Since release in early 2014, the venerable Eizo CG277 has been, quite simply, our favourite all-time monitor - with unmatched colour accuracy performance and panel uniformity, these are an utter pleasure to use in every way. However, at time of writing it is now early 2019 - so despite their ongoing excellent performance, CG277s were beginning to feel a bit long in the tooth.
In 2018 Eizo released a slightly cheaper alternative, the CG2730, aimed specifically at photographers. A great monitor...but not quite as great as the CG277.
Recently, Eizo have finally released the proper successor to the CG277 in the form of the CG279X.
Overall, it's fabulous, but - surprisingly - it is NOT a 4K panel. Is there enough in the CG279X to warrant the premium price tag? Read our evaluation to find out!
The Eizo CG279X is Eizo's new 27" flagship colour accurate monitor from their highest quality range - the CGX series. It is intended for use by professionals in nearly all areas of photography and video. In particular, if you are professional spanning both the photo & video domains, this monitor should be high on your list to consider.
The Eizo CG279x is the flagship non-4k model in Eizo's range. I've evaluated this largely from the perspective of using it for high end still imaging work - and we have also currently got an Eizo CG2730 and Eizo CS2730 in use in our services roles here, so we can and do make direct comparisons across the range (more than happy to chat through the pros and cons for other uses, like video editing/grading of course - just get in touch!).
Currently, to get a 4K screen from Eizo you have to go down to a size most folks find too small (the 24" CG248-4K), or up considerably in size AND Price (the glorious 32" CG319X). More on this below, but the upshot of this is that for most professionals and budgets, the CG279X is currently Eizo's flagship offering at the most popular size.
It is noticeably more expensive than the excellent, and popular, Eizo CG2730. And if you work only in static imagery - i.e. graphics, photography and/or most print work, then the CG2730 probably remains the sensible choice, simply because most of the extra features of the CG279X are aimed at video work.
The key differences between the CG2730 and CG279X are:
You'll note that all those extra modes on the CG279X are video colour modes - they're just not that relevant to folks working on still images (and of course you can use the Custom/Cal modes and appropriate targets if you really do need to work in these areas occasionally).
The slight drop in contrast on paper with the CG279X is interesting. However, overall the experience of contrast on the CG279X is noticeably better, if you are actually using high contrast - thanks to the better sensor AND panel treatment, the post calibration contrast remains high, and very nicely so even if you're viewing the screen on a quite oblique angle (e.g. side by side with your customer).
Of course for print work, we tend to turn contrast down quite dramatically anyway, so that is again not really relevant.
All that being said, though, given the relatively small difference in price, and especially if you anticipate doing any video or high end black and white print work at any point, the Eizo CG279X is probably worth the extra dollars (about $500 extra) - simply as a more future proof decision.
It's hard to come up with sufficient superlatives for the colour and overall performance of this monitor.
All of the monitors we sell are very good at colour, at this point. We are at the point, now, where the differences between good and truly great are at the more subtle end of things.
Simply put, right now, short of the CG319X, there is really nothing better than the CG279X. If colour accuracy is what you are after, then this is the monitor for you. It is uniform, consistent, accurate and comfortable to use in every way. It is, in essence, the most well behaved LCD we've ever had the pleasure of using.
One thing I notice time and again about Eizo monitors is the sheer clarity and absence of artefact. Eizo have a unique bonding process (and these sorts of panels are actually made from many bonded layers - often well over 10 layers!) - and the final screen coating is marvellously matte and (unlike some other coatings out there) - there's really no rainbow effect to speak of in the display of pure whites. The result is a remarkable natural, forward presentation of the image - as if there is nothing between your eyes and the image.
The other three major areas that Eizo excel the most in are neutrality, uniformity and deep shadow detail. With the shadow detail I think it again has a lot to do with the screen coating - marvellously matte and clear, you can see into difficult shadow regions in a way that other makers have not yet quite matched. Of course the excellent calibration systems of these monitors generally put the tones in the right places, but there is still a hard to define visibility aspect to deep shadows that Eizo simply does that bit better.
Uniformity and behaviour in neutrals tend to go hand in hand and again this is where, if you're really looking at the subtleties, Eizo are simply the best. This is testament to their comprehensive completely in house panel calibration & QA processes - Eizo spend more time on this than any other maker we're aware of, and at this end of things it really shows.
Even compared to other, really very good monitors, the CG279X simply excels in these subtle areas and the net result is image quality and accuracy that is unrivalled. If budget is no object, Eizo are still the best. Used as a simulator of fine art print work, it is as reliable as anything we've ever seen and it makes this sort of work fundamentally easier and more predictable. In a world where time is money, the time saved with this screen means even with the undeniably high price tag, a screen like this should pay for itself quite quickly if you're a working professional. And if you're not a professional - well, this screen might well end up being the best and most loved device in your entire workflow - it's that good.
The CG279X is my new personal choice of monitor and now has pride of place on my work desk (until such a time as I can convince Eizo to gift me a CG319X anyway - I'll keep dreaming!!).
It's also worth mentioning the ergonomics, as they are bang on all around. The stand is great and has extensive travel and tilt (although it should be noted you can scratch the stand when pivoting the monitor if you forget to tilt the screen first - Eizo should add some sort of locking mechanism to prevent this!). You can of course remove the stand and use the standard VESA 10 by 10 mount with any normal monitor arm for even further flexibility if needed.
The hood is a good as hoods get - Eizo's magnetic hoods take literally two seconds to fit, they're just brilliant. So good they no longer feature a hole for your calibrator's cable (which you don't really need anyway since the calibrator in this unit is already excellent - but you might still want to use an external sensor - if so, just pop off the hood while calibrating and back on when you are done - it's so easy!).
The monitor is completely silent, does not appear to get overly warm, and has all the professional inputs you'd want (10 bit support on HDMI, DisplayPort and USB-C of course). The monitor warms up to fll accuracy in ~3 minutes, so you can get right on with your work, and (although I hate touch buttons...) - the menus are clear and easy to use, should you ever need to go in there.
And of course, one has to mention the benefits of fully automatic, direct hardware calibration with a high quality in-built sensor. After initial setup (with ColorNavigator - more below) - this monitor simply looks after itself. You don't have to be there - you can schedule this to occur in the middle of the night, and the Eizo will happily wake itself up, calibrate every mode, and put itself back to bed. Quite simply this is the nicest and simplest calibration system that exists - and 'It Just Works'.
Once you have this, you pretty much never want to use any other calibration system again.
With ColorNavigator 7, Eizo have fairly radically transformed the user interface of their application for direct hardware calibration and general monitor management.
Unfortunately, I find it a bit of a shambles compared to previous versions. I'll be the first to admit some of this may simply be the 'change-factor'. They have attempted to integrate the features of two separate produces - their video oriented ColorNavigator NX solution and their standard desktop calibration software - and the result is something that at first glance appears heavily biased towards video and does not have as simple a workflow for everyday image makers as the previous version.
(Quite frankly, I have probably got more broad experience with monitor calibration systems than just about anyone in this country - having used a whole host of systems both generalist (i1Match/i1Profiler/DisplayCal/Spyder etc. etc.) and manufacturer specific (Eizo, NEC, BenQ etc)..intensively, for a period of some 20 years now. If I find your software confusing...then you're not doing so well from a design standpoint.)
Still, once you've got the hang of it, it is certainly usable - and I will be writing a full guide on ColorNavigator 7 soon (Version 6 guide is here) - but in the meantime many folks I have spoken to have simply gone back to V6 for now, which is readily available on the Eizo website. But, V7 is clearly here to say so it's probably best to embrace the change and Eizo do listen to feedback and constantly tweak and improve ColorNavigator so the dust will settle on this soon, I'm sure.
In any case, once set up, you don't need to spend much actual time with ColorNavigator of course - just schedule your automatic calibrations and let the magic happen. So despite the UI issues, this really is the best calibration system out there. You can't beat automatic calibration for ease of use...Eizo have nailed this and no one else has an answer to this system (as yet, at least).
This is a monitor that retails for around AUD $3.5K. That puts its pricing right at the top, and especially so relative to competitors (mainly BenQ these days). That said, no one in Australia is offering a range, currently, at this absolutely top end quality level.
I must admit, though, to being quite surprised that Eizo did not deliver a 4K panel - at this price, at this time. Clearly, there is still some trouble getting a 4K panel of sufficient quality and in sufficient number to meet the incredibly high colour standards the Eizo CGX monitors must meet. Quite simply, Eizo don't think the panels are good enough and they won't put their very highest CG-X designation on an inferior option.
We have long argued, and still do so, that colour accuracy trumps more pixels every day of the week in terms of what it delivers to your workflow. The reality is, and particularly for still image work, there isn't that much practical difference between 2.5 and 4K panels. Sure, the image on the 4K panel is a tad sharper, but it's really only in text rendering and thumbnail viewing that the difference is really obvious. With a large single image on screen - which is the way most of us use these things most of the time - you can only subtly see a difference between a 4K panel and a 2.5K panel.
However, and particularly in the video world, there is very strong desire for 4K panels at this point. People want to be able to see their 4K video at 1:1 (even if they're actually editing a lower resolution proxy (AKA 'offline editing'). Given this model is so clearly aimed at video editors - in addition to still image makers - it has to be said the lack of 4K is likely to be an insurmountable weakness for some.
Furthermore, more more users now have other 4k/5K panels in their life - perhaps they own an iMac, any number of laptops, or a phone with a ridiculously high pixel density. These users are telling us, in increasing numbers, that they don't want to experience a clash of pixel densities when moving between screens. The reality is most of these folks - once they come here and actually try it - realise the issue is far less of an issue in practise than they might think, and the general conclusion is then that the wonderful colour accuracy is worth it - but the market is clearly moving, and Eizo will have to get with the times sooner rather than later I think, to stay competitive.
If you CAN live without 4K - and really, you can unless you have very specific needs (I routinely swap between 2.5K and 4K monitors and barely even notice) - the colour quality of the CG279X is just as good as it gets - and that has a much more profound impact on your ability to deliver high quality, accurate work in general. So I'd recommend not getting too hung up on 4K and consider all the other benefits first, as quite simply they are more important to your workflow than sheer sharpness on screen.
(If you are definitely looking for a colour accurate 4K model for photo and/or video work, BenQ have been wildly successful with their very good SW271 model - we've found them hard to keep in stock they are so popular! Whilst obviously not quite as technically perfect as these Eizo screens, they do offer a lot of quality...at a truly excellent price).
(NB, above I am using 4K in the generic, technically-it-is-actually UHD sense...)
Put simply, this is my new monitor because I consider it the most trustworthy, accurate screen I can find for fine art work.
Eizo's wonderful CG279X is the benchmark for colour accurate monitors right now.
It has just about everything a professional working in photo and/or video, or really any of the graphic arts, could want. Eizo monitors are really a promise of reliability, consistency and accuracy to the user. Using a monitor like this means you can be absolutely sure you're seeing exactly what you should be seeing; that your editing decisions are based on the correct display of your captures - in whatever context you're working.
Perhaps you're a stills photographer working on fine art exhibition work - with images in AdobeRGB. Or you're a video editor mastering content for demanding clients needing HDR or Rec.2020 encoded content. It's really hard to imagine a professional imaging or video task this screen wouldn't handle very capably.
It IS lacking 4k (and direct SDI inputs) - and that IS unfortunate. But that is a ultimately just a reflection of the realities of where 4K panel quality is right now. Eizo have, I think sensibly, chosen to focus on their key strengths - which are colour accuracy and image quality - rather than throwing more pixels of lesser quality into the mix.
Put simply, this is the new monitor on my own personal desk because I consider it the most trustworthy, accurate screen I can find. I don't enjoy the price tag, but I do enjoy the exquisite colour accuracy and unmatched support from a truly wonderful company.
The Eizo CG279X is available for order from Image Science now. Not only do you get Eizo's 5 year warranty, you get our own unmatched product-lifetime support. Any question you should care to ask for the lifetime of the device, we'll always be happy to help. We have an excellent and very long standing relationship with Eizo, so you can rest assured that not only will you get a top-class machine, but you'll also have the support you need to take full advantage of it.
- Richard J -
My third purchase from image science. Excellent info on web site makes purchase decisions low stress. Backed up by clear, concise and prompt comms. Very professional.