I’ve been a full-time professional animal photographer for the past 10 years and during that time I’ve travelled extensively, visiting all 7 continents. In late 2017 I invested in my first dedicated desktop colour calibrated monitor, a BenQ SW271. This was a game changer for my studio photography, as my colour output was consistent and what I was seeing on screen was reflected in my prints.
Having amazing colour clarity for my studio-based work left me in a quandary with my travel and wildlife photography. I’ve always used a small laptop to view and edit images in remote locations and was finding that I’d have to re-edit them when I returned home. The resolution of the laptop screen wasn’t accurate enough for editing and if I printed images directly from my laptop, they had colour casts, were often overexposed, and were over saturated.
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. Or imagine you see a colour on the internet and want to paint your house in the same tone. You will need to make sure the colour representation on screen is accurate. 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 want to see everything I’ve captured in each of my animal images. Every colour, hair follicle, and tiny detail and only specialist equipment can help me achieve this.
I spoke to the team at BenQ and they told me about a new portable concept they’d recently released – the BenQ SW240 Accurate Colour On the Go™ monitor. This is an innovative unit had been designed specifically for travel and off-site use and it enabled the user to plug in their laptop and produce colour accurate images in the field. I had to try this out! I got my hot little hands on the SW240 and began putting it through its paces.
THE TECH SPECS
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, or not. But for those who like a little more info, here are some important the tech specs for the BenQ SW240.
- 99% Adobe RGB Colour Space with IPS technology
- 24.1 Inch 1920x1200 Resolution
- 10-bit display
- 14-bit 3D LUT
- Hardware Calibration with accuracy colour
- Headphone Jack
- Mac and Windows Compatible
SET UP AND ASSEMBLY
The SW240 Accurate Colour On the Go™ can be purchased with a hard or soft case for travel. The hard case is a pretty epic item. It not only looks super sleek, it can withstand knocks and drops and is made from thick, durable black plastic. If summed up in two words, I’d describe it as “built tough”. It has four handles for carrying it at different orientations, including a slide out handle which extends. It also has wheels, for easy rolling. Six flip up clips grant easy access and there are two padlock holes to secure it. It has some weight to it, but you could comfortably check it in with your baggage due to its solid build.
The soft case is a lighter carrying option for the SW240 and fits inside the hard case, along with the Power bank battery pack and leads. A stand, soft shading hood and tripod mount are also included.
I found the assembly and set up of my SW240 Accurate Colour On the Go™ to be extremely easy. It clips into the top lid of the hard case thanks to a mounting plate. Then you just connect it to the Power bank battery, which has up to 15 hours of usage per charge, plug in your leads, and hook it up to your laptop. In a matter of minutes you are ready to start editing. The pack down process is also simple and fast.
USING THE SW240
The SW240 offers an impressive display and the first thing I noticed after set-up was its crispness compared to my laptop screen. I only use my laptop off site for image editing and the colours were suddenly sharper, more vibrant and filled with detail. These aspects were there all along, but I hadn’t been able to see them before. It was a new world and made images on my laptop 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.
The 24-inch monitor of the SW240 is 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 monitor looks sleek and professional.
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.
When I travel, I spend hours each day editing on my laptop and I was shocked to see how different my images looked after using the SW240. Every image I produce in the field is now edited on the SW240 and I’m glad I’ve realised how important it is to my imaging workflow.
Closer to home, it has changed how I photograph off site for animal rescue organisations because I can tether to the monitor. Photographing animals can be tricky as they don’t always take directions or stay still. Having the SW240 Accurate Colour On the Go™ tethered to my camera helps me review my images instantly and allows me to confirm I have the photograph I need before I move onto my next subject. Often animal rescue organisations need their images as soon as possible, so they can best use them to promote an animal for adoption. Editing and colour grading on site means I’m able to present the finished photos to my client before I head back to my studio and enables quicker turnaround and efficient workflow.
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 SW240 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 image output. It gives peace of mind when it comes to consistent colour management and at just $699 + accessories, is highly affordable price to photographers of all levels, providing exceptional value for money.
ABOUT ALEX CEARNS OAM
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 250 awards for photography, business and philanthropy. In 2019 she was awarded a prestigious Medal in the Order of Australia for services to the community through charity. Inspiring others with her joy of working with animals, Alex’s philanthropy and passionate advocacy for animal rescue has earned her high regard among Australia’s animal lovers and a strong following on social media.
She is an ambassador for BenQ, Tamron Australia, Tamron USA, Profoto, Spider Holster, and Seagate and is considered an influencer in photography, business and pet industry communities.
To learn more about BenQ Photography Monitor series, please visit: http://creative.benq.com.au/
For more info about BenQ SW240, please visit http://creative.benq.com.au/accurate-colour-on-the-go/SW240
Where to buy: http://creative.benq.com.au/specialised-reseller
Some examples of Alex's beautiful signature shots: