Which one did I buy?

I been using the same 1080 Samsung monitor for the past 7 years, not sure why it has taken me so long to replace it, but in this review you will see me pick my latest monitor. My old Samsung cost me $700 and has been a very good monitor for me over the years, but I know I have been missing out on better contrast and colors with the newer models. Not sure how many hours I have used the Samsung, but I am impressed it still is working.

A while back I asked on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ which 3 monitors I should look at to replace my old monitor. I got tons of suggestions so I created a spreadsheet and then picked the top three. So if you don’t see your favorite brand like Dell, NEC or Eizo, sorry. I wanted to include the Monoprice in the mix but B&H does not carry that brand and I can not easily return it.

Why Not 4K?

I did not include 4k monitors in this shootout because I used the Asus PB287Q for about a week and could not stand the small font size and icon size of the 4k monitor. It might be years before we can see OS and programs scale nicely with a 4k monitor.

The Contenders

What is common with these monitors:

  • They all have a vertical native resolution of 1440.
  • “10 bit color” (I could only use 8-bit for these tests because of my GTX card)
  • IPS
  • Display port connection
  • HDMI connection
  • LED backlit,
  • Covers 99% of the sRGB Color Spectrum

These are not really gaming monitors, they are meant for highly accurate color work. However, if you are a real colorist you will not be using any of these, from what I understand you will be using a 10-bit SDI reference monitor from Sony or FSI and not a computer monitor like these. Thanks to Jason Myres and Juan Salvo for helping me out with this 10-bit question.

But for me, all my stuff gets published on the web so it make sense for me to use a GUI computer monitor.

10-Bit Color with Nvidia GTX Cards?

For some reason I thought I would be getting 10 bit color, but after asking around, my GTX and all GTX cards do not have the drivers for 10 bit color, you have to pay more for Quadro cards to get 10-bit color. These cards are not video devices, they are computer graphic interfaces. Professionals do not use GUI monitors for grading.

There are other 10-bit solutions I could try from Black Magic but I am not at that point yet.

Wattage

New vs Old

I wanted to start out my tests generically, looking at the new monitors vs my old monitor to see what is different:

  1. With the new monitors, you can see in the shadows a lot more!
  2. New monitors have less saturation and have better or more accurate colors.
  3. I can see noise in the shadows more with the new monitors.

How do they look?

All three of these look noticeably more accurate than my old Samsung, very easy to see the difference in contrast and saturation. However comparing all three of these new ones side by side by side, they are very close, so close it seems like your mind starts playing tricks on you.

At the very start I thought they were all pretty much the same, identical. But after many hours of staring at them I could start to see the minor differences.

When I look at cameras from different manufacturers each one has it’s own look, when you look at cameras side by side it is easy to tell the differences, but with these three monitors it is very hard to see the differences.

I asked Andy C. from Digital Light Productions to come over and help me see the differences, he is a professional retoucher. We looked at a ton of different types of images and he was able to see things that I didn’t see at first. He was surprised just how close they were, “splitting hairs on this test”.

All of these monitors were individually factory calibrated before I got them, all I did was adjust the brightness of each so they matched. All had a Delta E of less than 2.

But only ever so slightly…

  • LG had more contrast and saturation than the other two, but only ever so slightly.
  • HP see into the shadows the best, but only ever so slightly.
  • Asus had a light green in the highlights than the other two, but only ever so slightly.
  • For black and white images, the HP was the most neutral, but only ever so slightly.
  • For high contrast/high saturation images, they all looked the same, really hard to pick out differences
  • LG was similar to the iPad’s contrast
  • HP had a little more detail than the other two, but only ever so slightly.
  • Andy liked the HP best

Calibrating the Pre-Calibrated Monitors

We calibrated all 3 of them after looking at them for hours, and it was interesting that the calibration software from X-rite actually made the Asus and HP more inline with the contrast from the LG.

Which One Did I Pick?

  • I want to repeat that all three look very similar, but noticeably more accurate than my old monitor. Really splitting hairs!
  • If money is an issue for you, buy the Asus and use the extra money upgrade one of your lenses, you will notice more of a difference.
  • While the HP might be the best overall, it was such a minor difference I decided to go with the LG because of all the screen real estate. Having a Two Up display in Speedgrade for shot matching is worth it for me. Right now I have three browsers open as I write this and it is helping me do this review faster! If you are learning like me, you can have a Lynda or YouTube video open with AE as you follow along with After Effects all on one screen! I love it!

Watching my old stuff on a new monitor

I want a redo! After watching my old videos on my new monitor I can see things so clearly now that I want to go back and fix if I could. I have a feeling my color grading will only improve after this purchase.

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4 comments

  • First off, thank you for performing this comparison and sharing the results. I agree with you regarding the benefits of a 21:9 monitor for video editing and the like. However one of the drawbacks to that particular LG monitor that you didn’t mention was its lack of a height adjustment. But then perhaps you were counting on us noticing the bare wood blocks holding up the LG in the video.

  • Hi,

    I was also considering lg-34UC97-S-ultrawide-monitor but I picked up its flatter predecessor LG 34UM95-P 34″.

    The thing is the product should be made on ( for ) the similar medium most people have today or see today: normal flat monitor/tv or billboard or picture on a wall. The image from the curved monitor is just different from the image from the flat monitor. The content is different with changing perspective – not just smaller but even … curved. The curved screen is squeezed into the curved monitor body and its just different from the flat one.

    So even if the curved monitor looks cool, it is cool rather for content consummation than for content creation. Be aware of this. It is always better feel/test your product from different angels and distances and that impossible with the curved version.

  • Interesting note about the scale of the 4k monitors! I bet the 5k imac has some scaling options like the retina displays on the MBP retina laptops do. I wonder what options Windows might come up with?

    As a side note, I’ve been pretty happy with the LG 24″ IPS panel I have. Seems to be “pretty” accurate color wise, yet priced affordably