I think it’s safe to say we’ve recovered from NAB Show 2015. It’s always one crazy week in Las Vegas, but it sure was exciting; drones got faster, gimbal rigs got smaller and BlackMagic released 100 more products.

As a team, we were all anxious to hear peoples’ first impressions of the SmallHD 502 and Sidefinder (which we premiered at the show). First impressions are tricky because you only get one shot at making a good one.

The Face of SmallHD Sidefinder
Dave Dugdale, Learning Video
Dale and Wes, SmallHD founders

Our strategy at the show was to let the 500 Series speak for itself (for the most part). We kept design and clutter in the booth minimal and tried not to overload visitors with too much information.

The response varied from person to person, but there were several common responses that are worth sharing.

“It looks like an iPhone.”

Yes, it looks like an iPhone… but I can assure you it’s not. Nor is it a clever case for your smartphone that converts your mobile device into a signal processing machine with an EVF loupe.

I didn’t know how to react to this statement at first. I wanted it to mean that they thought the product was aesthetically pleasing. For some people, the conversation lead to questions like, “Why can’t I just use my smartphone with my camera?” This is of course a different topic for a different discussion.

502 Sony FS7

For the people that understood why it couldn’t be a smartphone, the conversation naturally lead to discussing one of the biggest features (if not THE biggest feature) of the 502 monitor: the user interface.

There were a lot of resources dedicated to making the experience of using a 502 monitor feel like a smart device: fast, intuitive and simple. Combine that with a desire to keep things streamline, lightweight, and durable, and you get a field monitor that looks like an iPhone.

Why is it so expensive?

In short, competition is great for consumers. There are many different on-camera monitoring solutions available. It would be wise to educate yourself on the different options before making a purchase decision.

For the people that have been waiting for fully featured, Full HD field monitor with a small form-factor, the price point didn’t seem to be a shock. Many of our customers viewed this product as an upgraded SmallHD DP4.

Defy GX2 and SmallHD 502 Field Monitor

G2X Gimbal by Defy + 502 monitor

Freefly with 502 monitor

Freefly Systems Gimbal + 502 monitor

Helix Jr 502 SmallHD Field Monitor

Helix Jr. by Letus Direct + 502 monitor

There are several key elements to the 502 monitor that make it more expensive than the average 5-inch on-camera display option:

The 502’s display quality

Besides Full HD resolution (1920×1080), the 400 nit LCD has tremendous color and contrast, rivaling that of OLED technology. Its pixel density is superb, 441 pixels per inch (greater than an iPhone 6).

3D LUT support

We’ve noticed that 3D LUT support has become a monitoring standard for many shooters. If having 3D LUTs on set is important to you, consider quality of the LUT (3D vs. 1D for example), and how easy it is to load/access your LUTs when comparing your options. We feel that the 502 excels both in the quality of the 3D LUT and ease of use.

Sidefinder

The 502 monitor is a great stand-alone field monitor, but it’s also the brains behind the Sidefinder (HD EVF with a flip-out 1080p display). The Sidefinder provides filmmakers with a universal viewing experience, for many shooting environments, with many different cameras, while keeping a tremendously low profile.

Motion State talks 502 field monitor

Click the image to watch the interview with Motion State.

We need something that’s small, that has all these features, that’s easy to power and doesn’t weigh very much... and here it is.

Sam Nuttmann, MoVI Operator/Cinematographer

Update: 501 added to 500 Series (click here to compare).