A 32-inch monitor doesn’t come cheap, and while BenQ may not be considered a premium brand, this monitor is still expensive.
In almost every way the BenQ SW321C is an exceptional monitor, the size, price and uniformity all make it an ideal choice for studio photography.
The size alone gives you plenty of flexibility when editing, and it’s nice to have so much space for both the pallets and the image you’re working on.
The biggest benefit is being able to see the image at almost 1:1 as this enables you to fine-tune the editing to get the best possible results.
While the colour accuracy result wasn’t a disaster, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, so takes this monitor from a must-have to just a decent choice.
However, having used the BenQ SW321C for a month on a variety of photography and video projects, I can only say that I’ve been more than happy with the result.
Large display size
Fully intergrated software
Middle of the road colour accuracy
What is the BenQ SW321C?
When it comes to huge monitors, the BenQ SW321C is one of the largest out there at 32-inches. However, it’s not just the size that makes this monitor stand out, but also the specifications.
Native 4K resolution, 99% AdobeRGB, 95% P3 and 100% sRGB meaning this colossal monitor is suitable for both videographers and photographers and pits itself against far more expensive brands and models.
The monitor itself is impressive but coupled with BenQ’s software, and the integration with popular monitor calibrators, this monitor offers the whole package.
Build and Handling
BenQ is one of the few companies to offer a broad spectrum of decent monitors designed for graphics, video and photography all on a decent budget.
As they launch each new generation, the quality and specifications of the displays seem to leap forward. BenQ monitors are the workhorses of the imaging display world, cheaper than the likes of Eizo and NEC but still able to provide outstanding display quality.
The SW321C is the latest large scale monitors, and it’s a decent bit of kit. The exterior is kept simple with the monitor arriving as the screen, two-part stand and hood.
Assembly takes a few minutes, not including the hood which takes a little more thought. First, there’s the base and upright that twist lock and bolt together before the monitor clips on.
The back of the monitor features a standard monitor mount so if you do want to wall or articulated arm mount then it’s all there ready.
Once the main assembly is complete, it’s time to plugin and power-up.
As ever there are three main cables, one for the display; display port, 2 x HDMI, USB Type-C, then a standard USB Type A, Type B for the computer data connection a Micro B and of course power.
On the side of the monitor, there’s a handy SD card slot and two additional USB Type-A ports.
There’s also the option to use the monitor for audio through a headphone jack.
Like all monitors, these days once plugged in, you’re ready to power-up and get started.
During the set-up process, there were a couple of points that stood out. While my studio space gives me more room than most to move and shift kit around, my desk space is still relatively limited.
Having a hulking 32-inch monitor on the desk would have in the past left me with little if any space. However, the slim design and small base mean that although the screen is a size-up from my present displays, it doesn’t feel like it’s taking up that much additional room.
Another feature that I like about the design is that the stand upright features a handle. This handle makes it easy to move from one desk to another. The stand also features plenty of adjustment and a hole to poke all the cables through to keep things tidy.
Powered on the monitor is recognised, as you’d expect, and a quick delve into the system display settings and the resolution can be adjusted as needed.
BenQ offers their Palette Master Element software which helps you to set-up and maintains the quality of your display.
It’s well worth installing and using over the standard display settings as it enables you to combine the management of the monitor with monitor calibration hardware such as the X-Rite i1Display Studio.
Setting this up doesn’t take long and has full compatibility with a range of devices from X-Rite and DataColor.
This integration is one of the best that I’ve seen and means that keeping on top of monitor calibration is exceptionally easy.
Away from the software and back to the on-device buttons BenQ has gone for physical touch buttons over the touch-sensitive type. BenQ is good at keeping consistency between models, which means that if you already own a BenQ, then you’ll know where all the settings and features can be found.
More importantly, if you need to find where a setting is or how to adjust something, then it’s easy to find that information online, even if it isn’t about the monitor that you are using.
BenQ advertises this monitor for Photographers due to the high resolution, colour Gamut and obviously screen size.
In normal use, the large real estate offered by the 32-inch screen is pure luxury, plenty of work area for pallets and more. I still like working with two or three monitors for the separation, but with this monitor central and a monitor either side, it just feels ideal.
Visually the monitor once calibrated seems exceptional, displaying a good range of colour, tone and detail. You can tell the difference visually between my graphics monitor and this.
However, using the human eye alone isn’t going to get us the result we’re after. So with lights lowered and using the DataColor SpyderXElite, it was time to check the monitor’s performance, and the results were surprising.
Gamut = 5.0
Tone Response = 4.5
White Point = 5.0
Contrast = 5.0
Luminanse uniformity = 4.0
Colour Uniformity = 4.5
Color Accuracy = 3.0
Overall Rating = 4.5
Overall the results were good and reflected how it felt to use the monitor. The surprising result considering the size of the screen was the uniformity for luminance and colour, which was excellent across the board.
While the uniformity was excellent, along with contrast and gamut, the results for colour accuracy were below what I would have expected.
In real terms, the colour result was middle of the road for photography monitors, and I would have expected this to be higher considering the intended market.
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