It seems impractical to spend thousands on a field monitor since most cameras already give you a preview of your subject. But if you want to create intelligently-framed shots with a creative punch, having one of the best field monitors can really give you that competitive edge.
A field monitor serves as a window to all your shots. By giving yourself a wider view and perspective of your subject, you can find better ways to find (and experiment with) angles.
If you’re done peaking through small holes, let’s explore the best field monitors in 2020:
- Atomos Ninja V
- PortKeys BM5 II
- SmallHD Focus 7
- Neewer F100
- Feelworld FW279
- Feelworld T7
- Desview R5
- Lilliput A8S
- Atomos Shinobi
- Andycine A6 Plus
Best Field Monitors in 2020
Our Top Field Monitor this 2020
Rolling efficiency and precision into one compact package, this field monitor gives external monitors/recorders a new face.
Just like a front seat ticket to the NBA playoffs (or a live orchestra, if that fits you better), the Atomos Ninja V gives you the best and the most accurate previews of your photo and video footage. Compact in size but jam-packed with features that boost efficiency, this device is the newest gold standard for monitors built for indoor and outdoor shoots.
Its 5-inch HD display bridges you to a wide array of functionality, including a playback and recording option, which is already a standout on its own. Unlike other external monitors that can’t directly record a 10-bit video that runs on 60fps, Atomos Ninja V steps up and shows the world that this is possible. You can even record a 4K, 1-bit HD video straight from your camera via an HDMI 2.0 cord.
This, along with focus peaking, multi-level exposure tools, and a 1000-nit brightness setting makes Atomos Ninja V a great monitor day in and day out. To top it off, it also comes with audio inputs compatible with digital interfaces such as HDMI or analogue input.
The Most Versatile Camera Monitor for Any Shooting Applications
A complete game-changer for pro-level photography and videography, this field monitor is packed with impressive display settings and connectivity options.
PortKeys BM5 II shows you how spending a few more dollars on a DSLR monitor can add more value to your editorial workflow. Intelligently-calibrated with high-end features that make photography and videography a bliss, BM5 II crushes its competitors by giving you form and function.
First is its 2200-Nit brightness setting, which equally matches Feelworld FW279’s. But aside from its ultra-bright feature and ideal 1000:1 contrast rating, what makes the BM5 II a worthy contender in the monitor arena is its flexible connectivity options. It supports 3G-SDI, HDMI, HDMI-SDI cross conversion, and Bluetooth.
When used with the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K/6K, the Bluetooth option enables you to remotely control your settings including shutter speed, zoom, codec, focus, and resolution. If you can’t use this option because of device incompatibility, you still won’t find monitor manipulation problematic thanks to its 5.2-inch touchscreen display.
Just like most of our entries, BM5 II is also loaded with monitoring tools like waveform, zooming, and color temperature. The main difference is that this model gives you access to more advanced software functions such as recording, 3D Luts, underscan, and OSD flip. Along with the BM5 II is a flash drive that you can use to load your custom 3D Luts.
Best Buy for Filmmakers and Production Teams
Out for a non-stop shoot? The Focus 7 can keep up with your daily grind with its crystal clear display and its extended battery life.
It’s hard to take SmallHD Focus 7 out of the picture when we talk about the best field monitors. A compact device that lets your eyes feast on a parade of vibrant colors and crisp details, Focus 7 shifts your perspective on daylight shooting through its valuable features.
Ideal for production teams and filmmakers, this external monitor is built with a 7-inch, daylight-viewable display that flaunts a 1000:1 contrast and 1000-Nit brightness setting. The main course: its operating system and software, which is unique to all SmallHD high-end monitors. It fills video editing gaps via its video assist tools, including professional image analysis, advanced pixel zoom, color correction, and limitless, real-time 3D Luts. All this, through a single tap and swipe on your touchscreen LCD.
A great bonus is its long battery life and its dual Sony L-Series battery slots that ensure long, unimpeded operations even when you’re out for a long shoot. Its intelligent power-charging option allows you to charge both your camera and monitor simultaneously.
4. Neewer F100
The Best Camera Monitor Under $100
If you want a decent field monitor on a budget, this monitor is your best bet. Cheap but no less efficient, the F100 merges practical features best for basic applications.
Budget monitors that produce decent images were hard to find until Neewer’s F100 completely changed the game. Designed with a built-in speaker, a headphone port, and composite inputs, this device is capable of displaying images with an ultra HD 1280 x 800 resolution.
The F100 package is complete with an AV/HDMI cable, a hot shoe ball head, a shoe mount, a sun hood, and other accessories that can help you streamline your shooting activities. The monitor draws power from a 12-volt AC adapter or L-series battery, enabling you to take your shoots anywhere. Plus, it has scan, zoom assist, and color peaking features that can help you make edits as you shoot.
As compared to other monitors on our list, the Neewer F100 falls short in terms of brightness, resolution, and major image-enhancing features. The good news: it makes up for what it lacks by its 1200:1 contrast ratio.
Overall, if you want a budget monitor that does a great job in delivering basic features, you won’t go wrong with F100.
The Best Ultra Bright Field Monitor
Say goodbye to your sun hood and fully embrace the art of shooting outdoors with the FW279. A remarkable camera monitor built to deliver crisp images even under direct sunlight.
Shooting under direct sunlight is probably a photographer’s worst nightmare–well, that or a sudden downpour while shooting outdoors. While we can’t do anything about the weather, Feelworld’s FW279 is designed so you don’t need to hide in a shady corner when the weather is working against you.
Let’s start with its standout feature: its 2200-nit brightness setting, which over doube the regular 1000-nit brightness of standard monitors. Paired with its max brightness capacity is its great pixel density, high-quality resolution, and its 1200:1 contrast ratio that all work together to prevent your images from being washed out by the ultra-bright sunlight.
As if this isn’t enough, FW279 also flaunts color calibration technology, which allows for precise color reproduction. No distortion, only real colors captured in real-time–that’s FW279’s guarantee. That, along with great monitoring tools such as focus assist, zebra exposure, and histogram, to name a few, makes this device a tough contender to beat in the field monitor department.
6. Feelworld T7
The Best Lightweight Field Monitor
A budget monitor that puts practical features in one portable design. The T7 gives you more reasons to grab your kit and dive into the world of exploration.
Another Feelworld product that made it on our list is the T7, a budget-friendly camera monitor calibrated with some of the monitoring tools you’ll see in FW279, but with significant differences in display features and price.
Its 450-Nit brightness is a far cry from FW279’s whooping 2200, but this field monitor still proves superior in its price range for its 160°-wide viewing angle, which enables you to easily see your frames. Along with this is a range of monitoring tools. Aside from its color calibration technology, it also comes with a peaking filter, histogram, false colors, exposure, and other features that make editing a breeze.
Our favorite: its lightweight and super slim design that make it a great compliment for portable systems. It only weighs 0.70 pounds, that’s all wrapped into an 18mm design.
7. Desview R5
Best Value for its Price
Offering great value at a low price, the R5 keeps efficiency within your reach by focusing on practical features that result in a great shooting experience.
Joining the wave of great, budget-friendly camera accessories, the Desview R5 is a 5.5-inch display field monitor that puts high-end features just a touch away–and we mean that, literally. With its touch-sensitive screen, you can make all adjustments in just a single touch or pinch.
In a nutshell, the R5 gets you access to high-tech monitoring features such as waveform (for brightness), vectorscope (for chrominance such as saturation and hue), and LUT support (for color manipulation). Likewise, this device enables you to adjust brightness and color gamut via two modes: PQ and HLG modes. Together, these tools allow you to make early changes during your shoots.
In terms of connectivity, this device gives you more than just an HDMI input/output option as it also supports an audio headphone jack (3.5) and an SD card. With efficient tools combined with wider connectivity, the R5 definitely offers the best value for its price.
8. Lilliput A8S
Top Monitor with a Large Display
With the A8S, seeing your images on a wider screen is just one step away. Its 8.9-inch display is larger than standard-sized monitors and it gives you better flexibility in terms of input/output use.
Putting your subject in a larger perspective, Lilliput’s A8S is built with an 8.9-inch display that displays images at a 1920 x 1200 resolution. Its viewing angle is decent at 170°, while its contrast ratio is at around 800:1. As a rule of thumb, the higher the contrast ratio, the more-equipped your monitor is in giving you high-quality images even when you’re shooting outdoors. But hey, there’s nothing that a sun hood can’t fix!
HDMI and 3G-SDI-ready, this monitor gives you better flexibility in terms of inputs/outputs. Most monitors are only equipped with an HDMI interface, so this is a huge plus if you’re looking for a versatile DSLR monitor that you can hook on either connector. On top of that, it also supports 3D Luts via a USB port.
Adding to its efficient features is its long list of monitoring tools, including focus peaking, histogram, zebra, and timecode display. Its biggest downside is its 350-Nit brightness setting, which is much lower when compared to our other top picks.
The Best Monitor for Vloggers and Cinematographers
Ever imagined not having to make too many major tweaks in your editing room because you already made remarkable progress while you’re out shooting? Atomos Shinobi allows you to do just that with its impressive technology.
Atomos’s Shinobi proves its value to cinematographers and vloggers who prioritize great imagery. It merges unique functions that make shooting more personal and experiential. But first, let’s discuss its basic features.
The Shinobi field monitor won’t let you down when you’re shooting outdoors, thanks to its 1000-Nit brightness setting and 5-inch HDR display. Now, you can see crisp images even when you’re shooting under daylight. For the sake of comparison, nothing beats FW279 and BM5 II in this class, but even so, the Shinobi’s brightness setting is still within the respectable range.
Additionally, the compact and lightweight build make this a great outdoor monitor. Aside from its great ‘shoot-on-the-go’ features, this device made it on our list because of its unique technology. It is injected with a remarkable screen processing system that extends battery life and endurance, along with a selfie Mirror Mode that makes vlogging simpler and more enjoyable.
Its major highlight: the new Analysis View feature, which gives you complete control of your shoots. It basically lets you view your shots while simultaneously allowing you to make editing tweaks via tools like histogram, waveform, and vectorscope.
10. Andycine A6 Plus
Best Bang for Your Buck
A great device worth more than its price, this field monitor squeezes in basic and advanced features that are rare for its price point.
Finding a low-budget camera monitor is like a blast from the past. But while many inexpensive models lack advanced functions, the Andycine A6 Plus gives you great functionality at a lower price point.
Its 5.5-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 display delivers clear images for different shooting applications. It also has a 1000:1 contrast ratio, making it a great monitor for brightness adjustments.
What really sealed the deal for us is its operating system and its touchscreen feature, which makes it easy for you to quickly access the menu as you swipe and pinch across the monitor. This comes in handy when you’re shooting outdoors and you want to easily make adjustments of your zoom and brightness settings. Not a great time to use its touchscreen display? Just toggle the on/off button at the top of your screen.
Moreso, this functional device has video assist settings that go beyond the basics. Other than the standard histogram, false color, and peaking tool, you also get 3D LUT support via an SD slot, which is common in a higher-priced field monitor.
A quick extra feature is its 8V DC output that powers up a range of DSLR cameras. We particularly liked its solid dual battery mount, which can support Canon LP-E6 and Sony NP-F batteries.
Budget aside, the best camera monitor should be tailored to your specific needs. Do you focus on still photography or do you specialize in capturing videos? By setting priorities, you can scratch out the features that won’t add value to your workflow.
News flash: not all camera monitors have recording capabilities. But before we compare the difference between non-recording and recording monitors, let’s first discuss the typical camera setting.
Basically, most cameras have a built-in internal recorder, but they are essentially designed for capturing still images, which in turn greatly impacts thermal management, data compression, and battery life. When used as a stand-alone device for recording live videos, these cameras often produce low bit rates.
True enough, field monitors-slash-recorders cannot alter the details your camera produces, but they help you produce better outputs by reducing lossy data compression, which results in media distortion. Also, a recording monitor provides video outputs in a wider range of formats that greatly match popular video editing software. And it doesn’t stop there. When you’re out on a shoot, a recording monitor gives you more features that its non-recording counterpart lacks.
Most cameras project a miniature display of images via a standard or electronic viewfinder (EVF) or an LCD. But while this seems useful and sufficient, a field monitor gives you a larger view and better flexibility in terms of angling and positioning. By identifying small, erroneous spots, you can make videography tweaks that you don’t need to carry to the editing room.
As a general rule, wider monitors require more head movements, making it more convenient to use monitors within a 5” and 7” range. Also, these monitors usually come with extra tools such as waveform, peaking, Vectorscope, and false color. Larger monitors, on the other hand, are best mounted on a separate device for added comfort and stability.
Weight is an important factor for many videographers on the go. While lightweight monitors help boost productivity and lessen fatigue, heavy ones can do the complete opposite. More importantly, weight can affect stability and balance specifically when you’re shooting outdoors.
So if you’re comparing two brands that have equally-important features, checking their weight can help you make the right decision. It may not look much, but a monitor that’s a few grams lighter can be life-changing for hand-held shots.
Resolution and Pixel Mapping
By definition, video resolution refers to the pixels displayed on your device per dimension, and they are commonly available in two types: High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD).
SD videos usually start at 640×360, while most HD videos are at 1280×720 (720p) and above, with 1080p videos categorized as Full HD types. 4K resolution is also emerging in the videography scene, but in the case of camera monitors, Full HD is more than enough to help you get a clearer view of your footage.
Usually, when you use a field monitor with a low resolution, it scales your footage to allow you to view images on a full screen. This introduces scaling artifacts, which can be problematic when you’re reviewing your shots on-site.
Essentially, what you want is to view unscaled footage that lets you see the real quality of the images you produce. You can do so by looking for a monitor with 1:1 pixel mapping, which is a display technology that gives you the exact preview of your outputs.
Do you frequently shoot outdoors? There are camera monitors that give you better control over brightness, but generally, 1000 Nits or higher can give you the flexibility you need. You should also check on the field monitor’s contrast ratio, which affects brightness and color.
Inputs and Outputs
The best camera monitor has HDMI and SDI inputs/outputs, but models with an HDMI interface can already suffice different photo and video needs.
- HDMI is an interface used for processing two types of digital data: 1) an uncompressed video data and 2) either an uncompressed or compressed audio. The maximum length of high-speed HDMI cables run up to 49 feet, while regular ones are usually 16 feet in length.
- SDI, on the other hand, is the professional standard of processing signals. Depending on the cable quality, SDI can transfer digital data to up to 390 feet, or in some cases, even 2,500 feet.
Tools and Scopes
While your camera may already have the tools you need, finding the best camera monitor can mean a significant difference in your shooting and editorial workflow. Below are some of the tools you may come across as you look for the best field monitor 2020:
- Scopes are an umbrella of color analysis and exposure tools that rarely come with a still camera system. It helps you better visualize exposure and luminance via a waveform display, which gives you a brightness analysis per pixel column. Through these waveforms, you can efficiently tweak contrast and exposure in different frame points.
- Focus peaking, focus assist, and zoom tools generally assist you to keep your lens focused so you can take the blur out of the picture. So why do you need these when most cameras have an auto-focus function that gets reliable by the day? For one, these features come handy for shooting precision particularly if you’re using cameras with a manual focus–a feature common in the film industry.
- Zebra bars highlight areas of your images that are overexposed through striped patterns. These overlays won’t reflect on your final output.
- Audio channels are not a necessity for field monitors, but it’s a great plus if it can support at least 2 audio channels. A handy tool for creating SDEs and videography projects, an audio channel helps you efficiently track the sequence of your audio and video data.
Assessing other factors such as latency, false color, and exposure tools are a great way to gauge if the monitor is compatible with your needs.
Photography and videography are not just about finding the right angles. When used as an art form, these skills can be your bridge to creatively telling different narratives. What better way to do this than to find a DSLR monitor that can help you make major and minor tweaks while on the shoot? By investing in a field monitor that matches your level of needs and expertise, you can efficiently streamline your workflow during and after your shoots.
To help you make detailed comparisons, here’s a summary of our top picks:
|MODEL||INPUTS||DISPLAY SIZE||RESOLUTION||BRIGHTNESS||CONTRAST RATIO||BATTERY TYPE||SPECIAL FEATURES||RECORDING CAPABILITY||WEIGHT||WARRANTY|
|Atomos Ninja V||4K HDMI Input; audio inputs||5″||1920 x 1200;|
10-Bit Exterior Viewable Monitor
|1,000 Nits||—||Watson NP-F770 Lithium-Ion||Touchscreen; playback and recording option (able to record a a 4K, 1-bit HD video)||Yes||0.79 lbs||Limited 1-Year Warranty (3-Year with Product Registration)|
Battery: Limited 1-Year Warranty
|PortKeys BM5 II||3G-SDI/HDMI/ HDMI-SDI cross conversion|
Bluetooth module BT1
|5.2″||1920 x 1080 Touchscreen||2200 Nits||1000:1||L-Series||Touchscreen; wireless Bluetooth connectivity; supports 3D Luts||Yes||1.79 lbs||Limited 1-Year Warranty|
|Small HD Focus 7||4k HDMI||7″||1920×1200 1080p||1000 Nits||1000:1||Sony L-Series Battery||Touchscreen;|
built-in high performance software; supports real-time 3D Luts
|No||0.85 lbs||1-Year Warranty|
|Neewer F100||HDMI/AV||7″ – 1280 x 800||Ultra HD 1280×800||450 Nits||1200:1||L-series battery||Built-in speakers||No|
|FEELWORLD FW279||1X4K HDMI||7″ IPS||1920×1200 pixels||2200 Nits||1200:1||F970 battery||Ultra-bright|
color calibration technology; built-in speakers
|No||0.81 lbs||1 year warranty|
|FEELWORLD T7||4K HDMI||7″ IPS||1920×1200 pixels||450 Nits||1200:1||F970 Battery||Color calibration technology;||No|
|1 year warranty|
|Desview R5||4K HDMI/audio headphone jack||5.5″||1920×1080||450 Nits||1000:1||Canon E6 battery, Sony NP-F series, V-lock battery||Interactive touchscreen controls||No||0.44 lbs||1 year warranty|
|LILLIPUT A8S||4K HDMI input & loop output;|
3G-SDI input & loop output
|8.9 Inch||1920X1200||350 Nits||800:1||L-Series/F-970||Extra large display; supports 3D Luts||No||1.17 lbs||Limited 1-Year Warranty|
|Atomos Shinobi 5||4k HDMI||5-INCH 1000-nit SCREEN||1920 x 1080||1000 Nits||—||Sony NP-F750||Touchscreen; unique screen processing system for extended battery life; Selfie Mirror Mode; built-in Analysis View feature; Supports 1D and 3D Luts||No||0.44 lbs||1-Year Warranty|
|ANDYCINE A6 Plus||4k HDMI||5.5″||FullHD 1920×1080||500 Nits||1000:1||Accepts the Sony-np-f series||Touchscreen;|
supports 3D Luts; dual battery moun
|No||0.52 lbs||Limited 1-Year Warranty|
About Your Guides
A versatile writer who always puts a personal touch on her content, Marjorie believes that writing is not just a skill, but a mix of passion and commitment. As a photography enthusiast, she uses words and images as a powerful tool to make connections and to encapsulate memories.
Andreas used to develop black & white films at the age of 14 by turning his bathroom into a darkroom. After getting his master’s degree in economics, he worked as a marketing consultant in Asia. Today he lives in Berlin and is in charge of the editorial process here at PhotoWorkout.
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