I’ve been doing some shopping recently and have a few more gadgets lined up to review. Before going into the full reviews though I thought it might be useful to outline my initial thoughts on these new tools.
I’ve been meaning to pick up a larger monitor for a while now, mainly to help with focussing and to allow clients to get more of an idea of what I’m shooting. The built in screen on the EX1 is great, but it’s usually covered in system data, peaking and zebra markers which mean nothing to most clients.
I ordered the the SmallHD Dp1 with two batteries, a sun hood, neoprene case and the clip on battery holder. I’m not really sure why the battery holder has to be ordered separately as this seems like something that should be included by default though.
Opening the package from SmallHD reminded me of unboxing a new mac, the packaging and presentation of everything is great and a real pleasure to open. I won’t go into too much detail about the DP1 itself as you can find out all about it at www.smallhd.com I’ll just concentrate on my feelings about it for now.
The DP1 is made from solid aluminum, this makes it feel very sturdy. Some of the nicer design features are that it has mounting threads all around it, top mounted connections (which is more practical than on the bottom), and very nice slimline batteries that are also good value, unlike some of todays battery offerings.
The sun hood works well, it is a bit fiddly to fit and remove and has a tendency to hit the screen whilst being fitted which is a bit of a concern though. I like that the screen folds down nice and small when not in use though and think the design of it is really nice.
The biggest downside to the DP1 is that it really doesn’t handle darker images very well, darker tones tend to look blocky and noisy, something that I was quite shocked by, after all the main function of a monitor is that it shows what the camera is recording, which in the case of the DP1 is not necessarily true. I’ve been in communication with SmallHD about this problem and they are trying to resolve it, but as of today the problem still exists.
Another small problem is that the DP1 comes with US chargers only, these do work at 220/240v but in europe you’ll need to have travel adapters in order to use them in our socket types. The DP1 comes with two separate power supplies, one for charging the batteries and another to power the unit, I see this as a good feature as in theory you could run the DP1 from a mains outlet whilst charging the batteries o another at the same time.
In conclusion I would say that if SmallHD can solve the low light image issues then this product will be a winner, if not though then I’d look elsewhere as you really need a monitor that gives a true representation of what the camera is capturing.
Litepanels Mini Plus
After my initial disappointment with the Litepanels Micro I decided to hang on to it because I was desperate for an on camera light at the time. I still think it costs way to much for what it is but I can see the value in having such a light weight on camera light. I’ve also added to my light kit a Litepanels Mini Plus which is a lot more professional than the plastic Micro. Again the light is quite pricey, I purchased the kit that includes a battery and a noga arm, as well as a spare battery and spent over $1,100. The Mini is in another league compared to the micro though and throws a brighter, broader beam of light that makes it ideal for situations where a powered light kit cannot be used.
I’ll post more about the Mini soon.
DM-flat & K-Tek mic mount
After breaking the mic mount on my EX1 in Latvia I decided to replace it with an alternate solution rather then just adding another flimsy Sony mount. I replaced the normal tubular mount with a second hot shoe and purchased one of K-Teks shoe mounted suspension mounts. This all works a treat and is much sturdier than the OEM solution.
More on this soon too.