4K is no longer the buzzword it used to be. While it remains an attractive feature, it’s no longer the standout highlight it once was.
Many electronic devices now have the capability to either capture content in 4K or display it at 3840 x 2160 resolution. For example, there are a wide variety of 4K monitors available at different prices.
However, not everyone necessarily needs a 4K monitor, and upgrading from a 1080p monitor to a 4K one isn’t a straightforward decision, especially for those heavily involved in video editing.
In this article, you will find an answer to this question: Is a 4K monitor essential for video editing?
Do You Need a 4K Monitor for Video Editing?
No, you don’t “need” a 4K monitor for video editing, particularly if the content you’re working with isn’t shot in 4K.
Even if your footage is in 4K, you can still use a non-4K monitor. That’s because the editing process doesn’t solely depend on how pixel-dense the visuals are.
However, a 4K monitor offers significant advantages to your workflow that you might not fully appreciate until you start using one.
advantages of a 4K monitor for editing videos
Increased resolution, like 4K, provides additional pixel data that can be highly beneficial for activities such as stabilizing shots, performing 3D tracking, and more during post-production.
Higher resolution formats, such as 4K, are better suited for shots that involve extensive VFX work. They offer more data to manipulate and greater flexibility for introducing intricate camera movements to footage that initially had minimal movement.
While you don’t necessarily need a 4K monitor to perform these tasks, the additional pixels can make it much easier to see details on the screen.
If you’re a professional video editor, a monitor is an essential component of your video editing setup or workflow, just as crucial as the computer itself.
Editing videos on powerful laptops capable of handling resource-intensive and graphics-heavy tasks is feasible. However, the vast screen space provided by an external monitor is unparalleled, even when compared to the largest laptop screens.
Furthermore, 4K resolution is a much more common feature in monitors than in laptops, making monitors a preferred choice for video editing professionals.
While a TV may provide a similar large screen experience and often boasts as many, if not more, pixels than an external monitor, televisions are not optimized for productivity tasks like video editing.
A widescreen monitor with a 4K resolution can be a game-changer for video editors. Its wider aspect ratio allows you to see more of the editing timeline in a single frame, reducing the need for constant scrolling. Additionally, a larger 4K monitor can effectively serve the purpose of two separate screens, helping to declutter your workspace.
Although wide 21:9 aspect ratio 1080p monitors are also offered, a lower pixel density on the stretched screen might cause visible pixels, especially on panels bigger than 32 inches.
Color Keying and Grading
A 4K monitor or a higher-resolution screen is ideal for color grading. It’s important to note that the number of pixels doesn’t directly correlate with color accuracy. However, since 4K displays tend to be premium purchases, they are more likely to feature well-calibrated, color-accurate screens.
More pixels are available thanks to the greater 4K resolution, which will allow you to capture more color in your shots. This facilitates achieving cleaner color grades and the differentiation of color. Additionally, it improves the quality of green screen compositing.
Although color-accurate 1080p monitors exist, they often compromise on pixel density, which can offset some of the advantages of accurate color representation.
Do you need to edit in 1080p or 4K?
Whether you should edit in 4K or 1080p relies on your personal preferences and how you edit.
If you’ve captured your content in 4K but intend to deliver it in 1080p resolution, editing in 1080p is a practical choice. Editing at 1080p can significantly reduce rendering time.
You can still edit the video in 1080p and output it in 4K if your final deliverable is expected to be in that resolution.
Beyond delivery requirements, an important consideration is whether your computer can handle 4K editing. Editing and processing 4K videos demand considerably more CPU and GPU power compared to working with 1080p files. If your computer lacks the required processing power for 4K editing, your editing process will slow down significantly.
For quick-turnaround projects, daily vlogs, or if your computer isn’t geared for 4K editing, sticking to 1080p is advisable.
For more advanced setups with powerful computers, editing in 4K is recommended, especially if you desire the higher resolution and are comfortable with the performance demands it entails.
Is it possible to edit 4K videos on a 1080p Display?
On a 1080p screen, you may edit 4K videos. The most important thing is, though, if your computer can handle 4K video editing.
To handle the demands of 4K video editing, your computer should ideally have a CPU with many cores, good RAM, a capable discrete graphics card and efficient cooling.
Typically, a setup with a 1080p monitor may not feature the most robust hardware for such tasks.
If you’ve invested in a high-performance computer capable of advanced video editing and gaming, it’s likely that you’ve also chosen a high-quality monitor to enhance your setup.
Which Monitor is Ideal for 4K Video Editing?
By now, it should be evident that owning a 4K monitor isn’t a strict requirement for video editing. However, a 4K monitor presents a superior option compared to a 1080p screen, given the increasing prevalence of 4K video content.
A 4K monitor offers backward compatibility with 1080p footage, a feature lacking in a full HD monitor that might struggle with 4K content.
So, if you’re faced with the choice between a 4K and a full HD monitor, and budget is not a restriction, it’s advisable to choose the 4K option for greater long-term compatibility.
Below, we provide recommendations for 4K monitors suitable for video editing:
- Screen Size: 31.1 Inches
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- Special Feature: Hardware Calibration Connectivity Technology: DisplayPort, HDMI
The Eizo brand might not be instantly recognizable to everyone, but it’s well-known among industry experts and monitor enthusiasts.
The ColorEdge CG319X is arguably the top-tier choice when it comes to 4K video editing monitors. This monitor is designed for professionals who cannot afford even the minor errors in their work. Its extensive range of cinema and broadcast presets ensures that imperfections are minimized.
The CG319X boasts a 31.1-inch display with an auto-calibration feature that detects and rectifies discrepancies automatically. This means you’ll spend minimal time on screen inspection and more time perfecting your shots.
Given the high price of the Eizo CG319X, some individuals may express reservations or offer negative critiques. However, if you can look past the price, you’ll have a highly capable tool at your disposal.
Eizo also offers ColorEdge displays in smaller sizes, such as 24- and 27-inch versions, but these are limited to full HD resolution.
- Screen Size: 27 Inches
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160
- Special Feature: USB Hub
- Refresh Rate: 60
BenQ has a strong reputation in the realm of professional-grade displays, and its SW271C reaffirms its position as a leader in the “pro monitor” category.
The BenQ SW271C is a 27-inch 4K monitor that places a strong emphasis on color accuracy and reproduction. With its 10-bit color support, compatibility with HDR formats, and calibrated adjustments by BenQ, this monitor is ready for serious professional work right out of the box.
The IPS panel delivers genuine 10-bit colors, covering 100% of the sRGB color space and 99% of Adobe RGB. The monitor also boasts a wide 178-degree viewing angle and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, adding to its impressive capabilities.
When connected, the monitor also works with the “hotkey puck” mini keyboard, which makes it easier to navigate menus on-screen.
But the SW271C’s appeal doesn’t stop there. It features the GamutDuo function and Black and White mode, allowing you to view visuals in multiple color spaces simultaneously.
To top it off, the monitor includes a shading hood that works in both portrait and landscape orientations, constructed from durable hard plastic for long-lasting use.
- Screen Size: 32 Inches
- Resolution: 6016 x 3384 Pixels
- Special Features: Height Adjustment, Adaptive Sync, Ultrawide Screen, USB Hub
- Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Apple is a company that elicits strong opinions. Some people passionately criticize the brand, while others wholeheartedly endorse the design and quality of its products. Then there are those who are loyal to anything bearing the Apple logo.
When Apple introduced the 32-inch Pro Display XDR monitor, it faced harsh criticism for being yet another expensive Apple offering. The Pro Display XDR’s price tag was, and still is, a barrier for many potential buyers.
The XDR boasts a resolution of 6016 x 3384, surpassing the standard 4K. But what truly stands out are its peak brightness of 1,600 nits and 576 dimming zones for precise backlight control. In essence, the contrast levels are astounding.
When it comes to color, the XDR supports various standards like DCI P3, NTSC, sRGB, BT.709, and more. It even offers a “nanotexture effect” option to significantly reduce screen reflectivity.
Given the professional community’s reaction, it’s easy to say that the monitor exceeded its high expectations. It’s undoubtedly a powerhouse, albeit one that requires a substantial investment to call your own.
If the above recommendations seem a bit too premium and you’re seeking a more consumer-friendly 4K monitor, here are some solid options:
- Asus ProArt PA329C: This monitor is an entry-level 4K monitor ideal for serious videographers. It’s HDR10-certified and arrives pre-calibrated, a common feature in professional-grade monitors.
- Dell U3219Q: This 4K monitor is versatile and ideal for any video editing tasks.
- BenQ PD3200U: This monitor is a reliable video editing monitor for professionals on a budget. It features a large panel and excellent color accuracy.
- LG 32UN880: This 31.5-inch 4K monitor has good ergonomics, 95% DCI-P3 color coverage, and a cost-effective price.
- Dell UP2720Q: This 27-inch 4K monitor is renowned for its accurate color accuracy and consistent picture quality. It boasts excellent viewing angles and a high pixel density (PPI) of 163, making it one of the best in its class.
Selecting the right monitor or display is crucial in video production, alongside having the appropriate camera, editing software, and hardware. Tasks like resequencing clips, cutting segments, and color grading demand a reliable and well-suited monitor.
A Full HD monitor may be adequate if your video production focuses around 1080p content. However, if you’re shooting and delivering videos in 4K resolution, a 4K monitor is essential to avoid becoming a bottleneck in your editing process. Professional video editors, especially those delivering high-quality projects to clients, will find a 4K monitor to be an essential tool.