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Best all round on camera monitor?


Daniel O'Flaherty
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Hi everyone,

I wanted to get some opinions on what some of your favourite monitors to use on camera are? I am in the middle of researching which monitor would be best for future proofing and using on commercial sets and run and gun documentary type style projects while filming exteriors and interiors. There are a few features I am looking for:

  • Above 1,000 Nits (for using on bright exterior days)
  • HDMI & SDI input & output
  • Colour accurate
  • Offers Waveforms, false colour, histograms, selection of aspect ratios, etc
  • Preferably between 5inch and 7 inch monitors

A side question would be does anyone know of monitors like this where you can set the false colour values? This is surprisingly quite rare. Are there any thoughts I should keep in mind before purchasing? Also what are you opinions on monitor recorders such as the new Blackmagic video assist 12g? Any recommendations would be gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

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I suppose the main question is, do you need recording capability? For myself, when I was an AC and operator, it was totally unnecessary. But as a DP, I found it very useful both for playback and for having my own Prores copy of the dailies for reference.

If you don’t need recording, then go with SmallHD. I would consider looking at the Cine7. The lighter weight of the non-recording options may be an important factor for you.

If you do need recording, then Atomos is the only serious player remaining. If you don’t mind using an obsolete system, then the Odyssey 7Q or Pix-E7 would also work. The Pix has a better overall screen and design, the Odyssey does more things but the screen is mediocre. Neither is a high bright and both are on the heavier side for an on-board monitor. 

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7 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I suppose the main question is, do you need recording capability? For myself, when I was an AC and operator, it was totally unnecessary. But as a DP, I found it very useful both for playback and for having my own Prores copy of the dailies for reference.

Super interesting!

these dailies are necessary when the DP is making his/her reel

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On 11/18/2020 at 11:56 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

I suppose the main question is, do you need recording capability? For myself, when I was an AC and operator, it was totally unnecessary. But as a DP, I found it very useful both for playback and for having my own Prores copy of the dailies for reference.

If you don’t need recording, then go with SmallHD. I would consider looking at the Cine7. The lighter weight of the non-recording options may be an important factor for you.

If you do need recording, then Atomos is the only serious player remaining. If you don’t mind using an obsolete system, then the Odyssey 7Q or Pix-E7 would also work. The Pix has a better overall screen and design, the Odyssey does more things but the screen is mediocre. Neither is a high bright and both are on the heavier side for an on-board monitor. 

@Satsuki Murashige thank you for your reply. I do agree it may best assist me to have a monitor recorder in a small package for proxy viewing and perhaps my own footage files in case I am on a job where getting the RAW footage is difficult due to time restraints or location, etc.

I currently have the Shinobi which is a great reference monitor for me but I have been frustrated that it has no HDMI out or does not allow cross conversion (this hindered me recently on a shoot).

The 2 main monitors I have been trying to decide against our the Atomos Ninja V 5' & the Black Magic Video Assist 12G 5'. Both allow recording, have a high nit brightness for exterior viewing, and great scopes accustomed inside. However the differences are the Ninja V is not able to cross convert and has no SDI (although there is an adaptor that can bring SDI to this but still no cross conversion). I believe you can record audio form the Ninja V which you can not from the BM VA 12G 5', although this is not really a big concern for me. The BM VA 12G 5' allows recording from an SD card slot as well as an SSD port which is handy; it also has Micro BNC cables which I have never used before but would at least allow an SDI connection on the body. I am really struggling to make a decision on these 2 as I cant see enough real world use of the BM VA 12 5' online to test and compare against the already established Ninja V. Any thoughts on this or experience perhaps with them both are appreciated to anyone reading.

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I used on the Ninja V on a micro-budget feature I shot earlier this year and was disappointed in the picture quality of the monitor. The blacks clipped waay to quickly. Otherwise, it was a good small monitor!

If you're looking for something like that, I recommend the PIXE5. It runs hot, but also checks all the boxes you're looking for.

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I haven’t used the Ninja V or Video Assist 5”. I guess if you plan on recording Prores RAW in the future, the Ninja V would be a good choice. But lack of SDI input makes it useless with most professional cameras. Have used the Video Assist 7”, nothing to write home about. It’s lightweight at least? 

I have a Pix-E7 which I like a lot except for:

 - weight w/ batteries

-  long boot time (Over a minute! Reminds me of a Red One)

- mediocre focus peaking (colored only, no ‘aperture’ style)

- power hungry (more than my camera!)

- not very bright outside

But otherwise the image is very nice, the Prores recording works great (best recording media implementation by far), it’s built like a tank, and the other monitoring and conversion tools are great. The screen does develop a fine pattern of little micro dots over time, probably from the bonded gorilla glass screen separating. It’s bright enough not to be distracting while shooting, but you’ll notice it when it’s off.

Also, if you continually lose power while running, the Pix can start to freak out and not boot up consistently anymore. Reflashing firmware does fix it, but it’ll ruin your day on set when it happens. For that reason, I always keep at least one battery on, even when powering thru AC or d-tap. Makes it much heavier unfortunately.

You could try the 5” Pix-E5, which has most of the same attributes in a smaller package. But I think you’ll struggle to find focus with it and the bezels on these monitors are quite large, so you’ll be getting a smaller picture than you might expect from the 5” spec.

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On 11/18/2020 at 7:53 PM, Abdul Rahman Jamous said:

Super interesting!

these dailies are necessary when the DP is making his/her reel

I have learned the hard way to turn off the center crosshairs on the camera markers when using the Pix for this purpose!

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The lackluster build quality of all of the SmallHDs I've encountered, has kept me from investing in one for myself. All of my current onboard monitors offer recording capabilities (because they're just so much faster for playback on set, than almost any of the cameras internal playback, except perhaps the Alexa Mini when paired with the WCU-4).

The Osee G7 is a really interesting new option:

- 3000 nits (game-changing for using outdoors)

- A nifty v-mount adapter plate

- All the monitoring features you could ask for

- Very lightweight

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Atomos has a great image, but I've experienced many failures with those monitors. Setups and breakdowns every day, after around the year mark I've had 3 fail in some aspect. Two had SDI inputs stop working, one stopped powering on. Of one of the SDI failures, half the touchscreen stopped registering commands so you couldn't change the input to HDMI. Great monitors, but cheaply built, or not built for heavy use. Also, their focus peaking is unusable.

I now use a TV-Logic F5-A. It's like a brick of armor and has the ability to roll your false color up or down the IRE range, which is useful. It's not bright under skylight. I use the sun hood that comes with it and a hat.

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