June 2018 was the arrival date for BenQ's mini marvel - the best $699 you can spend in photography.
The BenQ SW240 is a colour accurate, wide gamut monitor offering fantastic performance - for a truly bargain price.
In photography (or anything in the graphic arts), $699 often doesn't go very far. It's about a third of the cost of a decent lens, or roughly the same price as one of the new pencil compatible iPads - where the pencil reacts a solid half second after you touch the screen with it (the iPad Pro works speedily, though).
In monitor terms, it typically gets you things like the Asus ProArt or Dell Ultrasharps - monitors that aren't complete rubbish - but aren't as far from it as you'd like them to be!
Until the middle of this year, there really wasn't a good option in monitors, for imaging purposes specifically, that was below $1000.
All that has changed with the introduction of BenQ's mini marvel - the $699 SW240. First seen and mentioned in our Japan CP+ report from earlier this year, we've now had these flowing through to customers for the last few months and have been gathering their feedback, and have finally even managed to keep one in stock long enough to put it through a proper workout here!
The BenQ SW240 is a remarkably good value 24 inch colour accurate wide gamut monitor with direct hardware calibration support.
(There is even a comprehensive series of accessories - BenQ's 'Accurate Colour On The Go' platform - coming soon for the ultimate in portable colour accuracy).
The BenQ SW240 has these key specifications:
The BenQ SW240 is the perfect entry level colour accurate monitor for enthusiast amateur photographers on a tight budget, and it also makes an excellent second screen or studio monitor for working professionals.
Indeed, we are seeing a whole lot of people who are very enthusiastic about colour accuracy for a very reasonable price:
Given this monitor is a few months old now, there are already detailed reviews all over the web (and they're very positive reviews!).
And given this is a member of the now very familiar line of BenQ SW monitors - scores of which are now out in daily professional and amateur use with our customers around Australia, I'm not going to spend a lot of time re-hashing our earlier thoughts on BenQ monitors (see our BenQ SW271 and BenQ PV270 evaluations).
Suffice it to say all the superlatives from those previous evaluations apply here. It's really very similar in colour performance, across the board, to the BenQ SW271. Our example is, if anything, even more uniform than our SW271 (which is already great), and it is quite frankly a thrill to see such accuracy for so few dollars.
All the positives remain:
The frustrations that remain are mostly minor:
Put simply - who cares? (And if you really need 4k - there's the SW271!).
4K is really almost completely irrelevant in terms of achieving high quality imaging results. It is vastly, vastly more important to get your colour under control. This is true for photography, graphic design, illustration - you name it.
Sure, you get sharper thumbnails and text is without doubt more beautifully rendered on 4K, and there are some higher end video grading scenarios where you truly do need 4K - but the reality is for the vast bulk of folks working with images & video the absolute key issue - the key problem that causes them issues in their workflow that need to be solved - is a lack of colour quality.
Buying a 4K machine with lesser colour quality - and that's all 4k monitors at this price point - is a big mistake if you care about making beautiful images. The $1599 SW271 is really the first high colour quality 4K monitor on the market (hence its wild popularity) - but if your budget is not at that level, you will find it very easy to live without 4K and will greatly enjoy and benefit from the colour accuracy the SW240 offers.
If you have an interest in photography, or any of the digital visual arts, and your monitor budget is below $1000, then you should buy this monitor (and a calibrator!).
There is simply no better choice available for graphics work at a similar price.
(Of course if your budget is close to $1000, you might just get tempted by the equally excellent bigger brother SW2700PT model :)
As ever, if you need any help at all in deciding, or want to see a demo unit etc., then don't hesitate to get in touch.
- Alison Bennett -
I got 2nd prize at the Julie Milliwick Photography Prize!
I wanted to thank you for doing such a fabulous job on the print. It was wonderful to see the exhibition print on the wall.
I am particularly delighted that we were able to hold so much detail in the shadows and I like the matt powdery finish. I had lots of questions about the paper.