I am currently (still) using a CRT monitor and would like to move to an LCD panel. My primary usage is for photography and web browsing. I have spent the last three weeks or so researching monitors and have found out that (1) I will need to buy an IPS panel, (2) having looked at monitor sizes in the store I really would prefer a 27 or 30 inch monitor and (2) I have resigned myself to the fact that I should expect to pay at least $1,000 for a good monitor, possibly closer to $2,000. What monitor would you recommend? Is it really worth upgrading to a really high-end monitor ($2,000+)? More questions and details inside.
In my free time, I do "semi-professional" photography, primarily 360 degree panorama photography, using a Canon 7D, L series lenses, shooting raw and working with a 16 bit workflow to get the best possible results and colors. I publish most of my photos online, although I also occasionally print them in books or calendars. It almost seems silly to do all that color-critical work on an old, uncalibrated, CRT monitor and I therefore decided to upgrade to a photography oriented, high-quality, LCD monitor.
I currently exclusively use Linux (Mint 12 currently) with software such as dDrktable, Gimp and Autopano pro and have no intention to move to a Mac or Windows PC. It may also be relevant to mention that I live in Europe as there are different monitor models available in Europe from the US.
Having spent way too much time researching monitors lately, I have currently narrowed my choices down to a few options:
The NEC PA271W appears to be a very high-quality 27 inch monitor from NEC for about $1,300. I like the extensive calibration options and the monitor appears to also provide options for hardware calibration. I do not like the 16:9 aspect ratio and am concerned about possible graininess due to anti-glare issues.
The Dell U3011 is often listed as a monitor of choice due to its rich feature set, it's factory calibration and very accurate calibration results that people are getting. The Dell goes also for about the same price ($1,300). It does, however, not do any hardware calibration and cannot emulate other color spaces.
I had pretty much decided to go with the NEC, when I found out on PRAD
that hardware calibration, one of the key features of the monitor, appears to not be available in Europe as the Spectraview II software is not available here. There is another monitor the NEC SpectraView® Reference 271 that does appear to do hardware calibration, but it is also double the price from the PA271W, bringing me to a completely different class of monitors. When I go there, I also need to consider brands such as EIZO and basically go back to "square one" to do more research.
Any advise on whether for my usage, it is worthwhile to make that leap to the very expensive professional monitors? It is a lot of extra money to spend and I am not sure if I will get much value out of that higher expense?
Am I constrained by running Linux? None of the hardware calibration tools appear to run under Linux anyway in which case there may not be an advantage of having a monitor that does hardware calibration and then the Dell may be a better option?
Does anyone have experience with the NEC PA271W (not the reference model) and hardware calibration in Europe - can it be done and is it giving good results?
Anything else I am missing? Any help or guidance is very appreciated!