If you’re someone who needs to deal with color correction and grading tasks on a daily basis, you would probably agree that having a dedicated color control surface is a mandatory piece of hardware that should be part of any professional color grading suite no matter what.
Two of the obvious choices that come to mind instantly in that regard are the Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini Panels. In the video below, Matt of Cinematography Database puts things into perspective by sharing his opinion on which one of the two devices would better serve your color grading workflow.
Those of you who still haven’t got a chance to test out the Blackmagic Design’s proprietary line of color grading panels might be wondering what differentiates the Micro and Mini variations. For starters, the Micro panel is priced at roughly a thousand dollars whereas the Mini goes for three thousand. Both units share the same essential features: three color trackballs, three luma wheels, control knobs as well as some basic transport controls.
The functionality that gives Mini its higher price tag, however, includes the addition of dual displays, as well as some extra shortcuts and control buttons. So, is it worth paying two thousand dollars extra for the Mini Panel’s increased feature set? According to Matt, there are three reasons why the Mini is better than the Micro.
In the first place, the additional knobs allow for easier manipulation of the RGB bars in comparison to using the mouse to make adjustments. Secondly, the knobs give users the extra speed for rapid and easy navigation through power windows. Lastly, for those who add multiple nodes to their shots, the dedicated Add Node button is a real time saver and a very convenient feature to have.
Despite the added convenience of the extra knobs and buttons, there are some features of the Mini Panel that Matt found a bit odd. For instance, the inclusion of only two displays makes it difficult to adjust Lift, Gamma, and Gain at the same time since they can’t fit into the two screens. Also, while modifying curves using a control surface may be a smart idea, in practice, it can be quite cumbersome and less precise than utilizing a mouse or a much more affordable tool such as the Wacom Intuos Pro Small Tablet.
In addition, while the knobs may add convenience for some features such as the RGB bars, these could make some coloring processes difficult to execute since all the tools are divided between the two screens on the Mini’s control surface instead of being all together on just one screen.
So back to the question: is it worth spending an extra two thousand dollars on the Mini panel compared to the Micro panel? According to Matt, no. While the displays and additional controls may be convenient, it’s not really worth shelling out the extra cash, which could potentially be used for something like a better professional grade monitor. Instead of buying the Mini panel, it would be a better idea to go for the less-expensive thousand dollars Micro panel and purchase a Wacom Tablet as a more affordable, but still effective alternative.