BenQ PhotoVue SW271C Review
Review Manufacturer: BenQ
Price when reviewed
$1599.99 Check current price
While BenQ is often regarded as a ‘value-for-money’ brand, its prices have grown with its reputation. However, the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C is a high-quality monitor that helps you to get the best results possible from your camera. Thanks to its 4K resolution it shows plenty of detail while BenQ’s colour science means it renders colours well and has subtle tonal transitions.
The BenQ PhotoVue SW271C’s build quality is also high and the construction well thought out. There’s a good range of height adjustment and it moves smoothly and easily up and down the stand, so you can always have it at a comfortable working height in landscape orientation.
Although the hockey puck controller doubles up on what the buttons on the front of the screen do, it’s a bit quicker and easier to use.
27-inch 4K screen Bespoke calibration software Good screen height range
16:9 aspect ratio makes the vertical orientation less useful than you might hope Calibration hardware not included USB-C computer connection required for the Palette Master Elements calibration sofware
What is the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C?
Announced in March 2021, the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C is a 27-inch 4K (3840×2160) monitor aimed at photographers. It uses in-plane switching (IPS) LCD technology, which is generally regarded as the best option for colour accuracy and consistency.
It also has 10-bit colour technology and is able to show up to 1.07 billion colours. What’s more, the colour range covers 99% of the Adobe RGB colourspace and 100% of the sRGB space. This, paired with the resolution, should help ensure that you see accurate colours and gradations as well as plenty of detail.
There’s a small collection of colour modes available, including Adobe RGB, sRGB, black and white and Rec709, with the latter being especially useful for video editing.
Screen Size: 27-inches Resolution Max: 3840 x 2160 Panel Type: IPS Backlight Technology: LED Brightness: 300nits Native Contrast(typ.): 1:1000 Viewing Angle (L/R;U/D) (CR>=10): 178 / 178 Colour Gamut: 99% AdobeRGB, 90% P3, 100% sRGB Colour modes: Adobe RGB / sRGB / Rec.709 / DCI-P3 / Display P3 / M-book / B+W / HDR / Calibration 1 / Calibration 2 / Calibration 3 / Custom / Paper Color Sync / DICOM Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Display size: 596.12 x 335.34mm Pixel pitch: 0.1552mm Pixels per inch: 163 Connections: 2x HDMI, 1x display port, 2x downstream USB 3.1 (for connecting devices) 1x upstream USB 3.1, 1x USB-C (PD60W), 1x SD card reader
BenQ has given the PhotoVue SW271C a 16:9 aspect ratio with the display area measuring 59.6 x 33.5cm. While lacking the impact of a 32-inch monitor like the BenQ SW 321C, the PhotoVue SW271C is well-proportioned for a screen that you use at arm’s length.
And although a 16:9 aspect ratio doesn’t match the native aspect ratio of camera sensors, it works well as there’s room at the side for software control panels.
Thanks to its swivel mount, the PhotoVue SW271C can be rotated into portrait orientation.
Although there’s no calibration hardware supplied with the PhotoVue SW271C, BenQ offers free to download calibration software called Palette Master Elements, specifically designed for its monitors. This is compatible with calibrators such as the X-Rite i1 Display Pro or the Datacolor SpyderX.
BenQ has also given the PhotoVue SW271C another trick that could be of interest to photographers who like to print at home – or at least those with a Canon Pixma Pro-10 or Pixma Pro-100 Epson SureColor P600 or SureColor P800 printer. Armed with the free Paper Color Sync software, the monitor can replicate the results for these printers when using Canon Matt Photo Paper, Photo Paper Pro Platinum, Photo Paper Pro Luster or Photo Plus Semi-gloss or Epson Premium Semi-gloss Photo Paper or Velvet Fine Art Paper respectively. Naturally, this is a generic rather than a bespoke profile, but it should give a helpful starting point for anyone without a print calibration device.
Build and handling
After taking delivery of the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C, the first step in using it is to attach it to its stand. Thankfully, this is a pain-free experience as everything slots together quickly and easily.
With the monitor on your desk, you then need to connect it to the power and your computer. At this point, your initial euphoria may fizzle out as you realised that the connection ports are all on the back of the screen facing down. Don’t despair, however, because the screen’s ability to switch from landscape to portrait orientation comes to the rescue. Simply rotate the screen so that the ports are on the left side.
To rotate the screen, raise it on the stand and then turn it in a clockwise direction through 90°.
BenQ also supplied a hood that fits around the monitor whichever orientation you have it in, but it’s not designed for switching between the two orientations – or at least not quickly.
Like most computer monitors, the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C has a row of buttons on its front for adjusting the settings. However, there’s also a ‘hockey puck’ style adjusted that connects via a cable to the screen. This has a collection of five buttons around a central knob that rotates for making setting selections and is pressed for confirming the selection. It makes accessing and adjusting the monitor’s settings a bit quicker than using the buttons.
BenQ’s Palette Master Elements software is fairly straightforward to use. However, although the monitor can work with an HDMI connection to the computer, Palette Master Elements needs a USB-C connection to the computer to recognise the calibration device.
As usual, there are a few setting selections to be made. You can start with the default, but you may wish to tweak them to get the results that work best for you. Once the calibrator is in place on the screen and you set the software in motion, a series of white, grey, black and coloured rectangles appear on the screen for the calibrator to measure and compare with the known values.
Once the software has gone through its calibration and validation processes, it creates a profile to make the colours match its stored values. You can switch to other profiles and colour spaces using the hockey puck controller.
Initially, the ability to rotate the screen to portrait orientation seems like a major bonus, but its 16:9 ratio makes it less useful than you might think. For a start, at normal distances, you have to tilt your head up and down to see the whole image, or you can move a bit further away. Ideally, you also need to move the control panels to the top and bottom of the screen, but that’s not always possible.
However, it still gives vertical images a bit more room so you get a better view and can assess their impact.
Straight from the box, the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C’s colours and tonal gradations look very good, but heading BenQ’s advice I used the Palette Master Elements software to calibrate it. I didn’t notice much impact once the screen was calibrated, but that’s a good thing.
I used the BenQ PhotoVue SW271C connected to an iMac (freshly calibrated), so I was able to make a direct comparison between the two screens. The difference isn’t night and day, it’s subtler than that, but the dynamic range of the BenQ screen looks a bit wider and the colours are slightly more saturated. Subtle tonal gradations are also very nicely rendered and look a bit more natural.
A couple of times I fired up my computer and was confused to see the SW271C showing garish, excessively warm and saturated colours. The solution was in the System Preferences. Checking the Displays section, I discovered that the SW271C wasn’t set to the profile I had made. Happily, that’s easily resolved by unticking the ‘Show profiles for this display only’ box and then selecting the correct profile. This is a reminder that it’s worth giving the profile a recognisable name with a date so you can be sure to use the latest one.
As well as stills, I used the PhotoVue SW271C when I was editing video. The Palette Master Elements software enables you to create a profile for different colour spaces and the Rec.709 profile is a good choice for video.