Choosing a monitor for editing professional photography and print proofing has always been tough. I’ve been working as Jimmy Chin’s studio manager for over 8 years, editing photography and managing stock photo sales, and have worked with a variety of monitors. Even with a color calibrated monitor what you see on the screen is not always accurate, and rarely is an exact match in color, contrast and brightness to the printed photograph. I recently was lucky enough to try out the new NEC MultiSync PA322UHD 4K Monitor for professional photo editing and pre-press proofing. The 32 inch Ultra High Definition monitor is very impressive and offers a wide range of features and options. With a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels this is the biggest and highest definition monitor I’ve ever used.
At the full 4K setting the pixels are small and the fonts and icons appear smaller than normal since the monitor is so large that the user is usually seated about 3 feet way from the screen. I found it much easier to use the monitor in the HD setting of 1920×1080 most of the time, rendering fonts and icons at a larger size, and much easier to read. For editing photos and videos, the 4K setting is much sharper and displays a very impressive high quality image.
Setting brightness and contrast has always been a problem when working in a space where ambient light is often changing, but not with this monitor. The built in software constantly calibrates the brightness and contrast of the screen based on the ambient light of the working space, keeping images constantly accurate. The SpectraView color calibration kit (sold separately) does a great job of adjusting the contrast, temperature and brightness so the auto calibration is consistent.
The most impressive and useful feature for any photo editor is the built in MultiProfiler software allowing easy toggling between color spaces and the Multi-Picture function that allows side by side rendering of 2 or 4 images in different color spaces. With the option of uploading any ICC color profile, the software is a valuable tool in pre-press and print proofing, allowing side by side comparisons and simultaneous editing of images in different color spaces. It’s always been difficult to edit an image on screen, and reproduce the same color, brightness and contrast on paper. The PA322UHD does the best job I’ve seen of print proofing on screen, but I still recommend making a printed proof as well to check accuracy as minor tweaks may be necessary to get the exact end result you’re looking for.
The monitor also sports a full range of input ports including four HDMI ports, 2 DVI ports, 2 USB inputs and 3 USB outputs. Additionally the monitor has inputs for 2 computers allowing a split screen for 2 users to work on the monitor at the same time, and two internal 2W speakers for great stereo sound.
Overall this monitor is very impressive and an incredibly useful tool for anyone editing photos, videos or making high end prints. With a four year warranty included, this piece of hardware is guaranteed to last. The only drawbacks I could find were the bulk and weight of the 45 pound, 32 inch screen which requires a pretty large working area of desktop space, and of course the $3,000 price.