External monitor prices have been dropping aggressively lately, with options showing up under $200 making it a no brainer to rig up your camera with some form of monitor larger than the one it came with. Coming in at $499, the new SmallHD Focus, which we first saw at NAB a month ago, is now available for pre-order.

The Focus has a few key innovations that make it worth considering in the competitive field, first among them being its incredibly bright display. On-camera monitors are often small and not bright enough for day exterior work. Coming in at 800 nits, the Focus isn't quite as bright as something like the 2200 nit MustHD monitor, but it's also only a third of the price of the MustHD monitor, and 800 nits should be plenty of brightness for the vast majority of shooting situations. Compare that to the typical screen brightness of 300-400 nits and you have a monitor more than twice as bright as users are used to, at a very affordable price.

Focus-tilt-armCredit: SmallHD

One feature that deserves special attention is the ability to use the Focus to power your DSLR. DSLR and mirrorless camera batteries are generally smaller than video camera batteries, since the body of the camera is smaller, tends to mount the battery internally, and is often designed for only still photo use. The Focus itself is powered with Sony NP batteries, but can be adapted to power Sony A series, Panasonic GH series, and Canon 5D and Rebel cameras through adapters. This makes it so that you only have to worry about one type of battery (the cost effective NP), and by mounting a larger power NP to the Focus you can go longer without battery changes.

Smallhd_focusCredit: SmallHD

While some users might note that the display is only 1280x720, but for a 5" monitor that is going to be absolutely plenty of resolution, and for the intended purpose of this device (bright images and sharp focus tools), keeping the price affordable has to happen somewhere. Like all the SmallHD monitors, it runs the company's Swipe OS which makes it easy to navigate. Focus units ship with a Tilt arm to side mount the monitor above the camera, making for a convenient setup wherever you place it.

Available for pre-order from B&H for $499.

Tech specs

  • 5" 1280 x 720 Touchscreen Display
  • Micro-HDMI Input
  • 800 cd/m² 10-Bit IPS LCD Panel
  • SD Card for Presets and Loading LUTs
  • Sony NP-F L-Series Battery Mount
  • 3.5mm Headphone Output
  • Camera Power Output
  • Swipe OS