Consumers and professionals alike are moving in droves toward smaller and smaller video cameras. The advantages are many. They are more compact, lighter, and for the most part, do a great job of capturing beautiful images. Professional level DSLRs, with their large, full-frame sensors, have fantastic depth of field, produce gorgeous video and are used for every sort of production imaginable, from local television commercials to feature length films.
With all their advantages, there are some serious disadvantages as well. Due to their size, most of these small cameras and DSLRs are notorious for their poor audio and display capabilities. They just aren’t large enough for XLR connectors and quality monitoring. Displays are typically small, non-articulating, difficult to see in sunlight and lack professional features such as advanced focus and exposure assists. In this last area, however, ikan comes to the rescue with the MR7, its 7-inch HD-SDI LCD monitor. With pro features galore, the MR7 will surely bring a smile to the professional video producer’s face.
What Do I Get?
Accompanying the MR7 is a power cord and adapter with quick release connector; our model included a $75 Sony battery plate (also, with quick release connector), ball-mount accessory shoe adapter, LCD cleaning cloth, user manual CD, Quickstart Guide and False Color Key. The MR7 is powered using the adapter or by connecting the battery plate to the back of the monitor with four screws and attaching a compatible battery pack (not included). The monitor itself has a 1/4-inch-20 tripod mount on each of its four sides, providing ample mounting options, even more when paired with the ball mount and internal Auto Flip feature.
The first thing one notices upon picking up the MR7 is its weight. Not cheap or plasticky, it has a solid build and is covered in a rubberized coating for a firm grip in any condition. One end of the unit houses the power selection switch and stereo headphone jack for monitoring audio. A Mini-B USB jack functions as a program update port for updating firmware, connecting to a PC-based Wall System Controller program or adjusting the monitor’s color temperature. A regular USB port exists, to update the unit’s firmware, as well as a GPI (RJ-45) type remote control port. Finally, an SD card slot, for use with cards such as 32GB Class 4 or higher SDHC, (SDXC not compatible), works in conjunction with the MR7’s 4GB of internal memory and built-in H.264 recorder.
The rear of the device has a DC power input terminal for connecting to battery or wall power with the included adapters, as well as an internal power terminal, for use with 7.4V to 24V battery power. The back of the unit also has a pair of speakers and a series of I/O connectors. The five BNC connectors consist of an SDI input terminal, SDI-Loop Out terminal, Composite in and Composite Out terminals, and an HDMI to SDI Converter Output terminal. An HDMI input terminal provides input through a standard HDMI cable.
The front of the MR7 features a number of controls allowing access to the unit’s many features. The Input button toggles the input signal between SDI, CVBS (Composite) and HDMI. A Marker button displays Title Safe and Action Safe markers. The Zoom button switches the display into several zoom modes, including User Zoom, which is adjustable to four levels. Next to this is the WF/VS button. This displays the Waveform monitor, Waveform and RGB Parade together, Vectorscope, Waveform and Vectorscope together, Waveform/RGB Parade and Vectorscope together, as well as Waveform large view, larger view and Vectorscope large view. That’s a lot of pro awesomeness packed into a small package, to be sure.
But Wait, There’s More!
The daylight button is useful in different lighting situations and switches the backlight brightness for indoor, outdoor and daylight use. Two user definable function keys let you customize the unit for quick and easy access to your favorite functions. For example, you could assign the Focus Assist function to the F1 button. In the menu, you set the Focus Assist color to either red, blue or green, then set the intensity level. Press F1 to engage Focus Assist, dial in the focus on your camera until the area you wish to have in focus displays crisply in the color you’ve selected and there you have it – perfect focus.
These function keys serve double duty as they also control playback speed and a list of command functions such as delete, copy and format. The List-Q.Play button plays the latest recorded file, the Menu button opens the on-screen menu and the Rec button starts recording to the built-in recorder. Finally, a press-able, rotary knob is used to navigate the menu, select video files, select and adjust monitor volume, brightness, contrast, chroma, phase and sharpness.
Is It Worth It?
Menu settings, configuration options and features are far too numerous to describe. The many professional features packed into the MR7 make it a valuable asset to the professional videographer and a downright pleasure to use. The waveform monitor, RGB parade and vectorscope are invaluable in achieving proper exposure, skin tones and white balance. The False Color feature lets you dial in your exposure settings to exactly where you want them and the Focus Assist function is crucial for those of us with older eyes that need that extra splash of confidence this feature provides.
Contrast Ratio: 800:1
LCD Brightness: 400 NIT
Viewing Angles: 170 (H) 170 (V)
Video Inputs: HD-SDI, HDMI, Composite
Video Outputs: HD-SDI, HDMI, Composite
Audio Outputs: Headphone, built-in speakers (2)
Operating Volts: DC 12V to 24V
Dimensions (HxWxD): 7.1″ x 5.6″ x 1.4″
- Good build quality
- Monitors and scopes
- False Color and Focus Peaking
- Supports resolutions up to 2K
- Built-in H.264 recorder
- HDMI in to SDI out conversion
- Adapter necessary for standard definition monitoring
- Battery attachment is optional
Professionals who love their display-challenged DSLRs will also love the MR7, 7-inch HD-SDI LCD monitor from ikan.
Sophie Michel is a video producer and trainer.