8.3 x 7.8 x 3.3 inches
1.77 x 8.43 x 5 inches
5.9 x 3.6 x 1.2"
5.9 x 3.6 x 1.2"
149.76 x 93.6 mm
8.3 x 7.8 x 3.3 inches
1.77 x 8.43 x 5 inches
5.9 x 3.6 x 1.2"
5.9 x 3.6 x 1.2"
If you’re just getting started in photography and videography, you might think that external camera screens are a luxury only suited for professionals.
Whether you’re lugging a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, we’re here to tell you that an external monitor is your first step to achieving accurate footage, clear focus, correct framing, and more.
However, finding the best camera assistant can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. To help you out, we’ll give you a detailed buyer’s guide on the most important features to look for in an external monitor for camera.
Lastly, we’ll cover the best DSLR external monitors and recorders on the market. From our research, we found that the Blackmagic Video Assist 5” 12G HDR offers the most in improving camera functionality.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a DLSR external monitor?
- 2 Why should I get an external camera monitor or recorder?
- 3 Top 10 DSLR External Monitor: What is a good monitor for a camera?
- 3.1 Blackmagic Video Assist 5 12G HDR: Best External Camera Monitor for DSLR
- 3.2 Atomos Shogun 7: Best for Multi-Streaming
- 3.3 Atomos Shinobi 5: Best for Vloggers and Content Creators
- 3.4 Lilliput A7s: Best for Beginners
- 3.5 Atomos Ninja V: Best Compact Monitor and Recorder
- 3.6 Desview R7: Best 7-inch Touchscreen Monitor
- 3.7 FEELWORLD FW568: Best Budget External Monitor
- 3.8 Neewer F100 7-Inch: Best Budget 7-inch External Monitor
- 3.9 FEELWORLD T7 7-Inch: Best Durable External Monitor
- 3.10 Andycine A6 Plus V2: Best User-Friendly External Monitor
- 4 What to look for when buying an External Camera Screen DSLR
- 5 Conclusion
What is a DLSR external monitor?
External camera monitors are attached to digital cameras for photography and cinematography purposes.
Most external monitors provide a much larger monitor than on-camera monitors. Generally, they are also much brighter and reproduce colors more accurately.
External camera monitors are also useful for large productions. It will allow more people to monitor footage without cramming around a small screen.
In some cases, external monitors are integrated with a recorder that encodes videos without any compression.
Why should I get an external camera monitor or recorder?
Any photographer and filmmaker will benefit from monitoring shots on a larger screen, regardless of the project. However, it’s critical that you find one with the right specifications. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a device that doesn’t suit your needs.
If you’re having difficulty seeing the fine details of your shots when filming, you’ll definitely benefit from an external monitor 5 to 7 inches large.
Most monitors have a 1080p resolution, making it easy to spot distractions and focus on the finer details. You may also benefit from HDR support, which helps users to calibrate colors.
External monitors are also great versatile for indoor and outdoor productions since most screens have a brightness level of 1000 nits. In case you are shooting outdoors, you’ll find a sun hood or loop attachment to be most beneficial.
Compact DSLR and mirrorless cameras also have limited advanced video features for managing color and exposure. External monitoring tools include vectorscopes, zebra patterns, aspect ratio, histograms, waveforms, and RGB parades. These will help you see more detailed information for more accurate monitoring that will reduce post-processing.
Some external camera monitors also double as recorders. Most compact cameras can’t record videos for long periods due to overheating and storage limitations. By attaching an external camera screen recorder, you can shoot at much higher data rates for a longer time, thanks to SD slots or installable SSD storage.
On top of that, more expensive monitors can encode videos in an industry-grade codec that’s much better than the one on your compact camera, including RAW, ProRes, DNx, and Cinema DNG. External camera recorders can also shoot in 10-bit 4:2:2 video.
Lastly, external camera screens can extend the battery life of cameras. Most of these screens come with built-in batteries, so you can turn off your camera’s rear screen and use it for longer.
Top 10 DSLR External Monitor: What is a good monitor for a camera?
Now that we’ve hyped up external camera screens and why you’ll need them to upgrade your videography and photography, we’ll introduce you to some of our favorite models!
We’ll give you a brief overview of each external SLR monitor’s specifications, their pros and cons, and why the purchase will be worth it:
Blackmagic Video Assist 5 12G HDR: Best External Camera Monitor for DSLR
- 5 inch 1920x1080 screen
- 2500nits screen brightness
- SDI Video Input/Output x1 Micro BNC; HDMI 2.0a Video Input/Output x1
- SDI Audio Input/Output - 16 channels embedded via 12G-SDI; HDMI Audio Input/Output - 8 channels embedded via HDMI 2.0a
The Blackmagic Video Assist 5 12G HDR is one of the best choices when it comes to DSLR external monitors. With a stunning display and industry-grade video support, the Blackmagic Video Assist is the ultimate assistant for professional videographers.
At first glance, you’ll appreciate the Video Assist’s stunning 5-inch touchscreen display. It has an incredibly intuitive interface. On top of that, it boasts 2500 nit brightness, 1080p resolution, and 100% DCI-P3 coverage.
We also love that it has SSD storage and dual card slots. Professional videographers will also appreciate HDR support, scopes, 3D LUT support, focus assist, and RGP parade. Of course, the tally light and headphone jack will come in handy, too!
The Video Assist supports Blackmagic’s RAW video codec, which is captured through the SDI ports. This RAW video code is currently compatible with Panasonic and Canon cameras. On top of that, the format is ideal for video editing in Davinci Resolve.
The powerful external recorder uses 12G-SDI ports that support 4K DCl video format and up to 12 Gb/s. It also supports HDMI 2.0a and it has an SD card recorder that encodes in formats Apple ProRes and Avid DNx at 10-bit 4:2:2. With the integration of the B-RAW codec, Blackmagic users can make the most out of the Pocket Cinema Camera Range.
We also like that it offers loop-through outputs for simultaneously projecting footage on different screens and monitors.
Atomos Shogun 7: Best for Multi-Streaming
- 7.2 inch high bright (1500nit) HDR monitor, 16:9 native aspect ratio, 1920x1080 resolution
- 15+ stops; Dynamic AtomHDR 360 Zones
- Real-time 4K recording in formats including ProRes RAW
- Realtime Dolby Vision HDR output
- Dynamic AtomHDR blacklight system
The Atomos Shogun 7 is the ultimate choice if you’re looking for a professional external video recorder with multi-streaming capabilities.
The 7-inch 1080p HDR display makes it super easy to monitor footage, including exposure and focus. Alongside the bright 1500 nit screen, 15+ stops of dynamic range, and the 105% DCI-P3 coverage, Atomos Shogun 7 provides versatile use for on-location and studio shoots.
Thanks to the AtomOS software, any connected monitor will automatically adjust brightness and color to provide stunning Dolby Vision HDR on a compatible display.
This powerful recorder supports 4K and encodes in ProRes RAW, CiemaDNG, or DNxHD codecs. It supports both HDMI 2.0 and 12G-SDI connections.
Apart from video recording, the Atomos Shogun 7 also allows streaming between four live HD SDI video streams and a program stream.
Lastly, it provides SSD storage, 3D LUT, focus assist, false color, 1:1 pixel magnification, scopes, de-squeeze, and RGB parade.
If you’re looking for a powerful external record and large monitor, the Atomos Shogun 7 is the perfect combo. We’d say it’s the best tool for cinematographers who need to work with multi-camera streaming productions.
Atomos Shinobi 5: Best for Vloggers and Content Creators
- Display: 5.2 inch LCD Screen, Anti-reflective and anti-fingerprint
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Brightness: 1000 nits
- Video Formats: HD, 2K, 4K
- Weight: 196 grams
- Dimensions: 5.94 x 1.24 x 3.6 inches
- Input: 1 x HDMI 1.4
If you don’t need recording capabilities, the Atomos Shinobi 5 is the perfect choice for you. Aside from being lightweight and compact, this professional monitoring tool is one of the most economical choices on the market.
It features a 5.2-inch 1080p touchscreen that’s backed by an IPS panel and 1000 nit brightness. What’s more, it boasts an intuitive Analysis View that makes it easy to view waveform, vectors, and histogram information.
The Shinobi 5 is considered one of the best choices for vloggers and content creators–– here’s why:
The 5-inch screen is integrated with the AtomHDR technology that helps to accurately monitor a wide range of log formats from Panasonic, Sony, ARRI, and more with 10 plus stops dynamic range in real time.
It also features a selfie mirror mode which is convenient for framing and composition when vlogging.
When you’re shooting with a gimbal, the Shinobi is perfectly balanced since the battery is located right in the middle. What’s more, it’s one of the lightest 4K external monitors available at 196 grams apiece.
With its lightweight built and competitive monitor, Atomos Shinobi is a great external monitor choice for vloggers, content creators, and aspiring filmmakers.
Lilliput A7s: Best for Beginners
- Display: 7-inch IPS LCD Panel
- Resolution: 1920 x 1200
- Aspect Ratio: 16:10
- Brightness: 500 nits
- Video Formats: HD, 2K, 4K
- Weight: 325 grams
- Dimensions:182.1 x 124 x 20.5 (mm)
- Input: 1 x 4K HDMI 1.4
- Output: Loop
The Lilliput A7s is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable DSLR monitor that can handle 4K UHD at 30 FPS.
The Liliput A7s features a 7-inch LCD backed by an IPS panel with 1080p resolution. The monitor uses an HDMI 1.4 connection, while the output signal has a loop-through function for viewing larger monitors.
However, we’re a bit disappointed with the brightness, which is only at 500 nits. If you’ll be using the Liliput A7s for outdoor shoots, though, this won’t be a problem.
Speaking of the outdoors, the A7s comes with a handy silicone rubber case to protect it from harsh elements. This makes it an ideal choice for outdoor shoots and productions.
Considering its economical price tag, it provides all of the necessary functionalities of a great external DSLR camera, including focus assist, levels, histogram, gals color, pixel zoom, scopes, customizable function keys, and a headphone jack.
All in all, if you’re looking or a large external monitor that’s not heavy on the wallet, we recommend the ”Liliput for beginners.
Atomos Ninja V: Best Compact Monitor and Recorder
- COMPACT HDR MONITORING: For every filmmaker & video content creator. Bright (1000nit), 5-inch, HDR display provides accurate monitoring of the image directly from the camera.
- RAW RECORDING: Rugged, lightweight & compact. Uses - tripod, handheld setup, or mounted on a gimbal. Industry standard formats: Apple ProRes, Apple ProRes RAW, Avid DNxHR/HD & HEVC (H.265).
- EXPAND BEYOND PLAYBACK & REVIEW: Record & playback, review & tag your favorite takes to create playlists. Capture your footage with confidence & extend your creative boundaries.
- COMPATIBILITY: Supports a wide range of professional digital cinema, DSLR & mirrorless cameras via HDMI or SDI with one of the optional accessories.
- WHAT'S IN THE BOX/WARRANTY: NINJA V, Battery eliminator, 1 x international DC power supply, 1 x MasterCaddy II and Quick Start Guide. Warranty: 1 year.
As the saying goes, great things come in small packages. The same phrase rings true for the Atomos Ninja V, which is a smart choice if you’re looking for functionality in a compact device.
With compatible cameras, the Atomos Ninja V can support 4K capture at 60 FPS, 10-bit, 4:2:2 via HDMI 2.0. It also supports DNxHR, and ProRes HQ codecs, to name a few.
It features a 5-inch HDR IPS touchscreen display with 1080p resolution and 1000 nit brightness. It’s also backed with AtomHDR and X-Rite technology for accurate log monitoring.
It also comes with SSD support, de-squeeze, focus assist, LUT support, time-lapse, and waveforms, all the necessary functionalities for an aspiring cinematographer.
As for its built, it’s made with a robust aluminum chassis that makes it ideal for any type of production setup, indoor or outdoor.
If you’re looking for a compact yet comprehensive external monitor and recorder combo, the Atomos Ninja V is a solid choice.
Desview R7: Best 7-inch Touchscreen Monitor
- 【7“ Touch-Screen Control Panel】Contrasted to traditional button control system, Bestview R7 monitor’s touchable screen panel allows users to adjust setting parameters with one finger. Get a quick glance at the OSD menu settings and features with an easy tap on the screen. Made by OCR full screen narrow edging with high strength, scratch-resistant, impact-resistant.
- 【1000nit Daylight Viewable Brightness】Desview R7 monitor has a stunning 1000nit Brightness, photographers can see images clearly in daylight, great convenient for outdoor shooting. High Contrast ratio of 1100:1 and 1920*1200 Resolution make the monitor deliver sharp images with more visible details in shadows and highlights.
- 【Support 4K HDMI Input/Output without Delay】Supporting virtually all 4K formats, Bestview R7 monitor can be connected directly to any DSLR or HD/4K video cameras, and output HDMI signals without transmission delay. You can watch the footage synchronously on our monitor.
- 【3D-LUT, Waveform, and Vector Scope】Desview R7 monitor is equipped with many professional software features, such as 3D-LUT, Waveform(monitoring color saturation), and Vector Scope(monitoring signal amplitude). 3D-LUT tools for professional color grading, it makes the color calibration easier and more intuitive. A U disk is available for general software upgrade and loading up to 28 groups of LUT files.
- 【Mini Cold Shoe Accessory】A mini cold shoe is enclosed with the monitor. Supporting 180° vertical rotation, this versatile cold shoe can easily connect the monitor with most cameras, camcorders and gimbal stabilizer etc. Perfect for filmmakers, interviewer and video bloggers.
Are you looking for a budget 7-inch external monitor for your camera? Don’t get us wrong, though, despite its low price tag, the Desview R7 has all the capabilities of a professional camera monitor.
The Desview R7 boasts of a large monitor that delivers a brightness of 1000 nits and a resolution of 1920 x 1200. While the R7 boasts of a crystal clear display, it doesn’t have an HDR screen. However, you can still preview HDR content.
You’ll be happy to know that the R7 supports almost all 4K formats without any transmission delay thanks to HDMI 1.4 connections.
This touchscreen monitor also includes a button input, so functionality won’t be limited in cold temperatures where you’ll have to wear gloves.
Despite its low price, the Desview R7 monitor is equipped with these professional software features, including: waveform, vector scope, and 3D LUT tools such as color grading, and color calibration. It also includes a safety marker for view finding and composition.
With its large monitor and generous capabilities, we voted for the Desview R7 as the best 7-inch external DSLR monitor.
FEELWORLD FW568: Best Budget External Monitor
- 【Enjoy Sharper and More Detailed Image】With 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 high resolution (have 1920x1152 resolution in stock, being replaced), Rec.709 color calibration, FW568 can be added to any cameras to ensure perfect focus and framing. The small form-factor and 175g lightweight construction are perfect for shooters on the go.
- 【4K HDMI Input/ Output Without Delay】Support 4K format: 4K UHD 3840X2160p (30/29.97/25/24/23.98Hz), 4096X2160p (24Hz). Directly to any DSLR or HD/4K video camera, and send the signal to other monitors, convenient for directors and photographers to monitor simultaneously.
- 【Waveform and 3D LUT】Through the USB interface support to load 32 custom LUTs, to preview filming look in field shooting. The waveform monitoring can help you analyze image quality more accurately.
- 【Ideal for Small Camera/ HDSLR Production】More than just a monitor or a camera power supply system. FW568 with 8.4V DC output could power your camera to extend the run-time. Dummy Battery (optional for Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic). Integrates with a dual-purpose battery plate: compatible Sony F970, Canon LP-E6.
- 【Package Include】1× FW568 Monitor,1× Micro HDMI Cable, 1× Sunshade, 1× Tilt Arm, 1× Manual【Note: battery not include】. 【One year warranty】We are the FEELWORLD Official Store, if you have any question, just feel free to contact us, we will do our best to help you solve the problem.
With its powerful monitoring solutions and lightweight design, the FEELWORLD FW568 is our bet for the best budget external monitor.
The FEELWORLD FW568 is one of the lightest external monitors on the market, weighing only 175 grams. This is great for videographers looking for a lightweight solution to working with a gimble and stabilizer for long hours.
As for the Full HD 500-nit monitor, it can display 4K content with the help of an HDMI connection. This model also works with HDMI Wireless Transmitters, providing users effortless versatility when shooting outdoors.
Despite its low price, it includes professional features that will help you accurately achieve focus, color, and exposure, including a histogram, zebra exposure, peaking focus assist, gals colors, scan mode, center marker/safe area, marker color, check field, image flip, and pixel to pixel.
If you’re looking for the most affordable external DSLR monitor, we recommend FEELWORLD FW568 for its comprehensive features and functionalities.
Neewer F100 7-Inch: Best Budget 7-inch External Monitor
- 【External Field Monitor】 Featuring a 7” IPS screen, HD 1280 × 800 resolution, 450cd/m² of brightness, a contrast ratio of 1200:1, an aspect ratio of 16:10, and 0.07875 × 0.07875mm dot pitch, this monitor is handy for video shooting
- 【Supported Formats】 Supports, 1080i (60/59.94/50), 1080p (60/59.94/50/30/29.97/25/24/24sF/23.98/23.98sF), 720p (60/59.94/50/30/29/25/24/23.98), 576i, 576p, 480i, and 480p
- 【Ultra-Thin Design & Wide Compatibility】 With a 17mm ultra-thin design, the field monitor is lightweight and portable. Compatible with digital SLR cameras, camera kits, handheld stabilizers, camera cranes, and more. The included sunshade blocks harsh sunlight and makes the display visible outdoors
- 【Advanced Features】 Includes monitoring tools such as Peaking Focus Assist, Check Field (Red, Green, Blue, Mono), Pixel to Pixel, Center Marker, Safe Frames (80%, 86%, 90%, 93%, 96%, 2.35:1, off), Image Flip (H, V, V_H), Image Freeze, and Custom Color Temperature
- 【Package Contents】 Neewer F100 Field Monitor, Mini HDMI Cable, Micro HDMI Cable, Sunshade, Mini Ball Head, AV Cable, User Manual
Looking for an affordable 7-inch external camera monitor? The Neewer F100 7-Inch is the best budget 7-inch external monitor for DSLR.
If you’d like to improve your photography and videography skills, we’ll recommend the Neewer F100 for its impressive wide-angle IPS display that supports UltraHD 1280 x 800 and 4K resolution.
The Newer F100 is also a great choice because of its incredibly portable and lightweight design. The model is only 17 mm thick and weighs 30.5 ounces, comfortable for lugging around on long production days.
It also includes professional monitoring tools including pixel to pixel, peaking focus assist, check field, safe frames, image flip, image freeze, and custom color temperature.
When you get the Neewer F100 7-Inch, the package also includes a mini HDMI, micro HDMI, sun shade, and mini ball head.
FEELWORLD T7 7-Inch: Best Durable External Monitor
- 7" IPS screen, High Resolution: 1920x1200 Full HD , Brightness: 450cd/m2, Contrast: 1200:1, Aspect Ratio:16:10,160°wide viewing angles IPS panel.
- 4K HDMI input and output, 3840x2160p(30/29.97/25/24/23.98Hz), 4096×2160p (24Hz)
- Aluminum metal frame, durable construction,ultra thin lightweight design 18mm thickness. True Color . Professional Color Calibration Use Rec.709 color standard.
- 【Package Include】 Mini HDMI Cable, Sunshade, F970 Battery Plate, Hot Shoe Mount, Operation Manual 【Note: battery not include】
- 【One year warranty】 We are the FEELWORLD Official Store, We contribute to provide the best service and upgrade our product all the time. If there is any issue, we sincerely do our best to offer after sales solutions for you, just feel free to contact us.
FEELWORLD steps up their game with the T7 external camera field monitor.
The FEELWORLD T7 7-Inch has an impressive 7-inch IPS monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. It also boasts a 160-degree wide viewing angle and 16:10 aspect ratio.
Thankfully, the large monitor also has comprehensive professional capabilities, including a histogram, false colors, zebra exposure, peaking focus assist, pixel to pixel, ratio marker, check field, marker color, image flip, image freeze, and zoom all. We’re also big fans of its color calibration and accurate color reproduction in any lighting environment.
However, we found that brightness was a bit underwhelming at 450 nits.
When it comes to the build, though, the FEELWORLD T7 is made with a durable aircraft-grade aluminum metal frame that’s still lightweight and thin. This is why we chose the FEELWORLD T7 7-Inch as the best durable DSLR external monitor.
Andycine A6 Plus V2: Best User-Friendly External Monitor
- [Main Features]Andycine A6 PLUS 5.5inch 4K HDMI touch monitor has high resolution: Full HD 1920x1080,high contrast: 1000:1,160° wide viewing angles IPS panel,supports 3D LUT,HDR monitoring,Parade,VectorScope,Histogram,etc.
- [Full OCR Touch Screen] The monitor uses OCR full-fit technology, high-strength, scratch-resistant and impact-resistant glass.Its touchscreen conveniently allows you to zoom your image with a pinch gesture and tap to access the menu settings. d SD Card Slot for 3D LUT uploading and Firmware upgrades
- [Support Custom 3D LUT] The field monitor supports loading 3D Lut files through the SD card slot. You can easily load, edit and display your files. Built-in 3D LUT color calibration, in line with the REC-709 standard, can calibrate each monitor, thereby eliminating the trouble of color cast and helping you optimize your workflow.
- [Three Power Supply Methods] With a flexible dual-purpose battery plate, it is compatible with Sony L-series and Canon LP-E6 batteries. You can also use a DC adapter to provide photographers with long-term working conditions for shooting.（The LP-E6 batteries and DC adapter are NOT included)
- [Adequate Package Content] Package include the battery and battery charger, no more extra coin spend on use. Also come with carry case, easy to pack and carry boost your working efficiency. Package contents:1xRechargeable F550 Battery;1xUSB-C Cable;1xCarry Bag;1xHDMI to Micro HDMI Cable;1xTilt Arm;1xSunshade,1xSunshade mounting frame,1xManual
Contrary to popular belief, external monitors aren’t just for professional cinematographers. Anyone who’s willing to improve their skills in photography and videography can find an intuitive external monitor, like the ANDYCINE A6 Plus V2 Touch Camera Monitor Carry Bag+Battery Charger+Battery+Tilt Arm 5.5 Inch 1080P IPS Screen HDMI 4K in&Output Video with 3D LUT Waveform.
The intuitive monitor features a 5.5-inch UPS touchscreen display that’s easy to navigate. It’s also scratch-resistant, impact-resistant, and very responsive. Aside from it’s strength and intuitive design, the monitor also offers an excellent Full HD display with an adjustable backlight.
We also like that the Andycine A6 has an integrated SD card slot, making it easy to load and upgrade 3D LUT files.
Another feature that makes it user-friendly is that it’s compatible with three power types, Sony F-series, Canon LP-E6, and DC.
For convenient and comfortable monitoring, the Andycine comes with three-angle standard mount points: top, bottom, and right.
When it comes to editing, the Andycine is fully equipped with all the software features, including Histogram, false colors, peaking filter, pixel to pixel check, field image flip, image freeze, zoom, and embedded audio.
If you’re looking for an intuitive external monitor with an easy learning curve, the ANDYCINE A6 Plus V2 Touch Camera Monitor Carry Bag+Battery Charger+Battery+Tilt Arm 5.5 Inch 1080P IPS Screen HDMI 4K in&Output Video with 3D LUT Waveform is your best bet.
What to look for when buying an External Camera Screen DSLR
There are many factors to consider when choosing an external camera screen. Not only do you need to think about the monitor itself, but you need to consider connectivity, input and output, monitoring tools, and even recording capabilities.
Camera Setup and Compatibility
Before you buy an external camera monitor, the first thing you should do is check if it can support external monitors. Here of the factors to consider for camera and external monitor compatibility:
First, find out if your camera can output a clean video signal. If not, you won’t be able to connect an external monitor entirely. To find this information, find your camera’s manual and check if video feed is supported. Some cameras only support image playback.
Next, you need to check what type of connection it uses to output video. Most DSLR cameras and camcorders use either HDMI or SDI ports. In case your camera only supports micro-HDMI or Mini HDMI, you can easily find an HDMI adapter online.
Lastly, check what resolution and frame rate your camera outputs. It should be compatible with your monitor’s resolution so you can make the most out of the display. Say you have a Nikon Z7 camera which shoots stunning 4K video –– get an external monitor that supports up to 4K video via HDMI.
Ask yourself how you plan on using the external screen. Is it only for monitoring footage or will you benefit from additional recording capabilities?
For viewing only monitors, the main advantage is that you get a much larger display while recording
With a monitor/recorder combo, you can encode incoming video signals and save them in the monitor’s built-in SSD or SD card. The advantage here is that you can get hours of higher-quality recordings without storage, overheating, and image quality restrictions.
If you’d like to get a monitor and recorder with RAW video output, you’ll need to check its maximum output and if it supports the specific codec you need. One reason why we chose the Blackmagic Video Assist 5” 12G HDR as the best external camera screen is because it supports ProRes RAW, B-Raw, and Avid DNx.
External camera displays can come as LCD, LED, or OLED.
Most monitors are marketed as IPS displays, which are a combination of the three display technologies. This should be great news since IPS displays provide the widest viewing angles and limited distortion and reduced image quality.
Size and Weight
One of the main reasons why you’re shopping for an external monitor is because your camera’s built-in screen is too small. However, it wouldn’t be right to get the biggest external screen.
Remember that getting a large screen will most likely mean that your camera setup will be heavier. That’s not an ideal situation if you plan on filming for long hours at a time. You’d also need mounting equipment that can handle the weight of your camera and a large external monitor.
Generally, most cinematographers will be happy with a 5 to 7-inch monitor for on-camera use. For remote viewing or professional camcorders, a 7 to 9-inch screen will be a better choice.
For commercial use, larger productions and directors will greatly benefit from field monitors 10 inches or larger.
Generally, Full HD 1080p monitors are a sufficient choice even if you’re planning to shoot 4K video. However, keep in mind that lower resolution monitors will automatically compress the video on the screen. This makes it harder for you to get an accurate representation of the live footage.
Another important feature to check is if the monitor supports 1:1 pixel mapping. This feature allows you to zoom into any portion of the frame and view it full screen at full resolution.
These are the best ways to make accurate judgments of video artifacts, exposure, focus, and scaling.
You may not realize it, but screen brightness plays an essential role in filmmaking, especially if you do a lot of outdoor shoots.
Most built-in rear monitors aren’t bright enough to allow comfortable viewing outdoors. On top of that, increasing screen brightness will also drain your battery much faster.
As a general rule, monitors with at least 1000 nit brightness is versatile enough for both indoor and outdoor productions.
Input and Output
Another important factor to consider is the type of input and output connections the external monitor supports. Most monitors in the market either support SDI and/or HDMI connections.
There are different types of HDMI connections –– mini-HDMI or the standard-sized HDMI. Generally, the full-size HDMI is more commonly available.
HDMI also has varying versions, with the latest ones offering higher bandwidth. Most camera monitors support HDMI 1.4 or 2.0. To future-proof your setup, though, get a monitor that supports up to HDMI 2.1 for shooting 10k HDR.
SDI connections also come in varying specifications:
- Standard SDI: HD video
- 3G, 6G, and 12G: 4K
If you’re looking for highly-reliable transmissions across great distances, go for 12G-SDI that offers a powerful bandwidth of 12GB per second.
Buttons or Touchscreen
When it comes to ease of use, an important factor to consider is touchscreen support. Touchscreen monitors generally have a very intuitive interface, making it much more efficient to apply video assist tools.
However, when shooting in cold temperatures, it might be difficult to use the touchscreen monitor when you’re using gloves.
If you see yourself shooting in various extreme temperatures, we recommend getting an external laptop with both touchscreen and button interfaces.
Image Analysis Tools
Many cinematographers would agree that the true value of external monitors is in their advanced monitoring capabilities. These extra tools and features help you to simplify your workflow by minimizing the need for post-processing.
Some of the most useful image analysis tools include:
- LUT support
- Aspect ratio guides
- Color analysis
- Focus assist
- HDR preview
Look for focus assist tools, including focus peaking and focus magnification since some professional camera lenses only have manual focus.
You should also look for color correction and exposure tools that will help you visualize the contrast and illumination of your final footage. This includes tools such as false color, vectorscope, waveforms, RGB parade.
LUTs are also important since they allow you to preview images with applied color correction and grades. Monitors will generally have default log profiles available (S-log, C-log, V-log), but higher-end models can load custom LUTs. This is incredibly useful so you can check if your footage works for the exposure and color you plan on applying when post-processing.
Lastly, check if your monitor supports HDR. HDR can significantly improve image quality by providing more detail, better color, and exposure. While not particularly essential, HDR preview can be beneficial for video editors looking to get started in HDR finishing.
Aside from enhancing your viewing experience of built-in camera screens, external camera monitors open up a whole new world of functionality. This is all thanks to advanced video and image analysis tools that make focus, framing, and post-processing easy and efficient.
On top of that, there are industry-grade external camera monitors and recorders that allow filmmakers to remove the barriers of DSLR video recording, including overheating, storage, and video quality.
Because of its advanced functionalities in monitoring and recording, the Blackmagic Video Assist 5” 12G HDR is our top pick for best external camera monitor.
If you’re just getting started in filmmaking, get the or the amazon link=”B07RXWWWGT” title=”Andycine A6 Plus V2”] which are both intuitive and user-friendly options.
Overall, the right external camera screens for you is a valuable tool that will enhance your workflow and aid you in becoming a better filmmaker.