Cinematography : Field monitors by Franz Salvatierra

Franz Salvatierra

Field monitors

Back in college they gave us panasonic field monitors that I later found out are 3000+... what are people out there using for this in the indie world? I'm thinking of buying a used TV or computer monitor w/ HDMI input. Is there a recommendation? I'm mostly focusing on getting composition and focus.

Andrew Sobkovich

A 7” monitor would work quite nicely for an on-board monitor. There are many out there, so make sure to find one that will work for you. This is nota complete list, but in general a high quality camera monitor should have: -minimum a native 1280 x 800 pixel count for a 7” size -proper tools including a waveform monitor and a vectorscope. -adjustments for brightness, contrast, saturation and hue. -markers including the very important centre marker. -focus assist preferably with variable colour. -for HDMI, it is crucial to have an HDMI OUT as well as an HDMI IN -other in/out choices make it more adaptable to other cameras. -power supply and a battery, ensuring that the battery is readily available, cheap and capable of running the monitor for hours. -enough batteries to run the monitor for 50% longer than you think you need plus at least 2 battery chargers. -a sunshade, I like the attached hard ones that fold open and closed since they protect the screen when the monitor is not in use. -a support arm of some sort to position the monitor where it works for you -mounting holes on top, bottom and both sides. Ebay has many such monitors. Be warned that they are most certainly not all the same. I am in an on-going saga over returning an Ebay purchased monitor to the manufacturer (who is the seller) since they advertised all sorts of scopes and features that the monitor does not have, but it was a great price. Their product and still they vastly overstated the capabilities going out of their way to claim things they did not include. If you come across a Viltrox DC-70 7” monitor it does not have waveform, vectorscope, audio meters, markers and some other things regardless of what any ad says. Ok image without even a chroma or saturation adjustment. Read carefully and ask questions even to the point of asking the seller to send you pictures illustrating features and functions actually working. It is just easier to not buy the Viltrox 7”. Testing would obviously be the best choice but of course not always possible.

Franz Salvatierra

This is good info in general because I need to figure out an on camera setup for my DSLR but I'm more looking for a field monitor (like, for the director to look at) I think we are shooting on the dragon on this upcoming short which should have HDMI out. This is the kind of thing I'm used to seeing: Just wondering if there's a good solution out there.

Andrew Sobkovich

Sorry, I misunderstood when you said you were mainly looking for composition and focus. For quality imaging there are no shortcuts. We all have our preferences, I lean toward the Sony or Flanders OLED monitors which allow me to lock access to the control panel. Quality and flexibility are reasons for field monitors being very expensive. Professional gear comes with the commensurate price-tag. Easiest and usually cheapest is to rent a real monitor along with the camera package. Computer monitors and televisions are maybe ok for the hangers on in video village, but not for the Director or the DP. With any of the non-professional gear you will constantly be explaining that the recorded image is different than what is on the monitor.

Eric Peter Abramson

OLED for Monitors and EVF. I like to try and use at least a 7" monitor when practical. Sometimes you gotta go eyepiece though!

Patrick Jesseman

Digital Juice is an ok low end starting place:, Atomos are great without breaking the bank and they double as a field recorder as well! I second Eric's comment EVF is a lot of times a better route to go. Just my opinions, hope this is a help. Regards.

Royce Allen Dudley

I use Marshall and TVLogic on set.. clients get the old Panasonic 17" in video village usually- but a good cheap 19" LED is also a fine choice for what you describe as your needs as long as it has detail in the blacks. There is actually a great argument for having a horrible monitor on set; If your scene is lit to the latitude nuances of a $10,000 reference monitor, you want to make sure that average Joe can still see it on his Wal Mart TV. Same way the Beatles albums were final-mixed to a 2.5" speaker laying on a table; most listeners were not audiophiles but owners of cheap AM pocket radios

Patrick Jesseman

Great insight Royce, I use Marshall on set as well, which is pretty standard for broadcast. Love the Beatles analogy, very fitting. It is good to view it on different monitors to get a good reference across the board. The Marshall's are going to fit into that higher price bracket, but are great tools, you can find them used on craigslist and ebay for relatively reasonable, but if you want to go new, with some research you'll find the right fit for your needs and budget.

Doug Nelson

I’m sure the equipment snobs will frown on me for saying this but I found a 17’’ Toshiba flat screen TV (2 HDMI inputs) for $20.00 at the local Starvation Army. Works fine for my DSLR shoots.

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