The right screen to view your world
Whether your camera is on a drone 200 feet above you or at arm’s length on a handheld gimbal, you want to see what the camera is capturing while you shoot. Most drone pilots find that having the video transmission transported to a monitor makes it easier to get that perfect shot. When you send video feed to a monitor directly from the drone, it needs to be wireless, but when you use a handheld gimbal, the video feed can be either wireless or by HDMI cable. The wireless feed must be of the highest quality with little to no lag time so that the pilot and/or camera operator can accurately frame up and focus the shot. Fast-moving scenes require immediate video transfer to the monitor. Here are some monitors that we recommend for video work.
This 7-inch screen is easy to see on the brightest sunny day, but if you want to see all the details, make sure you install the included sunscreen. This monitor has a full-size HDMI input, which will display the video feed in 1024 x 600 HD.
It also has a built-in battery pack and comes with a charging jack, but you will need to buy a separate power adapter to charge the battery. The headphone jack allows the pilot to monitor the sound quality, and the 1/4–20 threaded socket makes it easy
to mount this unit on a tripod
Overall size: 7.20 x 5.00 x 1.00 in.
Weight: 17.0 oz.
Graupner 9-Inch LCD
This has a little larger screen than the other monitors, but it provides fairly sharp image with the 1024×600 pixel screen resolution. I had no problem using it in bright sunlight, and it was very easy to adjust focus with it. The 9-inch LCD is a bit heavier than the others, but that larger screen makes the added weight worth it. It has a built-in battery, and you will need to get a separate charger for it. A built-in headphone jack and 1/4–20 threaded tripod mount at the bottom make this an easy monitor to use with drones or handheld gimbals.
Overall size: 9.00 x 6.10 x 1.00 in.
Weight: 28.0 oz.
GetFPV Lumenier 1000 Panel FPV Monitor
This monitor comes with the usual complement of a headphone jack, 1/4–20 threaded tripod mount at the bottom, and a built-in battery. It also has quite a few cool features, such as a battery charger/power plug, HDMI plugs in the back (instead of the side), and a lightweight sunshade. It has a built-in DVR and will save the videos to an SD card (not in a format that can be used for moviemaking but perfect for social media). The screen is bright enough to easily see in daylight for setting up the frame and focusing.
Overall size: 7.40 x 5.30 x 1.30 in.
Weight: 19.0 oz.
Firelands Ares 7-Inch HD FPV Monitor
This 7-inch screen has all its navigation buttons at the bottom, and it is easy to see in the bright sunlight (and adding the included sunscreen makes it even easier to see). I was able to focus and frame up the shot with and without the sunscreen during a daylong shoot, and my images were always sharp and easy to see. As with the other monitors,
it has a full-size HDMI input that will display the video feed in
1024 x 600 HD. The built-in battery pack requires a separate power adapter to charge the battery. There is a headphone jack and 1/4–20 threaded tripod mount on the bottom of the monitor. This monitor will accept 7 to 22.2 volts, which gives pilots a wide latitude of battery-charging options.
Overall size: 7.00 x 4.60 x 1.00 in.
Weight: 14.8 oz.
Ready Made RC STRIX-5812 7-Inch Monitor
This monitor has all the navigation buttons at the bottom and a charging-status light on
the front. It comes with a charger, a power AC adapter, and a large 1900mAh/7.4V lithium battery. Its built-in sunshade and
1024 x 600 bright screen make it easy to use in the bright sun, and focusing and framing is much easier using this large screen than it is on the smaller LCD screens found on most cameras. I found this monitor easy to use in the field, but because it includes a power supply, I find myself using it all the time in the studio. It does not have a headphone jack, but it does have a 1/4–20 threaded tripod mount on the bottom. This is another monitor that can accept a wide latitude of operating voltage, from 7 to 25 volts.
Overall size: 7.20 x 4.75 x 1.25 in.
Weight: 17.0 oz.
Intended for use in the film industry, the DH7 is a full HD monitor with 4K HDMI capabilities. With 1920×1080 HD resolution, it offers vibrant colors and a wide viewing angle. Other features for videographers include histogram and audio-level meters, headphone output, sunhood, peaking, false color, and clipping guides. It comes with adapters for the popular Sony L-series and Canon E6 batteries and others, along with an AC adapter for studio use. It also has 1/4–20 threaded inserts on all sides and is extremely lightweight.
Overall size: 7.20 x 4.50 x 0.60 in.
Weight: 8.0 oz.
Video Assist 4K
This monitor not only has a very bright, easy-to-see screen but also all the whistles and bells any videographer would want. There is the touch screen, focus peaking, false color, built-in speakers, ability to record high-quality sound, histogram display, headphone jack, and dual-battery power supply. In addition, it can record Ultra HD in 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes and DNxHD formats. There are slots for two standard SD memory cards, which allows the camera to record on one card and automatically switch cards when the first one gets full. There is just not enough room to explain all the features on this versatile monitor, but the tradeoff is the added cost and weight.
Overall size: 7.45 x 5.14 x 1.28 in.
Weight: 17.0 oz.
There you have it, a good selection of monitors that drone pilots can incorporate into their aerial-image-capture setup. Adding a good monitor will make it much easier to see, frame, and focus the shot. How much you want to spend will depend on your needs and the production quality desired.
Text & photos by John Reid