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HDR monitors: A buyer’s guide

This time last year, we were making sad noises about there only being three acceptable HDR monitors available, all of which cost north of twenty grand. Now, the field has opened up slightly, and we’re seeing some excellent lower-cost monitors emerge. We asked our monitor expert, Phil Crawley, to weigh in on some of the frontrunners…


Liz Sunter
For operators and assistants: The ASUS PA32U

“You can see our testing of this monitor here, but to sum up: for £1700, this is pretty respectable. It supports the two common HDR standards, Dolby PQ and BBC HLG. It’s by no means a mastering monitor and its blacks aren’t particularly impressive, but it has good colour range, which makes it ideal to put on operators’ desks or in QC positions. It’s also good for people who are digitising and doing media management, as they can still see the HDR picture and a decent proportion of their colour space, but you’re not having to pay through the nose.” 

ASUS PA32U key specs:

  • Screen size: 32” (81.28cm)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Colour saturation : 85% Rec. 2020, 99.5% Adobe RGB, over 95% DCI-P3 and 100% sRGB
  • Resolution: 3840x2160
  • Pixel pitch: 0.1845mm
  • Pixel density: 137ppi
  • Viewing angle: 178° (H), 178°(V)
  • Brightness: 400 cd/㎡(typical)/1000 cd/㎡(peak)
  • Contrast ratio: 1000 :1 (typical)/20000 :1 (HDR)
  • Display colours: 1.07 bn

Get more info 


For on set: The ASUS or Atomos Sumo

“The PA32U is ideal for on-set work, partly because things on set tend to get abused, and at £1700 it’s the HDR monitor you’ll least regret breaking. But it’s also very bright – up to 1000 candelas – and it’s often those very bright images that you need to check most closely on set.

“Atomos’s Sumo HDR monitor-recorder has become popular because it gives you an instant backup camera recorder along with monitoring, and that’s made it very popular as an on-set solution. The Sumo can record 4K 12-bit RAW, 10-bit ProRes/DNxHR and 1080p60, as well as dailies, proxies or 4k60p masters.“

The monitor itself is a calibrated 19” 1200 nit 10-bit HDR screen and powered by their AtomHDR engine, which precisely maps the Log/PQ/HLG from popular cameras, game consoles and TV makers to resolve 10+ stops of HDR in real time.

Buy now

Get more info 


Best value for editors: The EIZO CG319X

“This is a tiny fraction of the price of monitors like the Sony X300 or EIZO’s own CG3145. In fact, it’s cheaper than a lot of manufacturers’ standard SDR edit suite monitors, and yet it’s a native 4K panel and can do some HDR work. It’s not quite capable of Dolby PQ, but it’s fine if you’re working in HLG, or need an affordable review monitor for Dolby work. It’s fantastic value for money, even when compared with lower-end (yet more expensive!) offerings from the likes of Sony, Boland and Flanders, because it’s a great editing monitor even if you’re only working on SDR and HD, and it automatically puts you in a position where you can move to 4K and HDR when you want to.”

EIZO CG319X key specs:

  • Screen size: 31.1”
  • Aspect ratio: 1.896:1
    Colour saturation: 99% Adobe RGB and 98% DCI-P3
  • Resolution: 4096x2160
    Pixel pitch: 0.17mm
  • Pixel density: 149 ppi
  • Viewing angle: 178°(H), 178°(V)
    Brightness: 350 cd/m2
    Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1
    Display colours: 1.07 bn

Buy now

Get more info 


For high-end work: The EIZO CG3145

Sony’s X300 was really the first cinema-grade HDR monitor out of the gate, and its inclusion on early ‘approved hardware’ led to it becoming the de rigueur monitor for high-end television and cinematic grading.

However, EIZO’s excellent CG3145 has closed the gap. Customers like Narduzzo Too, Core Postand Outpost [Link TBC] have all opted for the EIZO, which uses the same dual IPS panel as the Sony X310 (the dual IPS replacement of the OLED X300).

“While the CG3145 is an IPS/LCD monitor and the Sony is an OLED, but otherwise they’re very similarly specced,” said Phil. “However, there’s less noise in the blacks on the EIZO: when I calibrate the X300 I have to do the blacks at 5% grey to get a clean reading, but the EIZO will read cleanly at 2%. It’s also £10,000 less than the Sony model, integrates with LightSpaceCMS so you can upload and manage LUTs easily, and has the blessings of both Dolby and Netflix.”

EIZO CG3145 key specs:

  • Screen Size: 31” (78.74cm)
  • Aspect Ratio: 17:9
  • Colour saturation: 80% Rec. 2020, 98% DCI P3, 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRBG.
  • Resolution: 4096x2160
  • Pixel pitch: 0.170x0.170mm
  • Pixel density: 149ppi
  • Viewing angle: 178°(H), 178°(V)
  • Brightness: 1000 cd/m2
  • Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1
  • Colours: 1.07 bn

Buy now

Get more info 


Opting for an EIZO?

Bear in mind that EIZO’s monitors, excellent though they are, don’t come with BNC inputs. You’ll need an outboard convertor like the AJA Hi5 4K Plus, which you can purchase here.

We can supply a full range of hoods, cables, convertors, adaptors and other hardware, plus our monitor calibration service, which can give you the confidence that your video monitors and AV projectors are colour accurate, and right for broadcast work. (We can provide this regardless of which monitor you choose, and even if you didn’t buy your monitor from us.)


Also out there…

These are the monitors we’ve had time to test, and we’ll update our recommendations as we get access to more. In the meantime, there are other monitors available: if you’re committed to using Sony monitors all along the line, their A250 is a sound (if costly) alternative to the CG319X; Flanders’ monitors are excellent, but expensive even by the standards of the HDR market; after a slow start, Boland are finally ramping up from SDR to HDR. If you’d like to discuss your options further, arrange a demo of any of these monitors, or have questions about your HDR workflow generally, you can get in touch with the team using the form below.


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