Questions regarding affordable monitors for HDR editing aren’t as common as those intended for gaming or entertainment which are readily available on retailers. Recently, we received a very interesting query from David who works with a video editing team that works on theatre releases. These talented individuals require a reasonably priced professional monitor with a high resolution, superb hardware calibration support, and excellent color accuracy.
There are a ton of options in the market with down to earth prices, but David’s team requires a bit of future proofing within a two to five year period. However, the steady rise of HDR’s popularity also means that demand for capabilities to edit and create content will soon follow. The problem is HDR reference monitors, and 10-bit sources cost a fortune.
Here are some jaw-dropping examples:
Sony BVM-X300 (Estimated -Price $47,000)
The Sony BVM-X300 is a flagship HD reference monitor that comes equipped with a UHD OLED panel with exceptional performance in color reproduction, contrast, and pixel response. The nearly fifty grand monitor has a 10-bit panel that covers DCI-P3 and ITU-R BT.2020 standards. This monitor isn’t readily available from our favorite retailers while the specialty stores that offer it usually tag it as a special order.
TVLogic LUM-310R (Estimated Price – $39,000)
The TVLogic LUM-310R is slightly cheaper than the Sony above because it uses a Super-IPS 4K LCD instead of an OLED panel. However, the screen is complemented with a 2000-nit local dimming backlight which makes a simultaneous ratio of 1000000:1 possible. This color grading monitor supports multiple broadcast-level HDR standards along with standard gamuts such as Rec.2020.
Canon DP-V3010 (Estimated Price – $20000)
The Canon DP-V3010 is probably the most affordable model in this category at just a little under twenty thousand. This monitor also supports broadcast standards for HDR content, but its IPS panel is fully capable of gamuts such as Rec.2020 as well. What makes this monitor unique is it is 10-bit DCI color and contrast complaint to ensure high-quality imaging for your professional needs.
These prices are indeed way above our typical consumer-level budgets, plus, the cost of sources such as 10-bit pipes and high-level capture cards aren’t included yet. It’s important to note that a multi-million dollar industry passes through these gadgets that have the best technologies in the industry which in a way, justifies their massive costs. As such, these monitors may not be available through typical retail channels such as Amazon.
What are the Affordable Monitors for HDR Editing Alternatives?
Small groups and start-ups have limited budgets, so the reference monitors above are too costly and unpractical. Upgrading displays for a smaller-scale operation also mean that the upgrade cycle is longer than the usual, lasting anywhere from two to five years. David and his team asked us if a 10-bit professional display is ideal or if they can get away with an 8-bit+FRC monitor that supports HDR or a lighter form of it.
Of course, the latter (10-bit monitors with Hardware calibration) are still the closest examples you can buy with a consumer-level budget. Specialty brands like Eizo have upcoming 4K HDR monitors for editing, but even those will probably cost at least thrice what these recommendations will ask for.
Here are our reasonably-priced monitor recommendations for HDR content editing:
1. BenQ SW271
The BenQ SW271 is the cheapest monitor in this line up that has a 10-bit IPS panel with a comprehensive gamut coverage to make it suitable for editing. This model can reproduce 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut or 93% DCI-P3 which is a few ticks away from HDR10’s color requirements. This monitor relies on a 14-Bit 3D LUT and hardware calibration compatibility to ensure the best blending of colors with superb accuracy.
This product isn’t a true 4K HDR monitor for editing, but its imaging capabilities and excellent design more than make up for what’s amiss. The BenQ SW271 includes valuable extras to help enhance your workflow and visual experience by a mile. The added calibration hood works wonders in keeping the screen uniform in varying ambient light conditions while the S-Switch puck remote takes care of hotswapping between custom modes or accessing OSD options with ease.
2. Acer PE320QK
The Acer PE320QK is one of the best we have tested regarding color accuracy and contrast making it perfect for HDR editing. The monitor can represent up to 96% of the DCI-P3 color space while reaching a contrast ratio that exceeds 1400:1. This option like the one above does not include a specialized backlight, but its imaging qualities make it a suitable candidate that costs less than a thousand bucks.
Like the BenQ SW271, the Acer PE320QK isn’t a true 4K HDR monitor for editing due to a few limitations in the specs. Still, the excellent performance in gamut coverage along with the superb exterior design makes it the most practical option among our recommendations.
3. Dell UP2718Q
The Dell UP2718Q is one of the best mainstream prosumer 4K HDR monitors for editing since it comes with a 385-zone FALD backlight that helps to replicate the effects of HDR imagery. This feature can pump out up to 1000cd/m2 of brightness on each zone to help extend the dynamic range on the spot. This monitor also comes with a 10-bit panel that is fully compatible with the brand’s exclusive calibration suite for excellent accuracy and fidelity.
In a sense, the Dell UP2718Q is an authentic 4K HDR monitor for editing if you consider its gamut and FALD backlight. This product is leading in its class when it comes to HDR functionality, making it one of the cheaper solutions with brilliant image reproduction.
4. Eizo CG319X
The Eizo CG319X costs three to five times as much as the other options, but it certainly is at the top of the best monitors for HDR editing without spending five digits. The screens retardation film layer and 10-bit color depth help to reproduce the best and deepest tones for excellent and faithful image fidelity. This high-end device supports specialized specifications such as 98% DCI-P3 coverage, Rec.2020 functionality, and HLG or PQ Curve standards. If that’s not enough, the Eizo CG319X can also calibrate itself with the help of a built-in sensor and a 24-bit LUT for fantastic color at any time of the day.
The Eizo CG319X is the only model that comes close to the 4K HDR monitors for editing listed above. It does have a few limitations if you compare it to the 50K or 30K options above, but it can be considered a high-end practical choice if you are shopping for a 4K HDR monitor for editing.
There are practical alternatives, but the bottom line is that you can’t process HDR content correctly with an SDR display even if the gamuts are wide enough. The results will likely have a certain level of deterioration, or the end user may see visual issues such as over darkening of the image or massive color skewing. However, choosing from these monitors isn’t so bad if budget is limited or if you are treating it as an entry point into HDR content creation and editing.
Tips When Working with The Monitors for HDR for Editing Listed Above
As established, there are no current affordable monitors for HDR editing, so us mere mortals will have to do with these mainstream offerings. The result will not be as good as those processed in equipped studios, but you can still manage to produce high-quality content by bearing these tips in mind:
- Grading and editing in HDR and then finishing in SDR will induce some compromises in your final product’s quality. This work flow cannot be compared to working with 8K film and finishing it in 4K, which will produce excellent results. The best way to avoid issues with your final product is first to complete the primary grade, and do a trim pass to finish it so you have two final grades.
- Keep it simple, and try not to exaggerate your grading unless specified by your requirements.
- Take your time and do multiple grade passes if need be since HDR editing takes some getting used to. Otherwise, your final grading will end up almost identical to your previous work.