Use Your Smartphone as a Reliable Camera Monitor with Hollyland Mars

Hollyland has been shaking up the market with a range of cost-effective, rock solid and feature-packed video transmission systems for all levels of production. Whether you’re working as a solo operator or filming with large crews, the importance of having a reliable wireless video system can’t be overstated.

You don’t have to blow the whole budget making sure there are enough monitors for everyone on set, practically everyone already has a display they can use in their pocket.

Hollyland makes a number of affordable, entry-level transmission systems under their Mars line that can stream a video feed to most smartphones and tablets on set, effortlessly. Tom Antos is here with a rundown of the Hollyland Mars 400s.

No matter how large or small, a film crew is a team. Sometimes working with people who are constantly looking over your shoulder can be a bit of a challenge, but on any set having multiple people watching the camera feed can be a good thing.

Whether it’s your 1st AC pulling focus, hair and makeup making sure everyone looks terrific, or a hands-on client with endless opinions, giving everyone a chance to see what you’re shooting when you’re shooting it can help identify mistakes, save time, and rally the group together.

Previously, providing multiple monitors on set was a complicated process requiring expensive wireless systems or limiting mobility by wiring-in the camera directly.

With transmitters like the Hollyland Mars 400s, it has never been as simple or as affordable to supply everyone with the option of a low latency live feed they can view on their own mobile device.

Hollyland Mars 400s Key Features

  • Entry-level 1080p60 transmitter/receiver system
  • 400′ line-of-sight transmission
  • SDI and HDMI input
  • SDI and HDMI output
  • Up to two receivers supported at the same time
  • Wi-Fi transmission to up to four mobile devices using iOS/Android HollyView app
  • Built-in L-series battery plates
  • OLED display
  • Low battery warning
  • Channel scan function
  • Scene mode selection
  • Price – $649

Construction & Design

The Hollyland Mars 400s transmitter/receiver system is approximately 4.5 x 2.5″ and weighs in at just about 0.4lbs each without a battery – an all metal construction that is robust enough to handle a filmmaking environment. They are easy to mount with a 1/4 20 threaded screw mount on the bottom and come with an included shoe mount.

There is a fan that turns on when the unit reaches a certain temperature, but from Tom’s video it doesn’t seem like the noise will cause any issues for sound and I can not imagine why you’d have the transmitter/receiver near a microphone anyway.

Powering

Both the transmitter and receiver can be powered from a Sony NPF style battery, or via a 6-16v DC IN. When powering through a Sony NPF battery, the battery life is reported to be rather spectacular but I wasn’t able to locate any hard numbers. Users stated that an NPF550 last them all day, although I think that would depend on the shooting environment and temperature.

Although a cable is not included, it is fantastic that these are easily powered via D-TAP most entry level systems are powered via USB which isn’t as reliable and requires an adapter if your battery doesn’t have USB built-in. You should have no issues running camera power into this unit, and it doesn’t add a lot of weight.

Connectivity

The Mars 400s model features SDI & HDMI with cross conversion. There is a Hollyland 400 (minus the s) which is $110 cheaper that is HDMI only. There is also a USB-C port, which is for firmware updates only, a previously mentioned DC-IN, and connectors for 2 antennas on the top.

Transmission

A 400 foot line-of-sight transmission rate with the added ability to connect to a second receiver or connect up to 4 mobile devices over Wifi makes this model very compelling. For most of my work, the higher end systems that work with multiple receivers is a bit of overkill. Although there are occasions where I need an extra monitor or two for bigger shoots, and I think this would be a fantastic solution.

To receive a WiFi signal on any iOS or Android device, you have to download the HollyView app from the App Store and scan the QR code on the back of the transmitter.

The system also has the ability to transmit to 2 receivers simultaneously, however, in dual receiver mode the WiFi transmitter will not function. The WiFi broadcasting function will only work when you are paired with a single receiver.

HollyView App

The HollyView App is fairly simple to use and offers most of the bells and whistles you’d find on a professional monitor.

HollyView Tools

  • False Color
  • WFM
  • Histogram
  • Focus Peaking
  • Zebra
  • Magnification
  • Load in LUTs

When thinking of this mobile broadcast as a client monitor, the ability to load-in LUTs would be crucial for my work. I think all shooters are on the same page about this – we’re tired of explaining to clients what LOG is and why we’re filming in LOG.

Modes

The transmitter has 3 mode settings: Image Mode, Balance Mode, and Speed Mode. You can toggle these settings depending on your needs in the field and their titles are fairly self-explanatory.

I believe they come set to Balance Mode in default, which makes a lot of sense, but you may have shooting situations that require less latency or location interference that is effecting your compression strength.

Latency

Entry level wireless systems usually suffer from pretty bad latency issues, but at around .1 seconds this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem with the Mars 400s. Latency through HDMI is always greater than over SDI, and obviously there will be even greater signal delays over WiFi to a mobile device.

On the whole, the latency presented in this video is really great. I can’t imagine there being any issues using the receiver unit for focus pulling with a 1st AC, and the added delay over WiFi is so minimal I doubt other departments will even notice it.

Conclusion

Wireless video has come a long way in a really short period of time. With the ability to work with 2 receivers or stream over Wifi to 4 mobile devices, this is the most robust system I’ve heard about to date in this price range. The price and scalability of this unit make it a really compelling choice for anyone in the market for a wireless system, and I’d highly recommend giving the Hollyland Mars 400s a try.

[source: Tom Antos]

Order Links:

Hollyland Mars 400S SDI/HDMI System (B&H, Amazon)

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