3 Best Budget Calibrated Monitors for Color Grading

If you’re starting to color grade, I’m 99% sure that you won’t have the official color grading monitors that professional colorists use. First of all, they are really expensive. One of the industry standard color grading monitors is the Eizo CG319X. It costs around $6500.

Now, if you’re just a beginner, you don’t need to buy that for sure. You don’t need that because those monitors are industry standards for grading high-production films, like Feature Films, Music Videos, and big brand commercials videos.

If you’re a beginner, I don’t recommend buying those monitors this early because there are alternatives that won’t break your bank but does really great jobs.

Asus ProArt PA279CV 27″4K Monitor

The Asus ProArt line, even the small and HD monitors, are color accurate and you don’t need any calibration. They are factory calibrated and when you receive them, you can start color grading.

The reason why I recommend at least the 27″ and 4K monitor is that when color grading you need more real estate to be able to see correctly every single element in the frame.

Having a 24-inch monitor will cause you to zoom in constantly because it’s too small. I recommend at least 27-inch especially if you’re grading with a single monitor.

The reason why you’d want the 4K version is that you’ll be able to see more details when color grading in 4K and the price difference between this and the HD version isn’t that much.

There are way more expensive versions of the ProArt but I think they’re trying to compete with the industry standard monitors which is quite bad marketing because if you’re a professional colorist for Hollywood films, you will not risk getting an Asus ProArt monitor.

So, I don’t know what market are those for. This PA279CV is around $450 and this is perfect for having a color-accurate monitor for your films.

If you decide to take on color grading clients, this monitor can also work. However, be very careful with the bandings. There are some instances where you won’t be able to see in a budget-calibrated monitor the things that are very visible in the industry standard monitors.

The best way is to test your work on different screens. Play it on your smart TV, play it on your mobile phone, iPad, etc. before submitting them to your clients.

Chances are you’re going to find things that don’t work with these devices. For example, I had a project where it was perfect in this exact monitor. But, when I tested it on our LG TV, the skin tones were completely different. It was so white and pink.

Yes, LG TV may not be calibrated but I never watched a Netflix film on it that has that skin tone. There is a problem with the grade and you should consider making your grade look and feel right on different devices.

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Innocn 34C1Q 34″ Monitor

I also had this monitor after researching a lot of monitors and how good they are. I was torn between getting this and the LG 34″ Ultrawide. I decided to get this because of the number of people saying that the colors are washed with the LG monitor.

Both this and the LG 34″ Ultrawide targets creatives. Even the box of this Innocn says ‘Innocn Monitor for Art‘. Both boast 99% sRGB. However, the Innocn turns out to be more color accurate.

The thing with this monitor is that I had to manually calibrate it to match the Asus ProArt. The good thing is that you’ll only need a little tweak. You have to just reduce the brightness, add contrast, increase the saturation on the reds, yellows, and greens.

If you don’t have a ProArt monitor, you can just match the look with your iPhone or Xperia phone. Samsung’s color is a bit out of this world so I don’t recommend matching the look on that phone.

But, if you have extra cash, I highly recommend using a calibrator.

One thing I notice with this monitor is that it’s not as sharp as the Asus ProArt but it’s close. Also it’s not as 3D looking as the Asus ProArt monitors.

The only thing why you’d want this over the ProArt is that it’s wider. Meaning, you’ll have more real estate for your scopes. You can even create a division within your monitor and put the scopes in one part.

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Dell UltraSharp U3223QE 31.5″

If you have extra more cash to spend on a monitor, you’d want this monitor. Dell UltraSharp is a calibrated monitor with all the good stuffs from the Asus ProArt. The edge is that it has a bigger screen. If you’re colorist, you’ll really enjoy at least one big screen in your color grading suite.

And the best size for color grading, in my opinion, is 32″. If you want a bigger screen in your suite, don’t go more than 43″. Even you step a bit far from it you’ll have a sore neck after grading for hours.

A perfect set up would be one Ultrawide monitor that gives you space for your scopes and one 32″ monitor for your full screen. A 3rd monitor won’t be necessary if you have these 2 monitors.

You’ll save energy and give your video card a better life.

The DellUltraSharp is equipped with True Brilliance. With 98% DCI-P3 and VESA DisplayHDR™ 400, you’ll be able to see all the fine details that are difficult to see in other monitors.

You’ll have a preview on how it will look on high end TVs.

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Be careful when buying monitors for color grading because these budget monitors may seem promising on paper but you might end up reselling them because they give more headaches instead of helping you with your work.

I don’t have anything against LG monitors but here in Japan, I noticed a lot of LG monitors being sold right after buying them. They’re slightly used and sellers will usually write things like “it’s not what I expected.”

Also, the number of people complaining on how washed out certain models of monitors worry me a lot. I really considered buying one but my guts tell me no.

There are a lot of Youtubers that will tell you how good this monitor is and it may really be good. I just, personally, don’t recommend them because of my experiences.

They are really cheap and it’s very tempting to buy them but the monitors above may cost you a bit more but I vouch for them.

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