Pho­to: digitalcameraworld.com

The on-cam­era mon­i­tor is a large screen that dis­plays the image that the cam­era is cap­tur­ing. This is an indis­pens­able tool for shoot­ing video — con­ve­nient and with many addi­tion­al func­tions.

We fig­ure out how to choose an on-cam­era mon­i­tor, what char­ac­ter­is­tics it can have, whether it is pos­si­ble to use a smart­phone as an exter­nal mon­i­tor, and which mod­els of on-cam­era mon­i­tors are the best in 2022.

Why on-camera monitors are needed

Exter­nal on-cam­era mon­i­tors pro­vide a much more accu­rate view and detailed pic­ture dur­ing video record­ing. This allows minor bugs to be cor­rect­ed before it’s too late.

All mod­ern cam­eras come with their own dis­play, but the small 3‑inch pan­els that have become the indus­try stan­dard only give a very rough idea of ​​what you’re actu­al­ly shoot­ing right now.

The built-in screen can let the video­g­ra­ph­er down uncom­fort­ably — it is too small for detailed focus­ing and crit­i­cal fram­ing with impor­tant objects at the edges of the image. In addi­tion, not all dis­plays have a pan and tilt mech­a­nism suit­able for video shoot­ing, and the touch inter­face is often very lim­it­ed.

Most built-in dis­plays don’t pro­vide many of the tools video­g­ra­phers need, such as an oscil­lo­scope or a pre­view of the image with LUTs applied (used for col­or grad­ing).

This is where exter­nal mon­i­tors come in. They not only enlarge the pic­ture to the size of a tablet, but also offer many advanced tools. Among them are addi­tion­al fea­tures for video record­ing, such as out­put in RAW for­mat. Such mon­i­tors are called exter­nal recorders, since they allow not only to view the pic­ture from the cam­era, but also to record on the mem­o­ry built into the recorder. It is these mon­i­tors that are most pop­u­lar among video­g­ra­phers, although they are much more expen­sive than “sin­gle-func­tion” mod­els.

A sim­ple mon­i­tor only dis­plays the pic­ture from the cam­era for the con­ve­nience of shoot­ing, and a mon­i­tor-recorder allows you to record video in addi­tion­al for­mats and use spe­cial­ized tools.

Our selec­tion will main­ly include hybrid recorder mon­i­tors, but we have also pre­pared one anti-cri­sis option for you.

On-cam­era mon­i­tors come in a vari­ety of shapes, col­ors, and sizes. Def­i­nite­ly worth con­sid­er­ing how bal­anced it will feel on your cam­era. Pho­to: dslrvideoshooter.com

On-cam­era mon­i­tors come in a vari­ety of sizes, but any one of them will make shoot­ing more enjoy­able and help stream­line your work­flow. About what char­ac­ter­is­tics of the on-cam­era mon­i­tor to pay atten­tion to when choos­ing, we wrote in our mate­r­i­al “Choos­ing an on-cam­era mon­i­tor”, and here is a brief sum­ma­ry:

  • com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with your cam­era;
  • size (not always big­ger is bet­ter);
  • res­o­lu­tion and bright­ness;
  • oscil­lo­scope, LUTs, HDR and oth­er pro­fes­sion­al fea­tures.

Now let’s move on to the best mod­els, in our opin­ion, avail­able in Rus­sia.

Top on-camera monitors for video

Blackmagic Video Assist

Black­mag­ic has spe­cial­ly devel­oped a mod­el that sup­ports their pro­pri­etary codec. Pho­to cred­it: blackmagicdesign.com

Black­mag­ic Video Assist 5” 12G HDR is a ver­sa­tile monitor/recorder. One of its main fea­tures is sup­port for the Black­mag­ic RAW for­mat, which is used in the pop­u­lar cam­eras of the same name for video­g­ra­phers. This for­mat is great for col­or grad­ing and edit­ing with Davin­ci Resolve, but is only sup­port­ed by a small selec­tion of exter­nal recorders.

The 5 inch mon­i­tor is equipped with:

  • pro­fes­sion­al 12G-SDI video inter­face sup­port­ing data rates up to 12 Gb/s and 4K DCI video;
  • uni­ver­sal HDMI 2.0a port;
  • the abil­i­ty to record to SD cards in indus­try-stan­dard Apple ProRes and Avid DNx for­mats with 10-bit 4:2:2 col­or sub­sam­pling (for more accu­rate col­or repro­duc­tion and col­or cor­rec­tion);
  • touch inter­face for easy and quick set­up.

It also has a ‘through-out’ so you can see what you’re shoot­ing on an even big­ger screen, pro­jec­tor or broad­cast mon­i­tor at the same time.

The Black­mag­ic Video Assist 5” 12G HDR has 1080p res­o­lu­tion, 2500 nits bright­ness and 100% DCI-P3 col­or space cov­er­age. So you will see not only all the details of your shoot­ing, but also accu­rate col­ors. And pow­er­ful bright­ness allows you to shoot even on a daz­zling sun­ny day.

From oth­er bonus­es:

  • slot for two mem­o­ry cards;
  • HDR sup­port;
  • 3D LUT sup­port for col­or cor­rec­tion;
  • var­i­ous vec­torscopes for image analy­sis;
  • focus assis­tant;
  • the abil­i­ty to record to exter­nal SSD dri­ves;
  • head­phone jack;
  • video indi­ca­tor light.

All in all, you get all the pro­fes­sion­al tools and flex­i­ble con­nec­tion options for any cam­era — via SDI or HDMI. This is a par­tic­u­lar­ly good option for Pock­et Cin­e­ma cam­era users, as the recorder brings out the full poten­tial of the Black­mag­ic RAW codec.

Atomos Shogun 7

“Shogun” sup­ports the con­nec­tion of four cam­eras at once. Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel Ger­ald Undone

If a 5‑inch mon­i­tor is not enough for your tasks, then the famous com­pa­ny Ato­m­os offers a pro­fes­sion­al Shogun 7 mod­el.

  • Shogun sup­ports ProRes RAW, Cin­e­maD­NG and DNx­HD codecs up to DCI 4K 60 fps or 2K 240 fps.
  • It is pos­si­ble to con­nect to cam­eras via 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 con­nec­tors.
  • You can view and record up to four video streams from mul­ti­ple cam­eras.

The mod­el is equipped with a large 7‑inch mon­i­tor with a res­o­lu­tion of 1080p. And it’s a true HDR dis­play that sup­ports a high dynam­ic range pic­ture. The pan­el com­bines LED and LCD tech­nol­o­gy to deep­en blacks.

The mon­i­tor sup­ports 15+ stops of dynam­ic range (not all pro­fes­sion­al cam­eras can shoot with such a range), a high bright­ness of 3000 nits and ful­ly dis­plays the DCI-P3 col­or space.

You can pre­cise­ly con­trol the expo­sure with built-in pre­sets that allow you to accu­rate­ly dis­play the image on the screen with the applied Log-pro­files of major cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers (pro­files for sub­se­quent col­or cor­rec­tion).

From oth­er bonus­es:

  • head­phone jack;
  • sup­port for SSD dri­ves;
  • focus assis­tant;
  • auto­mat­ic “de-squeeze” mode for view­ing anamor­phic video (a pop­u­lar cin­e­mat­ic for­mat that looks “flat­tened” dur­ing record­ing with­out spe­cial decod­ing) with a nor­mal aspect ratio;
  • a com­plete set of pro­fes­sion­al video­g­ra­ph­er tools.

All in all, the Ato­m­os Shogun 7 is a great com­bi­na­tion of an exter­nal recorder and a large on-cam­era mon­i­tor in one device. This is a pow­er­ful tool for film­mak­ers with the abil­i­ty to record video from mul­ti­ple cam­eras at once.

Lilliput A7s

“Lil­liput” is not so midget — the pic­ture on a 7‑inch mon­i­tor is quite “Gul­liv­er”. Pho­to: photowebexpo.ru

If you’re look­ing for a mon­i­tor that does­n’t have the bells and whis­tles of pro­fes­sion­al video recorders and is bud­get-friend­ly if pos­si­ble, then the Liliput A7S is a great start­ing point.

It is a 7‑inch IPS LCD screen with 1080p res­o­lu­tion and 500 nits of bright­ness. These indi­ca­tors do not reach oth­er mod­els pre­sent­ed in our mate­r­i­al, but the Lil­liput A7s costs ten times cheap­er than the same Shogun 7. So this is a good anti-cri­sis offer.

  • The mod­el is equipped with HDMI 1.4 con­nec­tor.
  • Sup­ports video trans­mis­sion up to 4K UHD at 30 fps.
  • It is pos­si­ble to pass through the sig­nal to oth­er devices for view­ing on an even larg­er screen.

From oth­er chips:

  • two cus­tomiz­able func­tion keys;
  • zoom in with a pinch-to-zoom ges­ture;
  • vec­torscope;
  • focus assis­tant;
  • head­phone jack;
  • graphs and oscil­lo­scopes for pro­fes­sion­al video­g­ra­phers.

If you need a very bud­get-friend­ly but high-qual­i­ty on-cam­era mon­i­tor with­out inter­nal record­ing, take a look at the Liliput A7s. This is a great option for begin­ner video­g­ra­phers and film­mak­ers look­ing for a sim­ple and reli­able tool to accu­rate­ly mon­i­tor their footage.

Atomos Ninja V

The ubiq­ui­tous box from Ato­m­os is a video­g­ra­pher’s best friend. Pho­to: dpreview.com

Not a sin­gle rat­ing of on-cam­era mon­i­tors is com­plete with­out Nin­ja. The Ato­m­os Nin­ja V is a true indus­try stan­dard and can be found in the arse­nal of many inde­pen­dent video­g­ra­phers and on film sets around the world.

So far, this is by far the best offer in terms of price-qual­i­ty ratio:

  • hybrid monitor/recorder;
  • con­nec­tion via HDMI 2.0 is used;
  • Records 10-bit 4:2:2 DCI 4K video at up to 60 fps.

Among the avail­able codecs are the most pop­u­lar Apple ProRes and Avid DNx. More­over, 6K for­mat is sup­port­ed for Apple ProRes RAW files.

Ato­m­os Nin­ja V is equipped with a 5‑inch 8‑bit IPS dis­play with a touch inter­face, 1080p res­o­lu­tion and 1000 nits of bright­ness. It sup­ports the dis­play of HDR con­tent and is suit­able for accu­rate­ly mon­i­tor­ing mate­r­i­al cap­tured in log pro­files for sub­se­quent col­or grad­ing.

The mon­i­tor received a durable alu­minum case. At the same time, the mod­el turned out to be com­pact. Of the minus­es — some users com­plain about the noisy fan, but in most shoot­ing sit­u­a­tions this will not be a prob­lem.

From the old­er mod­el Shogun inher­it­ed:

  • LUT sup­port;
  • all indi­ca­tors and graphs nec­es­sary for video­g­ra­phers;
  • focus assis­tant;
  • pre­view for anamor­phic lens­es.

A head­phone jack is also on board, of course. The recorder can be pur­chased with an SSD.

In gen­er­al, at the moment you are unlike­ly to find a more ver­sa­tile and cheap­er mon­i­tor-recorder. Ato­m­os Nin­ja V is a true leg­end, avail­able to almost every video­g­ra­ph­er.

Ato­m­os recent­ly updat­ed its mod­el with the release of Nin­ja V+ with sup­port for more advanced video record­ing options — 8K/30p and 4K/120p in ProRes RAW.

*in prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resources photographypx.com and digitalcameraworld.com were used