin editing.
The monitor has a pivot function which enables it to be used in vertical or horizontal display and the swivel mount makes it very easy to adjust. It comes with a velvet lined hood to out block light from above and the sides, which can also be set at vertical or horizontal display. The BenQ hotkey puck (also known as the “hockey puck” as that’s what it looks like) which is synonymous with BenQ monitors for photographers, plugs into the rear of the monitor through a cable and sits in a circular cradle at the base of the stand ready for use. The whole design is sleek and each feature is relevant and functional – you won’t find unnecessary buttons or an overdone layout on the SW271C
The SW271C offers an impressive display and the first things I noticed after setting it up were the colour intensity and crispness. My test image was a photo of vibrant image of underwater blue clams and it had an immediate WOW factor on screen, with sharp, vibrant colours and exquisite detail. The image looked alive! It had a polished feel to it and I could see the accurate enhancement of its true colours.
The innovative BenQ hotkey puck has been upgraded (it’s now called “G2”) and it provides an effective and effortless way to switch between different output modes - Adobe RGB mode, sRGB mode and Black and White. The buttons on the hotkey puck can also be customised for other settings like brightness and contrast. For photographers who like to use shortcuts, this contributes to a streamlined and time saving workflow.
Like all BenQ monitors, the 27-inch screen of the SW271C has immediate visual impact and is very impressive. It allows you to see fine detail in your images and would be hard to revert to a smaller screen once you have used one of this size. The ability to adjust the screen height and orientation gives the user great flexibility and combined with the hood, you can ensure directional light and glare are avoided on screen. The monitor looks sleek and professional and is exceptional not just in its performance, but also in its visual display.
With 99% ARGB coverage I can rely on my monitor to show 99% of every possible colour on screen, which provides excellent image results. Even with the naked eye, I can see an added vibrancy within the colour gamut of my photographs.
I spend 70% of my working day sitting in front of my monitor. A good portion of that time is used to edit images to show clients at sales sessions and preparing files for printing and every image is processed on my SW271C. I have to trust the reliability of my equipment to display and print my images accurately every time and know this is something I can count on - I view my BenQ SW271c as a valuable part of my team.
In photography, colour accuracy is everything. Whether you're printing portraits for clients, or artwork for your home, your prints need to showcase the best colour detail available using the widest spectrum possible. With the BenQ SW271C monitor the colour accuracy of your images will be consistently and reliably maintained, reproducing images with a superior feel and giving you trusted peace of mind.
From hobbyist to professional, this monitor will make a difference to the users image output. It provides an excellent colour management solution and is an investment for photographers of all levels which will earn its keep in no time.
Animal Photographer / Australia
Dogs Today Magazine in the United Kingdom calls Perth based photographer Alex Cearns OAM “One of our greatest dog photographers in the world.”
Alex is the Creative Director of Houndstooth Studio and specialises in capturing portraits that convey the intrinsic character of her animal subjects. When it comes to her photography, she is passionate, compassionate, fun, caring and committed and it would be apt to describe her as a “crazy dog lady”.
Alex photographs for engaged pet lovers, corporate brands in Australia, the USA and the UK, and for around 40 Australian and International animal charities and conservation organisations. Her images have been published extensively across Australian and International media, in books, magazines and ad campaigns.
Alex is the recipient of over 350 awards for photography, business and philanthropy. Deeply committed to the wellbeing of all creatures great and small, she is considered one of Australia’s most passionate champions and voices for animal rescue and wildlife conservation. Her advocacy and philanthropy were distinguished with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) from the Council for the Order of Australia for her service to the community through charitable organisations.
She is an ambassador for BenQ, Tamron, Spider Holster, Studio Ninja, and Ilford Imaging Australia, a photography business coach, and is considered an influencer in photography, business and pet industry communities.