I was able to use the new smallhd DP6 for a MetaMedia video shoot we did for the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust, an organization dedicated to looking out for the safety and health of its sheet metal workers. The shoot took place at a local training center and I was really excited about using the camera. I’ve heard good things about the DP6 and decided to try it along with all of the smallhd accessories. After a full day of using it, I wasn’t that impressed.
Now before I continue I need to put out a disclaimer. I shoot with the 7D, I don’t care about SDI ports, and I am still paying off my college loans. Price is more important than features.
There’s a lot of great things about this monitor. Extremely small and lightweight. 1280 x 800 resolution which makes it a lot easier to focus and to check exposure, white balance and framing. The accessories are made for this monitor and this monitor only. They are a perfect fit and work flawlessly. The batteries are also very respectable. $80 and you get 4 hours of continuous use. You can also power this monitor with an adapter that comes in handy for indoor shoots. The sun hood fits well and hooks into the sides of the monitor. This might have been one of my favorite accessories due to the ease of use. SDI is a real nice feature for those with other cameras and having a thumb stick for future upgrades is cool too.
After all this you might be asking why I wasn’t impressed? Well, the biggest fault is the focus assist. I didn’t find it helpful and it was very hard to use. I’m sure after using it for a couple days I would get used to it. Sorry, but I don’t want to spend $900 to “get used to it.” The focus assist turns everything to red and what is white is what is sharp. Looks weird and only worked well on sharp objects, such as tools and blades. When I attempted to focus on rounded welded spots, it wouldn’t. This was really frustrating and it happened on some of the other tools. I also noticed that a lot of objects showed they were in focus but when I switched back to ‘normal’ mode I saw they weren’t. For the price of this monitor I could get the Marshall monitor instead. It has some flaws as well. Powered by 4 AA batteries (lasts for about 2 hours), a little bigger, and no custom made accessories. I think for the money I can buy some extra batteries and find a hood that will keep the light out of the monitor.
Follow up: I was contacted by smallhd and they told me that they are working on upgrading the focus via firmware with a thumb drive that is included with the monitor. Something to keep in mind and it’s really nice to know this company is working on bettering the monitor by listening to consumers.