The actors are all on mark, you've blocked out the shot, the clapperboard has slated the scene, and you say the words “action” as you squint in to view the viewfinder on your DSLR. Back in the edit suite, you see that the focus wasn't right, the exposure is off and there is a fingerprint on the lens. It’s time for a field reference monitor. Although not wearing a cape, SmallHD comes to the rescue with their new and very bright field reference monitor. SmallHD offers a handful of options when it comes to the DP7 field reference monitor. An OLED-SX and the DP7-PRO SB are among the offerings; the most expensive, the DP7-PRO HB-SX is the focus of this review.
Why do I need a field reference monitor?
Although you can get by while using the viewfinder on the camera, either the size, location or even brightness will hold camera operators back from their best work. HD shooting is less forgiving than SD; from exposure, to focus, and it’s never good to have to re-shoot a scene. Having the right field reference monitor will allow the camera operator to take more risks, compose a better shot and even notice small details that might take the viewer out of the scene.
SmallHD has designed a simple, yet very strong field reference monitor with the DP7-PRO. With many special features, the HB-SX is specifically for those looking for a bright field reference monitor. When the sun is at your back, nothing is more frustrating than not being able to see what’s going on, making the camera operator struggle to get the shot right. From focus assist, to two different zebra pattern settings and even frame guide options, the DP7 excels at what it was designed for.
From exposure to focus, HD shooting is less forgiving than SD.
With eight smart keys on the front of the screen, finding the right setting for the job is a cinch. Even more, there are two ergonomic scroll wheels at the left and right of the top of the screen that allow zipping through the menus, easy as pie. Need to change inputs? No problem. A scroll and click later and you’re all set up. Want to toggle to the SD card reader/writer to overlay framing from another scene for a seamless edit? SmallHD is Smart HD and ready to go.
It’s got a mind of its own with its proximity sensors on the front of the screen, detecting your hands approaching it pulls up its user settings. Even more, the DP7 knows if it’s upright with its built-in accelerometer as a horizon indicator. Location shooting creates unique problems, and though the SmallHD DP7-PRO HB-SX can get hot, it won’t self destruct. A built in temperature sensor even notifies you when it’s too hot, avoiding potential damage.
Everyday Problems are Everyday Solutions
The SmallHD DP7-PRO HB-SX covers so many needs of a field reference monitor. It’s easy to see why it comes with a not so small price. ($3,000) It does everything … maybe not everything… you will still need to walk your dog and call your mom.
For this review, a Canon EOS 7D was used in the field, in the studio and on the go. With the DP7-PRO’s many inputs, working with the 7D was a breeze. Hook it up with the HDMI input, a simple scroll in the input menu for HDMI and we are ready to go. Offering SDI (BNC), Composite and HDMI inputs and SDI (BNC) and HDMI output, it’s not a problem finding the right compatibility with your camera.
Could you need more?
Of course it could be bigger, and it surely could be more affordable, but it’s a strong tool. It’s strong where the camera viewfinder is weak. If you want to step up your game, a sound investment is to get a field reference monitor. Never get caught with an out of focus shot again. With focus assist, a built in histogram and even a waveform scope, it’s a big punch with a lot of bite, in a small package.
With a hefty price tag, the SmallHD DP7-PRO HB-SX field reference monitor will leave you with sticker shock. But it performs greater than its cost and is a very useful tool. The build quality is great, the functions are intuitive and it performs out of this world.
SmallHD DP7-PRO HB-SX High Brightness Field Monitor
Luminance: 1500 nits
Color Gamut: 50%
Contrast Ratio: 800:1
Color Depth: 8bit
Viewing Angle: 80º/80º/80º/80º
Dimensions (WxHxD): 7.3in x 5.1in x .9in (18.5cm x 13cm x 2.3cm)
Weight: <1.5 lb. (23.6g)
Power Consumption: 24-watt
Inputs: SDI (BNC) (2), HDMI, Composite (Hirose Breakout Cable to BNC), Power (Locking Hirose connector: 4 pin), Mini-USB (for Firmware updates), Battery Input (4-pin Molex connector for battery plates), SD Card
Outputs: SDI (BNC), HDMI
Sensors: Proximity sensors on front (for intelligent menu assist) (4), Accelerometer (horizon indicator), Temperature sensor (to avoid potential damage in extreme situations)
Physical: Flush mount integrated polycarbonate screen protector (anti-reflective, hydrophobic and scratch resistant, easily removable with 4 screws), Rugged 1/4"20 thread points (5), All ports recessed and locked for protection, Tally indicators (2)
X-Port Accessory Slot: Yes
Software: SCOPES, Waveform (PIP, Full Screen), Vectorscope (PIP, Full Screen), RGB Parade (Full Width), YCBCR Parade (Full Width), Histogram (PIP, Full Screen)
Focus Assist: Intensity adjustment, Highlight color select
Zebra: 2 User-selectable ranges
False Color: Yes
Frame Guides: Aspect, Crosshatch, Action Safe, Custom Guide, Crosshair
Color Bar and Controls: yes
Blue Only: yes
Smart Keys: Customizable/Expandable
Signal Routing/Conversion: INPUT, Simultaneous Output, SDI -> SDI & HDMI, HDMI-> SDI & HDMI
Power and Battery Included With DP7: Locking Hirose 10v-28v DC Connector with AC Adapter
Optional Power Accessories: Locking Hirose to 4-Pin XLR Adapter/D-Tap/P-Tap/bare wire (DIY kit needed), V-Mount Battery Plate, Sony Series L Battery Plate, Gold Mount Battery Plate
- Rugged build quality
- Simple interface
- Many user preferences
- Glossy finish
- Doesn’t come with an HDMI cable
Chris Monlux is the Creative Services Manager at a CBS, NBC and CW affiliate.