See which one I buy.

Ikan VK7I vs SmallHD AC7

Update 1: I have the Lilliput 663/o/p coming in for review, it appears to be VERY similar to the Ikan listed above and it is less money, has a headphone jack and speaker and has a histogram. I will update this post later after I check it out.

Upated 2: I reviewed the Lilliput here and I still liked the Ikan better.

Ikan VK7i
Ikan VK7i

Tests

  • Boot speed – SmallHD wins by about 1 second.
  • Color fidelity – Ikan wins, SmallHD has a green color cast and a higher contrast
  • Peaking Accuracy – win to Ikan for close up on eyes
  • Lag time: tie
  • Battery life: 9.4watts for Ikan vs 6.4watts for SmallHD, SmallHD should have longer battery life
  • Audio meters – none of them have it
  • Warranty: Tie. Both Ikan and SmallHD 1-Year Warranty,
  • Mounting options – Ikan has 2 more than SmallHD
  • reflective screen – same

Thought Process

  • I what a display I can make accurate decisions off of, the screen on the 5D3 is so small I miss so many things that I see later. So the image has to be good. I want a good IPS panel that does at least 720p HD resolution.
  • It needs to have good brightness and good contrast ratio, I would like OLED but that is too much money. Also it is very new and who knows what can happen to it over time. I think IPS has a better viewing angle than the OLED as well.
  • Can’t I just use my iPad mini or Nexus 7 as a field monitor? They build millions so the price is lower for the screen and just think of the apps with scopes!  But USB lags too much, USB lower resolution and no HDMI input.
  • Use on a crane, or walk around within the frame with a long HMDI cord and adjust lights
  • I want it to be light and fit in my camera bag.
  • I want all the features like focus peaking and false color.
  • At this point I don’t need SDI but it would be nice to have for future stuff like a BM camera.
  • I originally thought I wanted it to record as well but the Ninja 2 doesn’t have a great screen and the Blade is too much money and only SDI. Most people say with the new Canon firmware there isn’t that much of an advantage to recording 4:2:2 10 bit, if I wanted to get that kind of quality I would shoot ML raw inside the camera. Most of the stuff that I want to record via HDMI, I can do via a Black Magic card.
  • And it can’t cost too much since this is an accessory that doesn’t get used all the time.
  • I wanted scopes but to get scopes it would cost hundreds more, there are other solutions to get scopes but they require another box and more power and cables. Then I thought, I already have scopes with Magic Lantern that will show up on the screen! If I buy a Black Magic 4k camera, I will really want scopes then.

Many Sizes

  • I could get a 4″ screen which is only an inch bigger than my camera’s screen, but it could be used for a EVF on a rig. I don’t use rigs yet, so not for me.
  • I could get 5″ that is a good size for on top the camera or to remote, and you can see from a few feet away, but I have a feeling that I am too much of a run and gun and would not use it in the field as much. Weight is an issue Ikan D5W is only .6lbs.
  • I could get a 6 or 7″ which will work more for a studio or controlled environment. This is what I need it for the most right now.

Clean HDMI vs Magic Lantern Raw

  • Using Magic Lantern raw I need to downgrade my firmware to Canon 1.1.3, in doing so I have lost a clean HDMI signal (1.2.1)
  • Magic Lantern is more important than having the HDMI clean (white rectangle and red dot) of overlays and 4:2:2

Construction

Models

  • UPDATE: Lilliput 663/o/p $379 This one looks very interesting, I will be getting one in soon.
  • Sony CLM-V55 $400 800×480 no 720p resolution and no scopes
  • Ikan VK7I $449 800:1, 400nit, IPS, 1.1lbs. 1280 x 800, no scopes, No SDI same panel button diff, 6bit
  • SmallHD AC7 $600, 800:1, 400 nits, IPS, .75lbs. 1280 x 800, 217 ppi, no scopes, no SDI, 8bit (2/13)
  • Ninja 2 $695 800 x 480, has built in recorder
  • Ikan VX7I $810, 800:1, 400nit, IPS 1.1lbs. 1280 x 800, no scopes, Yes SDI
  • Ikan D5W $900 has scopes (Hamlut HDW5 is a copy from Ikan)
  • Marshall V-LCD56MD 5.6″ $1,000, only waveform monitor? Lower brightness 300nit and less contrast 500:1
  • Samurai Blade $1,295, 5″,  1280 x 720, SDI only, has scopes
  • TVLogic VFM-056WP $1,435 with scopes, 6bit, 500:1 contrast
  • SmallHD DP7 LCD Pro $1,300 has scopes

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Ikan VK7i
Ikan VK7i
5D Mark3
5D Mark III

18 comments

  • Dave,

    How did the ikan you favored do on the t3i? Was there enough there to use the focus assist correctly? It is tough not being able to shoot on the mighty 5D3, ugh.

    Thanks for the awesome review. (as usual)

  • Hi Dave, excellent timing and superb review. Only thing I didn’t catch was the sun shade for the Ikan – I can’t see one for that model online anywhere? The Small HD has one available at the point of sale..

  • @Randy glad I could help!

    @Scottrell it works with the t3i but when you record the res gets knocked down to about 480 which kind of sucks, but happens with all monitors because it is a function of the t3i.

    @Andy I am looking in to this, I think they have one.

  • I love your equipment reviews. They’ve been dependable, empirical, real-world evaluations. I stop by your site daily to check in and see if you’ve posted anything new. Of course I was thrilled to see a review of field monitors today.

    This review, however, was unsatisfying. At times, you didn’t seem in full command of the facts — how to correctly calibrate a monitor, fumbling through the monitors’ menus, etc. That left me wondering how fair the equipment comparison could be.

    One BIG problem was using one of the monitors you are reviewing as the test’s control, that is to say you were registering the SmallHD monitor to look like the Ikan with the Ikan as the ideal. The control sample is always going to have an insurmountable advantage.

    I’m not saying the SmallHD unit is better than the Ikan, but there is really no way to tell from your review.

    Anyway, thanks for the review. However, I do hope you revisit this topic soon. Perhaps after SmallHD sees you’ve flagged their monitor they’ll be more pro-active about getting you resources to do a more thorough and neutral review … or at least sending you a unit that is properly calibrated and doesn’t have a broken power switch.

  • Dave, no worries. I know where you’re coming from. No one expects perfection. Please just accept my remarks as an attempt at constructive criticism.

    I do value your reviews greatly. Thank you again for sharing them.

  • Good stuff as always sir. Not to confuse the issue, but I will say that I like my SmallHD DP6 (the older model) because:
    – The focus peaking is the best out there. The ‘focus plus’ mode is fantastic.
    – The false color is the only exposure tool I want on set, and I really like their implementation of it in terms of the ‘color map’.

    I don’t really use on-set monitors for too much critical color work. I like to know where my exposure is lying through the image, and that I’m in focus. The rest is rubbish. 🙂

    My SmallHD did break though, and they don’t have the legacy batteries that went with the old unit, so it’s being a hassle to get working again. So I may just pick up one of these Ikan’s as my next monitor. Saving tons of money doesn’t hurt.

  • @Tim no problem. Sometimes I just don’t have a full month to review each piece of equipment I want to buy, I just need to start using it.

    @Kevin good thoughts on using on-set monitors in terms of colors. If you do pick up the Ikan I would like to know what you think of it.

  • I’m like you Dave I don’t use monitors much so I purchased a Lillyput in case I need a monitor. Have you seen my short film Clandestine behind the scenes video, I used the Lillyput on just a few shots, I find the camera LCD great most of the time.

  • Hi Dave, Thanks for the great reviews!

    Quick question, how would you rate the quality of this screens compared to to an iPad (Mini)?

    Are these reflective screens? What about shooting in the sun/daylight? Are these screens usable under these conditions?

  • Hi Dave,

    Where did you find the info about VK7i being 6-bit? On their website it says that VK7i is an IPS-based panel, and most IPS panels are 8-bit.

    Through some quick googling I can’t find any info on the VK7i being 6-bit nor 8-bit. Being IPS-based my guess would be 8-bit though.

    Cheers,
    Johan

  • Did you ever see the Atomos Ninja 2? I don’t know how it compares with these as a straight up monitor. It does have focus peaking and zebra stripes among other things.

    What I really like is the ability to use it as a field recorder and use hard drives. I’ve always been dissatisfied with using cards, they’re expensive and have small capacities. Plus recording from the HDMI out gives you 422 ProRes or DNxHD which is better than what the 5D3 gives you recording direct to cards. (ML RAW excepted).

  • Dave, I hope the SmallHD folks see this review and send you a new (not used and beat up) unit. I have a SmallHD AC7 and have not noted most of the issues you encountered.

  • Hey Dave,
    Thanks for the review!
    I use magic lantern on my 5d III and was wondering how do these external monitors crop when you are running magic lantern.
    Can you still see the audio levels and all of the bottom info?

  • Hi Dave,

    Awesome articole.

    Beacouse of you I find the ikan D5w 5.6″ Camera Monitor.

    It`s only 750$ now.Its very good alternative to small hd (2700$).

    Can you please make a review about the 5.6 inch Ikan?
    It can be very good for dslr shooters.

    Keep the great job.
    Thank you again Dave!

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