SmallHD DP6 first impressions

I got back from my shoot in Austria last night to find the DP6 monitor from SmallHD waiting for me. To be honest I’m not going to have much time over the next few days to put it through it’s paces but thought I’d share a few initial thoughts with you and some quick iPhone pics I took whilst having a play with it.

Firstly the packaging and build quality are fantastic, smallHD do such a great job of making these things feel industrial. I ordered one of the perspex covers which I fitted to the front as soon as I opened the box so as to stop any unwanted finger prints from getting on the screen. These work really well and it’s reassuring to know that the screen is protected.

Talking of the screen, the image is incredible! The only thing that I’ve seen of a similar quality is the iPhone 4’s screen as they both have a very high pixel density. I tried the DP6 with my Canon 5D2 and for some reason the image produced looked a bit yellow, more so than the LCD on the camera so I’m going to need to have a go at getting it calibrated before using it. My unit also has three hot pixels, but they are so small that they are only really noticeable against solid / dark colours.

Power wise I ordered the Canon battery plate which holds two Canon 5D/7D batteries. The monitor will actually run with just one battery attached so having two allows either hot swapping of batteries without loss of power or just a longer run time. The plate fits very well, again feeling very robust and the Canon batteries fit in with a solid click.

I had a slight issue with the jack connector from the power plate not fitting snuggly in the DP6 resulting in intermittent power loss but that was easily fixed by tweaking the pin inside the socket slightly. I’ve let the guys at smallHD know about the issue, mine may have been a one off.

The controls on the DP6 are much improved over the DP1 which I owned. Using two small buttons and a click/roll jog dial type wheel the UI is very easily navigated and making changes to settings becomes intuitive very quickly. The smaller of the two buttons activates the DP6’s focus assist feature which works very well indeed. The focus assist makes the whole image appear dark whilst highlighting in focus areas in bright white. I found it to be very accurate and helpful with my 50mm at f1.2!

The sun shade works just like the one on the DP1 and is a wonderful design, keeping the unit lightweight whilst doing a perfect job of removing glare.

Only time will tell if it holds up to use in the field. I’m really keen to spend more time with the DP6 and will write more when I have done so watch this space for updates about this monitor soon.

UPDATE 14-09-2010

Adrian asked in the comments if the DP6 scales the image to correct the 5D markII output differences when recording and I can confirm that it does. You just have to set the scaling to ‘Auto’ in the menu. I’ve added a couple of pics showing the monitor before and after pressing record.

UPDATE 16-09-2010

I spent some time with the DP6 today and installed the latest firmware from SmallHD. On the positive side the new firmware does adds a preset that simply works wonders with the 5D’s output modes. It pushes the image out to fill the maximum area possible in both viewing and recording modes.

On the downside I’ve started to discover a few things that are a slightly niggly. Firstly I’m struggling big time to get the colours right on the monitor, no matter what I adjust I always seem to have a yellow tinted image. In trying to adjust the colours I’m also noticing that the scroll wheel adjustment doesn’t always respond as expected, if I try and dial up the settings quickly it seems as though it struggles to keep up. Moving the dial more slowly seems to make it more reliable.

Minor niggles I know, but worth mentioning.

UPDATE 13-02-2011

Read my full review of two new Marshall HDMI monitors plus the SmallHD DP6

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    • Adrian
    • September 14th, 2010 12:36am

    Hey Paul

    Great to see that someone has one of these monitors at last and can give us some unbiased :) feedback about it. Really wanting to know how the monitor handles the “scaling when recording” issue that the 5D has. My understanding is that the DP6 scales the image up when this occurs??

    You probably haven’t had time to leave the house with it yet, but looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Cheers.

    • Hi Adrian, I’ll try that out for you later today and post back how well it works when scaling with the 5D. I need to update the firmware first so that it has the latest version.

  1. My dp6 came very yellow as well, have you found a rgb calibration that gets the monitor to a true color? I am having trouble getting it just right. Thanks!

    • Hi Andrew. I’ve been told to expect a solution to the yellow hue later today (Wednesday) via a firmware update.

    • Alvise
    • September 24th, 2010 12:59pm

    Hi Paul. Did you managed to get better numbers for rgb gains? Received mine today. I think I’ll need a colorist to tell me If I can do something. I know I’m not buying an Astro monitor, but this is waay off.
    Thanks

    • No, I tried to dial it in but couldn’t get away from the heavy yellow image at all. SmallHD sent me a replacement monitor which arrived today and it’s the same so I’m a bit baffled as to what’s happening.

    • Joel Arvidsson
    • September 26th, 2010 9:11am

    Do you still prefer your 7″ marshall over the dp6? If, why? Is it the color representation and the false color? or else?

    Dp6 looks like the sweetspot in size, but 90% of the time Im on a tripod or jib anyway (hvx200). I really would like to se some the false color on the dp6. I think dp6 should have had 3 userbuttons instead of one for fast operation.

    • It’s hard go say at the moment as I haven’t had Much time with the DP6 yet due to a heavy editing workload. I’m confident that it will be easier to nail focus with the DP6, and it’s certainly better than the Marshall at handling the Canon 5d’s output modes.

      One area where the Marshall wins at the moment is colour accuracy. I haven’t managed to dial in a setting where the displayed colours on the DP6 match those of the cameras LCD, which is a pretty accurate guide to the final result. SmallHD have built in the ability for end users to update firmware and are working on the colour issues though so this isn’t the end of the story.

      Having fairly accurate colours is quite important to me because I dial in White balance visually. If you can ignore the yellowish tones then the DP6 may be preferable with it’s super high res display, if smallHD nail that they’ll have a definite winner on their hands.

    • diane
    • October 17th, 2010 1:08pm

    hey paul. i’ve been using the monitor on several big commercials i’m directing and we found the color representation to be spot on. perhaps a little crushed on the blacks but that’s it. is it the saturation? i really have not had any yellowish on my monitor.

    • nick
    • November 17th, 2010 11:01pm

    hi paul,
    any update on the monitors colour issues, im thinking of the dp6 but would rather know this has been fixed?

    • Not really Nick, smallHD are still trying to get the colours closer but as yet you can’t really rely on the DP6 for judging colour in my opinion. It does a great job for focussing but I have to use the cameras LCD for checking colour.

    • five_betty
    • December 10th, 2010 8:11am

    Just received my DP6. 100% agree with Paul Joy’s assessment. Color is yellowish, menu wheel skips if you turn to fast, blacks are crushed, and color adjustments don’t improve anything. On the positive side, great for dialing in focus, very sharp image. Nice enclosure.

  2. My DP6 has a “lovely” yellow cast to it as well. Anybody have a fix for this? I have the latest firmware. Waiting to hear back from SmallHD support…

    • Thanks for letting me know Jason, please keep me updated.

  3. I received the following email from SmallHD support:

    Update for Case #SC3026 – “DP6 yellow”

    Hi Jason,

    We are aware of this issue and it will be addressed in V1.3 of our Firmware Update scheduled to be out in the next 2-3 weeks. This update may not fix all of the color issues, but you will see some definite improvements. The link to V1.3 will be listed on our support page when it is available.

    Thanks!
    Chris

    • Pretty much the same thing that has been said for the last two firmware versions as well. After many conversations with SmallHD about this issue I ended up wondering if my expectations were too high but it is an issue and is the biggest flaw in the DP6. I actually started to question my own sanity at one point as most people didn’t even acknowledge it so it’s actually a relief to find that I’m not alone. Sorry, I know that doesn’t help you though!

    • R K
    • February 6th, 2011 11:51pm

    Has the yellowish display issue been resolved by any of the firm wear updates as of 2/06/11?

    • Each firmware has reported improvements and I think they may have improved it slightly via tweaking the firmware but to be honest the issue is still there it’s still causing me problems with white balancing on location.

    • nord898
    • February 9th, 2011 12:32am

    I just got my DP6 last week, and finished first shoot with it this past weekend. I definitely also experienced the yellow coloring issue, and have not read about it anywhere else. It’s quite distorted in tungsten balanced lighting situations, skin tones are really really yellow! I tried fiddling with the RGB settings briefly, but don’t really understand the settings. Only made it worse. Pity, because I do love the monitor in most other respects. Would love a battery meter in the next firmware update. When using with the Canon batteries it just goes to black with no warning!

    As for the menu wheel, if you turn it a bit in one direction, then hold down the wheel button, it flies through in the same direction. Don’t know if this is already obvious to everyone, but if you haven’t tried it, you’ll love it. It’s a really nice touch!

    • Thanks for sharing that, yes it is a shame about the yellow things as in every other respect the DP6 has worked out really well.

    • Bart Baker
    • February 20th, 2011 12:48am

    Hi Paul.. Loving your reviews (blog). I am seriously considering buying a DP6.. But after reading the issues with the colour im not so sure.. Do you have any idea what Smallhd are planning to do about it or is it a lost cause?

    • I know they’re still trying to improve it via firmware, it’s impossible to say more than that really.

  1. October 5th, 2010