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Long Term: Usage of my Workhorse NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display in My Sprinter Van + Reasons To Like in General

See my color management wishlist and get NEC PA302W at B&H Photo. Unless you already have the NEC calibrator and software, be sure to get the NEC PA302W BK-SV.

The NEC PA302W is my workhorse display on which I do all my photography work. It is a 30-inch 2560 X 1600 wide-gamut display with true hardware calibration (vs faux calibration).

I’ve now used it for a year in my my Sprinter van on the road many hours. In spite of very rough extreme vibration roads, stored securely in my Yeti Tundra 210 cooler doubling as a bed platform, it has never even had a glitch.

NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut display

The PA302W calibrates to within 1 delta-E accuracy, which means “color and grayscale accuracy that exceed the ability of most people to discern”). The Apple iMac 5K *cannot* be calibrated properly, since it means warping the video card values to try to look right which fails miserably for dark tones—it is not calibration at all!; see Understanding Display Calibration: Real vs Faux Calibration.

I write this as I sit at my hickory desk at 8:10 AM in my Sprinter van at 8800' elevation in the Eastern Sierra. It is about 19°F outside, but I’m too hot and will have to turn down the heat now.

The critical features for me with the NEC PA302W are:

  • Perfect color and grayscale accuracy with consistent results day to day and month to month.
  • Wide color gamut.
  • Low pixel density, which greatly aids image evaluation.

I discuss these issues in various articles:

Getting one

The NEC PA302W regularly goes on sale, but current pricing is shown here. I strongly recommend the BK-SV model which includes the calibrator software and hardware.

Note: on Thunderbolt 3 Macs, you’ll need DisplayPort. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock solves it. I have it fixed in place on my desk in my Sprinter van, as well as another one at home.

Summary of what to like about the NEC PA302W

There is a lot to like about the NEC PA302W, which is why I consider it the finest display available today for evaluating and processing images (though the iMac 5K is my preferred display for viewing images). That is why I call it my workhorse display. The NEC PA302W is the display I will be installing in my mobile photography adventure van.

  • Screen resolution of 2560 X 1600 in a 30" form factor, for eye-friendly pixel density that allows me to quickly evaluate image sharpness. As well as the 1600-high thing: *way* better than 1440 (including the “looks like” 2560 X 1440 of the iMac 5K).
  • Color gamut that extends *way* beyond the AdobeRGB color space, important for making decisions on saturation and color subtlety, plus today’s printers are also beyond AdobeRGB gamut.
  • Neutral backlighting— the GB-R backlighting delivers a neutral gray—not the magenta-tinted “gray” W-LED displays that most calibration devices see as neutral, but is in fact tinted magenta to the human eye, or at least my eyes, which are unusually good for color discrimination.
  • Low glare—unlike the iMac 5K, the NEC PA302W has surface coating that works well in all sorts of lighting conditions, and does not display the walls behind my back.
  • 4-year warranty. Compare that to the abbreviated 1 year warranty Apple provides.

Color gamut

Below, check out that color gamut! The inside triangle is AdobeRGB, which falls far short of what the NEC PA302W offers. I use the 16-bit ProPhotoRGB color space for most of my work, outputting to AdobeRGB JPEG files unless the image is out of gamut in AdobeRGB.

Color gamut of NEC PA302W wide gamut display, full range calibration
Color gamut of NEC PA302W wide gamut display, full range calibration
NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut display showing a bristlecone pine I shot one day
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