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Is 1080p Enough for Photo Editing?

by Ledmond Team
A 1080p monitor on a working desk

Your monitor’s resolution should be adequate, if not perfect, for the precision needed in photo editing. So, is 1080p enough for photo editing? It can be adequate depending on your monitor size, color accuracy, the kind of editing work you do, and various other factors. You can even find 1080p resolution among the best laptop monitors for photo editing, which speaks to its adequacy in photo editing.

What is 1080p resolution?

Before determining its adequacy in photo editing, we should first define a 1080p resolution. Also referred to as full high definition (Full HD or FHD) resolution, 1080p is the most prevalent display resolution on the market. This is because many PC monitors and laptops come in 1080p resolution. It consists of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels at a 16:9 aspect ratio and is the least acceptable resolution for monitors and televisions. This is a higher resolution than high definition (HD) resolution with 1280 x 720 pixels, making 1080p Full HD resolution sharper than HD.

As the least acceptable resolution, 1080p is at the bottom of the common monitor resolutions. These resolutions include:

  • Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array (WUXGA) resolution with 1920 x 1200 pixels.
  • 2K resolution (also known as 1440p) with 2560 x 1440 pixels.
  • 4K Ultra HD (4K UHD) resolution with 3840 x 2160 pixels

Most general-use monitors come with a 1080p resolution. However, current industry standards require at least 1440p resolution for photo and video editing. You see, 1440p doubles the number of pixels in 1080p pixels, for sharper and more accurate images. This has sparked the 1440p vs 1080p debate among professional photographers. We will address that debate later.

Benefits Of 1080p for Photo Editing

1080p Full HD resolution monitors are still in production because they offer some benefits. So let us examine these benefits as they relate to photo editing.

1. 1080p Is Quite Affordable

Display resolutions, among other factors, determine the prices of monitors. 1080p is currently the lowest acceptable resolution for monitors, thus, the most affordable. On average cost 1080p monitors range between $100 and $250, and they are among the best monitors for photo editing under $200. So you can affordably do some decent photo editing work and other general tasks on your computer. 1080p resolution computers definitely give you value for your money.

2. 1080p Is Well-Supported

Having been around for so long means that developers know the 1080p resolution well. As such, any new photo editing software updates factor in the 1080p resolution monitors. So you will not need to worry about lagging behind or receiving software updates that are incompatible with your monitor.

3. 1080p Works Great On Small Screens

To get sharp and clear images on your 1080p monitor, the screen size has to be below 24 inches with a 92 PPI pixel density. Pixel density determines the sharpness of the images on the monitor. So the higher the pixel density, the better the image clarity. Higher image clarity is better for eye health and posture as you won’t have to lean in to see the details. Laptop monitors usually are below 19 inches wide. As such, 1080p resolution monitors are among the best laptop monitors for photo editing.

A female photographer taking a photo
A 1080p monitor must have the right pixel density to maintain your image sharpness

Drawbacks Of 1080p for Photo Editing

As with all things, there are a few disadvantages to using a 1080p monitor for photo editing. These include:

1. 1080p Works Only For Small Screens

Smaller screen sizes can cause computer vision syndrome (CVS) also called digital eye strain. This is especially true for people who work long hours on computers. Photo editing is time-intensive work, so it is important to protect one’s eye health as one works. Most professional photographers, therefore, prefer large monitors which are easier on the eyes. Larger monitors also provide more workspace essential for multitasking.

1080p resolution is not suitable for monitors larger than 24 inches. Larger monitors will lower the pixel density of the 1080p resolution. Lower pixel density affects image clarity and lowers work efficiency. So if you want to work on a larger screen, 1080p may not be the right resolution for you.

2. 1080p Cannot Edit High-Resolution Content

You might edit a 1080p image on a 1440p monitor and even view, for example, a 1440p image on a 1080p monitor, but it will not look the same. These alterations make photo editing difficult and ineffective on a 1080p resolution monitor. Currently, images and videos are being shot at higher resolutions, putting 1080p monitors at a disadvantage. If your camera takes higher than 1080p resolution images, you should get a monitor with matching or higher resolution.

So, Is 1080p Enough For Photo Editing?

Yes, but with a few conditions. Given the right monitor size and matching content resolution, 1080p is an adequate resolution for photo editing. You can do some pretty good work on a 1080p monitor, and it will not cost you as much as higher resolution monitors. In fact, with the right pixel density, higher resolutions may not offer as great a difference in image quality. So if you are on a budget and need a good reliable monitor, 1080p resolution will suffice.

One More Thing: 1440p vs. 1080p For Photo Editing

As alluded to earlier, there is an ongoing debate on which resolution between 1440p and 1080p is better for photo editing. 1440p resolution consists of 2560 x 1440 pixels at a 16:9 aspect ratio; double the 1080p resolution. This means you can get sharper images with larger monitors at a 1440p resolution. For example, a 27-inch monitor at 1080p will have a 78 PPI pixel density, while at 1440p, it will have a pixel density of 108 PPI. Higher pixel densities mean better image clarity.

1440p monitors are relatively inexpensive, although not as cheap as 1080p monitors. They even feature among the best monitors for photo editing under $300. However, 1440p requires more bandwidth and takes up more space than 1080p. Photo editing at higher resolutions increases the performance requirements of a monitor. As such, you may need added specifications to work at 1440p resolution than at 1080p, incurring additional costs. So it finally comes down to how much you can spend when choosing between 1080p and 1440p for photo editing.

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