DSLR Monitoring with the Small HD DP4/EVF


For the last few months I’ve been looking at monitoring options for my DSLR. There are a number of features that I was looking for: HDMI Loop-Through, 1/4-20″ mounting options, light weight, and focus assist were the big ones. After months of tossing over a couple of options from Zacuto, Marshall, and even the Atomos Ninja (atomos.com), I finally decided on the Small HD DP4 (smallhd.com).

The DP4 fit all of my requirements, but also has the added bonus of having an attachable electronic viewfinder (EVF). The only other model that offers this option is the Zacuto Z-Finder EVF (zacuto.com). In fact, both monitors offered all of the features I wanted.

I was considering moving forward with the Zacuto because I already have a Z-Finder. So what pushed me towards the Small HD? A sale. Small HD was selling the DP4/ EVF combo for right around $700, which was too good of an offer to pass up. The combo package came with the DP4, an EVF, an articulating arm, various power options, plenty of HDMI cables, and two handfuls of other assorted goodies.

The DP4/EVF In Use

The basic functions of the DP4 are easy to navigate without reading the manual. The bottom of the unit has HDMI in/out ports, a 1/4-20″ mount, a USB-mini port, and a headphone jack. Both sides also have 1/4-20″ mounts (making the monitor easy to mount in any position). The top of the unit has the power button, toggle wheel, and 2 function buttons (preset to Focus Assist and False Color).

The menus are easy to navigate through. And if you don’t already know what the functions do, the included instruction manual does a great job of explaining them. The toggle wheel itself feels a little clunky to use. If you scroll too fast it doesn’t always take the navigation.

Monitoring with the DP4

The DP4’s 4.3inch screen works perfectly on set. It’s large enough to work as a camera monitor; and because of the HDMI loop-through, I can send the signal to a larger monitor if I need to. Being able to mount from any position means that I can get the monitor right in front of me, where I need it. And at just under 1LB in weight, it’s light enough to attach to my rig without killing my shoulders.

It has variable crop settings to adjust to different cameras you may be using. The signal is super clear. Which is great for setting focus, and using the focus assist function makes it even easier. Setting exposure through the false colors function took me a little while to get used to, but I had never used that function before. Now that I know how to use it, it’s hard to imagine ever not using it.

One of downsides to the DP4 is the lack of a power monitor. The only readout of the batteries powering the unit is in the voltage draw.

Powering the DP4

The combo package I purchased came with battery mount plates for Canon, Nikon, and Sony DSLR type batteries. Each battery plate has the ability to run two batteries, though the unit will run off of a single battery. It also came with a battery plate to power the unit with AA batteries. The plates are easy to change out, which makes powering the DP4 a simple task.

I found that the DP4 will run on full blast (constant signal, in focus assist mode, sending signal out) for ~4.5 hours on a set of Canon LP-E6 batteries. The battery life isn’t amazing, but the over 4 hour span is plenty for me on set. Just keep a spare set charging and you’ll be fine.

Using the EVF with the DP4

The electronic view finder attaches to the DP4 with snap locks on the right and left side of the monitor. The frame of the EVF supports the monitor. The nice thing about this EVF combo is that you can flip the eye cup up to give you a monitor. This allows you to show the client, your crew, or whomever else, the picture, then you can flip the EVF down and have the eye cup again.

Overall I’m really impressed with the quality and durability of the Small HD DP4/EVF Combo. It has quickly become a crucial part of my camera rig. It saves me time, and it helps keep the client happy; which makes me happy.

One Response to “DSLR Monitoring with the Small HD DP4/EVF”

  1. 1 NAB Show 2012: A First Time Perspective « Widen Media Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: