What is the Best Monitor for Post Production and Critical Color Grading?

If money is no object ($10,000+), what is the best monitor you can buy for post production and critical color grading? Let’s find out.

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Barco DP4K-P

As we’ve seen in How to choose a professional display monitor we must define what the target audience is. E.g., a 4K monitor is unnecessary if your work is only 1080p, or an NTSC specific monitor isn’t necessary if your work is only based on Rec.709, and so on.

For the purposes of simplicity, let’s divide our list generally into:

  • 4K Cinema
  • 2K Cinema
  • 1080p
  • Standard definition – PAL/NTSC

Every monitor in this list must be top of the line, with the least amount of compromises technologically possible.

Important: Prices mentioned are derived from many sources, and might be totally inaccurate. To know the exact price, contact your local dealer or the manufacturer directly.

Standard definition – PAL/NTSC

Okay, there’s a slight ‘issue’ here. You can’t get many new standard definition monitors, even though standard definition content still is the norm around the world. What you need is a monitor that can do NTSC (SMPTE C), PAL and Rec. 709.
Sony PVM L3200

Sony PVM L3200

Is there a ‘cheaper’ backup or second reference?

Any broadcast monitor will do, including the cheaper and popular Panasonic TH-42BT300U Plasma.

How much does it cost?

The Sony costs about $9,500, while the Panasonic is about $3,000.

1080p

Dolby Monitor

Dolby PRM-4200 Reference Monitor

Is there a ‘cheaper’ backup or second reference?

Sure. Who can forget Sony? The Sony BVM-E250 Trimaster is a great replacement if you don’t need the added DCI capability.

How much does it cost?

The Dolby costs about $30,000. The Sony costs about $23,000.

2K Cinema

Barco DP2K-P

Barco DP2K-P

Is there a ‘cheaper’ backup or second reference?

Sure, to conform to DCI specifications, you can’t use a 1080p broadcast monitor. A cheaper alternative is the NEC NC900C 2K Projector. The Dolby mentioned above will do the job, too, but it’s ‘only’ 1080p.

How much does it cost?

The price of the Barco hasn’t been announced yet, but if the rates of their other projectors are any indication, it’s not going to be cheap. The NEC is about $30,000.

4K Cinema

Sony PVM X300 4K

For 4K Cinema: Barco DP4K-P
For 4K Ultra High Definition: Sony 30″ PVM-X300 4K Trimaster

Is there a ‘cheaper’ backup or second reference?

Nope. Get a second copy.

How much does it cost?

The price of the Barco isn’t available yet. The Sony costs about $30,000.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it strange that $30,000 seems to be the sweet spot for top-of-the-line professional display monitors, regardless of resolution? Could it be that anything above this price won’t be financially viable for post houses?

What about the others?

It’s a tough, cut-throat business. In this game, it is better for a post house to be conservative than to be bleeding-edge. Customers and clients expect you to have established brands in your facility, even if XYZ monitor might be better (or even cheaper). It’s sad, but at these price points you have to make these monitors pay.

If you’re someone who is so rich you don’t have to make your monitor earn, then please select the most expensive option below.

Do you feel I’ve missed a worthy candidate for the title of best professional monitor? Where does your allegiance lie?

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