Martin at Workstation

BenQ SW2700PT Photographer’s Wide Gamut Display Review (Podcast 519)

I’ve recently had the pleasure of trying out a new display aimed at the photography market by BenQ, a company that I had not considered a player in the quality display market, until now. I’ve been using their 27 inch SW2700PT display for the last four months now, and I’ve...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
43 Comments
  • damonlynch
    Posted at 16:31h, 18 April Reply

    I was surprised to see you had troubles configuring profiles on Firefox. With a little configuration it should work without difficulties. There are several guides on the net, e.g. http://www.gballard.net/firefox/

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 18:41h, 18 April Reply

      Hi Damon,

      Thanks for the link, but at the bottom of that document it says that you need to profile your display with version 2, which is what I suspected was the case, but in my mind, not an acceptable workaround. I’d rather use Safari until Firefox supports this without needing to change settings.

      If there is a different workaround that I missed in my 25 second scan of the page, I’d be happy to take a look again, but I don’t have time right now.

      Cheers,
      Martin.

      • damonlynch
        Posted at 18:51h, 18 April Reply

        Hi Martin,

        Firefox has supported V4 profiles for several years now, since version 8 to be precise. See http://cameratico.com/guides/firefox-color-management/

        Generally speaking, Firefox has the best colour profile support of any browser — better support than many operating systems’ bundled photo applications! For example I run V2 profiles on my system simply because many regular Windows applications don’t work properly with V4 profiles, even on Windows 10, which you’d hope would be better. If you can stick with V4 on OS X that’s of course good.

        Damon

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 19:19h, 18 April Reply

          Hi Damon,

          That’s what I thought, so I was surprised to see the colors change as I moved Firefox from my iMac to my BenQ display.

          Anyhow, not being able to resist taking another look, I just found the information about changing the settings for Firefox using the about:config shortcut.

          I found that in addition to the gfx.color_management.mode, that they recommend changing to 1, there is also a gfx.color_management.enablev4 switch, which I changed to true, and that did fix the issue. If it’s as simple as that, I don’t mind making the change, although I’m wondering why this is not turned on by default. Maybe it carried over an old setting as Firefox was updated?

          Now I need to see if there is any way to change Chrome as well. 🙂

          Thanks for pointing this out Damon. I’ll add a note to the blog post.

          Cheers,
          Martin.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 19:30h, 18 April Reply

          Hmm…. I just checked with my Equinox flower shot, and it actually still looks duller on my iMac screen in Firefox after making those changes.

          I just checked the document you linked to Damon, and it suggests adding the path to the display profile, but that won’t help, because I need to view the images in a browser on both displays, not just the BenQ.

          In Safari, there is no difference in color between in my images as I move the browser window from my iMac to the BenQ display, so I guess I’m back to my original statement, that I’ll be sticking with Safari until the other browsers work seamlessly. 🙁

          • damonlynch
            Posted at 19:55h, 18 April Reply

            Oh yes… dual monitors being used simultaneously and a different color profile with each is not something FF will handle properly at the moment. If Safari does, that’s impressive work by Apple.

            But in the simpler use case where you have multiple displays & ICC profiles, but only one display being used at one time, some colour gurus tackle that scenario with FF here:

            https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1689512?start=0&tstart=0

            The long and short of it is that it’s possible, but you need to restart FF when you switch displays, because at startup FF will automatically use the profile from the primary screen. The key point is not to explicitly specify it.

  • vinnie110
    Posted at 17:14h, 19 April Reply

    Very interesting review Martin.

    Out of interest had you not looked at the Dell U2713h 99% AdobeRGB 10bit hardware calibration?

    Kevin

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:55h, 20 April Reply

      Hi Kevin,

      No, I haven’t looked at any other 99% Adobe RGB displays. The Dell you mention is no longer available anyway, but if they’d sent me one, I’d have taken a look. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Martin.

  • Elie
    Posted at 03:38h, 21 April Reply

    Your post couldn’t have been more timely. I just ordered mine after the podcast as I was researching my options looking to buy something that would not break the bank.

    Thank you!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 17:09h, 21 April Reply

      That’s good to hear Elie. I’m pleased the review was useful. You’ll love the SW2700PT, I’m sure.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Per A
    Posted at 16:51h, 27 April Reply

    Hi Martin!
    I usually enjoy listening to your excellent podcasts, but this one was a bit over the top for me. Even though the information was good, it was just too much advertisement for my taste. If you got a dollar each time you said the entire model number “SW2700PT”, you would be a very wealthy guy! =)

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 17:20h, 27 April Reply

      I’m sorry you felt that way Per. I am aware that I used the model number a lot, but didn’t think it would make anyone feel this way. I’ll be more careful in future.

  • Elie
    Posted at 21:50h, 27 April Reply

    Hey Martin,

    As I mentioned above, I had already bought the SW2700PT after listening to your review. You have a history of only recommending and talking about products that you use and like. Your reputation is King and you definitely should guard it and maintain it with all your might.

    I am used to you repeating product names over the years. I think it helps with clarity and researching purposes. While repeating the “SW2700PT” did have a “sales” feel to it, it did not bother me at all due to what I said above; but I definitely understand how it did bother others and how it might sound like a clear advertisement.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:20h, 27 April Reply

      Thanks for the information Elie. I do guard my reputation, and as you know, would not even talk about a product that I don’t believe in. I am offered products a lot, and I review more than I talk about. If something isn’t up to scratch, I don’t give it a bad review. I just don’t review it. It doesn’t get my backing, at least not in public. 🙂

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, and I will be careful with how I talk about products going forward.

  • Simon
    Posted at 00:28h, 23 August Reply

    My prints are always too dark from my iMac display does this calibrate the brightness correctly on this monitor with an i1display pro?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:11h, 23 August Reply

      Hi Simon,

      You are guided to adjust the brightness to the correct level during the calibration process, so yes.

      But, as I mentioned above, this display does not have automatic brightness adjustment, so if the light in your workspace changes, you’ll have to set up a few presets so that you can adjust the brightness easily as the light changes. Or, remember a few different brightness values and change the brightness levels manually.

      Note too though, that your iMac does have automatic brightness, and if you set it during the calibration process, then leave the Adjust Brightness Automatically checkbox in the display properties turned on, it will adjust based on the brightness level you set during the calibration. You shouldn’t have a problem with dark prints if you set this up.

      I hope that helps.

      Martin.

  • Krishna Prasad
    Posted at 00:43h, 27 October Reply

    Do you see any color cast in the Benq Monitor. I have completed the calibration and the delta E is less than 2. But I some how feel the white are a bit yellow. I was comparing this monitor with a Mac book Pro monitor.

    Both are calibrated monitors so I feel both should same. Can you help me ?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:17h, 28 October Reply

      Hi Krishna,

      I don’t see any color cast with my BenQ monitor. Calibration should get the two displays close, but not necessarily the same. Having said that, if the whites look yellow, it could be that some sort of color balance setting is turned on, either during your profile creation or on our computer.

      I can’t really help directly. I’m traveling from today for a few weeks, and it would be better for your to contact BenQ support anyway.

      Regards,
      Martin.

      • Kevin Storr
        Posted at 19:08h, 29 October Reply

        Hi Krishna,

        I would first start by checking your white point ie D65 or 6500 Kelvin is the more standard in photography.
        As compared with graphics were we use D55 (5500k).

        D55 is warmer and so your whites would look more yellow than at D65.

  • Zdenek Malich
    Posted at 07:24h, 17 November Reply

    Hi Martin! Very helpful read here and thanks for it! I have actually same problem with the yellow cast on the sw2700pt. I need to have a better read tomorrow because when I calibrated the monitor with the palette master elements and then tried to calibrate it using Xrite own software the colors are of a good bit. I am bit angry when I spend “so much” money to get such a problems. Thanks again and if I will get some useful discoveries I will post them here to help other with easier setup/profiling.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:19h, 20 November Reply

      Hi Zdenek,

      Sorry for the delayed reply. I’m still catching up after traveling.

      My suggestion would be to try profiling your display with the software that came with your calibration device alone. Palette Master was a piece of crap really. I struggled through with it to complete this review, but I have used the software that comes with my X-Rite spectrometer since this.

      If you are seeing the colors off when using the X-Rite software, you probably have to tweak your settings. If you are telling the X-Rite software to adjust the profile to match your ambient light, try turning that option off. I adjust for my ambient light levels, but not the color of the ambient light.

      Let me know if that doesn’t help.

      Cheers,
      Martin.

  • Shannon Hall
    Posted at 14:07h, 20 November Reply

    I have had HORRIBLE luck getting Palette Master Element to make things look even remotely close to acceptable. I’ve tried every setting combination and I still get extremely blown out photos no matter what luninamce I set it to or what setting I have the actual brightness setting at, or any combination of other settings in conjunction with various luminance/brightness settings (and it takes a minimum of 20 minutes to try each time so I’ve spent literally days upon days trying to get it right.) And most often the colors have a green cast to them. I’ve had to give up and resort to using only my Spyder 4 to calibrate which is super frustrating because even still, it only gets so close and I really want the hardware calibrated instead of having to go through my graphics card. During calibration everything looks pretty good but the final result is always terrible. I want to believe so much that it’s something I’m doing but like I said, I’ve tried every combination of settings when using the Palette Master Element and it’s literally making me cry and wish I hadn’t spent $600 on this monitor. I’m not sure what to do at this point.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 14:18h, 20 November Reply

      Hi Shannon,

      It doesn’t sound like you are having much luck. Are you are using the BenQ as a second display, and if so, do you have it set up as the Main display, as I describe above? If you are, then although it’s not the best software I’ve ran, Palette Master should be able to create a hardware calibration profile for you.

      If you aren’t running the BenQ as a second display, it sounds like time to contact BenQ support, if you haven’t already.

      Or, try using your Spyder software and forget about hardware calibration. I can’t really see any performance benefits for the additional effort. You still end up with a profile that you need to specify.

      Regards,
      Martin.

      • Shannon Hall
        Posted at 14:41h, 20 November Reply

        Hi Martin,

        I am on a PC and it’s my only display.

        I have read nothing but negative reviews about contacting BenQ and they are generally not helpful at all, as they literally find any issues I guess. I will try though. Do you happen to know which number I should call? Also, I’m not too great with technical terms so I’m not sure what to tell them exactly.

        When I use my Spyder 4 (Elite) it gives me a message saying that, even though I’ve chosen wide gamut display, it’s in fact not one and asks if I want to continue anyway. I say yes, just because, and it gets somewhat close but never quite looks right.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 14:44h, 20 November Reply

          I have to admit Shannon that I haven’t had a lot of luck getting answers to issues either, but I have forwarded your comment to BenQ and already received a reply that they are going to try to help you. Please expect someone to contact you soon.

          • Shannon Hall
            Posted at 15:19h, 20 November Reply

            Wow, thank you! Will they be emailing the address I put in here?

            Thanks again!!

            • Martin Bailey
              Posted at 15:21h, 20 November Reply

              Yes. If you’d like them to use a different address, drop me a line here: https://mbp.ac/contact

              • Shannon Hall
                Posted at 16:18h, 20 November Reply

                Nope, that’s perfectly fine to use that one.

                I am still playing and so far the only thing I’ve found that helps it not be blown out is to use the L gamma instead of 2.2. It’s much closer to the prints I’ve had made from previous calibrated monitors. The color is still a little on the cyan side though.

                I wish each test didn’t take so long haha. I’ve been at this for hours just tonight.

                • Martin Bailey
                  Posted at 16:20h, 20 November Reply

                  I know, that was my main complaint about the BenQ software. It takes forever to calibrate the display.

                • Shannon Hall
                  Posted at 16:22h, 20 November Reply

                  Here’s another thing that bothers me… When I do another calibration and set it to Calibration 2 (so I could switch between 1 and 2 to compare)… Halfway through I get a blue screen of death, every.
                  … dang… time.

                  The only thing I can think to try is to unchecked the System Level option (I don’t think it says that specifically but I’m currently restarting from a BSOD so it’s not in front of me.)

                  • Martin Bailey
                    Posted at 16:43h, 20 November Reply

                    Wow. That’s just not right. Let the BenQ team know when they contact you. Hopefully they’ll be able to help.

  • Jakob Eriksen
    Posted at 07:27h, 13 December Reply

    Hi Martin
    I’ll like your input on using the SW2700PT for video work – SRGB.
    How would you go about that? Would you set the monitor to SRGB then calibrate?
    My main concert is the same as people working with webpages – that we don’t see don’t see the same as our costumers.
    Hardware that is calibrated is the way to go but what about the profile part?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:19h, 13 December Reply

      Hi Jakob,

      I’d probably leave the calibration and profile in place, and maybe just switch to sRGB mode to check the video, but I wouldn’t really expect there to be much if anything wrong with it. I would imagine there could be problems if you did some changes to the coloration of the video while in Adobe RGB mode, but if that’s the case, then switching to sRGB during your changes might help too.

      To be totally honest, I don’t do enough video work or color manipulation of video to really be able to envisage any problems. My tendency would be to give it a try, and then work around the problem should anything arise. Because we can easily change mode and create and manage multiple profiles, I can’t imagine there being any problems that could not be overcome.

      Cheers,
      Martin.

  • Peter Van Steenwinkel
    Posted at 04:09h, 16 January Reply

    Hi Martin, great article. I just got this monitor and I’m trying to calibrate it as optimal as possible. Still a bit confused about these subjects:
    – whether I should use the Palette Master Element or the software that came with my i1 Display. The latter indeed offers the option to adjust to ambient light, and the light in the room I’m working in is very different during daytime vs. at night. But what I’m I losing exactly when not using the monitor’s hardware LUTs?
    – the brightness: the Palette master default for photographers is 160, while I read everywhere that the standard is 120.
    – How does the warm artificial light in the room affect what I see on the display and how can I avoid that?
    Thanks.

    • Damon Lynch
      Posted at 04:42h, 16 January Reply

      That the brightness standard is 120 is a myth. Only some monitors are actually capable of natively outputting that low. Your goal is to match your monitor with the printed image, not some arbitrary value. See Andrew Rodney’s “Why are my prints too dark?” video on YouTube or his website for (much) more detail, and plenty more valuable information besides.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 06:24h, 16 January Reply

      Hi Peter,

      Depending on the power of your system, you might find that not using hardware calibration and the hardware LUTs can slow down video performance a little.

      Ignore Damon’s following reply (sorry Damon, I’ll explain later) and set your brightness to whatever you get as a reading from your i1 Display when reading the ambient light in your room. As I mention above, I use between 80 and 120, depending on how bright it is in my studio. You will have to run the X-Rite software to measure this though.

      I should also mention that at this point, on my new iMac Pro, I’m not using Palette Master. The software is a nightmare and I don’t have time to mess about with it, so I’ve calibrated with X-Rite’s i1 Profiler and it’s currently running fine. I’ll try with Palette Master later, but didn’t have time before coming away on tour.

      I actually never change my profiles for the color of the ambient light, just the brightness. The display outputs it’s own light, and I don’t want to modify my own colors just for my studio.

      Cheers,
      Martin.

      • Martin Bailey
        Posted at 21:59h, 16 January Reply

        Just to follow-up on my previous reply, now that I have more time, you need to set your display brightness to match the ambient light levels of your working environment, because that’s what you are viewing and adjusting our images in. You won’t necessarily view your prints in the same environment, because it may be too dark, but if you adjust your images on a display that has the brightness set to match your ambient lighting, the prints should be just fine. Conversely, if you set the display brightness too bright, and adjust your images on that, your print may appear too dark when viewing in good light. Your working environment doesn’t have to match your print viewing environment. Take your prints to a window etc. to evaluate them if necessary.

        Also note that I’ve compared profiles from the BenQ display in ColorThink Pro and there really isn’t any difference between the profiles created with the display set to brighter settings compared to darker settings, so this display either is one of the displays that Damon states as “only some monitors” or the entire other article is inaccurate. I am an X-Rite Coloratti member and have been quoting my own understanding of this stuff for a decade without correction from the X-Rite team, and they often republish my posts, so I’m pretty sure my understanding is solid.

        I hope this helps some.

        • Peter Van Steenwinkel
          Posted at 22:41h, 16 January Reply

          Thank you Martin! Excellent feedback.

  • Ivan Majtan
    Posted at 05:51h, 11 March Reply

    Hello Martin,
    A day ago I bought Benq SW2700PT. It`s my first display with hw calibration possibility. I tried own calibration (Spyder 5). Result is different compare to factory Adobe RGB. My setting were various (Native space and Adobe RGB, v2, v4, absolute zero, relative, Matrix, 16bit LUT), Always my result was different. Always I had deeper shadows – more contrast than factory ARGB. But unfortunatelly worse, because “posterize effect” was visible in shadows. When I tried calibrate Custom preset via Spyder5 Studio Elite, result was “same” as factory ARGB, but this is software calibration only, i would like use hw possibility of display. Also I don`t know how correct have to be setting in system color management (W10). Color Master Elements set automatically new profile but I have question if profile is wrote to display directly and system use this same profile too, colors are managed twice ? Sorry for probably stupid question, but I can`t understand why my hw profile is strange

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 14:53h, 11 March Reply

      Hi Ivan,

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience profiling this display with the Spyder, so I can’t think of anything to suggest.

      I also always found it strange that you have to select the ICC profile that is created during the hardware calibration process, but I believe this is correct.

      It’s probably best for you to contact BenQ Support with your questions. They should be able to help you better.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Stephane Deneuville
    Posted at 07:11h, 02 August Reply

    Hello Ivan,

    Is the Benq SW2700 PT, RGB Led or White Led or GB Led ?

    Kind Regards

    Stéphane

  • Mundo Manzú
    Posted at 07:42h, 18 February Reply

    Hi Martin,

    I purchased the next generation of this monitor, which is the WS270C. Any idea why the color of my images look vastly different when sent over to Photoshop from Lightroom? I’m using the same color space (ProPhoto RGB) for both, and same ACR version. I’m also using a two-monitor setup system, with the BenQ as my primary monitor and an older apple display for tools.

    I hardware-calibrate the BenQ using Palette Master Element with an i1 Display Pro.

    Regards,

    Mundo

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