BenQ PD3200U: An Affordable Monitor for Photographers?

There’s no secret that a quality monitor is an important accessory for photographers. A sharp, calibrated monitor will make a huge difference in how your photography is viewed on other devices.

For years the best alternatives for serious photographers have been monitors in the price range of $1500-$2000 or more but this is about to change. There are now several professional, high-quality monitors for less than $1000 which are also attractive to hobby photographers.

I’ve had the opportunity to use the BenQ PD3200U monitor for the last few months and processing images on this 4K 32″ monitor has been a big pleasure.

First Impressions

The BenQ PD3200U is not modern and elegant. The large monitor is solid black and bulky but sturdy. It is easily connected to the stand and (it was perhaps this part that surprised me the most about the design) the stand is extremely flexible which means you can easily adjust the height and tilt to find the perfect position for you.

In addition to adjusting the tilt and turning it left or right on the stand, you can also rotate the screen into a vertical position. This is my favorite design feature and I don’t want to ever process a vertical image on anything else again…!

Connectivity isn’t a problem with the PD3200U either. It has two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2, four USB 3.0 ports, a Mini DisplayPort 1.2, an Audio Line In, a Headphone Jack, and an SD Card Reader.

Lastly, there’s also a Hotkey Puck which you can use to quickly switch between color profiles or even enable DualView – we’ll come back to this later.

Image Quality

The most important aspect of a monitor for photographers isn’t its design and build, it’s the image quality. More specifically, the ideal monitor is sharp and shows accurate colors.

Exactly which color space is most important for you depends on what the purpose of your photography is; are you mainly showcasing your images online or are you mainly printing?

For most photographers, our work is mainly featured online and sRGB is the standard color space for web and monitors.


The PD3200U has an impressive 100% coverage of the sRGB and is perfectly calibrated out of the box. This means that you can process your images and be fairly certain how they will be perceived on other screens.

I was a bit disappointed in the 75% coverage of Adobe RGB though. While it’s not a bad score, I had expected something higher from a professional monitor.

The color is still vibrant and with the anti-glare matte finish, it’s easy on the eyes and a pleasure to use.

Color Modes & Dual View

Two interesting features in the BenQ PD3200U monitor are Color Modes and Dual View.

The screen is made for designers and by using either the Hotkey Puck or on-screen buttons, you can switch between the CAD/CAM, Animation and Darkroom color modes.

It’s also possible to split the screen in two by using the Dual View. This lets you compare or work in different color spaces at the same time. For example, you can be processing an image in the Darkroom color mode and have sRGB in the second window to make sure that your image will look correct on web as well.

Summary

As mentioned previously, a good monitor is important for photographers and choosing one isn’t always an easy process.

The BenQ PD3200U is a sharp monitor with an accurate color display (though I would like to see a better coverage of Adobe RGB) and it met the majority of my requirements as a photography monitor.

At the relatively affordable price of $799, this is a good option for those looking for a large and professional monitor. I would argue that the PD3200U is one of the top monitors in its price range.

You can purchase the BenQ PD3200U here.


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