SmallHD DP6 Review
I’ve never been a winker. I don’t know if I wasn’t blessed with the necessary cheek muscles or my parents had me undergo an experimental Botox procedure in the early 90s, but I do know I can’t close one eye while keeping the other open. As you can imagine, it’s also tough to use an EVF viewfinder. It only takes a solid 45 minutes with a traditional viewfiender, and my eye/cheek muscale combination is spent.
With this tragic hardship in mind, I wanted to purchase a monitor that would be large enough for my clients to watch, but small enough to double as a faux EVF for a hand held rig. I debated between the Marshalls, Ikans and the SmallHDs. Marshall had the price and image quality. Ikan had the resolution and price. SmallHD had the resolution and image quality… and a great Black Friday sale. So I Visad up and bought the DP6 Bundle. Was it worth the extra $350? So far, I believe so.
On the Set
Due to Sony’s nice 3″ monitor on the FS100, lately I haven’t made a habit of working with a field monitor… but that is going to change. What a difference it makes framing shots from a larger, more realistic perspective. It is so nice having a more expansive detailed look at what I am filming. Even though the screen is only 5.6”, I couldn’t imagine needing more real estae to judge and frame my shots. I also couldn’t imagine having an SD screen. Everything we look – film, TV, computer monitors – is at least 720p. Why would we judge professional video work in standard definition?
Using the monitor + sunhood as an EVF proved to be a successful experiment. I spent over 5 hours using the DP6 on my handheld rig and I enjoyed it much more than a traditional EVF. Perhaps I didn’t look like the coolest DP in town, but the monitor wasn’t awkwardly large. My only disappointment was the reflective quality of the screen. It was a little glossier than I hoped for. But, perhaps, that could be attributed to the acrylic screen protector I was using.
I’ll need to spend a little more time calibrating, but with the quick adjustments I did make, I can safely say adjusting the monitor’s default settings is very easy. The actual ‘look’ of the screen is exceptional. The images are very sharp and clear. The 3” monitor on my FS100 is very sharp and the DP6 is right at that level.
I’ve read a few reviews that stated they wanted more buttons on the monitor. I happen to like the simplistic system of the DP6. The menu system is very intuitive and there are two buttons that give you instant peaking and false color options. There isn’t any wasted space on this monitor, and that’s a good thing. When I first received it, the light-weight made me think it was possibly cheaply made. But upon further inspection, it was clear the monitor was made from lightweight yet very sturdy aluminum. It’s very nice to have a monitor that doesn’t add much weight to your rig.
This isn’t an assault on SmallHD, but a critique on the whole field monitor industray as a whole: these things are freaking expensive. A couple of years ago, my wife and I sprang for a $700 Samsung 1080p 37” TV. I can’t believe I’m paying $200 more for a 720p 5.6” monitor. Granted, there is some advanced technology in this piece and the pricing is not out of line, considering the key attributes it has over its competitors.
So is it worth it?
This is a great field monitor now and, thanks to SmallDP’s very generous future-proofing, I believe it is a good investment for years to come. Yes, almost $900 does seem like a lot to spend on a 5.6″ screen. But, so far, the results have been a pleasant surprise. Small HD has also been a pleasure to work with so far, answering questions instantly with their online chat. SmallHD provides big perks for a small company that, I believe, will quickly grow into the affordable field monitor company to beat.