Beyond any doubt, field monitors are one of the most essential pieces of gear to have when it comes to evaluating your framing and getting proper shot composition on set. While established brands such as SmallHD, Atomos, and Aperture have their own well-known offerings, a company named Port Keys has recently rolled out an on-camera monitor that has been slowly gaining traction and becoming more popular in the filmmaking community.
The PortKeys BM7 is a 7-inch monitor that has caught the attention of filmmakers mainly due to its one stand out feature – the ability to view the monitor in bright sunlight without a sunhood. Josh Morgan of Momentum Productions showcases the PortKeys BM7 in the next video while going over the monitor specs and performance.
Of course, the piece de resistance of this unit is its display. Not only does the panel boast 1920 x 1200 resolution, but the BM7 also has a brightness of 2000 nits – a much higher rating than any other field monitor currently has. In fact, it’s this high nit number that allows the monitor to be easily seen in bright sunlight. Not only that, the panel features backlit-LED technologies with a 178-degree field of view, and a pro-level 1200:1 contrast ratio.
Moreover, the display is protected with Guerrilla Glass housed in an all-metal aluminum body. All around the monitor, you will find 1/4” 20 screws that allow you to orient and attach the unit to your camera in whatever configuration you want. On the top, you will find four programmable buttons, input select button, exit button, and menu dial.
Furthermore, the BM7 provides you with several options to power the device. On the back, you’ll find a battery mount that allows you to attach dual Sony NP-F style-batteries. Removing the battery plate will reveal another one for V-Mount batteries as well. In addition, a D-Tap power cable is included to use the monitor with an external battery.
All in all, there are several factors about the BM7 that classify the monitor as professional – one of which includes the various I/O. The unit sports SDI In, SDI Out, HDMI In, HDMI Out, headphone jack, and USB port. The BM7 also supports SDI to HDMI conversion.
The monitor’s software, on the other hand, includes a slew of features expected from high-end monitors such as HDR Preview, Waveform, Grids, LUT support, Audio Meters, Custom RGB, Histogram, Grids, Zooming, and more.
Although the BM7 is equipped with an array of video assist features, bare in mind that the menu system is a bit clunky and isn’t as intuitive as the menus in a SmallHD monitor. For instance, some features such as waveform and grids can’t be immediately accessed from the menu, but instead only through the programmable buttons. Hopefully, Port Keys will be able to remedy this issue through a future firmware update.
Another caveat found in the BM7 is its cooling fans. Because the monitor brightness is rated at 2000 nits, the device has two cooling fans on the side that must be manually switched on or off. Unfortunately, the fans can get quite loud, requiring you to turn them off while shooting. Another quirk is that you’ll have to remember to switch the fans back on to prevent the monitor from overheating.
PortKeys BM7 On-Camera Monitor Highlights
1920 x 1200 Full HD LCD Panel
2000 nit Super High Bright LCD Panel
SDI / HDMI Signal Cross Conversion
Made from 100% Aluminum and features Gorilla Glass for Extreme Durability
Last but not least, with a price tag of $1,000, the Port Keys BM7 is not for everyone. However, with a professional set of I/O and software features alongside the ability to easily view shots in bright sunlight, the PortKeys BM7 is a solid field monitor tailor-made for videographers who primarily shoot outdoors.
Even though the cooling fans and cumbersome menu system can be tricky to work with at times, the visual quality presented by the BM7’s impressive panel will surely compensate for any potential usability issues you could come across down the line.