Reviews on gear and software

Tourbox NEO review

How often did you think.
“man I would love something that replaces my keyboard for shortcuts”
If that’s you, this might be of interest for you.

As you guys know I’m always 100% honest in my reviews. So let’s start by stating that this product was send to us for review, but that will not for even 1% influence my opinion. So let’s start.

What is it?
Tourbox is a small but very well build (and heavy) external device with buttons and dials that can be “freely” programmed to replace shortcuts. Now there are several solutions out there and some fall in the catagory “total junk” and “genius”. Let me start with stating that the tourbox is very close to the segment “Very usable to genius”. Let me explain.

These kind of devices are a mixed bag for me and a lot of people.
When we have a keyboard in front of us we can learn the shortcuts and for example order a small keyboard that you lay on your lap or next to you while working, or one can just chose to operate everything with a mouse/trackpad, and in all honesty for a lot of software this is still my prefered way of working, for example take lightroom, I’ve never found a product that actually speeds up the trackpad/mouse workflow, for the simple reason that Lightroom has a very clear structure and you can work from top to bottom setting everything up and seeing you also skip certain settings working with the mouse/trackpad is just very very easy also because when you use local adjustments you already need a mouse/trackpad/tablet.

So although it does work flawlessly in Lightroom I would probably never use it myself for this, no matter what others say 🙂
Now let’s look at Photoshop.

The more you work in Photoshop the more you are almost using shortcuts blindely, for the simple reason you use them all the time, and also Photoshop is a totally different program than Lightroom. For me Lightroom is really based on a mouse/trackpad workflow where Photoshop is really aimed at a tablet/pen control surface PLUS shortcuts on a keyboard, you actually hardly to never touch the mouse/trackpad, and in that case…. man this is genius.

We all have our favorite shortcuts.
For me it’s always the following I program.
Brush size, Rotate canvas, switch for/background (X), Curves, Levels, Saturation, zoom in and out, 100%, fill and of course the usual Space, CRTL, SHIFT etc.
And those can all be programmed in the Tourbox, and this makes it very usable for Photoshop and other software that is really based on shortcuts and non mouse/trackpad operation.

So let’s take a look at the software itself so you get an idea about what’s possible (and it’s a lot)

First of all, don’t worry that you have to do a lot of work before using the tourbox, there are several presets available in the software right after the installation. So when you use Photoshop and Lightroom you’re already covered. But what about if you want it differently (what I would do without a doubt). Well that’s very easy.

It’s very easy to create a new preset, and after that the fun really starts.
Of course you can emulate the normal keystrokes, but also combinations with SHIFT, CRTL etc.
But… and that’s actually very cool, you can also combine keys on the tourbox, for example the normal dial changes brushsize, but if you hold the side button you can use th same dial for screenzoom for example. And that makes the tourbox A LOT more usable, you are literally not limited to the keys you see (well actually you are, but you can also combine the keys making it a lot more usable).

Now this sounds awesome, but it also brings in a problem I experience almost everyday, “where the heck did I …..”, and with so many options it can indeed very quickly become very confusing. It also doesn’t really help the device is black including the keys (later more on that).

Now loads of people will program the Tourbox the way that they use it, and the nice thing is that you can download those from the TourBox website. Just search for the program you want to use and download the presets.

 

Luckily you can always call up the hub and see what’s programmed.
And if you don’t know all the shortcuts, don’t panic, the TourBox software helps you out by the build in functions menu. This makes programming literally a breeze.

 

Conclusion
Ok, so how does it work in reality.
Let me start with the positives.

First off all the device is build very nicely, it’s heavy enough to not drift around the table or your lap, but not too heavy you can’t travel with it. Also size wise it’s a very smart size, it’s not too small and certainly not to big, plus a BIG plus…. it uses USB-C, I still don’t understand why manufactores still release gear with other connections than USB-C.

Also there is so much flexibility that it’s almost impossible that there is a situation where you can’t use it.
So overall I’m very positive about the TourBox. But let’s also take a look at the negatives.

First of all one could argue that it should be wireless, and I start with this one because I agree and disagree. You do have to realize the price point of the TourBox, compared to some competitors the TourBox is A LOT cheaper and when you add wireless you will need a battery and of course BT or WiFi board which will drive the price up and also the stability, I’m actually mostly a fan of devices that also have the option to be used with a wired connection because I hate batteries that run out, or connections that are instable (and yes that happens a lot).

Ok so what can they improve
Now do realize that some of these options will add some costs or are not possible in this product.

First off all I think the TourBox is genius for Photoshop but also when recording and editing video and music, and especially for music it’s awesome to be able to start recording/punch ins with just a quick tap on a button instead of reaching out to the keyboard or using the mouse/keyboard, and while editing zooming is just plain awesome…. “Hey Frank this is positive, not negative buddy…” yeah I know, now when I record music or edit photos/videos I’m a bit of “batman” I’m editing in a dark area and in most cases there is just not enough light to see the pure black TourBox, this is also the reason I’m using keyboards with backlit keys. I would love for them to add a light behind the keys, just to see where the keys are and not having to trust my fingers in the dark. Now not everyone will be editing in a “batcave” but if you do this is really a negative thing about the TourBox, I love black gear, but man it’s hard to see in the dark.

Now adding backlights would be pretty easy I guess, just place a ledstrip in the housing and it will show through the side of the keys, it doesn’t have to be disco ball but just outlining the keys would help a lot. The next step would be a small display that shows what you programmed under the keys, I don’t see a lot of products that use this but in all honestly it would make it worth double the price for me personally, because especially when you use the TourBox in 4-5 apps it can be VERY confusing where what is. In all fairness on my XP-Pen tablets after hours and hours of use I know most of the buttons, but still…. I’m using console tape next to the keys with the functions because the most used keys I know where they are but keys you don’t use a lot can still be confusing, and these kind of devices are build for speed and easy workflow, the fact that most keys are shaped differently does help a lot, I’ve tested several solutions that use the same buttons (just a lot of them) and I never really used them for the simple reason I just lost track and eventually interest. By using different shapes it makes it 10x easier to remember.

The thing that I would LOVE to see, and I really think it should be added is support for iOS.
Now bare with me for this one.
I know most of you still edit on desktops or laptops, but you can’t deny that the iPads are making huge waves at the moment and for me the iPad pro 12.9″ M1 actually fully replaced my laptop and for 90% my desktop, and indeed that means I use the iPad for everything from photography to video editing and media consumption.

Now on a desktop and laptop you already have a keyboard an a mouse/trackpad connected but not on an iPad, the only reason I have a keyboard connected when editing is for certain shortcuts which I find easier than using the touch interface, and for that I would not connect a keyboard but would literally LOVE a solution like the TourBox, in fact I would use it almost daily seeing more and more app makers are adding loads of shortcuts, and editing with a keyboard next to me is possible but I would love the TourBox (or another solution) connected to the iPad.

When talking to manufactorers I often hear they don’t look at the iPad pro as a serious device and I strongly feel they were right 2-3 years ago, however when we now look at what Adobe is doing with Lightroom and Photoshop, but also apps like LumaFusion, Cubasis, Beatmaker3, affinity photo etc. I really feel they are very wrong to not take the iPad pro serious, and luckily soon Capture One will be released on the iPad pro M1 which I think will break open the way for more software makers. And let’s be honest with the new M1 it should be pretty simple for TourBox to port their software to the iPad.

So should you run out and buy a TourBox?
Well if you compare it to the price of a normal keyboard… no absolutely not.
BUT…. that’s not fair, it’s a totally different product and well worth it’s price especially when compared to other solutions.

So when you find yourself looking for shortcuts in software and would wish there was a way to have this all easy accessable the TourBox might be the perfect solution for you. I’ll keep using it behind the desktop we record music on and do the editing when I’m home, and this has nothing to do with the quality but the simple fact in the studio we use XP-Pen tablets that already have more than enough shortcut keys. But if you are using a tablet that doesn’t have enough hardkeys (most don’t have enough) combining your tablet with the TourBox I can HIGHLY recommend and I mean HIGHLY, it will make your life a lot easier. But do make sure you have a little but of light in your workarea. Or wait for TourBox to release a special Doorhof white version with backlighting (just kidding).

If you also want a TourBox, get them (or anything else :D) via this link and also support our work.
https://amzn.to/3wTPihQ

An awesome filter to spice up your flares

I love photography, but most of all I love to play with lights.
For me, the challenge and the cool thing about light is that you don’t just light your subject with it, but you can also create the total mood, add a color and you can even set that mood even more.

When you’re feeling blue, add some blue, when you feel in love ad some red.
Yeah, I know pretty cheesy.

However besides light use as in contrast and color, there is something else that REALLY enhances the mood of your setup, and it’s actually something that a lot of people don’t realize, lensflare.

In simple terms, lensflare is something you don’t want in your images, it washes out the blacks, creates weird reflections if you don’t pay attention and it’s just overall a very nasty effect that you shouldn’t want in your images, this is also why most lens manufacturers try their best to prevent this from happening by using special coatings on their elements/lenses to bring it back to as low as possible (totally eliminating lensflare in all situations is near impossible).

“But wait a minute Frank, in the title I thought you liked it?”
Yep, ignore everything you just read, although it is the way they want it for a lot of people.
For me, lensflare is one of the tools I use to create a special look in my images, and in my personal opinion it’s a very powerful tool that is very hard to realistically recreate in post-processing, it can be done (like everything) but… well it just looks different.

Now as mentioned before modern lenses are almost always coated against lens flare. So to have those nice creamy lens flares you have a view options which all have some drawbacks.


First off, old lenses.
Buy a converter to mount old M42 lenses on your camera and you can have awesome effects, and not just lensflares, man I just can’t express how much I love shooting with old lenses on my modern camera. It immediately gives you not only a different feeling but also a different look, it really gives me a healthy and creative kick so to say. Luckily with most modern cameras, you can get converter rings that make it possible to use almost every lens ever made on your camera, take a look for example at the spectrum that F&K Concept delivers, I’ve been using their converters for years and was never disappointed. I also use them on my TechArt and FotoDiox AF converters (which makes it possible to shoot autofocus with manual lenses on Sony cameras, yeah it’s awesome). And those old lenses really do the trick.

Second, Lensbaby
Also here it’s a matter of I can’t express how much I love this company. My first experience with them was very negative, weird lenses with magnetic discs that never really did what I wanted, but times change and at the moment Lensbaby offers a wide variety of awesome lenses that vary from razor-sharp tilt lenses to super creative reflection-based systems and super smooth focus lenses. It’s a company you really should have high on your list when you’re more creative with your photography or video. The disadvantage is that their lenses are manual focus only (at the moment).

So what is third…..
Well, it seems I might have found the perfect all-round solution, and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic.
One of my friends online (Paul Monaghan, make sure to check out his work too) pointed me towards a filter by F&K Concept, now I have to immediately say that I’m not a filter guy, I do own several like a polarizer and ND filters but in all honesty, I hardly use them, unless I really need them, but it’s more like a tool than something I use creatively, and let’s be honest I’m also not so happy with my screwdriver that I post a review about it, they do what they have to do and…. Well, that’s it. If you need them, get them and use them.

But this is different, and I mean totally different.
I’m talking about the Black Mist Filter.
So what is it?

The Black Mist filter is a filter you screw in front of your favorite lens (see where I’m going with this?) and now when you use it normally there is nothing you see, the images are sharp as you’re used to, and when you zoom in you can see a very nice sort of glow over your highlights, but nothing that will jump out like “oh wow look at that” if you don’t know it, you won’t really notice it.

But that all changes when you start adding some light in the mix aimed at the lens (filter), now the image totally transforms from standard to, let me choose my words carefully, pure art and excitement (well at least for me).

For years one of my on-and-off stage tricks that always have people first laughing out loud and then realizing it’s pretty cool is to have one of the attendees “breath on my lens” this creates a layer of water droplets op the lens and this can create (if you’re lucky) very nice effects, (now that I type this I realize how the world has changed since COVID, I would not do that anytime soon with people I don’t know).

But you don’t need to do that anymore, the Black Mist Filter does something very similar.
The filter is scattered with small black dots, you hardly see them with the naked eye, but man they work.
It’s an effect that’s very hard to describe without 50% of the people quitting the review with a remark like “yeah sure”, so let’s just show you what it does.

Because we don’t shoot a lot of models at the moment due to the COVID rules I’ve decided to use the filter during a session I did for Tethertools and see what I could do with it in a studio setup and show you exactly the difference. So here we go.


This image is without the filter.



And here I added the filter.
Lighting setup is 100% the same, NOTHING has changed, as you can see this is a HUGE difference, and in all honesty, it is an effect that I think is just perfect for spicing up fashion shots and especially street and travel photography (can’t wait to test that out soon).

Now I did use the filter on two digital classroom streams before but I didn’t show a before and after during those live streams, but just to show you how it works in a setup like that here are two images from those streams.

Conclusion
It’s not often that there is an accessory that really triggers my creativity like the Black Mist Filter, the main attraction I think is that you can use it on all your favorite lenses, and by choosing your angles in the field or the studio you can go from a normal-looking image with some cool highlights to let me put it mildly “pieces of art”. Yeah, I’m really that convinced about it.

Now this is not a filter for people that just place it in front of their lenses and think they now have Instagram on their lens, you do have to know a little bit about how light behaves and how to get lensflares in the first place, but let’s be honest, just look through the viewfinder and you immediately see the result, so compose through the viewfinder till you see what you like (lensflares vary immensely by just slightly changing the angle) and press the shutter, and… smile. (not the model but you).

I really can’t recommend this filter enough, if you want to really spice up your images and create some cool art without breaking the bank and using different lenses than you’re used to… get the Black Mist Filter, you’ll thank me later.

This is a 100% honest review, but we also have to continue our work and help with this.
Order your filter via the link below (or any other product via that link) and you support our work via the affiliate codes on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3xeahwA

 

If your size is sold out, use this link

 

For more about K&F check https://www.kentfaith.com/

A cool cheap keyboard case for the iPad Pro

I absolutely love my iPad Pro, in the past year it has almost completely replaced my laptop, and lets be honest with the new M1 version the future for mobile workflows has never looked more promising.

I’ve already figured out a workflow for modelphotography that is not only fully working but it also a lot more precise thanks to the Apple Pencil. And for video it’s been my workhorse for over a year now and with multicam support coming soon I can’t see myself going back to a desktop to edit, Add to this the insanely fast M1 chip and the incredible screen and it’s I think very easy to imaging what will happen.

For me the future is 99% iPad Pro or similar solutions. My first iPad Pro was indeed the very first one and at that time I was highly disappointed by apple because it was.. well just a blown up iPhone, awesome to read comics on or consume media but for that it was too expensive and too heavy/big. Fast forward to present time and in only a year I’ve seen the iPad Pro go from almost unusable to almost replacing my complete workflow.

And remember that M1 chip?
yes the same one that’s in the Macbooks, iMacs etc.. yes the same chip, and in the first leaked benchmarks it was a race between the MacBook and the iPad Pro and the iPad Pro came incredibly close, meaning that in essence add a keyboard and mouse and the full photoshop should be able to run without any chances from the desktop version, now that’s awesome.

However there is on thing where the iPad Pro experience is a lot less “laptop like” and that’s the keyboard and mouse, don’t get me wrong you can do a lot with the onscreen keyboard, but it does cover a lot of real estate (even on the 12.9”) so the first thing I looked for was a keyboard cover. With my previous iPad I ended up with the apple folio solution which is pretty expensive an although it works like a charm I did miss backlit keys and some sort of trackpad for when I record tutorials with on screen actions.

I was looking for something where I could easily remove the keyboard and use the iPad Pro without the extra weight. That’s when I found the Sross keyboard case.

I’m not going to tell you it’s the best out there, because it isn’t but you can’t expect that for this price.
But, that being said, for the price you get a very nice sturdy case and a magnetic keyboard that attaches to the case when you want to use it, but you can also use it away from the iPad.

The trackpad works ok, and does the trick.
Lighting on the keyboard is very nice and you can even set different colors fitting your mood.
There is also storage for the Apple Pencil, but do realize it doesn’t charge when stored, but luckily they left the top part open for charging the pencil (something I see missing in a lot of budget cases) The volume and on and off also work nicely inside the cover but are covered against dust. The only “problem” I ran into was that my USB-C adaptor didn’t work anymore so I now use one with a small cable and that solves that “problem”, you will see this with all “fitting” cases, this is the advantage of the magnetic cases, but they have less protection, you choose.

Without keyboard the case is slightly heavier than the Apple version with keyboard (folio) but that’s more than ok.

I love the fact you now have a normal keyboard with backlit keys, cursors, delete AND backspace and a trackpad all for a very affordable price.

It might not be the best case or keyboard but for the price I can’t see how someone can be disappointed. For me, I’m going to use this keyboard till I see what others bring and can try those out in a store, because in all fairness as the keyboard and case operates right now I’m not willing to spend a lot more money for a solution, it’s very nice.

Here is the product link on Amazon, https://amzn.to/3fhtfew



About monitors and the BenQ SW271C

Writing a review about some gear is easy, and for some gear it’s hard.
One of the things I always love to do however is make my reviews a bit different. If you want specs etc. You can find them almost in seconds if you want a general review… plenty out there, but is it really something you want to read, or do you like to hear how something works in a real-life situation and get some tips in between… well that’s what I try to do with a review, and today it’s time for the brand new BenQ SW271C monitor.

The SW271C is a 27” 4K 99% Adobe RGB monitor with some cool gadgets and tricks up its well-designed sleeve.
Before we start it’s important to add that this display follows the AQColor standard techniques from BenQ and they work together with ICC en ISO to warrant a great performer for your desktop (or wherever you want to mount it)

I’ve had this monitor for a few months now to test out, but the review is very late due to Annewiek breaking her leg, but it did give me more time to think about how to write the review…. so here we go, I hope you get a lot out of it.

I think it’s one of the most asked questions I get.
“Which monitor should I buy?”
And in all honesty, it’s maybe one of the most important decisions we as creators have to ask ourselves. Now don’t get me wrong, your camera, lighting, lenses etc are all very important, but if you really think about it…. your monitor is used the most and is vital for judging and retouching your images, and don’t even get me started on video. A good monitor for me is absolutely essential and might be one of the most important investments you do.

And indeed I call it an investment because a good monitor is not cheap, especially if you want Adobe RGB.

Now let’s take a look at some of the things I find very important in a good monitor for video and photography.

Placement
The first thing you really have to realize is that placement of your monitor is also a vital part of performance. For example, a monitor with a strong backlit area (like a window) will never give you the proper contrast experience, and before you know it you’re delivering images during day time that are totally different from images you’re editing during nighttime. (Due to the changing intensity of the window).

But also lighting in the studio/workroom is important.
You have to make sure there is no direct light hitting the monitor. But working in a total blackout room is also not healthy. So most of the times I advise to place a DAYLIGHT lamp behind the monitor if you work in a really dark room, in a normally lit room (without direct light hitting the screen) you can also decide to place this light behind the monitor but in all honesty, they are not that cheap and when you have enough ambient light in the room it doesn’t really add anything to the relieve of eye strain, but you can always experiment with this of course.

Now in most cases there will always be a little bit of “scatter light” light that bounces around the room and can infect the image on the monitor, luckily for these kinds of situations, there is a great solution, the “hood” (and I don’t mean Arrow :-)). With loads of monitors this is an extra added cost which due to that reason a lot of people don’t buy, but later have to add anyway, and even in our studio with controlled lighting the hood gives a lot of extra contrast experience for the simple reason it creates a sort of “shadow-box”. Now this is one of the things I love about the BenQ series of photography/video monitors, you don’t have to think about buying it…. it’s included in the box, and works for both landscape as portrait settings (awesome)

Portrait or landscape
In all honesty for 99.9999% of my usage, it’s landscape mode.
But… I know several designers and photographers that love to work in portrait mode. This means in essence that you can turn your screen from landscape to portrait and it will “scale” the content of the screen to fit the chosen position of the screen. If this is important for you… the SW271C is able to be used in both modes. (Like most BenQ screens)

Calibration
It’s no secret for most of you that I talk about calibrations a lot.
And let’s take a look at why I think this is so important and in fact everyone should be much more interested in it.

With the calibration of your monitor you are actually doing the following, you make sure that the colors on the screen are as close as possible to the “real” colors. And this is a bit of a problem. So let me explain a bit more.

First off all forget that sentence “real” colors first. And read it slightly different.
For photography and video we use so called color spaces.
These colorspaces are 100% fixed and contant of course the coordinates for the colors, but also the so called Gamma curve and white point. Already dizzy? Well don’t worry the only thing you have to remember is that there is actually a LOT going on with this calibration and as you probably know from Photoshop, the more you push and pull on your images the more problems you can get with normally smooth gradients. Do it really aggressive and you will literally start to see your image breaking up before your eyes.

To prevent this “breaking up” it’s important to chose a monitor that supports so called “hardware calibration” or LUT tables.
So what is this, and why is it so important?

Let’s first take a look at colorspaces.
The ones you probably know are sRGB and AdobeRGB.
sRGB is mostly used online and when you have a great monitor and printer you can really benefit from using AdobeRGB. The difference is in the “size” of these spaces. For example sRGB is a real 8 bits colorspaces, it’s small, not that spectacular and very compatible (even with pretty bad screens), it doesn’t mean it will always give you a great images, but at least it will look ok (if you did your work that is, and you feel it coming, that needs to be done on a calibrated screen).

When we look at AdobeRGB we are talking about a much larger colorspace, it’s still “compatible” with 8 bits (meaning you can use JPG for storage) but it’s really pushing the limits. The first thing you will notice when you switch from sRGB to AdobeRGB is that colors can be more intense, but in essence the “balance” between the colors should be app equal between colorspaces, so red shouldn’t change to orange of course, however in a lot of cases this does happen.

To understand this it’s vital to understand that when you are editing images you are constantly changing gamma, colors, balance between the colors, whitepoint etc. Now you might say “hey, buddy you just told us that colorspaces are 100% defined… so what?”

Lol yeah I know.
Let’s make it really simple.
In a colorspace Red, Green and Blue contain 3 coordinates, x,y and Y.
Hue, saturation and Luminance.
But that’s just for the colors, we also have the so called grayscale, meaning if you create a gradient from black to pure white you want this to be 100% gray and not running from slight red to slight blue, it has to be gray in every step. In photoshop one could say we go from 0.0.0 to 1.1.1 to 2.2.2 etc. All the way up to 254.254.254. Now we have a perfect grayscale, but we also have to make sure that the difference between these steps is also equal, you don’t want to go from deep black to middle gray in 2 steps and in 20 steps to pure white, and this is where we use the gamma curve. Now one could say… ok we are there… let the computer do it’s work.

Well yeah… not yet.
Just for your realization, in essence if we really simplify it we have 6 colors with 3 coordinates and 254 steps for brightness who all have to be picture perfect to give you a proper calibrated image…. add to this also the gamma which has to be set for every single color and be in balance with all the other colors and … well you get it, take an aspirin and continue after taking a break.

Ok you’re back.
Let’s simplify it.
When we do a calibration on a projector or TV it’s often possible to get a proper grayscale performance by adjusting only 3 colors (RGB) on 2 positions. It will not be perfect but it’s more than good enough for serious editing. But sometimes a display cannot be corrected with these 2 points, and now we have to start using 4-5-10-20-etc points. And this is were problems can occur.

Again think about Photoshop, when you use a curve and only pull/push on 2 points there is not a real problem, you can go pretty extreme, however start to use 3 or 4 points and you can almost immediately see problems when working in 8 bits and you get a lot better performance when working in 16 bits, which is absolutely logical because there is a lot more “room” in 16 bits.

Now that we get this clear it’s possible to explain the next part very fast.

The hardware calibration part II
When we talk about hardware calibration it means that the monitor manufacturer already calibrated the screens in the factory to make sure they are as close as possible to the specs of the monitor, do realize that this calibration report is 100% useless in your setup, you really have to do the calibration yourself in your setup with your soft/hardware and lighting situation. But by using a screen with this option it actually means that the monitor does the whole calibration internally with it’s own stored LUT table (16 bits in the BenQ), in other words the monitor “knows” the max performance of the display and also how to calibrate it perfectly. It’s a bit like buying an ikea twin bed with a manual or without. In both cases you probably can get the end result but I’m afraid that without the manual it will not be without some defects, and maybe when the kids really jump up and down it will collapse. Because even with a manual it can be pretty tricky.

The BenQ SW271C supports the hardware calibration via the same software as the previous monitors and it works pretty well. My advise is to actually calibrate your screen to native and not Adobe RGB if you want the best performance but after that it’s actually a rock solid solution. Because the screen covers most of the Adobe RGB colorspace setting it up for Native it will give you great results (on average less the 2dE which is very good for photo and video work)

The Puck
Most BenQ monitors support the use of the BenQ puck.

So what does the puck do?
The puck can be used to for example switch between colorspaces or for example see an image in black and white. Now in all honesty the black and white function I never use, but being able to quickly switch between colorspaces can be pretty refreshing to see what the impact is, and can save you some problems with customers. It’s not something I would give the stamp “you really need this”, but it can be incredibly handy in some situations.

Coloruniformity
One of the biggest frustrations is if a monitor shows you an image that is reddish on the right and blueish on the left. And trust me, this happens a lot and not only on cheap monitors, we see this in almost every screen, monitor, projector etc. So fixing this is vital for a display you can trust. Now let’s make one thing 100% clear, just as with calibrations you can never ever get it 100% right with todays technology, but that being said, I’ve used plenty of BenQ monitors the last few years and BenQ really got this down. In the PhotoVue series I’ve not yet encountered a screen that has a problem. That said, when you display a 100% white screen you can always see some slight differences if you look really good, but these are not important for the reliability for your work so don’t worry, but if you see huge areas with blue or red infections your are in trouble, and most cheap (non photography, and even some photography monitors) will show you small to huge discolorations over the screen and that’s a problem if you need to tint or color correct an image.

 

Pantone and CalMan certified
One of the main reasons I started looking at BenQ was that they are very focused on color and most of all throughout your whole workflow, and BenQ really got this right. They don’t only make sure your screen is “perfect” but most people now a days also work with several screens next to each other, and nothing is more irritating than seeing a small or big difference between the two screens, BenQ calls this Multi monitor color consistency and I can tell you that it really works and setting up 2 screens is a breeze.

But it doesn’t stop there.
Another huge problem is print.
Many photographers struggle with getting images looking good on prints, now the first thing you have to realize is that a monitor is a totally different medium than print, so if you judge your print in a dark room next to your screen you WILL be disappointed, but when you walk with this print outside it will really come alive and if you would take your monitor outside it will probably fall flat on its face, so both mediums are not the same and judging them next to each other is tricky. And this is why BenQ created a completely new (and unique) solution.

Paper color sync
With paper color sync BenQ takes out a huge part of the guess work, there are of course limitations.
To get it working correctly you need to be sure that your printer and paper type is in the database (growing constantly), if you however work with a compatible combination it’s a very well though out system that will not guarantee a fool proof solution, but let me put it this way, it takes away at least 80% of the guess work and will speed up your workflow A LOT and save a lot of wrong prints (good for the environment). It’s without a doubt worth it when you print a lot, and I would almost label it as essential for every serious photographer that uses their own printers. But I also have to add that I’ve worked for years without and after initial huge frustrations (which I wish I could have skipped) I now know my printed almost by heart, but when I switch I will have to start over, and than Paper Color sync will be awesome.

For video
If like me you are also into video it’s good to know that the SW271C is also very good for this part of your work.
Of course the display supports HDR10 and HLG, but it also has a special list of compatible SDI-HDMI converters for a very solid workflow to your screen. Add to this support for film and video frame rates including 24/25/30/50/60frames per second and you can see that it’s a very complete monitor for both video and photography.

Connections
What do you need in a monitor you might ask.
Well in all fairness just HDMI or Display port would be enough to connect your Mac or PC.
But out of experience I can tell you that it’s very handy to also have USB connectivity, first of all because of the hardware calibration, but it’s also very handy to quickly connect a harddrive or camera instead of diving behind your machine or use external hubs.

Well the SW271C is very complete and has something cool for us 😀
First of all you have 2x HDMI and a display port.
On the USB side we have 2x USB and 1x a 60W USB-Connection.
and….. yes a card reader supporting SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC so that’s pretty handy and saves some clutter on your desk.

Experience
Of course the most important part of a review.
How does it perform.
And I can be pretty short about this.
I have used and owned almost all BenQ displays in the PhotoVue series, and without a doubt it’s my favorite series. BenQ delivers monitors for a very competitive price and has some awesome specs, what do you think for example about 99% Adobe RGB, 90% P3, 100% sRGB.

But most of all I love the material BenQ uses for the screens itself, it’s hard to explain exactly but compare it to another monitor and you can clearly see that the BenQ has less glare (reflections) and their screens are literally razor sharp without ringing, in other words, you get a fricking awesome and accurate screen for your money.

Also one of the main advantages I think is the fact you can use an external calibrator instead of a build in, now don’t get me wrong, at first the build in analyzers work fine, but after 2-3 years you will find that the results will start to drift, with an external calibrator you can just replace the unit and have 100% accuracy again.


Working with photography means you are focusing on small details in both color and detail, a display should be “transparent” and give you as the creator the full freedom and accuracy you need to do proper color correction, now you might say “hey Frank, don’t you use the X-rite color checkers for that?” And the answer is “yep and no”.

Yes as in, you always have to use something like a white balance card or Color checker if you want a proper base (starting point), but after that it’s all about fine tuning, adding some cool looks etc. And for that work it’s vital you can trust your display, and without a doubt I would say…. I trust my work with BenQ PhotoVue displays, and I’m pretty picky as you guys now.

Oh and if you want to play a game in between… with 5ms it’s not that bad I would say 🙂
So if you’re in the market for a kick ass awesome accurate monitor, make sure to check out the SW271C, you will love it.
Plus in some countries BenQ gives you a 6 months pixel warranty.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.