By Tony Gomez
A recent documentary and wedding shoot thrusted me front, dead center on one of the important issues confronting a serious videographer- video monitoring away from the camcorder. We are all used to looking at the viewfinder or LCD monitor up close, but Im referring to monitoring what the camera is seeing- AWAY from from the camcorder- the way the professionals do it. In my documentary shoot I was using a new product from CoolJib that allows you to extend your camcorder or DSLR as much as 6 feet away from your body, and control the camera with true jib tilting/panning mode. A provided 5-in HD monitor was tethered to the camcorder by way of the HDMI cable.
While the HD monitor was good for showing me what the cameramy HD camcorder was shooting at, I wished it had been slightly larger, like 7-in diagonal. And I only got about one hour of monitor on-time using brand new AA alkaline batteries! Luckily, I had spare batteries, but it was just too inconvenient to exchange them that frequently. There must be a better solution, I thought! In my wedding shoot, I was operating the main camcorder for close-ups, but I also had a secondary HD camcorder set up to capture the wider shot. As the wedding ceremony proceeded, participants moved across the stage and I followed them, but there were many times when I had to run over to the 2nd camera to reframe it. I thought, wouldn't it be better if I could check on that second camera remotely? In retrospect, both of these shooting dilemmas could be resolved through a wireless video monitor, but I was dismayed how expensive such commercial devices cost- $2000 and up! However fellow blogger jcl1989 in the Videomaker Tech Talk Community Forum led me to a website with a more affordable solution- DSLRwirelessmonitors.com. This website is produced by a San Diego pro photographer Robert Benson who felt the need to create a less expensive wireless monitoring system for his DSLR photography.
His wireless HD video monitor is hand-built and works with any DSLR or any HD camcorder with HDMI output. The HD wireless monitor kit ($650) consists of a 7-in 1080P HD LCD monitor, with a built-in wireless receiver, and a portable transmitter. The transmitter connects to your HD camcorder or DSLR via a HDMI mini cable. The useful distance between transmitter and receiver/monitor is about 100ft. The transmitter runs on a standard 9-volt battery and has very low battery drain. The built-in wireless receiver battery is good for about 5 hours, and additional rechargeable receiver batteres are available. An optional carbon fiber grip ($59) houses the HD monitor for better handling on location, and its also threaded for tripod mounting. A standard definition monitor kit ($299) is also available for SD camcorders with A/V outputs, and includes the grip gear. Bensons 7-in HD wireless monitor solution runs about 5 hours or 5X longer than the 5-inch LCD model I tested, and at 7- inches diagonal, its easier on the eyes. The HD wireless monitor seems like a very affordable alternative to monitoring your HD camcorder or DSLR away from your body. This off-body video monitoring is something professionals do all the time, but with very expensive gear. So now you can start enjoying these benefits as well. Check out the HD wireless video monitor in action below.
Tony Gomez is a veteran producer, editor, videographer, digital photographer, and reviewer of consumer and professional digital imaging and video products, with over 30 years experience.