May 27, 2015

SmallHD's Tiny 5" 1080p Monitor Just Got a Cheaper HDMI-Only Version

SmallHD 501 1080p 5 Inch External Monitor

The SmallHD 502 is one of the smallest, lightest, and sharpest external monitors out there. With HDMI, HD-SDI, and cross-conversion (and a number of other features), it's got a ton of stuff packed into a tiny package. But for people who don't really need or want the HD-SDI, they've just announced a new version, the SmallHD 501, which ditches the HD-SDI ports to shave $300 off the price, bringing everything down to $900. You can also get it for $1,200 with the loupe/viewfinder attachment at some point soon, but the monitor itself is shipping right now.

For a quick recap, here was their launch video for the previous 502 — most of the features are identical with the 501 except for the HD-SDI (and cross-conversion to go along with that):

https://vimeo.com/122785338

And a look at the specific features of the 501:

  • 5" 1920 x 1080p Screen (441 PPI and 85% NTSC Color)
  • Framing Guides, Focus Assist, False Color, Zebra, Histogram
  • Waveform, Vectorscope, RGB Parade
  • Pixel Zoom (2x & 4x with smooth pan via joystick)
  • 3D LUTs with LUT Downstream (So you can send a separate non-log image out of the HDMI port)
  • HDMI (in), HDMI (out), Accepts signals up to 1080p 60fps
  • Takes 2 Canon LP-E6 Batteries (Voltage Range: 6 - 8.4 volts)
  • Audio: 1/8in Mini Stereo Headphone
  • SD Card Slot
  • USB 5V Port at .5A 
  • Power Consumption: 6 Watts 
  • H/W/D: 2.9" (7.37cm)5.8" (14.73cm), .8" (2.03cm)
  • Weight: 7oz (198.45g)
  • Price: $900 and Shipping now ($1,200 with loupe)
SmallHD 501 Back

The panel on the monitor does look pretty good as we saw it during NAB 2015 (and I'm sure some of you already own the 502). I'm personally not as crazy about the viewfinder attachment, but for bright environments or when you prefer operating with a viewfinder, it's going to be an option, and the profile stays pretty thin even when the optical piece is attached:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td3fUkJaOH8

If you're looking for the original with all the bells and whistles, the 502 is also shipping now.     

Your Comment

28 Comments

Maybe I don't understand the market, but how can these companies survive when Black Magic makes something very similar for half the price?

May 27, 2015 at 3:47PM

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@Corrie Uys good question. I researched both and decided to get a 502. The Blackmagic Assist screen doesn't have a wide viewing angle, and does not feature LUT support. It's a bit heavier as well. Now the advantage to BM Assist is being able to record ProRes.
I absolutely love the 502. It's so light. Basically like a smart phone sitting on top of your camera. If you need a discreet monitor that doesn't weigh down your DSLR or small camera it is a treat.

May 28, 2015 at 9:07AM

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I understand it has a little less features, but as others have said, if you need high end functions like on screen LUTs, you are probably an advanced user. And would high end productions use small screens like this? It seems like they have a very very narrow slice of the market between Indies and Pros.

May 29, 2015 at 4:39AM

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June 7, 2015 at 11:36AM

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I don’t want to be a person complaining about the price. I guess it’s just not for me. However I can’t help feeling that there should be more affordable ways to monitor for instance my BMPCC in 1080p. Knowing that many of us already walk around with smart phones with great displays, HDMI adapters to utilise them for monitoring should be a market opportunity. (Yes I know the signal would have to be compressed to get into the smartphone, but it’s a monitor, not a recorder, so I wouldn’t mind.) The Teradek does this cheaper than this monitor, but are there any other more affordable out there that I have missed? EVFs would also be interesting, but they all seem to be like $1000, when clearly add-ons like the Olympus and Panasonic EVFs (for their mirrorless cameras) can be made much cheaper, albeit without HDMI input.

May 27, 2015 at 4:25PM, Edited May 27, 4:27PM

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(Sorry - a bizarre, multiple-post incident...)

Black Magic's own upcoming display almost gets there, but doesn't seem to have the exposure tools.

I'd love to see this kind of small, well-built monitor at a lower price point. Wouldn't we all...

May 27, 2015 at 5:02PM, Edited May 27, 5:03PM

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There is a Blackmagic Video Assist half the price. What do you think? http://nofilmschool.com/boards/discussions/which-5-monitor-smallhd-501-o...

June 7, 2015 at 11:37AM

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True, specially knowing it is the same screen as in the iPhone 6

May 27, 2015 at 6:00PM

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Tulio Campregher
AV coordinator
161

Tulio, the SmallHD screen has a pixel density of 441 and the iPhone 6 Plus has a pixel density of 401 which clearly makes them different screens. Where did you hear that it was an iPhone 6 screen? I'd like to know...

May 27, 2015 at 8:46PM

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james healey
Dolly Operator, Camera guy, 1st AC
154

The thing is, it's not really about just monitoring in 1080p. It's monitoring in color accurate 1080p, with all the tools professionals expect in a monitor. This is aimed more at the pro market than it is at the indie market. There are, of course, cheaper options out there even from SmallHD. But they won't have all the monitoring tools that this one hass.

May 27, 2015 at 6:02PM

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Joshua Bowen
Editor
636

I dont know about that. How many pros are really in the market for a 5" HDMI only monitor? I think this is aimed more at the prosumer/indie crowd, but priced for a professional. Like the poster above, I think there's a big gap waiting to be filled for indie level monitoring solutions. Blackmagic seem to be going there, but I dont think they quite hit the mark with their first generation product. We'll get there soon enough...

May 27, 2015 at 8:20PM

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I'm sure if you look around you can find a Chinese distributor selling something like this for a fraction of the price.

May 28, 2015 at 12:56PM

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Vidrazor
599

At a fraction of the quality/longevity, too! What a deal.

May 28, 2015 at 1:11PM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
668

.

May 28, 2015 at 7:05PM, Edited May 28, 7:07PM

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theuerweirich@me.com
Director of Fotography
334

My SmallHD 502 here,
"COMPONENTS MADE IN CHINA"
Here is the deal, dumb.

May 28, 2015 at 7:06PM

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theuerweirich@me.com
Director of Fotography
334

HDMI is such a crappy connection. If you have even a hint that you'll ever move forward in life in the film industry, make sure every bit of equipment you have has connections for HD-SDI. HDMI cables suck, the connections suck, and if you ever get to a set, the VTR guy will beg you to use only HD-SDI. Believe me, as a guy that's made the mistake of buying HDMI only stuff, it's as useful as a brick as soon as the projects you're working on have any budget.

May 27, 2015 at 11:50PM

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Paul Watt
Cam Op
79

They gotta be kidding with the price.........

May 28, 2015 at 8:10AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1015

June 7, 2015 at 11:37AM

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For all the complaints about price, I think many of you are underestimating the value of the features(even in the HDMI only version). Heck, just the ability to use 3d luts has crazy value. Add on the Sidefinder with all the other features and you have a reasonably priced, feature packed HD EVF. Not to mention, SmallHD has a good reputation for their durability. My only complaint really, is that it's shipping with incomplete features which will be addressed with future firmware updates. I'm not a huge fan of products releasing in these beta states.

May 28, 2015 at 11:08AM, Edited May 28, 11:08AM

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Clifton Archuleta
Producer / Director
83

The current climate of filmmakers can be summed up in three words: "It's too expensive!"

People forget that you have to pay for quality, even in this era of ever-cheaper outsourced goods.

May 28, 2015 at 1:13PM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
668

.

May 28, 2015 at 1:13PM, Edited May 28, 1:14PM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
668

I think a better comparison would be the Odyssey 7. 8" OLED monitor with all the same monitoring tools and recording abilities. The Odyssey 7 is $95 more. The only real downside is it's not a 1080 display (1280x800) and it's highly reflective. Also, you can't use it as an EVF.

The BMVA is a nice recording device, that sports a 5" display...but it certainly doesn't have the toolset or quality of display as the SmallHD. Hence why it's $500. If you don't need those tools however, it's hard to pass over the BMVA.

Personally, I don't know why anyone would really want a 5" monitor. That's small. Most cameras today have built in monitors that are the same size or pretty close to it. Are you pulling focus from a 5" monitor? Do you really need LUTs in a small monitor like that? How well can you evaluate your image on it? Not saying you can't, but a monitor this size isn't ideal for those uses.

I really like the 502 as an EVF more than anything. I think it's toolset and image quality are untouchable by any other EVF below $3500.

May 28, 2015 at 1:29PM, Edited May 28, 1:29PM

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seanmclennan
Story Teller
958

I got to try this monitor first hand. When I first heard of the price I was like eh seems a bit steep, then I actually used in in person and I will say its one of the nicest EVF I've looks at, better then the Arri Alexa one, and rivals the the Graticial OLED and top of the line Sony ones. Its one of the first i've seen where I can honestly stay pulling focus should be a breeze with this one. Also the features were great.

The only down sides I saw was its not OLED, I like that OLEDs are bright enough to look at even in the sun. Also there is a small bit of image distortion in the Loop, don't really distortion more over keystoning effect because of the way the mirror reflects the image in the loop as its side mounted. Its not a deal breaker though and they could improve upon the loop design which is already well thought out.

But I'm gonna get one not just for my FS7 which already has a good enough Viewfinder for pulling focus, this one would just leave no shortcomings but I also work a lot in TV and shoot a lot on PDW F800 XDCams and I would rig this to it to allow perfect exposure and focus.

May 28, 2015 at 10:19PM

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Nah... Shell out an extra 400 and you get a 7 inch 1920*800, 4K field monitoring recorder. I like SmallHD, they have proper looking and operating products, especially 2, 3 years ago compared to their competitors. Nowadays, they're way behind the others.

May 30, 2015 at 2:32PM

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Terrence Klaverweide
Art Director
173

This is nice but i'd go with Blackmagic's new monitor. The price is a lil overwhelming

May 31, 2015 at 5:46PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2683

Why would you go with the Blackmagic? Please tell me: http://nofilmschool.com/boards/discussions/which-5-monitor-smallhd-501-o...

June 7, 2015 at 11:38AM

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The SmallHD 502 monitor is misleading. I own the 502 and have already sent the monitor in for a replacement once. It gets very hot due to the size and I could barely touch it without it burning. The new one isn't "as" bad. Here are my quarrels (which I've emailed SmallHD about).

- Heat dissipation. The monitor uses 2 LP-E6 batteries into a tiny frame with high resolution output. It might be the metal frame that gets hot, but I've never felt my phone get as hot and uses the same resolution.

- NO CROSS CONVERSION (yet). They advertise that you can cross convert from HDMI to SDI and vise versa, but that isn't available right now. SmallHD did say in an email that it was coming out in a firmware update (along with a few other releases) soon.

- No Image Flip function. I purchased this monitor as a lightweight option for my MoVI and when I invert the gimbal...I can't flip the image. I would have to take off the mount and flip it physically. NOT an easy solution. They also said that was coming out in a firmware release. Hopefully soon.

- SD card slot has no spring to help eject the card. I learned this the hard way and had to use my leatherman to pull out the SD card from my new $1,200 monitor. Really? Their answer "We are aware of the SD card issue. I've been able to get it without using something as a lever, but it can be pretty difficult.". Why is it difficult in the first place?

- Histogram reads inaccurately, unless you use digital zoom. **See my video for demostration: http://youtu.be/egQvDrEzlwQ**

This is my first SmallHD purchase and I guess I set my expectations too high on a product that cost $1,200. I feel like the consumers are "beta testing" the monitor for them.

Now that being said, I do feel like they had a great idea with this monitor, but I think because of NAB, they decided that it was the best time to announce it (even though it wasn't fully developed and tested). I get it, but don't agree with that decision. I love many things about the monitor, but having to deal with all the hiccups is really annoying and not appreciated from such a respected company in the industry.

This is my first SmallHD purchase and I guess I set my expectations too high on a product that cost $1,200. I feel like the consumers are "beta testing" the monitor for them.

Now that being said, I do feel like they had a great idea with this monitor, but I think because of NAB, they decided it was the best time to announce it (even though it wasn't fully developed and tested). I get it, but don't agree with that decision. I love many things about the monitor, but having to deal with all the hiccups is really annoying and not appreciated from such a respected company in the industry.

June 9, 2015 at 3:14PM

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