The sad market of external monitors

It’s just sad. There is absolutely nothing in the market that’s actually affordable and usable. I am talking about an external monitor for your camera while shooting.

The only affordable solution that was created with camera work in mind is LCD4Video. But its resolution is embarrassingly low, has no high quality input jacks for us HD users, the battery is external, and I hear that its shoe mount is flimsy to the point of being unusable.

So what an honest hard working indie filmmaker to do? I hear that people are buying LCD kits (with their electronics dangling out like a slaughtered pig), and even car LCD kits (e.g. Ikan, Lilliput, Xenarc) that they will have to modify and build holders for. There’s a lot of DIY involved.

In other words, there is no “good” solution today for external monitors. There is no monitor that has a 960×540 (1/4th 1080p) resolution at 8″ size, has a proper flip function, enough controls, HDMI/component/composite inputs, has a built-in 6 hour battery, has an optional sun hood and a car charger, and it comes with a special tripod mount with two “strong rotateable arms” that lets you mount the camera on one side and the LCD on the other. The right price is $300 for something like that. It’s economically doable, and with profit.

Instead, people have to improvise. The latest craze among videographers and even professional indie filmmakers is to buy the Sony DVP-FX820 (DVP-FX850 for PAL countries) portable DVD player. It comes with a rotateable swivel 800×480 8″ LCD, 6 hours of battery and an RCA input jack (requires extra $6 adapter to connect your camera to it). Then, you will have to either build yourself a monitor holder, or buy this (not sure it will fit nicely with this device). It’s stupid. It works alright, although the LCD resolution via composite is not fantastic, it’s just that it’s not a device that was designed for this job. Unfortunately, I will have to buy one, as my 35mm adapter is on the way here, and I need a bigger screen for focusing (it’s impossible to use shallow focus on the HV20’s 2.7″ screen). Overall, this DVD player with the tripod mount and the adapter will cost me $320. For something that’s not ideal. Simply because there is nothing better in the market right now.

And then they talk to me about market demand. I can tell you that this DVD player sells like crazy among filmmakers right now. There is demand, there’s just no one to sit down his a$$ and create the right product for us.

And don’t let me start as to how much overpriced tripod rails/rods are. I haven’t seen anything below $600. Because I don’t have any tripod rails I will be limited to be using my 35mm adapter with a single small lens, that won’t break my HV20 apart because of the added weight of the adapter. I am not the Black&Decker type you see to built it myself.

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