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Which Color Grading Monitor Should I Buy?

Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn

Looking to build a color grading suite?  The following resources provide everything you need to know to pick the best grading monitor for professional results.

Color Correction

If you’re new to color grading then the most important thing to know is that without a properly calibrated grading monitor it is impossible to promise your clients color accuracy.  Without a professional calibrated monitor you’re just whistling in the wind.

So, given the vast array of options, budgets and opinions what is the best grading monitor to get?  Especially if you’re just starting out? Here is a round up of some of the best places to learn and some of the best people to learn from.

Which is the best grading monitor for new colorists?

How to Choose a Reference Monitor

If you’ve not heard of Alexis Van Hurkman then you won’t know that he literally wrote the manual for DaVinci Resolve, just released 12 hours of DaVinci Resolve video training and authored the excellent Color Correction Handbook. He’s also shares great color grading tips and insight on his blog and Twitter.

Pull together $30,000 and buy a Dolby PRM-4200. It’s big (42?), it has nice deep blacks because of its insane backlighting technology, it’s got stable color, excellent shadow detail, multi-standard support, contains the full gamut of both Rec 709 and P3 for DCI work, and it’s a giant piece of equipment that will impress everyone who comes into your suite.

Don’t have a spare $30k? Then definitely read the rest of Alexis’ post on how to choose a color grading monitor.  It is a detailed write-up on understanding the different sorts of grading monitors available.  The comments are certainly worth taking the time over too.

Grading Monitor Discussion

The third episode of the excellent Color Grading podcast from the Coloristos (three professional colorists) features a lengthy discussion of different monitors from Dolby, Sony, Panasonic, FSI and JVC. Its a little tricky to keep track of all the model numbers and such but this post on Lift Gamma Gain has them all typed up for you.  If you’re about to invest any serious money then this definitely worth a listen first.

Affordable Grading Monitors

Okay, okay so what should you get if you want the absolute budget option, just to get you out of the gate? Well check out this previous post which features a great Macbreak Studio video (again featuring Alexis) where he answers more specifically which monitor to go for. There is also a great post from colorist Aaron Williams on his recommendations.

Color Grading Monitors

How to set up a color grading suite

So once you’ve gotten your expensive piece of equipment how do you set up your color grading suite correctly?  Well for a nuts and bolts view check out this six part video series from Steve Oakley and Carey Dissmore. Or check out this post for an easy to read technical walkthrough of a complete guide to setting up a color grading suite from Ryan E Walters –  covering everything from getting the right wall paint to using iPads in your color grading workflow.