Color Correction and Grading Monitors for Small Post Houses (Part Two)

In Part One, we looked at professional display monitors for color correction and grading in the $6,000 to $10,000 budget range.

In this article, we’ll look ‘lower’, and focus on the $2,000 to $5,000 range.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

Sony PVM L3200

The low-end business

I don’t mean to be disrespectful when I say ‘low-end’. Low-end for some might be ten times higher than the high-end rates in some countries. When you can’t charge a lot more than $300 per hour, then you’re not charging enough to justify a $10,000+ display monitor.

Small post houses and single-person professional color correction and grading suites will still need to be competitive in the market-place. The monitors will be used daily for hours on end, and calibration must be reliable. Yet, the sizes must be big enough so clients feel you’re worth what you’re charging.

You can always go higher when the money comes pouring in. For now, the following monitors will keep you in the ‘big leagues’ in your business.

$5,000 – One monitor that does it all

Look no further than the 10-bit 25″ Sony PVM2541 OLED at $5,500. It does SMPTE C (NTSC), PAL and Rec. 709 with LUT calibration.

Below $5,000, to $2,000

FSI LM-2461W

Absolutely can’t go over $5,000? Try the Flanders Scientific Inc. (FSI) LM-2461W LCD, at $4,995. The FSI has in-built presets for all broadcast color spaces, even DCI P3. Don’t let the fact that it is LCD ruin it for you. Remember, a couple of years ago, there was no OLED, and people still got work done and made money.

If size matters, don’t forget the 50″ Panasonic TH-50BT300U plasma, at $4,600. These are really good, too, and are client-magnets.

For $4,000 – Sony 17″ 10-bit PVM1741 OLED, at roughly $3,700, or go cheaper with the plasma option below if you feel it’s too…you know…’small’.

For $3,000 – 10-bit FSI CM-170W LCD, at $3,295, or the Panasonic TH-42BT300U, at $2,900.

For $2,000 – 24″ 10-bit HP DreamColor LP2480zx at $2,200.

For many (including me), the DreamColor is the bottom of the barrel for ‘high-end’ professional display monitors in a ‘low-end’ business. I can’t fully explain how this works, but I feel this ‘compromise’ satisfies both colorists and clients.

Don’t let all this talk scare you. All the monitors listed on this page are damn good professional display monitors. When in doubt, look at their prices.

Remember what I said in What is a Video Monitor and How to Choose your Professional Display Monitor – this is as much a game of politics and impressions as it is about color. Sad to say, color takes back seat to the former two demands.

Business is tough – if you want to charge more, you have to invest a little more.

If you’re a well-to-do facility, you can do well (pun intended) with an HP Dreamcolor and a Panasonic Plasma; both for $5,000. Pair these up with a reliable GUI monitor like the 27″ Dell Ultrasharp or Apple Cinema Display and you’re good for many years.

Do you have a post house with monitors in the $2,000 to $5,000 budget? What models do you use, and how do you make them pay?

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

4 replies on “Color Correction and Grading Monitors for Small Post Houses (Part Two)”

  1. Am looking at grading a movie going to cinema using a HP W2371d. It has a DCI-P3 preset. Do you think this will work and give accurate colour.

  2. Thanks for the article. When did you write it? DreamColor LP2480zx is discontinued I believe. May want to refresh the article with date? Monitor technology is changing so fast, not to mention HDR and wider gamuts. Not easy to pick a proper grading monitor on a budget.

  3. In our news edit bays, we’re using the PVM2541 for QC monitors, and Dreamcolors for the FCP work-space. I have the HP’s on Native and the OLED’s are calibrated with a Klien K-10 using the Judd-offset. Editors are loving life!

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