4k Display Monitors v’s Canvas Prints and Framed Photos

Digital picture frames have been around for quite some time now but they have never really competed with modern computer displays or photographic prints. However that got me thinking - could the new 4k monitors actually replace canvas prints and framed photos?

If you have ever had a chance to view your digital photographs on a 4k monitor you’ll be pleasantly surprised - they’re beautiful. The resolution is amazing and so crisp - it’s like you’re almost there! Gone are the days of poor viewing angles, contrast shifts, flickering backlights, slow refresh rates, ghosting and lag - eye sore from poor displays is fast becoming a thing of the past.

With adjustable colour temperatures for any room, sharpness enhancements and non reflective matt displays allowing easy viewing, why would you need to print and frame anything? You could easily plug a camera card in and have as many photos as you want on display. Especially when you consider the monitor bezels are so thin these days and light enough to hang on your walls - much like canvas prints. Is this the beginning of the end of printed photographs? Could you get away with just viewing photos on a 4k display? Well the simple answer is, Yes!... And, No!

Are 4k Monitors Really Better than Canvas Prints or Framed Photos?

Well, aside from the additional electricity bill and installation (I’m assuming you don’t want any power leads on show) can they really compete? To answer that you need to ask yourself a few questions about what makes your photography special.

To illustrate, imagine you went into a Gallery to view some famous painting - let’s say The Louvre to view the Mona Lisa. Would you be happy to view the painting on a 4k monitor if it was a perfect digital reproduction or would you feel a bit cheated? Perhaps, even, lost some of its Je ne sais quoi? Well that same feeling kind of applies to your photography. As digital photography allows easy viewing on many monitors at the same time it loses the appeal of being unique and special. I mean why even bother going to the Gallery - you could easily view it on a web page? For some people that’s fine and they’re quite happy with this, but deep down you know that if they had a choice they would choose to view the “real” painting. The same is pretty much true of your photos - if you value them then you should print them.

Viewing photographs on a 4k monitor is much like a modern city - well set out, safe, sensible, sterile, same and spiritless. It’s exactly the same with a modern car - they perform well and they’re reliable but did you fall in love with it just like your first car (even with all its foibles)? It’s the same reason why people prefer antique furniture compared to modern furniture - uniqueness and in turn added value. With modern furniture you run the risk of popping round to your neighbours house and finding the exact same piece sitting staring back at you, bursting your exclusivity bubble in the process.

Canvas Prints are Better!

By contrast canvas prints do offer exclusivity and uniqueness - only you have “that” print - it’s not being viewed all round the internet, it won’t hack your personal memories or spy on you and if you look after them they’ll last a lifetime unlike your television which won’t! Did I mention 8k already exists in prototypes? Canvas prints mature much like fine wine - they become part of your home and if you are ever decorating and take them down you feel like something is missing. Eventually they will become heirlooms so that your children’s children will also appreciate them. Televisions, on the other hand, are here today and gone tomorrow.

Similarly, canvas prints make great gifts - they’re “hands on”, not “don’t touch the screen”. And I’m not entirely sure I would appreciate photos being handed to me on an S.D. card rather than a printed canvas - it’s just not the same.

So the next time you are watching the re-mastered version of Star Wars on your 4k television ask yourself “is it really as good as watching the original non re-mastered film at the cinema?” Or perhaps maybe the atmosphere of the original film viewed with all your friends at the cinema was somehow a more magical experience than the technically superior and “better” modern version on a 4k display.