Sound Devices is known for making professional quality audio recorders and mixers. Their subsidiary Video Devices has expanded into a line of innovative video recorders and monitors. The PIX-E5 is a compact but powerful monitor and recorder that handles 4K video with ease.
Although the name might remind you of a dainty little forest nymph, the PIX-E5 is solid as a brick and built to withstand the dings and scratches that come with everyday video production. The Gorilla Glass touchscreen is described as “virtually indestructible” on the Video Devices website. We decided not to test that claim with the borrowed model, but the screen seemed sturdy enough. The device’s die-cast metal chassis is even tougher.
A View with Tools
We tested the PIX-E5 for several days with a Panasonic GH4 connected via HDMI. The 5-inch LCD screen provided a sharp bright image indoors and outside. It looks even better with a sun hood that is sold separately or as part of the Video Devices Portable Video Recorder Kit, which features many other accessories for the PIX-E5. The monitor is powered by external DC or two L-mount Sony batteries.
The PIX-E5 interface is a well-balanced combination of buttons and touch screen inputs. Below the LCD screen is a line-up of 14 dome-shaped buttons that access most of the controls. You navigate the menu with the help of a rotary knob on the side of the PIX-E5. The capacitive touchscreen can be used to navigate menus as well as interact with a specific area of the image such as zooming in to a point of interest to check focus. TapZoom provides instant 2x or 4x zoom to where you tap the screen. Scroll to another point of interest and tap again to zoom out.
The capacitive touchscreen can be used to navigate menus as well as interact with a specific area of the image such as zooming in to a point of interest to check focus.
Video Devices also offers PIX-Assist Monitoring Tools to help you get a perfectly exposed and focused shot. These include a peaking filter, guide markers, false colors, zebras, waveform monitor, vectorscope and histogram. Four-way monitoring lets you display the video feed, histogram, vectorscope and waveform monitor at the same time.
Recording powers — Activate!
The only minor issue we had with the controls is that it’s unclear which button is used to record until a video feed is input to the recorder. It may be a small detail, but giving the record button a different color or shape would make the PIX-E5 even easier to use.
Once you’re clear on which button activates recording, you can dive into the PIX-E5 recording options. Choose from a range of Apple ProRes codecs, from ProRes Proxy to ProRes 4444 XQ. The PIX-E5 can record resolutions up to DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) from HDMI sources and uncompressed 1080p from 3G-SDI sources. DCI 4K records at up to 24 fps. UHD (3840 x 2160) records at up to 30 fps. HD footage records at up to 60 fps.
The HDMI and SDI inputs have loop-through output which can go to another monitor. The PIX-E5 also features two analog 3.5mm audio inputs and headphone output. For more professional audio, Sound Devices is working on the PIX-LR, a screw-on accessory that provides two XLR inputs and outputs, mic preamps, LED level meters and dedicated transport and gain controls.
Fast and Affordable SpeedDrive Media
The PIX-E5 records to an innovative SpeedDrive. When connected to the PIX-E5, the SpeedDrive operates as an mSATA device. But when you pop it off and plug it into a computer’s USB port, it becomes a USB 3.0 flash drive. No need for special docking stations or cables to transfer your footage from recorder to computer.
Video Devices sells SpeedDrives that include a 240GB mSATA solid-state drive, or you can buy the enclosure separately to use with compatible third-party 128GB to 1TB mSATA SSDs. The SpeedDrive we tested was fast and reliable, even when recording and transferring ProRes 4444 XQ video.
Small but Mighty
There’s a lot packed into the PIX-E5. Video professionals who use Apple ProRes files in their workflow will want to check out this small but powerful monitor/recorder. It doesn’t support RAW or frame rates higher than 60p, but it’s also less expensive than competitors like the Atomos Shogun.
The PIX-Assist monitoring tools and scopes help you set up the shot, and TapZoom is a fast easy way to get a closer view. Four-Way Monitoring displays three monitoring tools at the same time as the video feed, a feature we found useful for setting exposure.
These features and the ability to record 4K ProRes 4444 XQ make the PIX-E5 an ideal solution for shooters with a smaller 4K camera.
PIX-E5 Portable 4K Recording Video Monitor
- PIX-Assist Monitoring Tools
- Apple ProRes 4444 XQ, 12-Bit
- SpeedDrives are fast and affordable
- Record button is hard to find
- Excessive heat
LCD Size: 5-inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1200, 441 ppi
Luminance (Brightness): 500 nit
Resolutions: 4K (UHD, DCI) Max Resolution/Frame Rate 30 fps HD (1080i, 1080p, 720p) Max Resolution/Frame Rate 60 fps
Monitoring Tools: TapZoom, Peaking Filter, Guide Markers, False Colors, Zebras, Waveform Monitor, Vectorscope, Histogram
Supported Formats: Apple ProRes Proxy to Apple ProRes 4444 XQ
Supported Media: Speed Drive enclosure (compatible with third-party 128 GB to 1 TB mSATA SSDs)
Video Inputs and Outputs: 3G-SDI, HDMI
Power Source: EXT DC (10-34V), (optional) 2x Sony L-mount batteries
Dimensions: 5.4 in x 3.4 in x 1.6 in