Choosing an On-Camera Monitor


Ever look at the screen on the back of your camera and wish that it were just a tad bigger, or brighter, or sharper? Yeah, me too. The good news is that there is a solution! External on-camera monitors come in all shapes and sizes and are packed with additional features that will make shooting video much more enjoyable. Here is how you can pick the best one for you.

Atomos Ninja V 5" 4K HDMI Recording Monitor

What Camera?

Everything always starts with the camera. For external monitors, there are a few crucial features and specs you need to know before you can begin your search:

  • Can it output clean video?
  • What connectors does it have?
  • What is the resolution and frame rate of its video output?

Start at square one—whether or not your camera will even work with an external monitor. If it can’t output video, you can’t use one. That’s not to say there aren’t other helpful tools for you—dedicated loupes and magnifiers can improve your situation.

Assuming your camera can output high-res video, you have to know what connectors it can use. This could be a flavor of HDMI, SDI, proprietary with an adapter, etc. There are a bunch and I’m not going to get into them all here. HDMI and SDI are the most common options these days and where you should start if your camera has them.

Finally, you have to know what resolution and frame rate your camera outputs. If it only sends out DCI 4K at 60 fps and the monitor only takes Full HD at 30 fps, you’ll be out of luck.

Make sure these basic features are compatible between your camera and monitor:

  • Resolution
  • Frame rates
  • Connectors

Now we can talk about monitors.

Size, or Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Yes, one of the primary reasons filmmakers pick up external on-camera monitors is because the one on the camera is too small. However, I do still want to caution you from immediately jumping at the biggest you can get just because you believe it will solve all your problems. If you want us to tell you what to get, just get a 5" monitor and be happy.

Now, if you do want something a bit bigger or you have a larger camera that can handle it, then a 7-9" monitor is a perfectly viable option. There will be some added weight, so make sure all your mounting arms and other tools can handle it. For mirrorless/DSLR, I would stick to 5", but if you have a more traditional pro camcorder or cinema camera or even a rigged-up mirrorless or pocket camera, the 7" monitor can be a great addition.

Larger than this isn’t advised for on-camera use. It’s just too big. However, they can be great field monitors for a director or producer at a remote station.

Atomos Ninja V 5" 4K HDMI Recording Monitor

In general:

  • 5-7" is the sweet spot for on-camera use.
  • 7-9" works well for larger kits or remote viewing.
  • 10" or more are generally field monitors and not designed for on-camera use.

Resolution and Brightness

I’m lumping these two specs together because they relate to the panel. When you are looking for a monitor, these are critical specs, and going for higher-quality models can add to the price.

Resolution, in the simplest terms, is how sharp the screen can be. It also relates to screen size. A small screen can get away with lower resolution, since the density of the pixels makes it appear sharper. A larger screen will require higher resolutions. With on-camera monitors, anything between 5-9" will look very good in HD to Full HD. Anything smaller than 5" might be able to get away with less than Full HD and still look great.

Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5" 12G-SDI/HDMI HDR Recording Monitor

Keep in mind the specs your camera can output, as well, and make sure the display and its resolutions can support it. For example, if you are outputting 4K, you will want to make sure it can down-scale and has proper mechanisms for zooming in to 100% for focus checking if the resolution is only Full HD. Nowadays, I would say that a Full HD monitor is a good option and most good monitors offer it.

Brightness speaks for itself. This is simply how bright the screen can get. This matters because if you are mostly filming outside in varying degrees of sunlight, you may need a brightness boost to see the screen clearly. If a monitor doesn't have a super-high brightness setting, you may need an optional hood and, even then, you might not be able to see the screen. Brightness is another huge reason to pick up an on-camera monitor, since built-in displays usually lack in this key spec or their high-brightness modes quickly burn through battery life.

Brighter Is Better

This is a harder spec to judge, because you may not really notice any issues with a low-brightness display until that one day you shoot in the sun. If you intend to do a lot of shooting outdoors or want to guarantee that you have a display for all lighting conditions, then some monitors marketed as “daylight-viewable” offer 1000 cd/m2 (nit) brightness. Anything around this should be a good target for you.

FeelWorld 7" 2200 cd/m² Full HD 3G-SDI/HDMI On-Camera Monitor with 4K Support

Bear in mind:

  • For resolution, aim for HD to Full HD at a minimum.
  • High-brightness monitors are useful for outdoors.

Better bets for outdoor use are to pick up a hood or shade to protect from glare and direct lighting.

Waveforms, LUTs, and HDR

While a bigger, brighter picture may be all you were looking for, if you are purchasing an on-camera monitor you will benefit greatly from having extra monitoring tools. Things like LUTs and waveforms should be on your list.

Starting with standard monitoring tools, there are a few things with which you should work. Zoom-in or punch-in settings can be very helpful for checking focus before you hit Record, especially if your monitor can pull in a full 4K feed to display on its Full HD screen. Then there are tools such as waveforms, false color, vectorscope, and RGB parade that help with confirming brightness and color in your image.

Waveforms and other related tools are some of the biggest advantages for separate monitors over built-in options. Even when a camera offers advanced monitoring tools, they usually don't offer the same quality, customization, or resolution as dedicated monitors. Having greater fidelity and resolution can help ensure your exposure and focus are spot-on, which is becoming more and more so as cameras introduce new gammas and formats each with their own particular quirks.

Guidelines to shoot for other aspect ratios is another option you may want to have to make sure your original footage can work if you decide to do a widescreen crop later or vice versa.

LUTs are likely the most important, because these will allow you to preview your image with basic grades or corrections applied. Monitors usually come with default options for common log profiles (C-Log, S-Log3, etc.). Also, better monitors will let you load up custom LUTs and then provide quick access to turn them on and off as you shoot. This is very beneficial because you can make sure your exposure and color work for the way you intend to push the footage in post.

New in the past few years is the proliferation of HDR-capable cameras and devices. Monitors are no exception, offering versions of HDR preview based on receiving HDR signals or by doing a rough conversion of log footage. This is a handy feature to have, but I wouldn’t call it essential just yet. What I would think about is having it, so that you can use it for HDR on set and then use the monitor again for grading if you connect it to a computer that supports HDR. This is far from the ideal, pro-quality setups used for HDR grading, but it is a great start for filmmakers looking to try HDR finishing.

Atomos Shogun 7 HDR Pro/Cinema Monitor-Recorder-Switcher

More unique features would be things like anamorphic de-squeeze and various others.

Here's a list of features to have on a monitor:

  • Zoom-in
  • Aspect ratio guides
  • Waveforms
  • Vectorscope
  • False color
  • LUT support (custom and built-in)
  • False color
  • Peaking
  • HDR preview

Make sure you have a monitor with a wide range of features. Even if today you don't use all of them, you will want something that will last as a monitor and can be used on many different cameras.

Monitor/Recorder Combos

Another increasingly common option in the monitor landscape is built-in recording. This means that the monitor can accept the incoming video signal and process and save it into its own format to its own storage. This is essential to get maximum image quality from many camera systems—though mirrorless and DSLRs see some of the greatest benefit.

Many cameras actually can't record their best quality internally. This can be because the processing isn’t powerful enough, or the camera might end up generating too much heat and have to shut down faster. It can also be a space-saving measure for the compact media many cameras use. The HDMI and SDI output can produce uncompressed video at higher bit depths but will demand a recorder that supports it.

Some other things to look out for are camera-specific compatibilities. ProRes RAW is a great example. Many new mirrorless cameras, the Sony a7S III, for example, offer raw output. However, they usually only work with select monitors, such as the Atomos Ninja V, to record. This is just one example, but there are a few available you may encounter so do some quick research before you jump into a monitor purchase. You never know, the decision might be easy after you look into it.


  • Monitor/recorder combos are a great idea.
  • Doublecheck that the recorder will support the camera’s maximum output.
  • Raw video output requires additional compatibility and firmware.
Atomos Ninja V On the Sony a7S III

Final Thoughts

On-camera monitors can be complicated, so we hope this helps. Some of my personal recommendations would be the SmallHD FOCUS 5" for a basic monitor and the Atomos Ninja V for a monitor/recorder combo. Both are from reputable brands and offer an incredible array of features, plus the 5" size is certainly my recommendation for on-camera use.

SmallHD FOCUS 5"

Be sure to stop by the Comments section, below, if you have questions you need answered or want help figuring out what is best for you!

Items discussed in article


Thanks for this. I'm trying to figure out the best monitor for my A6600. I've heard some should be avoided as they don't provide the same touch focus features that the camera screen has. I've started to wonder if any monitors will actually do it.
Do you know of any that do? Thanks!

Hi I've just bought a Andycine A6 5" monitor. I am new to this game and I would like a better understanding of all the functions the monitor offers. The manual refers to functions such as Zebra, Zebra value, false colours etc, but does not describe them. I suspect these apply to all external monitors. I've been googling, trying to find more explanations without luck. Would anyone be able to point me to a link or even a book that give me a better understanding of external monitor functions? Thanks in advance.

Hi Sohaila - 

Use zebra lines to avoid overexposing your image. 

Use the histogram to keep a bird’s-eye view on exposure. 

A waveform is useful when calibrating your camera, as well as when exposing green/blue screen backgrounds.

Use false color to get quick exposure readings of everything within the frame. 


Are the Atomos Shenobi and Atomos Ninja V compatible with the Sony a6400 and Sony a6600?


Both the Sony A6400 and A6600 can work with the Atomos Ninja V and the Atomos Shinobi.

Hey, Do you know if Atomos Shinobi will do the touch screen focus features from the A6600? Or any other  monitors that will ?


Hi, do you know if it's possible to use an hdmi splitter with my Panasonic Lumix G7 to connect to one of these monitors and my computer through a capture card at the same time? I use my camera to stream, so the hdmi port is being used for that, but I'd like to also have a monitor on the camera. Can I do both? Will it work with a splitter? Thanks for the help.

Hi Emmeline - 
It may work, but we have not tested this ourselves. Often the HDMI signal will be diminished when it is split.

Just bought the Sony A7s3, and I'm looking for a monitor that wont crash or say "no signal" while I'm recording in 4k 120fps. Right now I'm using the (Timbrecod DC-56 4K) from amazon, and the no signal always pops up when I switch from 4k 24 and 4k 120... Is it the monitor or the hdmi cable? Or is there one you guys would recommend? Also I'm not recording in raw, so I don't think I need the atomos ninja v right? Just looking for a budget friendly option. All my money went to the camera body and lenses LOL.

Hi CJ -

The issue could be the monitor or the HDMI cable.  Replace the cable with one that you know is working to be sure.  

Here are some excellent on-camera monitors to consider:

Lilliput A7S 7" Full HD Monitor with 4K Support (Black Case) B&H # LIA7SB 
The A7S 7" Full HD Monitor with black rubber case from Lilliput features an HDMI 1.4 input, making it suitable for UHD 4K filmmaking and photography. With a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1000:1 contrast ratio, the LCD panel displays Full HD images. The HDMI loop-through function allows you to output via HDMI to any other compatible device.

If you have upgraded to the 4K workspace, the A7S offers control over your shooting workflow both in the field and studio. You can create shortcuts to your favorite and most used monitor functions using the two customizable function keys. You can mount the monitor onto your camera by attaching the included shoe mount adapter to the 1/4"-20 threads at the bottom. You can also use the VESA 75 hole at the back to attach the A7S to other mounts.


Elvid FieldVision 4KV2 7" On-Camera Monitor B&H # ELOCM7B4KV2

Perfect for DSLR and mirrorless cameras, or any other video or cinema camera with an HDMI output, the Elvid FieldVision 4KV2 7" On-Camera Monitor allows you to monitor SD, HD, and 4K video signals on its high-resolution 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD screen. Monitoring tools such as focus peaking, zebras, 1:1 pixel mapping, and more make it easy to assess your image on the FieldVision 4KV2.

The IPS LCD panel on the FieldVision 4KV2 has a contrast ratio of 1200:1 and a brightness of 450 cd/m², making it easily viewable indoors. In bright sunlit outdoor conditions, or other situations with bright direct light, use the included sun hood to block any glare for a clear view of the screen.

Power can be supplied to the monitor via the included L-Series battery plate. L-Series batteries are widely available, and come in a variety of sizes. If you already own L-Series-powered cameras or accessories, powering this monitor won't be a problem. An articulated ball shoe mount, Mini HDMI to HDMI cable, and an HDMI cable locking collar are also included.

Hi, I have a Sony Alpha 7 II, do you think, Atomos Shinobi 5.2" is a good choice.  What would you recommend me  for that camera? I would shoot more indoor as an outdoor.

Hello Vladimira,

The  Atomos Shinobi 5.2" Monitor would definitely be suitable for the A7 II, due to its brightness. 

Thank you!

Hi There,

I just purchased the Nikon Z7 II, and will be pairing this up with the DJI RSC 2 for a camera gimbal.  My goal will be to do most of my shooting in 4k @ 60fps.  I am looking for a camera monitor to use with the RSC 2 that will allow me to view what I am filming constantly.  What would you recommend for this set up?

I am having the same question with monitors.  I wanted to comment to you that if you have the ability to consider the RS2 instead of the RSC2 do it.  I just bought it.  It is awesome.  I had the SC and my Z6 seemed to heavy.  I believe the RS2 is about the same weight as the RSC2. Something to consider.

Hello Daniel,

A monitor to consider for your set up would be the Atomos Shinobi 5.2" 4K HDMI Monitor with 5" Accessory Kit, BH # ATSHINAK.


What would you recommend for a 5" or lower monitor to be used for Mokacam Alpha 3 action camera bright enough for outside and inside use. Anything at a lower price if there is?

Hi Moh - 

FeelWorld LUT6 6" 2600 cd/m² 4K HDMI Touchscreen Monitor


Key Features

  • Outdoor Visible 2600 cd/m² Brightness
  • Compact and Slim with 1080p Touchscreen
  • DCI 4K30 HDMI Input and Loop Output
  • Built-In HDR and DeLog 3D LUTs
  • 3D LUT Upload via SD Card Slot
  • Integrated L-Series Battery Plate
  • Auto Heat Dissipation Fan
  • Auxiliary DC Output for Powering Cameras
  • Scopes, Anamorphic De-Squeeze, and More

    The FeelWorld LUT6 is designed with a maximum high brightness of 2600 cd/m² so you can easily use it outdoors without seeing your image washed out by reflections. It's also built slim and compact so it can comfortably be used on the side of your gimbal and in other mobile applications, as well as on-camera using an included tilt-adjustable mounting arm.

    The LUT6 features a 6" 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display and HDMI input and loop output supporting up to DCI 4K30 resolution. A 3.5mm headphone jack is also provided for audio monitoring on set. An intuitive operating system is navigated with touch and swipe gestures and offers access to tools and functions such as built-in HDR and DeLog 3D LUTs, anamorphic de-squeeze, vectorscope, zoom, focus assist, and much more. The LUT6 also allows you to upload up to 50 3D LUTs via an SD card slot and keep them stored.

    Power options include an integrated L-series battery plate and a DC power input port. There's also an auxiliary DC power output that allows you to run select cameras off the monitor's power supply. Batteries and cables are sold separately. To ensure proper heat dissipation, a fan on the rear of the monitor turns on automatically whenever backlight brightness reaches over 80. The LUT6 provides a 1/4"-20 mounting thread on the bottom and one on the right side.

Hello, I am looking for an on camera monitor for photography with my dslr Canon 77D. I want to be able to see the photos on a larger screen. I’ll be shooting mostly church and studio photography. This will be my first on camera monitor and I am not looking to spend too much just yet. What would you recommend in the $100- $150 range?

You could use the ANDYCINE A6 5.7" Full HD HDMI On-Camera Monitor with 4K Support/DC Out/Tilt Arm, BH # ANA6 which will connect via HDMI and would mirror what you normally view on the LCD screen on your 77D.


I am looking for a monitor with good brightness for external shots, light and 5" screen as I would like to use it with the gimbal. Is there something like this in the $250-300 range? Thanks!

 Hi  Daniel - 

Atomos Shinobi 5.2" 4K HDMI Monitor B&H # ATSHIN 

Key Features

  • 1920 x 1080 Touchscreen Display
  • 10-Bit Exterior Viewable Monitor
  • 4K HDMI Input
  • 1000 cd/m² Brightness
  • AtomHDR Mode with 10-Stop Dynamic Range
  • Supports a Variety of Log Formats
  • Single Sony L-Series Battery Slot

What would you recommend for a 5" monitor to be used primary on a Nikon D850? Must have HDMI in & out. Record N-log and bright enough for outside. Ninja V? Anything at a lower price point?

The Atomos Shinobi 5.2" 4K HDMI Monitor would be a great choice, BH #ATSHIN. 

Hello, I’m looking for an on-camera monitor for my Sony A7R2. I’m going to use it primarily for outdoor photography to have a bigger screen but I do want to use it eventually for vlogging as well. I’d prefer a monitor that’s touchscreen, not too heavy/big, and has functions that my camera doesn’t necessarily have, if possible/compatible. Please advise. Thank you. 

The PORTKEYS BM5 5.2" Touchscreen Monitor with Camera Control for Sony a6000, RX100, and a7 Series is a great option.  This is 2200 nits, it is a very bright monitor.  Also it has Touch Screen Controls for the A7RII.

Hellow, can i use autofocus selective with an external monitor? i own a nikon z6 and i want to be able to use touch focus on the monitor as i do on the camera screen, is it possible?


Hello , I shoot with the A7III and I'm looking for a budget monitor for simple interview setups . Something simple that turns 180 degrees for when I'm lighting the subject ,, I don't have to walk back and forth from camera to lighting setup ,, I can just face the monitor towards me as I light the subject

My budget is $150-200 ,, any suggestions? I see many compliment the Andycine A6 Plus ,, does the Feelworld F6 Plus work the same ? or anything similar along those lines ? Thanks for any suggestions

Hi Joshua - 

These monitors function and perform similarly and both would be excellent companions to your SONY Alpha a7III.

I'm looking for a basic monitor for the upcoming Nikon Z6 II. The monitor will only be used indoors in a YouTube studio environment as the Z6 II is rumored not to have a fully articulating screen. What do you recommend?

I would recommend the Elvid FieldVision 7" HDR IPS LCD On-Camera MonitorB&H # ELOCM7PHDR, or the PORTKEYS P6 5.5" 4K HDMI On-Camera Monitor with 3D LUT Support​B&H # POP6, as good options for your planned usage needs.

Would you recommend the same setups with z6ii but taking into account using for indoor as well as Outdoor use? Or would outdoor be a brightness factor with these? 

Yes we would still recommend the same monitors for the Z6 II when working indoors and outdoors. 


I am looking for a field monitor for my Canon XF100 video camera. I use the camera for filming my sons hockey games and it is difficult to follow the players looking through the small LCD display. The monitor does not need to have recording capabilities and the size I am looking for is either a 5" or 7". If possible, I would like to be able to power the monitor with an external power brick/bank. My maximum budget is $500.. Please provide me with some options that would best meet my needs.


The FeelWorld 7" 4K Ultra-Bright Monitor with Loop-Through HDMI would be a great option.  It is within you budget and is Ultra Bright, that way if you ever used it outside it would still work.



I’m looking for a on camera monitor for my Canon M50, that I can most importantly, daisy chain to another set monitor, so I must be able to loop through via hdmi.

also scopes and focus peaking is a must!

thank you 

The Feelworl F5 offers a histogram, focus assist, false colors, zebra, zoom, image flip and has an HDMI loop out.

Awesome thank you!

is there any other options with the same features, but a little bit bigger, around 7”?

The FeelWorld 7" 4K Ultra-Bright Monitor with Loop-Through HDMI has the same features I listed above, only with a 7 Inch Screen and a 2200 Nit panel.  It is very bright!

Thanks for the response!

sorry to drag this out, but I’m curious.

why the FeelWorld over something like the Lilliput a7s?

what makes the FeelWorld a better choice?

The Lilliput will also work, the Feelworld I suggested is a lot brighter though.  It is 2200 nits compared to just 500.

Thanks again!

Hi there, can you advise whether the 'Sony CLM-V55 5" On-Camera LCD Monitor for Alpha' is compatible with the Sony Alpha SLT-58 camera please?

Thanks in advance.

Yes, the Sony CLM-V55 5" On-Camera LCD Monitor is compatible with the SLT-A58 via HDMI.

Hii, I was wondering if you can give me an advise. Im using a Sony a7r to scan my negatives, now the camera display broke. Can I use an external monitor with HDMI connection and continue using the camera in that way? If so could you suggest me a suited HDMI connection cable and an external monitor? 

Thanks in advance.

If you use the Live View mode normally the HDMI will send out a signal to an external monitor.  This Feelworld is a great, basic option.  However I would really advise and suggest you look in to getting the screen fixed on your camera.  That not working could lead to over issues down the line, including other things failing like the HDMI output.

Any suggestions for a video monitor for a Sony A7iii in the 5" to 7" size

i have an a7iii and i'm just now starting to shoot in SLog.  I'm currently using a Feelworld 4k monitor but the down side of it is that it does not display zebras alongside with my focus peaking.  Is there a monitor that you would recommend that displays both? Just looking to upgrade my setup and my budget is around $300

Hi Ron - 

 ikan Saga SX7 7" High-Brightness 3G-SDI/HDMI Field Monitor with 3D LUTs & Scopes BH #IKSX7:

Software Features

HDR preview
RGB parade
Audio meters
False color
Image zoom
Image flip
Check field
USB firmware update

Hi, I have a Canon 80D and i am thinking in buy an ON Camera Monitor. We do Photography and Videography. Could you suggest a good monitor/recorder? 

BH #LIA5 is a great 5" monitor from Lilliput.  This will work very well with the 80D for both Photo and Video.

Hi Joseph. Do you have a monitor in the $300 range you'd recommend for a Canon 80D? Any way to attach the monitor without losing the on-camera settings capability? Disadvantages of using a monitor w/ the Canon 80D? Is the 90D any better w/ a monitor (i.e. have fewer limitations than the 80D?)

The SmallHD Focus is a great monitor to use with the 80D or 90D, but how those cameras behave with a monitor is not something the monitor can control, but how the camera works with any monitor.  Generally with DSLRs you may lose certain info on the screen when you output to a monitor like this.  In some cases you lose all the video on the DSLR's screen.  If you have any additional questions on this please email us at

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