THE ENTIRE WORLD OF professional photography has been undergoing a fundamental change over the past decade or so, as technology has moved on to the point where most higher-end professional cameras now deliver a set of video credentials just as strong as those for stills.
Alongside, we’ve also been seeing video accessories such as continuous lighting and high-spec audio equipment becoming freely available, and when you hand a bunch of creative people a set of powerful tools such as this it’s no surprise to find that motion has become such a strong growth area in recent years.
Those professionals who are exploring the potential of a hybrid approach also need to consider their editing options, of course, and alongside a powerful computer you also need to be looking at a fully-featured monitor that can deliver awesomely accurate colour, ease of use, including straightforward calibration, and the necessary heft to get the very most out of the high-quality 4K and above footage that contemporary cameras are capable of
outputting these days.
One of those who has been looking very closely at developing the video-production side of his business is Ross Grieve. As a hard-working street photographer, educator and wedding and portrait specialist, Ross is well used to a multi-faceted approach, and his natural curiosity has led him to take a considerable interest in the motion side of things, giving him a requirement for a monitor that could handle anything he might care to throw at it. As a long-term BenQ user, he already knew and respected the brand, and the arrival of the SW271C gave him a tool to use that is perfect for his range of postproduction requirements.
“I’ve previously worked with the BenQ SW271, ” says Ross, “but the new display has moved things on significantly and it’s perfect for me since I’m now starting to undertake more filmmaking in my business and am producing commercial projects for a host of major clients. This means that I need a monitor with the ability to handle both stills and motion, rather than just stills, as was previously the case.”
For Ross, the beauty of the SW271C is not only the fact that its hybrid credentials mean that it copes so beautifully with both still and motion disciplines, but it’s also been designed from the ground up to be straightforward to work with, with neat and simple shortcuts on board to ensure workflow is kept as efficient as possible.
“I’m the type of guy that just pulls kit out of the box and then only reads the manual if necessary, ” says Ross. “So, when something arrives, I initially just plug it in to see exactly what it can do. I found the SW271C very easy to set up, and it comes with out-of-the-box colour accuracy and a factory calibration report, meaning that it was good to go as soon as it arrived, although I did also carry out my own calibration, because that’s what I like to do.
“Compared to a rival screen I use that was highly reflective, the screen on the BenQ is a delight to work with, and its matte surface handles reflections really well, even when there might be a bright light behind you. To improve things still further, it also comes with a non-reflective shading hood that absorbs the light and stops it bouncing around and creating problems. All the details are so well thought through: there’s even a little slot in the top of the hood so that you can drop through a calibration tool and it will still fit nice and flush to the screen. For me, it just feels like I’m working on a sheet of lustre or pearl paper; it really is that simple.”
Speeding Up Workflow
Any professional will know how important it is to be able to work accurately and as efficiently as possible. One of the key benefits of the new SW271C is its assured handling of colour and the emphasis that BenQ has put on ease of calibration.
“I’ve found the previews that the monitor is capable of generating are really helpful, ” says Ross. “In particular, I love the concept of Paper Color Sync, which is a BenQ software that can show you an image on screen that can simulate the colour settings, printer and photo paper that’s in use, which all sounds really cool.
“Overall, the SW271C has really helped to take the guesswork out of editing. There’s nothing more annoying than sending a print off and finding the colours are out or the tones are wrong due to an inaccurate screen. So, now I can edit both video and stills with confidence, knowing that the colours and the final results will be spot on because they will look exactly as they did on my screen at the editing stage.
“Meanwhile, the separate and upgraded Hotkey Puck G2 device that comes with the monitor is great for creating preset shortcuts and also looking at different colour profiles at the touch of a button. You can also adjust the brightness, contrast and volume of the monitor through the Hotkey Puck, and it’s just so easy to use.”
Further benefits that help the hybrid operator to zip through their postproduction workload as quickly as possible include the ability to work with HDR material, since the SW271C is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG formats. It’s also possible to preview the HDR effect of video content during the editing process to ensure the best results. “This is an awesome capability”, confirms Ross, “and I can also vouch for the fact that it makes my Xbox games look great!”
For Ross, there’s no going back and, as the imaging industry gears up to become yet more multi-faceted, the need for kit that can truly handle all formats will continue to grow. The best operations will also look for ways to speed things up without losing their edge, and colour consistency will be a key element of this.
“If you’re sending stuff off to labs and you’re getting results back where you’re thinking that the colour’s not quite right, then perhaps it’s time you started to get more serious about calibration, ” says Ross. “For me, the difference is huge: as someone who hasn’t always used highend monitors, I can vouch for the fact that when you do get one, you’ll notice the difference straight away and it will just make your work so much easier.”
See our full test of the BenQ SW271C by Mike Jennings here.
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