As can be expected with nearly every new piece of technology on-camera monitors have continued to get cheaper and better. That’s great for us since now you can choose between a few models to find the right now.
That’s also the problem. With so many options it can be difficult to pinpoint which one is actually going to serve you best.
Hopefully, you’ll figure out which one you should pick up yourself.
We are focusing on lightweight monitors here – not heavier monitor/recorders. This is meant to make run-and-gun shooting with a C70 easier.
Size & Weight
Out of the three monitors mentioned, the Atomos Shinobi is the biggest of the bunch. It has some decent bezels and is quite thick.
The OSEE T5+ is about as thick as the Shinobi but the much slimmer bezels make the entire package a lot smaller. Portkeys is the best here as it is the smallest and slimmest of the three.
As for weight they come in the following order:
- Portkeys PT6: 170 g
- OSEE T5+: 175 g
- Atomos Shinobi: 200 g
With weight being a priority the Portkeys and OSEE are definite winners here.
All three have respectable construction. The Atomos Shinobi just feels a touch more premium with higher-quality plastic. OSEE is the flimsiest of the bunch, so you might not be as comfortable tossing it in a bag.
Locating pin holes is another aspect of construction that can help keep your monitor locked in and facing the right direction. OSEE and Portkeys have good options. Atomos left it out on the Shinobi though.
Usability matters a lot, too. The OSEE and Portkeys have switches for power while the Atomos uses a push button. Atomos is annoying here as you have to hold it to turn it on and off.
Speaking of power, the power-up time is important. The Atomos and OSEE take around 15 seconds. Portkeys won easily with a time of 10 seconds.
If you are getting an on-camera monitor you’ll definitely want to know the brightness. This will save you during bright days.
Portkeys was rating at only 600 nits and is lacking when working outside in daylight. Atomos and OSEE come in at a much more usable 1000 nits. Interestingly, the Atomos might actually be brighter.
This is another important point. Josh was trying to match the colors of his monitor to that of his C70’s display.
It’s a simple test but when you are trying to quickly look at everything by eye then ensuring it matches the screen you are comfortable with can make a difference.
Just holding the monitors up next to the C70 he was able to identify the OSEE as the worst performer.
The OSEE has a much worse viewing angle and the screen starts to wash out. The screen just isn’t as good quality.
Portkeys actually comes in the closest, though you will need to tweak the black levels setting. Still, it isn’t perfect and that might have to do with the brightness.
Atomos is nearly the opposite of the Portkeys as it has similar detail and color, though the white balance is off and it should be calibrated.
Contrast on the Shinobi is too high. When you turn on a LUT it can result in crushing the shadows and blowing the highlights. Weird, but annoying.
This is an easier comparison since all the monitors have a vast selection of assist tools. All the essentials are there, including:
- False color
- Grid (not on Atomos)
Since the C70 actually has a lot of these features it can send out its own assist tools to the monitor. So, it isn’t a big deal anyway. The only key feature for the monitors is using LUTs.
The Portkeys does have a nice pinch-to-zoom feature that is very intuitive. The Portkeys also has an HDMI out port if you need it.
OSEE has an auto-flip tool if you have it set up in a way that lets you tilt it all the way around.
And, the Shinobi has the ability to solo the blue channel to get a preview of noise in your image.
Pros & Cons
Wrapping things up, Josh goes through the pros and cons of each monitor.
- Josh’s favorite
- Thin, low-profile, and lightweight
- Respectable screen quality for the price
- Matches C70 LCD closely
- Brightness is too low
- Most affordable and feels it
- Decent monitor with assist tools and high brightness
- Poor viewing angles make footage look bad
- Most expensive in this group
- Fewest features and missing some basic stuff
- LUT issue
- Largest and heaviest
- No dealbreakers
- Screen is high quality
Atomos isn’t the runaway winner, but it doesn’t have the major drawbacks of the other monitors. That left the Shinobi as the winner in this comparison.
What do you think about this test? Which monitor would you pick?
[source: Josh Birman]
- Atomos Shinobi 5” Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- Portkeys PT6 5” Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- OSEE T5+ 5” Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
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