Hands-down one of the best equipment investments a filmmaker can make is in a solid on-camera monitor. Built-in displays are usually limited in quality and features, especially on more affordable cinema cameras and mirrorless. Getting an on-camera monitor will be one of the best tools to actually make sure the footage you are capturing is the best it can possibly be.
The only problem with this is that good on-camera monitors can get expensive. Once you start talking about 4K and HDR with brightness suitable for outdoor use you will find even fewer options. Filmmaker Tom Antos has a recommendation for a more affordable monitor, the Osee G7, and did a deep review of why it might just be the best option for indie filmmakers on a budget.
I will note that budget is relative in this case. The Osee G7 runs between $700-800 and there are monitors available in the sub-$200 range if you are really limited on funds. This monitor does bring an impressive set of features to the table though and that is where the value is to be found.
If you wanted to pick out a calling card for the G7 (or the HDMI-only T7), it is likely the brightness. The 7” display boasts a seriously impressive 3000-nit brightness, which should be great for working in direct sunlight. There is still an included hood if you prefer that. Other core specs are a 1920 x 1200 resolution and 1200:1 contrast ratio.
Something Antos did call out as a difference from more conventional options is that the display is not a touchscreen. Personally, I view that as a benefit since I hate touchscreen controls for monitors. I don’t like touching and leaving fingerprints on the image. In return, the G7’s joystick is fast and intuitive.
The menu isn’t exactly the prettiest out there, but it is rich with options. Plus, you can customize it to your liking so that you only have the settings you find most helpful.
Assist tools are plentiful, and Antos actually finds things like False Color to be very accurate with controls to account for various log profiles. Other options include a histogram, frame lines, waveform, a vectorscope, etc. You can even adjust size and location. An SD card slot makes it easy to load in your own LUTs and there are a ton of basics pre-loaded.
One thing I found interesting was a re-size tool. Basically, you can shrink the image to fit in a corner and leave some black room for putting your assist tools without covering up the image. It’s nice to see the full clean image at all times. Additionally, it has some standard anamorphic transforms for working with anamorphic lenses.
Something to consider is battery life with the high brightness. At max brightness, Antos got around 3 hours from a standard Sony L-series (NP-F) battery pack. Sitting at around 5-6 brightness (out of 10), you can squeeze a few more hours out of the monitor easily.
As your inputs/outputs, it has HDMI in and out up to 4K 30p and SDI in and out up to 2K 60p. They are not cross-convertible, so it’s more of a one or the other type deal. If you don’t want to use a Sony NP-F battery there is a standard DC in port or you can use the included V-mount battery plate. And, the monitor has 1/4”-20 mounting points on the top and bottom (it can rotate the image).
As for construction, it has an aluminum frame with plastic exterior. It feels durable enough and is standard design for most monitors these days. Also on the side is a headphone jack, though an internal speaker can work for rough playback on location.
It looks like a solid monitor, though I might still recommend going for either a monitor/recorder like those for Atomos or an even more budget display with just enough features to work for you. The HDMI-only T7 does come in at a decent price for the features and brightness.
What are your thoughts on the Osee monitors? Do you have your own favorite on-camera display?
[source: Tom Antos]
- Osee (SWIT) G7 7” Ultra-Bright Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- Osee (SWIT) T7 7” Ultra-Bright Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
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