A Quick Overview
Our Review of the Top 5 Best External Camera Screen in 2022
Best Overall - Editor’s Choice - Atomos Ninja V
It’s no news that the Atomos Ninja V is one of the top-rated external camera screens around. This is not surprising as it possesses the key features any videographer can want in an external camera screen.
The Atomos Ninja V is a 5.2-inch wide monitor that can help in video recordings in addition to providing an enhanced and good view of the video shoot. This external camera screen can record in 4K resolutions up to 60fps and at lower resolutions in higher frame rates. In addition, this external camera screen helps output at 10-bit for optimal display.
The HDR and SDR provisions on this external monitor have 10+ stops of dynamic range that aids to record direct display signals from the camera like the Pq, Log, or HLG. This external monitor also has 1000 nits(1) for daylight usage.
This external monitor uses an HDMI 2.0 connector type and can record in some codecs in which you don’t have to lose quality video footage. Weighing just over 300g, you can use this external camera screen with your DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Also, the Atomos Ninja V uses a 1TB SSD for storage. Undoubtedly, the Atomos Ninja V is deservedly the overall best external camera monitor around.
Best Premium External Camera Screen - SmallHD 703
So, if cost is not an issue in your pursuit of premium features in an external camera screen, the SmallHD 703 might be what you are looking for.
This external monitor for cameras is 7 inches in length and provides a whopping 2200 nits display brightness, making it eligible for use in low-light and well-lit environments. Also, it offers three inputs in two SDI connectors (10-bit) and one HDMI(8, 10, and 12-bit) connector.
Like the Atomos Ninja V, the SmallHD 703 displays in 10-bit color depth. However, with this external monitor, you will be getting the necessary tools for live adjustments of the images on your screen. In addition, the screen on this external monitor is protected by gorilla glass for durability.
Due to the three connectivity channels, the SmallHD 703 provides a dual view feature that helps the user to monitor two cameras simultaneously. The ability to preview HDR content is crucial to videographers and one feature this external camera monitor has.
This external monitor uses customizable buttons instead of touch input. This feature might be a drawback for some people, and some other people can prefer the buttons. However, apart from the mode of control on this screen, every other feature provided is top-notch.
Best Budget External Camera Screen - FEELWORLD FW759
For those with a tight budget constraint or individuals looking to move up one more step in their videography journey, then this external camera screen might just be perfect for you. This external monitor manages to rival some of the best external camera monitors in the market while only attracting a low price.
The FEELWORLD FW759 is a 7-inch IPS screen in plastic housing. Although this external monitor does not record, it still outputs in Ultra HD resolutions and lower from HDMI connections to the camera to shoot in higher resolutions like the 4K. In addition, there are advanced imaging tools available for videographers to use for live adjustments of the images being projected.
This external camera monitor has a modest 800:1 contrast ratio and 400 nits screen brightness. The FEELWORLD FW759 comes with a sunshade that can aid in maximizing illumination in bright areas. In addition, this monitor is lightweight, making it suitable for use with camcorders, DSLR, mirrorless cameras, and use on bigger camera rigs.
Best Portable External Camera Screen - Atomos Shinobi
Every videographer looks to reduce the weight of their rig as much as possible, making them earnest in looking for the best lightweight kit available for video productions. As far as external camera screens go in today’s market, the Atomos shinobi is the best portable external camera screen around.
Weighing just 200 grams, this lightweight external camera monitor is perfect for all kinds of shooting positions and movements. The 1000 nits screen on this external monitor has 10-bit HDR displays accompanied by necessary imaging tools.
This external monitor LCD screen is 5.2 inches and provides one of the best analysis views in an external monitor. With this external monitor, you get to view and analyze the images side by side, with which you can achieve awesome edits.
Like the Atomos Ninja V, the Shinobi can process different signals from your camera. Although the Shinobi does not have the recording feature of Ninja V, the connectivity over HDMI helps the user monitor 4K resolutions and lower in Ultra HD resolution or lower resolutions at reasonable frame rates.
Best for Outdoor Shooting - Blackmagic Design Video Assist
- This external monitor provides one of the best screens you can use outdoors with its 2500 nits screen.
- You get the ability to record directly to an external SSD and even broadcast the video being monitored to a PC in a 1080p format.
- It features multiple memory card slots and connectors for seamless recording.
The fifth external camera screen on review is the Blackmagic design video assist made by one of the industry’s leading camera makers. There will always be situations where videos need to be recorded in brightly lit areas, where low-nit monitors just won’t do. In cases like these, only high-nit screens will do, and this external monitor has one of the highest nits in the market.
This external monitor has an impressive 2500 nits screen for daylight usage. This monitor rivals the Atomos Ninja V in almost all the key features. This screen can also record apart from the primary monitoring duty. In addition, this Blackmagic product can record in 4K and lower resolutions.
An added feature is the ability to record to an external SSD directly from the monitor. You can also extend the footage being recorded to your computer in 1080p resolution via a USB in addition to audio monitoring.
This monitor uses two connections in the form of HDMI and SDI for both inputs and outputs. These connectors ensure you get the cleanest video footage possible in the 10-bit 4:2:2 quality. In addition, this 5 inches external screen also features some of the most powerful imaging tools available to a videographer.
You should check and re-check if the external monitor you have in mind is compatible with your camera as this is the single and most important feature of an external camera monitor.
How to Choose the Best External Camera Screens
External camera screens are an essential part of a professional videographer’s kit. While the extra monitor appears like a touch too much to a non-specialist, a pro knows the value an external screen provides to churning out quality work.
Apart from the apparent magnifying function of the external camera monitors, they also provide other vital functions that help ease the handling of video projects. Features like recording, audio monitoring, live image editing tools, broadcasting, and a host of other functions are available at the fingertip for videographers to use.
With the external screen performing some of the significant functions your camera is supposed to do, the burden on your camera is eased, resulting in better battery life, average temperature, and ability to shoot for extended periods.
Although not every external camera screen has all the essential features mentioned, some are more important than others to personal videographers. Of course, it all depends on what the videographer wants. Anyways, here are some of the crucial things to look out for in an external camera monitor.
The compatibility of an external camera screen with your camera is critical, or else even the best camera monitor will be useless to you. So, first of all, you should check if your camera can output clean video (a video without the on-screen info on the camera) and not just image playback.
After checking if your camera can output clean video, the next thing to check is the connectivity mode. Most cameras use mini HDMI to output videos. Other cameras use SDI connectors, while some other cameras use unique ports and need adapters for connectivity.
Another feature to check is the quality of video your camera can output. For example, some cameras output in 4K resolutions, while most output videos in lower resolutions. So you have to make sure your external monitor can at least input in the same resolutions as your camera outputs.
- Recording Feature
The ability of an external camera screen to record is not one every external monitor has. While most cameras can only help you better monitor the images your camera is capturing, some monitors can help you record.
The recording feature on the external monitor helps ease the burden on the camera. External monitors can help record in uncompressed formats that are good for edits. In addition, external monitors can record for more extended times because they can house more significant storage or document to an external drive. Some external recording monitors can also broadcast to a third device for viewing, albeit in lower resolutions.
It is better to opt for recording external monitors only if necessary because they attract a much higher cost than ordinary monitors. However, this cost is compensated for with outstanding features.
- Imaging Tools
One of the selling points of external camera monitors is that most of them come with imaging tools that can help videographers adjust the images to satisfaction. Powerful tools like RGB parades, waveforms, LUTs, vectorscopes, custom aspect ratios, and others.
These tools help users customize the images to their preference and help reduce the works in post-production. Unfortunately, while all these tools are essential, some monitors don’t have them, but the premium monitors offer every one of these tools and some more.
The standard resolution for most external monitors is 1080p. However, some of the cheaper monitors have lower resolutions. The external monitors automatically fit the resolutions from the camera to fit the screen. An important feature is the 1:1 pixel mapping that ensures that you enjoy the entire image without scaling.
- Size and Weight
It’s common knowledge that size and weight go hand-in-hand. The typical screen length size for monitors is between five inches and seven inches. There are bigger external monitor screen sizes, but those are usually reserved for big production setups.
While you consider the added weight of an external screen, a 7-inch screen will give better details than a 5-inch screen. However, it is essential to note the weight of the screen so as not to risk upsetting the whole camera rig. Luckily, there are lightweight screens that can be used with small-size cameras.
- Frame Rate
Frame rates are basically a description of how smooth a video plays. The standard is 30fps. The critical thing here is to make sure that the monitor can process in the same fps as the camera is recording for any particular resolution. For example, a monitor that can only monitor UHD at 30fps will not be compatible with a camera that outputs the exact resolution at 60fps.
- Screen Brightness
The brightness of a screen simply indicates how much illumination the screen has. It is often described with nits or cd/m2. Brightness might seem inconsequential compared to other features on this list, but it is almost as important. The reason is that the brightness of a screen can dictate where you can use the screen.
It is always advised to go for screens with a minimum of 500nits. A thousand nits screen will work outdoors and indoors, although there are screens with a much higher nits count. Screens that have nits lesser than 500 can only be used alongside a sunshade when they are to be used outdoors.
It depends on preference. The primary aim of an external monitor is to magnify the view from your camera. The recording feature is an added advantage, as it gives you more flexibility with the storage and recording formats.
The industry standard is 1080p. This resolution is perfect for the sizes that external monitors come in. The important thing is to ensure that the external monitor’s resolution is in a 1:1 pixel mode with the camera.
External camera screens are an essential part of a camera setup. They provide important image detail, ease the camera’s workload, and provide fantastic image analysis tools. Unequivocally, external monitors might just be the final piece for a videographer.
Personally, the Atomos Ninja V is my favorite external monitor. This external monitor is the monitor to beat in today’s market because it provides its owners the best value for their money. Of course, every monitor on this list offers a good deal, but the Atomos Ninja V just about edges them in value offered.
Which external monitor do you prefer to work with? Which feature takes precedence in a monitor you want? Feel free to pen your thoughts.
- Dominique W. (2018 Apr). A beginner’s guide to nits, lumens, and brightness. Retrieved from https://www.inhouseav.com.au/blog/beginners-guide-nits-lumens-brightness/