Red sells the Epic and Scarlet PL mount on its own for $2000.  It’s a sexy chunk of milled titanium with electronic connections for smart lenses.  The aluminum mounts they make are $700.  But they don’t make the PL mount in aluminum…

So you’ve got a Scarlet in an EF mount and someone offers you a nice PL lens, or you pick one up on Ebay.  It is not electronic and doesn’t care about shiny titanium.  Do you still need to drop $2000 on the Red PL mount?

No!  Fortunately, the aftermarket has sprung up a few alternatives.  If you’ve got $500 and an Ebay account, you can get one from a seller named ciecio7.  He’s well known for making aftermarket lens adapters, I own a few of them for m4.3/EF/OCT-19 and have been happy with the quality.  They’ve survived a solid 2 years in the rental house, so I had no problem throwing down for his PL adapter.  While I have only had it a month or so, I’m pretty sure I can give it a solid review.  Here’s what you need to know:


(sorry, pics to come shortly, the adapter is out on a rental)

-Comes with its own body cap, which is nice as you normally wouldn’t realize you needed one until it was too late.

-Shipping is fast and reasonably priced, no big markup.

-Fit.  I can’t speak to this other than to say, if you mounted this on your camera, it’s unlikely anyone would ever notice that it wasn’t part of the boxed package.  Comes in black or silver.  I went with black, just ’cause.

-Red approved.  Normally, Red approves certain aftermarket products for compatibility.  It’s not a published list as far as I know (though it should be, Red!) but from what I read on the Reduser forum, ciecio7’s mount *IS* Red approved, meaning that mounting it on your camera won’t result in birds falling from the sky, plagues of locusts, or Jannard showing up at your door and punching you in the mouth.  Probably.

-And it works!  That’s the bottom line, right?  You mount it, you put a PL lens on it, Bob’s your uncle and all…  I’ve read some arguments about microns and fit and so on, but there is no issue here.  Of course, this is a “dumb” adapter, which suits me just fine as the electronic PL lenses are not in my market.


-Ah it annoys me when I can’t come up with one thing that I would change or improve on something I’ve tested.


If you need a Red PL mount for your EF mount Scarlet or Epic, there are other choices.  Allstar has a multi-mount system, and I believe there is a Red approved PL mount from Australia as well.  Both probably work just fine, but both are more expensive.  If you just need a simple PL mount for your Red, ciecio7 on Ebay is a very good option.

I’m not affiliated with him, so I won’t bother including a direct link to him, but if you can’t find him on Ebay on your own, you probably shouldn’t be swapping mounts on your Red in the first place.

You buy screen protectors for your cameras and monitors, right?

With dozens of screens in our rental house, of all shapes and sizes, I buy lots.  Mostly to protect them against 1st ACs who mask frames with duct tape and wedding photographers who toss cameras loose in the trunks of cars (I mean you, Jacob).

So, what do I buy?  Well to tell the truth, it depends.  Most of my DSLRs get hard screen protectors, but everything else gets soft ones.  In general, I go on Ebay and snap up the cheapest 10 for $5 pack I can get and we cut them to fit.  Every other month they all go in the garbage, so why spend more?

Then the people at offered to send me some of their product to test out.  Supposed to be high quality at a reasonable, though not Ebay cheap, price.  Mostly I was curious to see if a mid ranged product would fare any better than the cheap ebay stuff I usually burn through.

In my usual brutally honest way, the answer is…


This is a pretty tough thing to measure, and it’s subjective to the amount of damage applied to each screen, so take the following with a very large grain of salt.

Monitors that went out over a few months with the higher quality screens DID seem to be cleaner/brighter at the end of the changing window.  Enough that I let a couple slide without changing them.  Over the space of 3 years, this would make the higher quality ones cheaper to use.

On the other hand, when I subjected both the cheap and the good screens to some scratch tests (Xacto knife sideways, nail puncture and sand paper) both instantly failed.  The knife tore through them, the nail went through them, the sand paper scuffed both evenly (it was pretty big grit to be fair).

So, is it worth buying a mid ranged screen protector over a cheap one?  Well, honestly for a prof video camera that gets babied, you’ll probably never scratch it anyway.  On the other hand if you’ve got a $4000 camera you probably won’t skimp $5 on a screen protector.  If you are looking at this for your phone, it’s actually a smart idea as phone protectors take much more wear over time and you’ll save money by buying a better one in the first place.  Probably the same for your point and shoot camera.  I run one on my RX100 now.

You can buy your screen protectors wherever you like, I don’t care.  However, says they’ll replace yours for free if it gets scratched, making it kind of a no brainer.

The Blackmagic pocket cinema camera has been on my mind since NAB2013 when I fell in love with the tiny form factor and SuperSexy Super16 cinema potential.  Now, finally I’ve had one in my rental house long enough to review, and here is my opinion in one word:


Just like the first BMCC, they’ve come so close to greatness, only to fall completely flat due to sheer stupidity of design.  Now, granted, there may be fixes coming, or I may have missed something in the manual, but there are some things that are just so dumb, I can’t comprehend them.

In no particular order, here are the reasons this camera could never work for me:

1) no card delete/format option.  The whole “pocket” concept indicates that this is supposed to be a field camera.  Being in the field means you don’t want to bring a laptop.  And yet, just like the first BMCC, you can’t format your cards in the camera.  You can’t even delete clips.  Need to make space for a critical shot?  Too bad.  Buy another card.  Oh wait, that doesn’t help you since you can’t format it to exFAT in the camera!   The BMCC pocket cinema camera won’t recognize SD cards unless they are exFAT.  Guess what sucker?  You’re bringing your laptop with you to that mountain top shoot.  But if that’s the case, you might as well bring the larger format BMCC, which is a much better (not better – less worse) camera in the first place.  This alone completely defeats the point of the camera!  Why make it tiny and portable if you can’t use it in the field without support?  How hard would this have been to implement in camera???

2) no clip/thumbnail view.  Shoot 80 takes and need to go back and find one?  Tough… you’re scanning one clip at a time, chump.  You can get this on a point and shoot, but you can’t get it in a “pro” camera.  Go figure.

3) Awful menu design.  This alone indicates to me that the people who designed this camera have NO shooting experience.    Ok… you’re shooting, you need to change your shutter angle (sorry, DSLR users, no shutter speed or ISO in a “digital film camera” it’s shutter angle and ASA)  Anyway, say you need to change your ASA, white balance or shutter angle, you click menu, camera settings, and then you have to scroll all the way through “camera name” and all time/date settings before getting to anything that could actually change your picture.  That’s EIGHT button pushes, before you get to change settings.  Yeah, that’s what you want when the light is fading and the director is yelling at you.  And why even put something like time/date/name in a primary camera menu?  Bury it at the bottom, you only need it once!

4) Exposed cable ports.  Exposed ports are a recipe for repairs.  You can fix this one with a bit of gaff tape I suppose, but still, poor design for something that goes in your pocket.

5) No battery charger included, charge via internal.  So ghetto… It’s a Nikon battery, knockoff chargers cost $3 from Ebay, would it be that hard to include one?

6) I wasn’t overly impressed by the sensor.  Color is good but a lot of jello wobble.  This isn’t a fair complaint though, it’s a $1000 camera with 13 stops of range that records RAW (soon enough), so I’ll shut up.  For a $1000 camera it puts out a good image.

7) Display.  The display is poor for today’s tech.  I think it’s 800×480 res.  This makes it less viable for focus, which means you need an external monitor (interal focus assist is ok in a pinch).  I think this is a valid complaint, regardless of the price, as dirt cheap cell phones now come with 1080 HD screens.  I know they needed to hit a price point, but I’d rather pay $1200 for a camera with a good screen than $1k for one with a bad screen and need to buy a monitor.  The color is so so and it washes out in bright light pretty quickly.  Also, not touch screen, which would have been smart for future firmware potential.

8) No audio monitoring on screen.  Unless I’ve missed something obvious.  It’s possible.

9) Didn’t ship with RAW.   This doesn’t bother me personally as if I’m going to do anything RAW, I’m going to be shooting it on a Red in the first place.  However, on behalf of several of my friends, I will say that it’s poor form to put RAW on a box of a camera that doesn’t have RAW capabilities… no matter when you plan on releasing them.


Picture and price aren’t everything.  No matter how cheap something gets, it doesn’t magically get better.  I trashed the first BMCC as a poorly designed, poorly executed camera, regardless of the price, and found myself in the middle of a fanboy flame war, with people telling me I expected too much for a camera at that price.

I’ll do the same again…  This is a poorly designed and poorly executed camera.  The fact that it is cheap doesn’t make it any better, it just means you wasted less money.  The fact that there are no comparable alternatives on the market doesn’t make it any better either, it just means it’s the only poorly executed Super16 RAW camera on the market.

This is not a game changer like the 5D2, it’s one of those “cool idea” cameras that will soon be lost to history.  Unless you are shooting in studio only and can’t afford more than a $1000 camera, do not buy.  Of course, if you can only afford a $1000 camera, you aren’t in a position to be buying the Super16 lenses to go with it… which is the only real reason it’s worth buying, so again, pointless.

This is possibly the worst camera I’ve ever used.  But I hear Phil Bloom loves it – so what do I know…

Sony’s RX100 is smoking hot, but better than the Panasonic LX7 or Canon’s S110 line ?  Here’s my take on what Time Magazine listed as one of the 50 best inventions of the year (next to “indoor clouds”).

Since I’ve been in the market for an upgrade to my Canon S95 (and have been playing with my friend’s S110 recently), I thought I’d grab one  of each and give them a solid workout… at least until the store’s return policy was up.  Now, normally most of my reviews are film gear related, but which one of us doesn’t own a point and shoot camera, really?

Two weeks in and here’s a photo of what’s sitting on my desk as I write this (taken with my good old Canon SD800).


Yes, I work in the film world and that’s NOT a Mac.

First, this is going to be more focused on the RX100, as it is the new 800lb gorilla.  The LX7 and the S95/S110 are referenced more as counterpoints, as each represents a quite different take on the enthusiast point and shoot.

Sony RX100… THE BAD

BAD TRIGGER.  The pre-trigger on the shutter button is like squishing a mushy pea, vague and soft.  You’re likely to go with a full press by accident most of the time.   This is like having a bad keyboard for your computer or a bad shifter in your car… it’s your primary interface with the item, it MUST be good!  The LX7 does the job right, nice and crisp.  I should point out that the autofocus is so good, even on a fast subject, you’re probably still going to make the shot, though maybe sooner than intended.

SUICIDAL.  One of the reasons you want a small camera is to whip it out and shoot it one handed.  The weight balance is bad and the grip position is, well, there simply is no place to grip this.  I’ve dropped it by accident while trying to control the buttons one handed (caught it with my foot, phew).   Didn’t anyone pick this up in the R&D department and actually shoot it?  It might work better in the hands of a little person.   EDIT:  I dropped the damn thing again last night, this time on carpet.  I’d better return it before I ruin it.
DOUBLE EDIT:  I was directed to a glue on aftermarket grip for the RX100.  $35 shipped and this stick on bit of metal revolutionizes the way this camera feels.  It’s unbelievable that such a small change could make me do a full 180 on this point.  Google it, there are several choices, but this is a must have.

SLOW TELE.  The slow tele end of the lens kills off some of the usefulness of the clean/high ISO capabilities of the big sensor quite quickly in anything by high light.  I shoot a lot of stuff at telephoto and/or in mediocre light.  This is where the Panasonic LX7 at f2.5 at full tele really screams, proving that fast glass can beat (ok, tie) big sensors.  Of course, I know that putting faster long glass on a bigger sensor is a whole different ball game, would make it fatter and price it into way out of this range.

MOVIE MODE:  1080-60p looks great… but there’s times when I want to shoot 24p, know what I mean?  Big advantage to the LX7 here with both 24p and 720-120fps!  Also, sound quality leaves more than something to be desired.

THICKNESS.  The benchmark of a camera this size is… does it fit in the pocket of your jeans?  It either does, or doesn’t.  If it does, it fits in the Canon S110 category and competes with it (where the RX100 easily wins).  If it doesn’t, then it competes with the LX7… and EVERY OTHER camera that doesn’t fit in your jeans either!  All the way up to the m4/3, Sony NEX and Nikon 1 series DSLR-esque cameras that can be squeezed into a jacket or purse (the next category of portability).  Now, I can get the RX100 in the back pocket of my jeans, but compared to my S95 it looks like a midget (oops, little person) is growing out of my ass.  IMHO, that puts it in the big camera market and strips it of it’s main advantage over everything else.  The Canon S series camera (at least to me) remains as the only truly pocketable enthusiasts camera.

INTERFACE.  There’s something I just don’t like about the interface.  I can’t figure out what it is… It’s like it thinks I’m stupid or something.  Oh wait, I just spent $650 (+$35 for a grip) on a point and shoot camera so I can’t hold this one against it.  The truth is, it’s so packed with features and technology, that it’s almost too much, too deep.  You get bogged down in the tech very quickly.  I like a quick, fast, simple camera that takes great pictures.  The menu layers are too deep.  Each time you change the mode wheel a screen pops up telling you what the new mode does.  I KNOW WHAT THE “M” STANDS FOR ALREADY!  Is the tech worth it?  Absolutely.  Could the button/menu system have been done better?  Yes.

NO CHARGER INCLUDED WITH RX100!  Sony you cheap bastards… no manual is bad enough but  I just dropped $650 for this damn camera and you can’t even include a battery charger with it?  Who do you think you are, GoPro??  Maybe that’s what really set me off against this thing…  I can (edit – and did!) buy an RX100 Chinese knockoff battery charger off Ebay for $5, which means they cost about $.15 to make… and you want me to charge this by plugging the whole damn thing into the wall?  Yes, THAT’s what an enthusiast wants to do with their camera…

Not really a rant, but just in case you still want the RX100 to get shallow depth of field shots… Don’t get your hopes up, it’s not a DSLR with an 85mm f1.8.  Results between it and the LX7 are very, very close.  The S110 is not in contention except in the best possible conditions.

PRICE.  I’m actually not going to complain about the price.  It’s a flagship point and shoot camera.  It has a big sensor, which requires bigger glass and has a ton of technology packed into it.  I think it actually IS worth $650.  The problem here, is that you can buy the LX7 for $350 new if you shop around (msrp is $500).  That’s staggeringly cheap for an amazing camera at half the price (remember, you need the RX100 grip too).  So is the RX100 worth double the LX7?  See my conclusion.


It’s easy to go on about what’s good with this camera.  Really, if you’re reading this, you probably already know.  Yes, it’s got a massive sensor for this segment, high ISO, a fast lens (at the wide angle), and modes galore…  I’m going to skip all the stuff you know already, and focus on two that maybe you don’t.

IT”S A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER THAN YOU ARE.  Wait, what?  Yes.  Sort of.  I hated this camera for the first two weeks I had it, because doing anything I wanted with it in Manual mode was sloppy.  Even on P mode, which was faster, I was pulling better shots out of the LX7.  It wasn’t until I switch to the I+ mode, that it really started to shine, automatically grabbing the best modes/settings/etc for the shot faster (and more accurately) than I could by going through the multi-layered menu settings.  Yes, I hate saying it (as an ex-cinematographer)… this camera (not just me) takes really good pictures.  Yes, other cameras have great AI settings, but this is… just… brilliant.

NOISE.  All cameras have noise at some point, that’s just part of the game.  However, some have noise and some have… ugly noise.  I’ve owned several Panasonics over the years, and for some reason the noise they produce turns me off.  Canon, not so bad.  The RX100 noise is not horrible, and ever so slightly organic (at least until it gets to the point of no return).  However, the important thing to know about the noise in this case is, relative to the resolution/file size, it has SMALLER noise than the LX7 or S110.  Let me explain a bit, since it isn’t talked much about in most reviews.  Since the noise is relative to the physical image size, by having more pixels (20mp or so) when you display it side by side with a shot at the same given print size as the other 2 cameras, because of the larger resolution, the noise is physically smaller in the print.  This means that if you are printing 8×10’s from any of these cameras, you’ll be able to shoot at a higher ISO on the RX100, not just because its cleaner, but because the noise will appear physically smaller in the print.  Huge advantage.


Is the RX100 as cool as an indoor cloud?  No.

Is the RX100 the best camera in its class?  Once you add the aftermarket grip, yes.

Is the RX100 worth double the price of the Canon S110?  Yes.

Is the RX100 worth double the price of the Panasonic LX7?  Ah… If cash isn’t an issue for you?  Sure, why not?  If you’re on a budget?  No, it isn’t.  The LX7 is a fantastic camera, probably one of the best implementations of a “pro” point and shoot on the market.  It’s underpriced at $350 and I’m not sure why it’s selling that low below list price.  It shouldn’t be.  Not to say the LX7 is perfect…. the menu layouts are weak, the aperture only ring is a waste of a great tool, I don’t care for the look of the noise and it gets noisy fast, the AWB is often off, and… for crying out loud, Panasonic, could you figure out a way to integrate the damn lens cap already?

And so…?

I kept the RX100.  I kept the LX7.  I kept the S95.

Why all three?  I love my S95 and it’s not worth anything to sell, I’ll use it as a party cam.  The LX7 is simply a better pocket video camera than the RX100, and cheap enough that I’m too lazy to return it (plus my wife needs a point and shoot camera too).  The RX100 is the closest thing I can keep to a DLSR in my pocket, and I don’t like dragging my 5Dmk3 around town.

It’s a great time to be a photographer at any level.  No matter what you buy, you can’t go wrong.

Last word:

Sony RX100    A-

Sony RX100 + aftermarket grip  A+

Of course, it has to be said, the right camera for you is the one that feels right in your hand and you take everywhere you go, so get some hands on time with any of these before you buy.

One of the problems with moving from a DSLR up to a Red type camera, is the painful discovery that all your cheap accessories no longer work properly.  Rails don’t line up, base plates barely hold and 10 extra pounds gets heavy fast when it’s held out in front of you.

Since I was getting into the Red market from the DSLR and video camera world, I found myself in need of a shoulder rig built for a Scarlet or Epic.  The Red Clutch was out of my practical budget, and though I like Wooden Camera and Zacuto, their rigs didn’t cover what I needed (for different reasons).  While Gini makes Red rigs now, they’re really just DSLR rigs modified and I’ve had some long term issues with other Gini products.

Anyway, I stumbled across a company on Reduser called Allstar Cinema.  They had some good things said about them by other users.  However their website was… challenging.  Ordering is direct via email with sometimes a couple days in between and the lack of descriptions makes it tricky to figure out what you’re going to need.  Here, look for yourself:

After a half dozen emails later, I sent payment and a week later a box from Taiwan arrived.  No frills just lots of bubble wrap in a cardboard box but shipping was very reasonable.  A bit of assembly and it looked like this (only less dusty and scratched up):

Note the monitor mount on the front handle!

Now, there are a lot of ways of configuring the system when you buy it, so your mileage may vary depending on what you order.   I ordered the DSMC Combo with Arri bridge plate, which rings in a bundle price of about $2500  Disclaimer:  I got a deal on this item, which does bias me in favor of it, but I’ll try and be as honest as possible.  I’ve seen them post some specials on Reduser, so you may be able to get a deal from time to time.


Camera position – Look, forget what you’ve seen with DSLR rigs, CAMERAS BELONG ON YOUR SHOULDER!  If you have a Red rig and the camera is NOT on your shoulder, you’ve been tricked!

Monitor Quick Release – This is the COOLEST thing about this system.  Camera goes up on your shoulder and you can’t see the LCD screen anymore, thus have to buy a secondary monitor/EVF, right?  Wrong!  Put the Allstar quick release on the top of your Red, with the second attachment point on the handle bar in front of you, and suddenly you can snap the LCD screen off and on from one point to the other!  Going to tripod?  Bang, on the camera.  Going handheld?  Bang, right in front of you on the handles!  Just check the company video out:

Squishy goodness… with the camera right over your shoulder.

Interchangeable mount/shoulder pad – This is one of the other main reasons I bought this.  The way the camera plate is built, you can quickly attach/detach the shoulder pad and swap in a bridge plate to toss this up on a tripod in seconds.  Besides the speed this allows, a long bridge plate is the best way of getting your camera on a tripod as you’ll be able to slide it forward and back for perfect balance.

Arri bridge plate – If you come from the DSLR/video production world, the Arri bridge plate is the Manfrotto 501 plate of the film world.  It’ll likely be interchangeable with much of the higher end gear you get into later in your career.

Shoulder pad – This thing is nice and squishy, puts the camera snug without worry of slipping.  The ratcheting quick release works well to take it off to run the bridge plate instead.  Also, it’s properly angled to the side to level off on your shoulder.  It’s reversible as well for lefties, and the foam is replaceable if it wears out.  I own a lot of different shoulder pads on different rigs, this is my favorite.

One of a couple different handle configurations.

Handles – Nicely adjustable, though the actual grips are seen on many other DSLR rigs (and bicycles).  Nothing wrong with that, they are comfy and I have no problem using them all day.  Allstar offers a few different options for handles, either mounted closer to the rail, or dropping down lower for those who prefer that style.

Rail-a-liscious… multiple camera mounting points too.

19mm and 15mm rails – another thing I really liked about this rig is that it is setup to run both 15mm and 19mm rails.   That will give you a lot of flexibility between accessories like follow focus, matte box and lens supports when setting it up with different cameras down the road.  The quality of the rails is very nice as well.  I own rails from 6 different sources at least, these are among the nicest.

Solid – With a few minor exceptions (see The Bad) this system is built to last.  I have 100% confidence that you’d get years of on-set abuse with it, with only minor maintenance.

Price – Ok, for some people $2500ish is a lot of money… but if you’ve got a Scarlet or Epic, it shouldn’t be!  But wait, can’t you get a rig for $800 from Gini or $1500 from Wooden Camera?  Yes, but Allstar also offers a basic rig at $1250 that crushes what Gini offers and is much more well featured than the Wooden Camera in the same range!  The $2500 model I have competes extremely well with models in the $5000 range.  This is really a system that belongs in the elite gear category.  While the finish is a touch below the top shelf stuff, the features and (most of the) build quality are there for sure.  Hopefully with the right marketing and word of mouth, they’ll keep it up.

Top handle – Nice, solid, cushy, solid, and solid.


There’s really very little that’s bad.  The first two may be quality control issues, and would certainly be easily fixed by the manufacturer.

The only weaknesses of the system, both of them, right here.

Bridge plate lock – The locking system on the release plate is just a touch finicky.  I’ve adjusted it several times, but either it seems to not lock quite as much as I’d like (as in you can still slide it with force by hand) or it locks a bit too tight and you have to give the system a little smack to loosen it.  It could be fixed by the factory with a quick update as the part that locks is small and user replaceable.

Bridge plate locking levers – These are thin and weak.  Both mine have been bent several times (I just bent them back) and I see them breaking at some point.  These would be easy for the user to replace, and I’d suggest to Allstar that they make them thicker in the future and offer replacements to people with the original ones.  UPDATE:  Allstar has contacted me to let me know that they’ve improved these on current models, so this may no longer be an issue.

Camera plate – Only one complaint here and it’s a bit of a nit pick.  Because of where the dovetail ends on it, you can only mount the shoulder pad or bridge plate adapter in a certain place instead of anywhere on it.  This might simply be because the camera plate is universal, it’s a bit limited in some very specific aspects like this one.  The upside is that the camera plate can be mounted in a few different ways, so just a trade off.  Ah, just ignore this complaint.

The website – Allstar’s website is not geared towards taking online sales and is more of a photo catalog without detailed product descriptions.  It’s borderline confusing with multiple products and variations on the same products in different categories.  Some products, like the monitor QD setups I got, aren’t even properly listed and I never would have known about them if they didn’t tell me via email as I was ordering.  Also, since you can’t buy online (no checkout system) you have to email your order in.  While their English is solid and all my questions were handled, it’s an added barrier to buying and will delay the process.


This is one of the best products for the dollar on the market that’s hampered by the company itself.   The product is very good at an extremely attractive price (for what you get), but you have to get over the fact that you’re not dealing with standard USA customer service and quick easy Buy It Now type convenience.

Final score:   A- 

It would be a solid A except for the first two items I listed under The Bad.  If those were fixed, it becomes an A with A+ potential.

Konova motor crank kit on your “to buy” list?  Better read this…

I bought this motorized unit for the Konova K5 and K3 sliders shortly after NAB 2012, even though the unit they had on display failed twice in the ten minutes I was in front of it.  I figured for the price tag it was a pretty good buy, as there isn’t anything else motorized in that ballpark (ignoring the Proaim motor slider completely).

I’ve had it for a few months, here are my biased impressions as usual:


Price – At under $500 it’s the best bang for the buck on the market, hands down.

Installation – if you have a K5 or K3 slider, it goes on in under 2 minutes, very simple and efficient design.

Case – Like everything Konova it comes in a nice padded case, well protected.

Timelapse range – The motor I got from mine ran between 2-50 minutes from min to max, depending on how it was dialed in.  Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to dial in properly, which leads up to…


Here we go…

Battery kit – depending on what part of their site you read, it comes with the AA/NP750 battery pack adapter.  IT DOES NOT.  I got screwed over because of this on a shoot, so make sure you pay extra for the battery adapter you need.

Build quality – like the other Konova products I have, they short you on quality of materials.  I’ve had it 3 months and screws have started to strip.  I’d guess it’ll last another year before it goes in the garbage can (remember, I run a rental house – stuff dies faster here).

Basic controller – Everything up to this point you can live with, but this is where the slider turns to crap.   Besides the buttons being cheap (ok the build quality is cheap overall) the control dial is a big failure.  My big beef is that despite some grinding noises, the slider doesn’t start moving until around the 1.5 mark.  No specific point either, just random.  Below that, it grunts and strains but doesn’t budget.  I marked it and let it sit an hour at the 1.1 mark without a budge.  Not a peep from 0 to 1.  Just doesn’t make sense to build it like this.  Poor design or poor quality control.  Anyway….

Crank – The motor pulls off quickly and slap the crank hand on… only to find that it’s also only so-so.  The tension is not constant, nor smooth, meaning that your moves will speed up and down with each rotation as the resistance changes.  Though I’m not a big Kessler fan, they have nailed the crank handle slider while Konova have missed the mark.


Because of the lack of quality of the basic controller, I’d be on the fence as to whether this is suitable for professional use.  If you’re just shooting timelapse of stuff from your window for fun, it’s adequate and cheap.


Call me old school, but I like my DSLR footage *IN* focus…  And for me at least, that requires a monitor.

Only one screen on cause my splitter died.  CU of DP6 screen below!

I’ve been a long time fan of Marshall, and several big, chunky, black LCD70XP series have been non-stop workhorses on my shelves for years without a single failure – ever.  However, I’d seen some impressive specs from SmallHD and finally got to juggle some of their offerings at NAB this year.  Nicely built and sharp.  I needed a couple new monitors so picked up a DP4 with the viewfinder add on, a DP6 HDMI and a DP6 HD-SDI.

Without any more yakking, here’s my review, subjective as always…

Disclaimer 1 – Most of my reviews are long term, like 1+ years.  I’ve only had these for about 2 months at this point, so can’t vouch for looong term durability.  However, 2 months on the shelf in my office is probably about the same use most casual shooters see in a year.

Disclaimer 2 – Most of my comparisons are with the Marshall 7” LCD70xp series, which is a pretty standard professional low cost workhorse monitor.  However, my comparisons with it are pretty true across the board with the other monitors in its class as SmallHD seem to have decided to take on the entire “Pro” market head to head.

Disclaimer 3 – I got a deal on these… which, yes, makes me biased towards them.  However, SO CAN YOU, just get on SmallHD’s mailing list, as they have sales off and on.  Here’s a link:


Build quality, DP4 DP6 – These are a thing of beauty.  Totally impressed.  No one will ever be disappointed with the build quality of these.  The downside is that they make my Marshall monitors look just plain ugly (sorry Marshall).  Side by side, there’s no contest.

Durability, DP6 – The DP6 will take at least 185lbs.   Don’t ask how I know.

Droppability – I don’t usually test for dropability, but someone knocked my DP4 off the counter and it survived fine.  My DP6 got dropped 3 times on a shoot on my own set this Sunday.  Not a scratch.

It’s like parking a Ferrari beside an F150.  Both are great, but different.

Weight DP4 DP6 – These are ridiculously light.  In many cases with cameras larger than EX1 size, weight isn’t that big an issue.  When you’re running a tripod rig made to handle 30+ lbs. an extra pound is no biggie.  However, on top of a DSLR on a shoulder rig, the difference between the DP6 and the LCD70xp is huge in terms of felt weight.  Tale of the tape: DP6 12oz – LCD70xp 30oz.  That extra pound ‘n change adds up fast when you hold it at arms length for a 30 minute shoot.

Hot diggedy that’s one nice screen! (curve due to pic taken with S95 camera)

Resolution DP6 – Sigh, hands down win here.  What do I even say?  In a world where most monitors in this price range are 800×480, the 1280×800 is stunning.

Resolution DP4 – 800×480 packed into a 4.3” screen looks fantastic.  You need to see it.

Viewfinder kit DP4 – One of my reasons for wanting the DP4 with viewfinder kit was to use it with a Red on a shoulder rig.  My viewfinder shipped with two eye pieces, one was so-so, the other very comfortable.  Overall, it works quite well, like a viewfinder loupe on the back of a DLSR.  Flips up out of the way easily when you need it to, and detaches completely in a few seconds without tools.

Focus assist tools DP4 DP6 – At this point, peaking, false color and 1:1 pixel modes are pretty standard on monitors, but SmallHD does it and does it well.

Kit Value – I bought my SmallHD monitors as the combo kits with all the bits and pieces.  For curiosity’s sake, I priced together EVERY last bit against cheap Hong Kong eBay prices to see if the guys were making a killer markup on them.  Nope.  If you hit every last cheap deal on eBay, you’d be about the same price as buying it all in the package.  You’re not going to save any money either way, but you’ll save a lot of time, so if you need the extras, get them with the package.

Sun hood DP6 – Just used this for the first time this weekend on a brutal hot day.  Works great, snaps on in a few seconds and is really well priced compared to the hoods for other monitors.

Screen protectors – The screen protectors are another pretty good add on as part of the kit package.  Solid, clip on easily and protect the front of the monitor, including the body as well as the screen.

Swappable double battery plates – When you own a lot of batteries, having to buy a new set and charger for a new monitor sucks.  I love the quick change battery plates on these.  And cheap too!  As for the double battery option, it’s not a critical factor for me, though I know some even shooters who love it.

Cost – These are priced very competitively for the market that they play in.  It’s unlikely you’ll get anything of this quality without spending more money.

Menu system – The menu system is nice, easy scroll through.  However, as nice as the menu system is, it leads me into talking about…


NOT ENOUGH BUTTONS –  Critical functions don’t belong in menus on professional equipment.  Look at consumer video cameras, functions are kept in menus.  Look at professional cameras, functions are assigned to their own buttons.  Why?  Because when you need them, you often don’t have time to go into a menu and set them up.  The DP6 has two assignable buttons.  Two is not enough.  In fact, buttons aren’t enough… There’s a reason pro monitors have dials.  Now, I know this is part of the trade off for weight and cost, but really, there should be at least 4 buttons/dials and they should be placed on the front, not on the top.  Putting them on the top makes it difficult to access them in some mounting modes.  Depending on what you’re shooting, this may be a non-issue and most people will get used to it quickly, and yes it’s probably my only legitimate complaint, but there you go.

No HDMI Pass Through DP6 – It may not have been an issue when the DP6 launched, but HDMI pass through is pretty much standard on monitors now (the newer DP4 has it).  You can get a SmallHD splitter, which works just fine… but on the flimsy HDMI standard, it’s one more thing that can break, so while I don’t hate it, I don’t love it.

Bring back the DP1x! – The DP6 is 5.6” diagonal.  That’s a great size for a solo user.  However, it’s just a bit too small to also work as a “producer looking over my shoulder” monitor.  The 7” monitors are sometimes just big enough to pull off this type of dual role.  Though SmallHD used to make a 9” (The DP1x?) they no longer do.  There is a larger SmallHD monitor coming with high end features (like buttons on the front!) but it’s still 7″ and in the $2k + range.  Specs are pretty tempting though.  Hmm…


By now, you’ve figure out that I’m pretty impressed by SmallHD.  If I didn’t know what they cost, I’d figured they’d be at least 50% higher than the price tags.  I can’t imagine anyone buying one of these and not being happy.  They feel rock solid and I’ll be amazed if they don’t last for years.  If you don’t see any updates to this post, assume mine are still rocking.


DP4 w. viewfinder:  A

DP6 HDMI: A- (the – is for no HDMI loop)

DP6 SDI: A (would be A++ if it converted SDI to HDMI)