Let’s get to it.
What you’ve got to understand is that in this price range, you won’t get ‘true’ Rec. 709, whatever that is (it’s different things to different people). 100% sRGB is what you’re aiming for, as a bare minimum. But even that’s hard.
Get a 55″ Panasonic P55VT50 Plasma for $1,999 if you can stretch that far. But then, the HP DreamColor LP2480 might be better. How far can you stretch? What if you can’t, and $1,500 is the absolute best you can do?
Take a look at the 27″ NEC PA271W-BK-SV, for $1,371. It’s an absolute gem at this price. It comes with a Spectraview II calibration system.
This is the absolute gem’s smaller brother: the 24″ NEC PA241W at $1,099. It, too, comes with a Spectraview II calibration system.
This is where things get weird.
Want critical controls, like the ability to change the white point or gamma? Check out the 15″ Sony LMD1510W LCD at $750. It can take SDI via an optional adapter ($400+).
Want HD-SDI/3G-SDI and 10-bit 4:4:4? You can have it, for a price: Blackmagic Smartview Duo at $660. What you’re losing is size (8″) and resolution (800×400). But this article is about color correction and grading monitors, so here we are.
Just want a general display that will also act as your GUI? Then look at the 23″ NEC P232W-BK at $750 with the Spectraview II Calibration kit.
If you only have money for one display that should do everything, the NEC is the clear choice. But, if you can buy a 23″ Acer G236HL at $139 and pair it up with a Blackmagic Smartview Duo you’re still in the $750 ballpark.
At this price point I have only one choice: the 24″ Dell Ultrasharp U2410 at $400. This monitor is a legend in this space.
If you can stretch your budget look at the Dell I suggested above. If you absolutely can’t go over $300 I have another Dell for you: the 24″ Dell Ultrasharp U2412 series, from $200 to $320.
No money for a professional or even high-end consumer monitor?
Nothing to fear. You do know that if you use a computer you need a monitor, right? Use what you have, just calibrate it to the best of your ability, and you’re good to go.
Nothing to be ashamed of here, we all have to start somewhere. And if we don’t have the money, we still have to start. I graded and finished my feature (yes, feature) on an Acer laptop that was calibrated once (at the beginning) by a friend. If you can swing a 1920×1080 laptop or monitor, that’s great. Remember, some grading apps need more resolution as a bare minimum, when compared to the average NLE.
People have pointed out a lot of flaws in my movie, but no one has complained about the colors. Go figure.
Do you agree with my list? How do you handle color correction and grading on a tight (or zero) budget? I’d love to hear some of your war stories.