NAB 2015: SmallHD monitor / EVF

SmallHD always has something interesting to show: last year it was the DP7 7″ monitor with built-in LUT generation; this year it was the 502, a 5″ 1920×1080 monitor that converts to the Sidefinder EVF (tap any picture for a larger image):


The 502 has a decent complement of exposure and focusing aids, with a unique interface: instead of toggling a viewing aid on and off or navigating menus, you instead set up “pages” with combinations of enhancements. Then you simply use the 4-way joystick to side-scroll between ’em during operation.

In the editing screen above, each enhancement has a small icon above the page where it’s used. That S-shaped icon shown on two pages indicates that the 502 will apply a LUT. The 502 accepts 17-point 3D LUTs built externally; the 502 doesn’t offer onboard LUT creation or editing.

The 502 doesn’t use a touchscreen: all interaction is through the joystick and the “back” button below it.

The monitor’s frame is cast aluminum (IIRC) and screen is recessed to protect it from face-down impacts.


Most aids have pop-out settings panels so you can fine-tune them as you see fit.


Here’s the false-color screen with luma histogram.


The monitor takes two Canon LP-series batteries, and has both SDI and HDMI inputs and outputs.


Here’s the cool bit: the 502 mounts to the “Sidefinder”, an accessory converting it into an EVF.


It reverses the typical EVF paradigm of a fixed display with a flip-away mirror and eyepiece; here the mirror and eyepiece stay in place and the monitor flips out to become, well, a monitor!

The Sidefinder’s construction is as solid and robust-feeling as the 502’s, and it has multiple mounting options (and may have even more by the time it ships).

When folded against the Sidefinder, the 502 reframes its image to a 1366×768 section of the screen, subtending a 40º field of view. If that’s too much to take in, you can resize it down to 20º (presumably at 683×384 resolution, but I didn’t confirm this with SmallHD).


The portion of the screen unused in EVF mode shows status info, though it’s not especially visible if you’re behind the camera.


Folding the 502 into the Sidefinder makes the EVF a lot slimmer than (for example) the EVF on an FS7 or SmallHD’s own DP4-EVF, so it’s easier to see past it with your free eye. Cables do stick out a bit, but right-angle cable adapters will fix that.

However, the folded-in 502 puts the joystick and back button so close to the EVF frame that they’re pretty much impossible to activate. What to do?


SmallHD provides a small wireless remote so you don’t need to use the on-monitor controls. This solves the can’t-get-to-’em problem in EVF mode, and means you can fiddle with the monitor without touching it at all—so you won’t impart any vibration or wobble while you’re shooting. If you’re a long-lens person this is a welcome feature.

The US$1195 502 is now shipping. The $1499 Sidefinder package (including the 502) will ship later this year; you will also be able to buy the Sidefinder as an add-on to an existing 502.

Disclosure: I worked on the UI for Video Devices’ new PIX-E series of monitor/recorders; the PIX-E5 is a 5″ 1920×1080 monitor in direct competition (numerically, at least) with the 502. Therefore, take any critique I have of the 502 with a grain of salt until you’ve had a chance to verify it (or disprove it) yourself.


About The Author

Adam Wilt is a software developer, engineering consultant, and freelance film & video tech. He’s had small jobs on big productions (PA, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, Dir. Robert Wise), big jobs on small productions (DP, “Maelstrom”, Dir. Rob Nilsson), and has worked camera, sound, vfx, and editing gigs on shorts, PSAs, docs, music vids, and indie features. He started his website on the DV format,, about the same time Chris Hurd created the XL1 Watchdog, and participated in‘s 2006 “Texas Shootout.” He has written for DV Magazine and, taught courses at DV Expo, and given presentations at NAB, IBC, and Cine Gear Expo. When he’s not doing contract engineering or working on apps like Cine Meter II, he’s probably exploring new cameras, just because cameras are fun.

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