External monitors and Panasonic/Olympus support

Michael Meissner

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I made the mistake of answering a question over at dpreview.com where the person wanted an external viewfinder, and I mentioned about external monitors. This caused me to do a deep dive looking into them. I'm kind of suffering from a G.A.S. attack, and I think I might get one. Do I need one, not really, but it would solve at least one nagging problem.

As a hobby, I shoot video of performances, both of renaissance faire actors doing their bits, and of a very small theatrical group to record their one show that they put on. I only record live events, and of course with a live event, you only have one shot at doing the recording.

Now with my current video gear (G85), I have a few issues:
  • In the last show I recorded, I lost the first 13 minutes of sound because the microphone wasn't plugged in correctly. This kind of taught me that it is important to have a headphone monitor to do sound checks as you are recording the performance. The G85 does not have a headphone jack. But with an external monitor, hopefully I can use the headphone jack on the external monitor. My new camera for stills (E-m5 mark III) unfortunately does not have a headphone jack.
  • The renaissance faire performances alternate between outdoors in the blazing sun and indoors in dark dungeons. When I'm outdoors, I often have trouble seeing the G85 monitor. A sun hood helps, but it still can be an issue. Most external monitors aren't daylight readable and have sunhoods, but there are a few that have 2000-3000 nits brightness for outdoors (compared to something like 300-500 nits).
  • In addition, when I'm recording, I find I can't stand for long periods of time, and I need to sit on a stool with the camera. I'm further away from the camera, and I would prefer a larger screen to see.
  • Finally adjusting the G85 screen for better sun viewing is hard because I have to unplug and re-plug the microphone cable because it blocks the screen movement.
So, I've started to convince myself that maybe it is time to get an external monitor. I don't have much budget ($200), but I have found 2 used monitors on ebay that might be worth while:
  • Andycine C7 (7" monitor, 2200 nits, with 2 battery slots);
  • Andycine C6 (6" monitor, 2200 nits, 1 battery slot, but it has a fan that kicks in when the monitor is in high brightness mode.
The one complaint of the C7 that I've seen is that it runs hot, hence my thought that the C6 with a fan might be a better option. I would obviously need to be careful about batteries, as I would not want to run out while recording live (on the C7, I could stagger replacing the batteries). For the Renaissance Faire, I am typically recording about 6 hours/day, with each show being a 1/2 hour slot, and the final show being a 1 hour slot. The theatrical group is typically 1.5 hours, but it is indoors, and I can just use a A/C converter that provides 12 volts of power.

So first of all a question. Are there other monitors I should look at? I would prefer 5", but 6/7" is probably ok. I don't want to spend more than $200 (US). The monitor must be daylight visible (at least 1000 nits, preferably more).

There is the Fotga DP500IIIS A50T 5" which is a 5" and a little cheaper. It is 'only' 700 nits, so I'm not sure whether it is as readable outdoors as the Andycine C6/C7 displays would be.

Can people say that the G85 passes sound to the HDMI connection so that I can use the headphone jack?

Now an observation. I took one of my home HDMI 1080p monitors and hooked up both my G85 and my E-m5 mark III to it. I think Panasonic did a better job supporting the external monitor than Olympus did. In particular, I use the touch screen to set the focus point, and that works on the G85 on the camera's rear display. It would not work on the external display, since that display uses touch support for its own purposes. But at least I could easily change the focus point as the scene moves.

I was surprised that the Olympus E-m5 mark III disabled touch support when you plug in an external monitor. This makes it unfriendly for the type of shooting that I do.
 
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Stringer

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I have two monitors one 2200nits and one 1000 nits, I can say the 1000 nits I struggle with outdoors to clearly see the screen for setting things. the 2200 nits works quite well without a shade and at 75% brightness., the 1000nits is with a shade. Indoors both work well.
I have the Feelworld 7" luts model looks the same as the Andycine C7 one. If you get one get a "SMALLRIG Field Monitor Holder Mount" mounts on camera better with it.
I can't help you on the E-m5 marklll as I only have a E-m5 and it does not work on that one . I am using mine on Em-1 mark ll.
 

Michael Meissner

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I have two monitors one 2200nits and one 1000 nits, I can say the 1000 nits I struggle with outdoors to clearly see the screen for setting things. the 2200 nits works quite well without a shade and at 75% brightness., the 1000nits is with a shade. Indoors both work well.
I have the Feelworld 7" luts model looks the same as the Andycine C7 one. If you get one get a "SMALLRIG Field Monitor Holder Mount" mounts on camera better with it.
I can't help you on the E-m5 marklll as I only have a E-m5 and it does not work on that one . I am using mine on Em-1 mark ll.
Thanks, for the information on the screen brightness. That is sort of that I thought.

Olympus did not do live view support via HDMI until the E-m5 mark II was announced. Before that if you plugged in a HDMI cable, it would instantly go into review mode.

On the older cameras, you could do live view via analog video (with RCA plugs), and I even have some gear that has both monitor and shutter release combined.

For the G85, I tend to use a Smallrig G85 cage (except when I need to use the battery grip). I will keep the field monitor holder in mind.

Now another option I could do is to use the remote phone app, using a 7-10" tablet. I am unsure if there are tablets with a bright enough screen to work outdoors. But I shy away from using the phone support during the renaissance faire gigs. One of the venues we use is the home of an inventor that specialized in pioneering radio control (John Hays Hammond, Jr.). But generally we find that all radio connections to be problematical on the grounds of the estate.

I have used the phone wifi to support for my b-camera (Panasonic LX-10) on a tripod across the room for the other gig.
 
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Michael Meissner

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I have two monitors one 2200nits and one 1000 nits, I can say the 1000 nits I struggle with outdoors to clearly see the screen for setting things. the 2200 nits works quite well without a shade and at 75% brightness., the 1000nits is with a shade. Indoors both work well.
I have the Feelworld 7" luts model looks the same as the Andycine C7 one.
Another question.

Yes it seems to be conventional wisdom that certain models of Feelworld and Andycine monitors are essentially the same. Even if they were made by different companies, there are only a few different panels made in the different sizes and brightness levels, and they likely would use the same panel.

Since you have run your 2200 nit display at 75% brightness, have you found that the display gets warm? If so is it just warm, or does it get really hot?
 

Stringer

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I have run them for about 3-4 hours at a time but they get warm but not enough you can’t hold them, that was at 50 perecent brightness. They are used for live online teaching lessons in embroidery and sewing. Have not run them much outside at 75 %.
 

Apollo T.

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I did a search for tethering option:
tethering g85
there has been some discussions... I haven't read the results.
I have tethered my G6 (ca 2012) to my ipad for stills. There's a free Panny app. I'm not a techie and don't shoot video so I'm a good source of info for this, but it's wprth checking out.
 

Michael Meissner

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I did a search for tethering option:
tethering g85
there has been some discussions... I haven't read the results.
I have tethered my G6 (ca 2012) to my ipad for stills. There's a free Panny app. I'm not a techie and don't shoot video so I'm a good source of info for this, but it's wprth checking out.
Thanks but I'm not really looking for a tethering solution. Sure tethering is useful in a lot of situations, but not this one.

The renaissance faire issue involves 3-4 different stages where the performers do their acts. Some of the stages are indoors (typically in dark locations) and some stages are outdoors (can be in full sunlight). During the two day weekend that the faire runs, I have to catch most of the acts at least once (preferably twice).

The acts are scheduled in 1/2 hour blocks. Typically I will stay at a stage for a couple of shows before moving on, taking a short break doing things like eating, etc. before getting to the next stage. In general, I do about 5-6 hours of recording per day, and maybe take about 500 still shots/day while the video camera is recording.

On Saturday night, I need to charge up all of the batteries, so I can do the same thing again on Sunday. There are no outlets on the outdoor stages, and I can't plug into the indoor outlets because the patrons might trip on the wires since it is dark (and the outlets often aren't near where I'm recording from).

My video gear is the G85, lens, external microphone all mounted on a tripod. I would expect to mount the field display on the camera or the cage. I carry one photo bag or backpack with my stills camera (previously E-m1 mark I, now E-m5 mark III), selection of lenses and enough batteries to see me through the day. I also throw in a backup video camera, just in case. I also need to carry a chair to sit down while I'm recording.

When I'm outdoors, I need to be able to see the screen, which can be problematical at times with the G85's rear screen. As I said, while I'm sitting down, the screen is hard to see the details clearly, and I would like a larger screen. As I've mentioned in other posts, due to migraines, I need to wear polarized sunglasses when I'm outdoors, which makes things even darker.

In addition, given I had sound issues in the last show, I also want to do a spot check monitoring the sound as it is being recorded. Hence I want to use the headphone jack on the display to monitor the sound as it is being recorded.

None of the laptops I own can run for 6+ hours on a single battery, so I couldn't use them to tether in this case. Also, most of them are hard to read in direct sunlight. I only run Linux on my systems, and the tethering stuff tends to only run on Windows and/or Mac systems. Finally, since I'm recording all day, I don't have time to do any processing at all on the images. I just record them, and then in the coming weeks, do the minimal video processing that I do and upload them to youtube. Then I process the pictures as an extra.
 

Michael Meissner

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I pulled the trigger on the Andycine C6. The slightly smaller size, automatic fan, and the power level were the things I was looking at.

In terms of the power level, the A6 is specified as needing 16 watts, while the A7 says it wants 20 watts. I have several batteries that can provide 18 watts (i.e. 9 volts at 2 amps or 12 volts at 1.5 amps), so I figured it was better to err on the side of caution.

Thanks everybody for the replies.
 
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Michael Meissner

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Some minor observations now that I have it.

The frame that attaches to the hotshoe kind of wonky. It is probably ok for use on a tripod, but I'm not sure I would trust it doing run & gun. I would be afraid that the monitor might become loose and drop. In my case, I don't do run & gun, but I have several different venues I have to move between, and it might be a problem in moving the gear. I suspect it would be better to take it off the camera and put it back on when moving.

But frankly, just about all of the frames that come with the lower cost displays look the same in that they only attach to the monitor with one 1/4-20" screw. I do think I will be happier if/when I get something that attaches to the bottom 1/4-20" thread instead of the side.

I do wonder if that one screw attaching the camera to the frame will come out when it isn't attached. It looks like it shouldn't come out, but if you are carrying it lose, it might. I suspect I will get a nut to attach to it when the display isn't mounted.

I would have preferred it the display had 1/4-20" screw threads on all four sides, and the top also had a cold-shoe mount. The frame has a cold shoe mount, but it is off to the side, and I imagine microphones would be better centered. But then in looking at these displays, most of them do not have a lot of mounting options.

Having the HDMI in/out ports on the side is nice (and SDI if you have it).

Having the headphone jack, 12v power in and 8.4v power out underneath the monitor is not ideal. If I'm going to keep the wonky frame, I will need to get some right angle 5.5mm x 2.1mm connectors to use for the power connection (the normal plugs would hit the frame if you mount the monitor straight up/down and use normal plugs).

I haven't done extensive power monitoring, but I did hook up a volt-meter and amp-meter with external power. At full screen brightness, it looks like it draws 15 watts, which is close to the specifications (16 watts). I also verified that if I turned the brightness way down, it is roughly uses 1/2 the power. Indoors, I can turn the brightness way down.

I was able to use one of my USB chargers that can produce up to 18 watts and supports USB C-PD to power the display, using a cable that limits the C-PD voltage to 9v (I would probably use 12v for the display, but I had the 9v cable handy). The USB chargers that I have do not have enough power to power both the display and camera from the same battery. There are batteries that can produce more amps/watts, but I don't own one.

In theory, it looks like the battery that comes with the Andycine C6 should be able to last about 2 hours at full brightness, and presumably 3-4 hours at lowest brightness. Speaking of batteries, it is nice that Andycine includes a battery. Many of the lower cost displays do not include a battery.

The charger that comes with the unit is a simple USB charger. I suspect it is a slow charger.

When I'm running at full brightness, it does get a little warm. Not so warm that it would burn you, but I could notice the difference. I haven't run it for a long time, just a few minutes.

If I mount the display on the camera, it makes it top heavy, unless you have a heavy lens on the camera. This isn't terribly surprising, but I didn't think of it ahead of time. While I put the G85 and the 12-60mm kit lens down on the table with the display, I'm not sure in practice, I would want to set down the camera when it has the display mounted. I suspect using a cage would work and it would better support the whole thing.

One choice to make is whether to enable in camera zebras, focus assists, etc. or disable them and use the displays version. If you enable them, it can be distracting if you have both going at the same time. On the other hand, it can be distracting if you have on camera displays but use the option to not send the information out via HDMI, and use different controls on the display.

The micro-HDMI cable (and presumably mini-HDMI cable) that comes with the display is fairly short, which is nice. It beats the 3'/1m cable that I previously had got. It could have been a little shorter, but I imagine they wanted to make sure it worked with the most cameras.. I must admit the micro-HDMI port on both the E-m5 mark III and G85 leave a lot to be desired, and I can see cables coming out. But obviously that is Olympus/Panasonic fault.

The display comes with a case. It certainly isn't up to a Pelican case in terms of reliability, but it will hold everything (including the battery charger). However, it is a tight fit, and you may need to spend some time playing tetris to get everything to fit in the case.
 

Michael Meissner

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FWIW, I had a Pelican 1060 micro case lying around that I had forgotten about, and it is just the perfect size to hold the Andycine C6 monitor, one battery, one charger, micro HDMI cable and the stand. The Pelican case is a little longer than the Andycine case, but not as tall. And the Pelican case is certainly more rugged than the Andycine case.

I did buy some Kastar Sony F770 batteries and an extra charger to round out things.

I had bought a used Watson dual charger some time ago to handle various different camera batteries using a different charging plate. The charger had come with 2 Sony plates that I had just tossed in the pile of plates, but it turns out those plates are good for charging the Andycine and Kastar batteries.

I have played with powering the display with USB C-PD (power delivery) batteries and it works well. It will work at 9v and 12v. If I power it at 12v, I could run a cable to power the camera as well with a dummy battery setup, or at 9v, I could just use a Y-cable and feed both monitor and camera. However, my current USB C-PD batteries are only 18W (i.e. 9v/2A, or 12v/1.5A), and likely couldn't power both the display and camera. There are 45W batteries, but I don't have any. Most of the A/C adpaters I have also aren't rated that high, but 12v adapters with 3A or higher should be simple to find.
 
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