4K is here in a big way. Professional cameras capable of shooting high quality 4K footage have come down in price dramatically. The Panisonic GH4 will only set you back about $1500, or you can head to your local electronic store or big box mart and pick up a GoPro capable of shooting excellent 4k material for only $500. But without a 4K display with which to view your beautiful footage, what good is the 4K camera, other the the ability to resize in post?
There are a plethora of 4K displays on the market, with new products being released all the time. However, there is tremendous discrepancy in image and build quality. If you want a display for more than just gawking at your GoPro footage, you will need a professional monitor, and if you plan on doing any color grading, serious visual effects work or editing, you need a color accuracy. The NEC Multisync PA322UHD is one of the best examples of what is available.
The NEC Multisync PA322UHD is as beautiful as it is pricey. This 45-pound, 32-inch display will set you back about $3000, which unless you’re a colorist, VFX artist or editor doing high-end work, may be outside your budget. Despite the hefty price tag, this monitor delivers.
Out of the Box
The first thing you will notice when setting this beast up is its sheer mass. Not only is it one of the heaviest displays on the market, it is also very thick at about four inches without the stand. This 32-inch display will dwarfmost desks and demands a lot of desktop real estate. The hardest part of setting up the monitor is getting it out of the box and onto the desk, a process that is recommended for two people. Once the display has found a comfortable location, hooking it up is easy. We tested it with a Macbook Pro, hooking it up with the provided mini display to HDMI cable. Once plugged in, the Macbook detected the display and worked flawlessly.
The beautiful 32-inch Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) panel is equipped with a non reflective and anti-glare coating. Near the bottom right corner or the monitor you will find the menu, power, input select, left/right rockers and picture in picture buttons for easy navigation of the simple menu. The display comes with a extensive array of input and output options including four HDMI inputs, a displayport, two DVI inputs, two upstream USB 3.0, two downstream USB 3.0 and a headphone jack. The display operates with a refresh rate of 120Hz in HD (1,920 x 1,080) mode but is cut down to 60Hz in UHD (3840 x 2160). When using a DisplayPort signal (UHD via HDMI) the refresh is reduced even further to 30Hz.
While this display is a dream to use, there are some serious costs to the PA322UHD
It cannot be said enough: This monitor is beautiful. The colors cover 99.2% of the Adobe RGB color spectrum, and built into the monitor is a 14-bit 3D lookup table (LUT) which will get the monitor to near perfect calibrations. While the monitor worked beautifully right out of the box, you can purchase the SpectraViewII Color Calibration Kit ($299) for increased color performance. However, the image representation out of the box is awesome in the most literal sense of the word.
On top of the usual brightness/contrast, sharpness and color temperature adjustments, the PA322UHD allows the user to to adjust numerous other picture settings such as individually adjust the hue, saturation and offset for Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow (RGB CMY). Included are picture presets for sRGB, Adobe RGB, Full, High Bright and Digital Cinema (DCI).
Using the monitor with Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, and Resolve worked flawlessly, reproducing excellent blacks, greys and highlights. The image was vivid while not glossy due to the matted screen. The colors were bright but not over saturated. The viewing angle was near 180 degrees so there are virtually no bad angles, even without the sturdy stand to allow the gargantuan monitor to swivel and tilt with ease.
Due to the UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution there is a serious increase in screen real estate over traditional monitors. Not only can the PA322UHD easily replace two traditional HD monitors, it is a lot more convenient. Using this with After Effects was a joy; there was more than enough screen to expand an impressive number of layers, have several windows open as well has many effects and script panels. The same can be said for working in Premiere Pro, which again was a real pleasure with the monitor. The refresh rate seemed to keep up with quick graphical animations in After Effects as well action action shots in Premiere with no ghosting for delays. In photoshop, high resolution images came to life, looking sharp, clear and realistic.
Weighing the Costs
While this display is a dream to use, there are serious costs to the NEC Multisync PA322UHD, both in its hefty price tag but also its size. The monitor will take up the majority of even a decent sized desk. Dropping $3000 on a monitor can be a hard task, even for high-end professionals who in this competitive market have to find as many ways to save money as possible, but, if you can fork over the dough, this display is well worth it. NEC backs this monitor with an impressive four year warranty with Advanced Exchange, so even though you may spend a crazy sum of money on it, the display will last for years to come.
Display Type: LED
View Size (diagonal): 32”
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
Input: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x DisplayPort OPS, 4 x HDMI, 2 x DVI-D Dual Link, USB 3.0 hub, 2 x up / 3 x down with DisplaySync Pro
Output: DisplayPort, HDMI
Brightness: 350 cd/m²
Frequency: 120Hz in full HD mode, but is limited to 60Hz in UHD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Stand/Mount: tilt, swivel
Colors Supported: 1.07 billion
• Beautiful color accurate display
• Easy to connect to source and
• Four year warranty
• Massive; require two people to lift or move
• Requires large dedicated desk space
Jason Miller is a professional filmmaker, editor and visual effects artist whose work