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The 12-Inch 720p External Monitor for DSLRs That Costs Under $100

05.30.12 @ 5:53PM Tags : , , , ,

Re-purposing something is always fun, especially when it can be used to help out filmmakers. This is one of the more interesting DIY monitors I’ve seen, and it’s got one of the largest screens I’ve ever seen for a device like this. Basically, the Motorola ATRIX 4G Laptop Dock for the ATRIX 4G phone can be used as an external monitor. The Micro HDMI port on the device senses any incoming HDMI signal and then outputs it on the screen. Check out the video below of the device in action with a Canon 60D:

Nathan Smith – Motorola Laptop Dock with Canon 60D:

Here is a picture of the setup that Nathan is using to get his 60D working. The missing cable in the middle is a standard male to male HDMI cable:

The laptop dock can be had for just under $100 ($86 on Amazon — less if you can find a deal), and it can take any HDMI device as long as you’ve got the right adapters. The device has an internal battery with supposedly 8 hours of life (probably less if it’s being used as an external monitor), and its 11.6″ screen sports a resolution of 1366 x 768. The monitor has a male Micro HDMI port, so you’ll need a female Micro HDMI adapter on one end and a male Mini HDMI connector on the other. I’m having a hard time finding a female Micro adapter on Amazon — it seems like eBay is the place to go.

While the laptop configuration isn’t as ideal for monitoring, this could work great in a pinch or if you want a cheap monitor that you can throw around. The wireless possibilities with this monitor are huge, because it has powered USB ports — so if you took a wireless HDMI adapter like this brite-View device which can be USB powered, you can have a completely self-contained wireless HDMI monitor for $216 (at current prices, minus cables).

This won’t be a perfect monitor, as your options for adjusting settings seem very limited (and certain Canon DSLRs still output 480p when you press record), but if you’re on a budget, this could be a great solution. If you’re using a DSLR like the Nikon D800 that keeps the internal LCD on even with a monitor connected, you could hand this to your focus puller to use for critical focus. The laptop dock would also be great as a director’s monitor. Specifically with higher end cameras that have HDMI as well as HD-SDI, using it with a wireless adapter would mean one less cable that has to come off your camera and be connected to a video village. Whether this will work perfectly or not remains to be seen, but there’s no question it’s an interesting solution.

If anyone has this laptop dock, it would be great to see more results. If you’ve got your own DIY-type monitor solutions, feel free to share them below.

[via CheesyCam]


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Description image 35 COMMENTS

  • Times like these make me sad about my 550D’s LCD output res. (I know, I know, I get what I pay for).

    • john jeffreys on 05.30.12 @ 6:41PM

      Magic lantern has a thing where you can force a 720×480 hdmi out signal at all times, regardless of whether the camera is recording or not. Its not HD sure, but its nice because its constant and isint the typical 1080i signal / 480p switch that gives you lag and stuff

  • nate martin on 05.30.12 @ 10:01PM

    I have an old Macbook Pro around and I would love to somehow turn that into an external monitor. Has anyone ever attempted this and succeeded?

  • I don’t understand… I see so many videos online of people showing off camera equipment, and they have a bunch of nice gear but clearly have no idea how to use any of it. What the hell kind of video did I just watch? It was shot in the dark, and the camera was out of focus and held super close to the screen.

    Regardless, this is the kind of cheap solution I’ve been looking for. I’ve been trying to figure out if there is a way to force an iPad to do this, but we all know how Apple is. Can you imagine that though? the iPad has a 2K resolution, it’s absolutely perfect for this. But I’ll really have to try this out as I think it will be a great option for doing corporate videos where I’m not running around with a camera. I could see it working well if I just set it on a heavy duty music stand.

    I have a GH2, anyone think there will be any problems with this combo?

    • Well to be fair, if you’re showing the nice piece of gear, it’s very possible it’s your only video camera – thus you have to resort to using a camera phone, but that’s another matter entirely.

      This will work with any camera that sends out an HDMI signal, so yes, the GH2 should work fine.

      • Sadly, This didn’t work for me. I bought the Atrix Laptop Dock as an inexpensive monitoring solution for my GH2, got all the cables and connectors and it works great for playback, but not for live monitoring.

        To see whether the problem was with the HDMI output resolution, I changed it from auto to 1080i to 720p to 480p – still didn’t work.

        To see if the problem was with my camera settings or my cable, I disconnected from the dock and connected to my HDTV, and live monitoring worked just fine.

        That’s what I get for trying to cut corners. I’ll just have to bite the bullet and get a real monitor :-)

        Hybrid Camera Revolution

    • you can! with the teradek cube, it streams the HD signal via an ad hawk wifi network that you can connect to with your i pad.

      • This is an option, but only for those who are shooting on cams with SDI out.
        I admit I might be cluless, but I havent seen too many mini hdmi to sdi cables around.

        • Actually, the Cube comes in an HDMI version and includes a mini HDMI to full HDMI cable so you can connect it to devices like DSLRs and such. Wish I had the cash to buy one of the new models… super sleek looking on a rig.

    • Exactly my thoughts Julian! What was he shooting with, a flashlight? Clearly he had no concept of decent lighting. But, I appreciate the idea of using a laptop as a monitor. It is what digital photographers do all of the time.

      • Well, again, to be fair, he was simply doing a quick video showing proof that his contraption was working – it’s not a how-to video. It’s also not a laptop, but a laptop dock for a phone, the device itself is simply a monitor with a keyboard and internal battery, it does nothing until you introduce an HDMI device.

  • LOL @ “Male to Male”. Gross

  • credit were credit is due.
    this was posted a while back on cheesycam

  • noted, apologies

  • Wow, this is like total sh*t, thanks!

    • Possibly…I think the reason for the excitement about this one is because of the internal battery in the laptop dock – everything is self contained in that one enclosure.

  • you can get a cheap 7 inch battery powered 720p LCD HDTV from Walmart for about $75

    • If that were the case, there would be a lot less people spending good money on external monitors. I think you’ll find that those monitors you’re talking about are actually 480 or less in terms of resolution. This monitor is also over 11 inches, which is significantly bigger than 7 inches, but if you know of a 7″ battery-powered 720p monitor with an HDMI input (under $100), I’d be happy to share it here if you post a link.

  • So does anyone have a link to the exact adapter for this? I cannot find it at all.

    • Yeah the link in the post was broken, didn’t realize, my fault. eBay is the place to go – this will eventually end, but this is what you’re looking for on the laptop dock end:

  • I’m not too sure how I feel about ordering from China, but thank you for the link.
    I decided I’m going to order the set and try it on my XA10.

  • wylosuavez on 06.5.12 @ 9:42AM

    someone knows, if this invention works for canon 600d

  • Hi Joe, do you know if this will work for a Sony NEX-3? It would be great to use a 11″ monitor with the focus peaking feature of the camera :)

    Greetings from Argentina!

    • It seems some cameras are quirky with their outputs, but theoretically it will work with any camera that outputs and HDMI signal, assuming you have the right adapters.

      • The adapters should be: Camera -> Mini HDMI to HDMI cable -> 2 way Female HDMI adapter (if it exists…) -> Laptop dock


  • 75.99 on

  • Cool idea!
    For a step up: I found this 10.1” 1366 x 768 HDMI monitor for $105.

  • Thanks for the tips.

    So, will this dock works with D800?? The example shown is canon 60D though.