Documentary Photographer and Filmmaker

Why I like the SmallHD DP6 field monitor

on October 15, 2010 with 0 and 0 in category Filmmaking tagged as , , , ,
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SmallHD DP6

I have had my SmallHD DP6 for over a month and have used it on several shoots to include the One Day on Earth Documentary and a cross-country road trip with a stop to Moab to hang out with Tom Lowe from timescapes.org. I have been very impressed with the SmallHD DP6 monitor it is now a must have to keep a solid focus. I have found it to be the perfect size for HDDSLR shooting and great for run and gun work. It is so nice it never leaves the rig.

Resolution: All I can say is wow! I have become very accustom to the retina display on the iPhone and the DP6 delivers HD at 1280×800 resolution making it the smallest full HD monitor available. The blacks are super black and the view angle is over 170 degrees making it great for awkward look angles and camera placements (the whole reason your shooting with a HDDSLR).
Weight: The little guy is only 12 ounces which makes it super easy to mount with a magic arm on a rail or other system. The smart addition of 4 ¼ industry standard mount holes makes it easy to mount on your RedRockMicro rig on a steadycam/glidecam. I personally am against mounting anything to a flash shoe but it can be easily mounted anyway you like. I mount the SmallHD DP6 on my Redrock rails with an Ikan MA206 6″ Articulating Arm and a Redrock Micro Mount.  I use a second Ikan arm to mount a Tascam DP-100 on the other side (balances well).

Power: One think that is a major selling factor for the SmallHD DP6 is flexibility with taking a power source from 5-18v and they make a very slick 5D/7D battery plate. A D-tap cable is available to use it with your V mount of Anton Bauer battery, which is another must have. You can even power the monitor off of USB! The back battery plate accessory is also very cool and does not add that much to the weight or size.

Focus Assist:
The peaking function works well but I would like a little more clarity to come out in the peaking. There is a highly accurate focus assist but the red color takes a bit to get used to. The auto aspect ratio detection to deal with any, preset and customizable image scaling, full RGB color controls, 1:1 pixel mapping.  The focus assist is a must have on any HDDSLR project!

SmallHD DP6 with Canon Battery Adaptor

Build: The little monitor is solid and professional. It is made from a milled aluminum shell instead of injection-molded. The aluminum makes the unit lightweight and extremely strong in addition to making it look and feel professional. The mounts on the side for a sunshade are ingenious and the plexiglass clip on screen protector is a must have to save the monitors amazing screen.
Buttons and Menu: If your use to the Marshall monitor layout the top roller dial will be challenging the first time you use it. After playing with the roller button for a bit I think it’s a very good menu layout but I still like the big individual buttons on the Marshall. A few weeks into ownership, the menu jog dial system grew on me and now using it is second nature.
Future Proof: The main reason I purchased the DP6 over the Marshal 5D is the 1280×800 resolution, and the ability to upgrade to SDI in addition to HDMI at a later date. As stated above, the flexible power system makes it work with any V-Mount or Anton Bauer battery system. The systems firmware is easily upgraded and Reed at SmallHD appears dedicated to making the firmware better every day.  Update: Reed says the kudos go to Dale Backus and Chris Guan as the brains behind the whole firmware/software development.

SmallHD DP6

DP6 vs Marshall 5”: I have not had much time with the Marshall 5” V-LCD50-HDMI and only played with Philip Bloom’s Marshall 5” at the Vimeo awards .  I think Marshall monitors are great, and they are the industry standard that all other portable monitors will be compared against. I think SmallHD is a coming into its own and after a slow start it is nice to see another solid monitor being offered.
  • I found the small size and weight fantastic. Its $500 price point is even nicer. If you already have a larger Marshall it is hard to beat consistent button placement.
  • I’m was not a big fan of the 5” Marshall’s AA batteries but I think may people will like the emergency battery replacements in the field but I like the DP6 5D battery rack the best. The Marshall’s lower 800×480 resolution was sharp but not as nice as the super sharp DP6. I also did not care for the Marshall’s back mount HDMI configuration. I think the placement will make it easier to break the HDMI cable (which we all do when using the non field friendly HDMI standard).

Bottom line: The SmallHD DP6 is a super sharp, rock solid monitor. I think it’s flexible power system and upgrade path from HDMI to SDI makes it a worth the extra money over the Marshall 5” because it can grow with you as a filmmaker. So if its 7D/5D today and Red Epic tomorrow spring for the SmallHD.

SmallHD DP6 on RedRock Micro Captain Stubling and TASCAM DR-100

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