October 26, 2010

Why Using a Field Monitor with an HDSLR is Often a Bag of Hurt

One of the reasons I haven't purchased a field monitor for my 5D Mark II is because the camera drops its HDMI output to 480p the second you hit the record button. Beyond the problem this presents for accurately pulling focus (because of the reduced resolution), this change in resolution is seemingly handled by every field monitor in a different way. Some scale the output accurately, others squash the image, and there is always a variable delay in between the time you hit the record button and the time the monitor refreshes with the new resolution. Monitor manufacture SmallHD is here to lay out the facts of DSLR field monitoring with their excellent video "Effective Pixels 101":

It's worth noting that not all HDSLRs drop their output resolution during recording (the 7D, for example, stays at 1080i). But as SmallHD points out in their article, we shouldn't hold our breath for a 5D firmware fix.

Link: SmallHD on Effective Pixels 101

[via FreshDV]

Your Comment


It certainly looks like a good solution... but I have a cheap monitor that does the job. The delays are certainly annoying and the drop to 480 SUCKS, but a movable 7" monitor is much easier to use on set than the 3" LCD

October 26, 2010 at 2:02PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


It sucks that Canon will not address these issues. Example, the 550D & 7D are so close in design, why cant there be any firmware port for this issue?
And the AGC issue is another of this sort that can easily be fixed.

Manufactures are (canon) has the ability to do it, but instead they keep releasing bits of the whole picture on each design. It is sad that with say the 550D released this year, they have already moved on and it is starting to feel like a neglected design already.

October 26, 2010 at 2:10PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Being 5DmkII owner, I agree that it sucks, but I believe it's unfortunately a limitation of the hardware. Like the 5D, the 550D has only one Digic 4 processor, as opposed to the 7D and 1D that has 2. My understanding is, one of those chips handles the recording, and the other handles the output.

But I could be wrong.

October 26, 2010 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Kris Halverson


(plus, @xlerate: this is why)

October 27, 2010 at 3:57AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


FSI have a fix for this problem. Their monitor correctly uses the signal from the camera. Look it up here in this forum. http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?197157-17%94-field-monitor-prob.... Hope this helps, as far as I know, it's a fix you should be able to get from just about any monitor.

October 29, 2010 at 1:14AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

jason Darmanin

Huh? $1299 for a monitor?
Why not simply get 7D and a cheaper monitor then?

October 29, 2010 at 3:40PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


No high end lenses available for 7D if you wish to use wide angle lenses. Also depth of field is not as great with the 7D as with the 5D. Also higher pixel count for still photos and better low light capabilities. But yes, depending on what you wish to use your camera for ( and I did debate on wether to get the 7D for some time) the 7D will definitely do the job and in some cases better than the 5D. But for some of the things as I mentioned above the 5D's flaws don't matter too much, it's the final output product that counts and the 5D wins by some margin (even if it is a little troublesome to use).

December 1, 2010 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

jason Darmanin