Using a portable DVD player as a field monitor

Anonymous (not verified)

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.



BruceMol's picture
Last seen: 4 months 3 days ago
Joined: 03/11/2008 - 10:35pm

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.

CraftersOfLight's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 02/17/2009 - 5:42am
Plus Member

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.

Life is not a guided tour nor a destination. It is a journey. Take the time to enjoy your family, friends and surroundings. Build memories. Share experiences. Travel at sight speed not light speed. (C)

H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator


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.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc.