On-camera monitors have always been a hot topic in the filmmaking community, as more and more manufacturers continue to roll out new products that vary in feature set, price, and performance.
With brands like Feelworld, SmallHD, Atomos, and Sokani (just to name a few), it can be daunting to pinpoint which monitor will work best for your production needs. Fortunately, Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter has four excellent inexpensive options in mind that might help you decide which low-budget monitor you should invest in next.
Before comparing each monitor individually, let’s figure out some of the similarities between the suggested units. For starters, all devices on the list accept HDMI as a form of video input from the camera. In addition, they all come with basic video assist features such as pixel zoom, frame guides, image rotation and audio meters. However, the more expensive ones will provide you with more versatile functionality and better overall build quality.
That being said, Pike’s most recommended 5-inch camera monitor is the SmallHD Focus. Coming from a company known for its professional-grade production gear, the Focus has quickly become one of the most popular and highly demanded on-camera monitors on the market.
For $500, the SmallHD Focus has a 5-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280×720 and brightness of 800 nits. In addition, the device comes with a power output port that can supply your camera’s battery with some extra juice.
Besides its solid build quality, the SmallHD Focus most outstanding feature is its operating system, which combined with the touchscreen interface, allows for maximum customization, enabling you to create different monitoring profiles with varying amounts of video assist features. Speaking of assist features, the SmallHD Focus has plenty of them, including safety markers, histograms, focus assist, and auto-flip. What’s more, the monitor allows you to use your own LUTs within the camera.
Following the SmallHD Focus on Pike’s lists is the Andycine A6, which is deemed by some folks as the Focus knock-off. At $189, the monitor packs an impressive set of features including a 5.7-inch 8-bit IPS display with 1920 x 1080 native resolution, 460nits brightness, 1400:1 contrast and a decent OS.
Furthermore, the Andycine A6 is able to provide power to your camera via a dummy battery and also comes with a generous set of video assist features including zebra, false color, histograms, focus assist, ratio markers, grids, and much more.
For the price, the Andycine A6 is definitely an impressive feature-packed purchase for those looking for a low-budget on-camera monitor. It’s also bundled with a swivel mount, allowing you to rotate the unit, perfect for one-man-band style shooting. Keep in mind, though, that the build quality of the device is less than spectacular, comprised mainly of plastic.
The 5-inch monitor from Sokani is another compelling purchase for video shooters working on a budget. For $300, you get a 1920×1080 display with a brightness of 450 nits. The unit also shares a few similarities with the SmallHD Focus such as a touchscreen display and plenty of convenient on-screen features.
While the interface is not as intuitive as SmallHD’s offering, the Sokani Monitor still boasts custom functions, pinch to zoom, histogram, gridlines, aspect ratio guides, pixel to pixel, EVF mode, peaking, false color, focus assist, and even audio meters.
Other factors that differentiate the Sokani monitor from the rest of the competitors on the list include a decent compact form factor as well as HDMI passthrough (in/out). Unfortunately, the monitor does not offer the ability to provide power to your camera.
Last on Pike’s list of the best 5-inch monitors is the Feelworld F570. Standing at roughly $200, the device has one of the biggest screen sizes with a 5.7” display, 1920×1080 resolution at 450 nits.
For its price, the build quality is better than some of the other suggestions as the monitor is mainly constructed with metal, with the occasional plastic found on the back. The display of the Feelworld F570 is very sharp and has a design with thin bezels, making the monitor pleasing to look at.
While the unit’s video assist features aren’t as versatile as those available on the other monitors, the Feelworld F570’s sharp panel and full HD resolution still make the product a worthwhile purchase.
Which is your favorite pick of the four budget-oriented monitors on the Pike’s list? Let us know in the comments.