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BenQ Knowledge Center

BenQ SW321C Monitor Review – Alex Cearns

Alex Cearns
2020/10/13

Why use a photography specific monitor?

I’ve been a full time professional photographer for the past 12 years. During my career I’ve always used high end, all in one desktop PC’s to edit my images. In late 2017 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. It was costing my 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 and the penny finally dropped. I needed a photography specific, colour calibrated monitor.

I spoke to the owner of a local camera store (Saul Frank from Camera Electronic in Perth) and he came up with a solution – try a BenQ SW monitor with 99% Adobe RGB, 4K display and ultra-high-density pixels. I took Saul’s advice and added my first BenQ colour calibrated monitor to my tech arsenal. Instantly there was an elevation to my images. Details which weren’t previously visible could now be seen my screen wasn’t advanced enough. It was a new world and made images on my PC screen look quite yellow by comparison

Fast forward to 2020. When I heard about the new BenQ SW321C I had to road test one.  It was created with photography in mind and I couldn’t wait to put it through its paces.

An investment for photographers

As photographers, we often invest in high end cameras and fast lenses but give little thought to our PC or laptop displays. I’m guilty of it! A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. The BenQ SW321C gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range. It has a HUGE 32 inch display and literally took my breath away the first time I switched it on and saw one of my images on screen.

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 images. Every colour, hair follicle, and tiny detail and only specialist equipment can help me achieve this.

As a photography competition judge, I 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.

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, along with its level of functionality. But for those who like a little more info, here are the impressive tech specs for the BenQ SW321C.

  • 32 inches, 16:9, 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • 99% Adobe RGB coverage 95% DCI-P3 & Display P3
  • Industry Standard: 16-bit 3D LUT, ΔE ≤ 2
  • 137 pixels per inch
  • Anti-Glare / Anti-Reflection screen coating
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) content support ready
  • Brightness and colour uniformity
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) content support ready: HDR10 & HLG
  • Video format support: 24P/25P
  • IPS panel for wide viewing angle
  • Hardware Calibration
  • To-Print Consistency: A.R.T. panel with Paper Color Sync Software
  • USB-C for video/audio/data transmission and power delivery
  • AQCOLOR technology for the sharpest images

 

32 inch 4K Photo and Video Editing Monitor Adobe RGB | SW321C

Set-up and assembly

The SW321C comes in a large box and everything is neatly packed inside. The assembly and set up of my BenQ SW321C was extremely easy. It comes with an 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 - I had my first image on screen within 10 minutes of opening the box.


The monitor itself can be used in vertical or horizontal display and sits on a swivel mount for easy adjustment. It comes with a velvet lined hood to out block light, which can also be set at vertical or horizontal display. The hotkey puck  (also known as the “hockey puck” as that’s what it looks like) 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. In next to no time my BenQ SW321C was set up and with out of the box calibration I was able to begin editing immediately.

As an added bonus it comes with a custom screen cleaning roller which resides in a small case. Something simple yet innovative to ensure your screen stays smudge and grit free. 

Using the SW21C

The SW321C offers an impressive display and the first things I noticed after setting it up were the colour intensity and crispness. I opened an image of an orangutan and it immediately filled the screen. The colours were sharp, vibrant and filled with detail and seeing it on the expansive 32 inch screen too me aback. My previous BenQ monitor was excellent, but the SW321C is the next level. The image popped!!! It had a polished feel to it and it immediately elevated the image through the accurate enhancement of its true colours. I was hooked!

The innovative BenQ hotkey puck is included with the monitor When I first came across this on my previous BenQ product, I wrongly initially assumed that it would be a bit of a novelty. But I soon learnt that 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. This will really appeal to those who want to save time by creating an effective short cut through the hotkey puck.

The 32-inch monitor of the SW321C 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 has a HUGE “wow” factor, 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.

BenQ have also introduced their Paper Colour Sync technology - a time-saving screen-to-print process which enabling users to select the colour gamut, printer model and paper type to get an on-screen preview which faithfully reproduces the final colour output. The compatibility of the SWQ321C with the Paper Colour Sync Technology software stimulates your printing results and will be particularly useful for photographers who print their own images. 

Overall appeal

I spend 70% of my working day sitting in front of my monitor and I need to know my images will print accurately every time. We place immense trust in our monitors to help with this and every image I produce is now edited on my SW321C. Its reliability is something I can count on whenever I send an image off to my pro lab.

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 SW321C 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. To see the full potential of your images on a 32 inch screen is mind blowing and something I wish every photographer had the opportunity to experience.  

Recommended!

From hobbyist to professional, this monitor will make a remarked difference to image output. It provides an excellent colour management solution and at just under $3200AUD ($ 1999.99) it’s an excellent investment for photographers of all levels which will earn its keep in no time.

About the Author

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. 

Find Alex Online At

Photography Website http://www.houndstoothstudio.com.au/      

Business Coaching Website https://www.blackcatconsulting.com.au/

Houndstooth Studio Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HoundstoothStudio

InspHIGHER with Alex Cearns https://www.facebook.com/groups/1918712611578342

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