Using a portable DVD player as a field monitor

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    • #48128

      Hi everyone,

      As a student with not a lot of cash to spend on making movies, I am always looking for good ideas for saving money. I noticed that even 2nd hand LCD monitors are really expensive, and my cameras are ancient relics that don’t have the luxury of a flip-out LCD screen (and those are not perfect anyway and make us all look a bit like “tourists”), so I hit on the idea of using a portable DVD player for the same purpose. This is a really cheap way to do things, probably under $100 depending on how fancy you want to get.

      I think it will work provided I can find one that accepts RCA video in, which is the deal breaker really. I feel like they should accept aux input from another device, but I am not sure that the manufacturers are that smart.

      The benefits:

      1. Large clear screen that can display in 16:9 or 4:3

      2. Can create a CD with mpg “teleprompter” content on it, for cuing dialog

      3. Can play movies on long, boring trips to shooting locations

      4. Less hassles with customs guys at international borders because they know what a dvd player is and don’t think it is some fancy piece of professional equipment that should attract a high import duty.

      So it looks like a sweet idea, but risky because I don’t know if these things do accept external input. So if any of the readers here have one of these portable DVD players at home, it would be really excellent if you could check out what your player is capable of and post some details for the rest of us.

      If I am right then it could be a good way for the low-budget videomakers amongst us to save a few dollars.



    • #197866

      Hi Nev,

      Your idea is financially smart and practically viable. I have the sony DVP-FX810 (bought it a long time ago when these things were very new so by now there shouls be better stuff).

      The gadgethas switchable AV-in/out and I did test it as a “poorman’s videoassist” sometime in early 2010but was DISSAPOINTED by the SCREEN REFLECTION (too much! couple that with how the LCD technology behaves under bright lights and… suffice it to say its TOTALLY UNUSABLE outdoors or under bright lights indoors) and the contrast + resolution is too poor if you want to use as a focusing aid.

      I am still for the idea though and was waiting for LED (!) screens to evolve. My thinking is…If Ican only find aPICTURE FRAME(light weight – high res + good contrast and brightness) that acceptsHDMI input and doesnt need a computer to work…

      Wait a minute.. I just googled and got “”Onkyo LPF10M01”

      Am sure other manufacturers (Sony, SamsungHELOOO!) will follow suit.

    • #197867

      Great thanks for your reply and the extra info. I considered the picture frame idea but the ones in stores near where I live at best can take USB transfer but most seem to be for SD card only. That would still work as a teleprompter if the timing between picture changes can be tweaked. For the reflectivity problem, maybe construct some kind of glare-shield to go around the screen.

    • #197868
    • #197869

      Oops! The sony picture frame is HDMI OUT onkly – and bloody expensive.

    • #197870

      I bought one of these to try out the auxillary monitor. It hooks up to both my Canon cameras via the cameras yellow output to the monitors video in.

      Just incase you are thinking about doing that, don’t. As noted above, it’s hard to see. I made a sunshade and still not great for outdoors. I strung to gether some batteries and a conector for 12v. It helps me frame but the image is soft, so not much use as a focus assist (why I really need it). My first one failed after a week, when I went to exchange, I tested a replacementin the store and found their stock unit defective; So I’m on my third in 4 months.

      The message for me was YES it works, you can see the video, but the quality of image makes it a useless purchase. I suspect picture frames will have the same problem.

    • #197871

      I havetried a Panasonic Portable DVD player and had found it only good for framing as well. Even though it was 16:9 format the resolutionis only480X234, about 6% of the cameras 1690X1080 capability. This will really hurt you on focusing. Color reference and exposurewill alsoadd to theissues.

      I still use it when I am doing a longtimelapse so that I do not have to have the side view finder out to save on batteryor have to peek in the eyepieceview finder running the risk of moving the camera at the wrong moment. But again is is just for cursory framing and content monitoring.

    • #197872

      Thanks to everyone for their advice and suggestions. Sounds like it is a bad idea then. Back to the drawing board. I need to think of some way to get a super cheap, portable, light weight LCD monitor that can accept RCA Video In or S-Video.

    • #197873

      I was wondering if it is possible to use the Archos AV 700 as a field monitor with a Canon T2i/550D….anybody ever try it?

      Thank you in advance.

    • #197874


      When working with power available in or outdoors I’ve used small LCD TV’s. I’ve used a 15″ Polaroid HD LCD I bought from ‘S-Mart’ for $150 back in 2006. There are some really good ones you can use as reference models now. Just remember that you’ll have to adjust color, contrast, etc. to match your camera’s signal close as possible.

      Another way around that’s inexpensive is a small on-camera monitor or portable LCD TV. I use one with my XL1s rig. Its a good working reference monitor, but it tends to overheat and shutdown. Also it uses a lot of batteries so I keep rechargeable AA’s ready. Here’s a link to a few potential monitors under $250.

      Cheap small on-camera monitors

      Eventually, I broke down and got a Sony GV-HD700. At $1300 it’s expensive for old tech, and is primarily a 1080i rig when I work mostly in 720p, but it is a dedicated portable monitor/recorder. Despite some minor limitations (no HDMI-in or 720p recording capability) it’s still a good choice as a field monitoring device and far superior to using a DVD player.

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