Below we’ve compiled the most popular on-camera monitors at B&H for all budgets, many of them with dozens of detailed customer reviews on our website that you may find useful. The majority are from just several brands. Most of the brands, such as Elvid and FeelWorld, have a focus on affordable offerings. Two on the list, Atomos and SmallHD, provide a range from affordable to high end. Blackmagic Design is also highlighted, having recently joined the on-camera monitor space with a range of recording monitors.
With the main reasons for the cost differences being in features such as signal support, connector types, and software functions, the following bulleted list shows the common features to consider when deciding on a new monitor. For a more in-depth discussion on some of the most important of these features, check out the article, Choosing an On-Camera Monitor, and to learn more about how software functions work, such as focus assist, check out this 30-minute video: Camera Monitor Tools.
Key Factors to Consider
- What signals does the monitor support? It has to support your camera’s signal(s)—generally, most monitors will.
- Does it support a 4K input signal? And at what frame rate?
- Does it have the connector(s) you need?
- What’s the screen resolution?
- What’s the brightness? A high brightness, like a very high 2000 cd/m² or even more, more clearly displays the image in sunny outdoor environments.
- Which software functions does it have, such as focus assist, waveform, audio meters, anamorphic de-squeeze, HDR tools, LUT support, and so on? There are features that are common across virtually all monitors, but higher-end monitors usually provide more features and more settings within the features.
- Does the monitor record your camera signal (to a memory card)? Is it a monitor or a monitor/recorder?
- Is the display an LCD or OLED? Is it touchscreen?
On the affordable end, Atomos has its 5.2″ Shinobi model. If you’re working with a small camera, like the Nikon Z 6, you may prefer a compact monitor such as this one to match.
The Shinobi has a stylish look and is loaded with features, yet it’s one of the most affordable monitors around. It has a single HDMI connector for plugging in your camera, and it supports up to a DCI 4K/29.97 input signal and displays the signal on a 1080p screen. The Shinobi has most of the software functions that the more advanced Atomos models provide, such as waveform and HDR monitoring tools, and they’re all accessible by touchscreen. One of these—frame guides—allows you to monitor your image in different frame sizes, including that of a smartphone, so that you can set up your shot in a format that’s required for social medial platforms like Instagram. The Shinobi also allows you to upload up to eight LUTs (looks presets) via an SD card, so that you can apply a LUT to your image during your shot. With 1000 cd/m² brightness, it also has surprisingly high brightness for such an affordable monitor.
The next one up from Atomos is the popular 5″ Ninja V, which is similar but is not just a monitor but also a recorder. It allows you record the shot you’re capturing directly to an SSD drive, in up to 4K, in formats compatible with most editing software. Using a 1TB SSD, you can record up to two and a half hours of 4K video, which you wouldn’t be able to do with most cameras.
In the on-camera range, Atomos has only a few offerings. Atomos generally focuses on just a few monitors at a time. On the high end is its Shogun 7, which is a 7″ cinema monitor, recorder, and switcher. Providing numerous connectors, it allows you to plug in up to four ISO SDI camera feeds and switch between them live to display different shots in a single program output, which you can at the same time record directly on the monitor. Of course, the Shogun 7 has all the bells and whistles of the other Atomos models plus more, including HDR support and very high 3000 cd/m² brightness.
The company SmallHD became popular when it came on the scene with its compact 4.3″ DP4 monitor, which was loved by users from beginner on up. Since then, its releases have become more and more sophisticated. The company recently had a low-end model, the Focus 5, but that’s no longer in production. Perhaps one is in the works. But in the meantime, there’s the 5.5″ FOCUS Pro OLED SDI Monitor and the highly anticipated 7″ top wish, the INDIE 7 Touchscreen. While the new FOCUS Pro is only suitable for SDI workflows, the INDIE 7 offers HDMI and SDI inputs and outputs. It has numerous features, including 4K input, LUT support, and HDMI/SDI cross-conversion.
On the high end, popular models include the 7″ 703 and 5″ 503 UltraBright 1080p monitors, which both have 2200 cd/m² brightness for clear outdoor visibility, plus a long list of software functions like HDR preview, 3D LUT processing, waveform, histogram, and more.
Blackmagic’s options are all from its Video Assist line of on-camera monitor/recorders, each in a different variation. The differences between them are in signal support, connectivity, and recording options. On the lower end is the Video Assist 3G-SDI/HDMI 5″ recorder/monitor, with 1080p signal support and a single SD memory card slot for recording the camera signal. The 7″ version has two card slots, which allow you to swap cards during production for uninterrupted recording. The ability to record directly to the monitor also provides another benefit. If you record raw footage on certain cameras, you’ll be able to record to the monitor at the same time in a codec such as ProRes.
The more high-end Video Assist versions, also available in 5″ and 7″ sizes, offer 4K signal support and features such as XLR ports and 12G-SDI connectors instead 3G-SDI. Also, just like they can record high-quality video, they can record high-quality audio. Most cameras don’t have great audio-recording options, so the more advanced Video Assist models resolve this issue and provide for a more efficient and comprehensive workflow. A key difference between the four Video Assist models is also brightness, with a range from 300 to 2500 cd/m².
The rest of the monitors we’ll highlight are from brands that focus on affordability while offering many of the key features and software functions found in even the high-end monitors.
For a price that’s a steal, Elvid offers the 8.9″ FieldVision, or the smaller 4KV2 7″ FieldVision, which supports up to 4K signals. A bit higher in the price range is the 5″ RigVision, which competes with models such as the above Atomos Shinobi. Two key features of the 5″ RigVision are 4K support and high 1500 cd/m² brightness.
FeelWorld has a very long list of offerings, ranging from basic to advanced, all on the affordable end. Very popular and very affordable models from FeelWorld include the 5″ F5, 5.5″ F5 Pro V2, and 5.5″ F6 Plus, all supporting 4K input signals. There’s also a similar 5.7″ 4K monitor. The differences between these models are in features such as brightness and touchscreen availability. The FW759 7″ IPS is another very affordable and popular one.
The advanced ones include the LUT6S 6″, a 2600 cd/m² brightness HDMI/SDI touchscreen monitor with a compact design, thanks to thin bezels. It offers built-in HDR and DeLog 3D LUTs, anamorphic de-squeeze, vectorscope, and many other software features, and it also lets you upload up to 50 LUTs via an SD card.
Like FeelWorld, Lilliput has a long list of offerings, all on the affordable end. Here’s a best-seller from this company, with more than 100 mostly positive reviews on our website: the A7S 7″ Full HD Monitor with 4K Support, which is available in black or red. The Lilliput 5″ Touch is another highly affordable one with a compact design and a touchscreen. Lilliput designs many of its monitors with a trendy look, and these two certainly fall into that category. On the higher end, Lilliput offers models like the Q7 Pro 7″ HDR and LUT Monitor with HDMI/SDI Conversion.
There are also some popular affordable monitors from other brands at B&H that we’ll highlight here. Check out these options from ikan, PORTKEYS, Bestview, Delvcam, SWIT (which has a built-in joystick), Sony, and TVLogic.
Among all the monitors we’ve mentioned, in addition to the key features, you’ll also find several small features that may be important for your workflow. For example, in the Blackmagic Video Assist line, there’s a small kickstand that pulls out on the bottom to let you set the monitor on a desktop. Combined with the remote port of these monitors, with which you can connect to select cameras over long cables and view the image remotely, the kickstand allows you to use the monitor hands-free when viewing the remote image. Check out the full description of each of the highlighted monitors on the B&H Website to learn more about all the big and small features. And please share any thoughts or comments below.