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quick look at a small wonder…the smallHD Dp4 EVF

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20110728_smallhd_dp4-2_015It’s no secret that I love my smallHD Dp6 monitor…for the last year it’s made my HDslr shooting so much more efficient that I couldn’t find many situations where I wouldn’t use it. For those few times (action, sports) I had my Zacuto Z-finder Pro3 to fall back on. Granted the Z-finder magnification of the cameras LCD screen image quality was nowhere near the Dp6’s and it had none of the other features that I’ve become so dependent on (focus assist, false colors etc) but it still did an admirable job with it’s ease of daylight viewing and the added contact point stability that the it gave me while shooting with a shoulder rig.

Well smallHD has just changed the game for me with the release of their new monitor/EVF (Electronic View Finder) the Dp4. Now, not only do I have the smallHD image quality and features coupled with the advantages of a loupe style viewfinder, but I also have a monitor with a bright crisp image that has twice the real estate of my cameras LCD for those times when I when I need to quickly share what I’ve shot.

(Disclaimer: I am a smallHD sponsored shooter. But I picked them as much as they picked me because I couldn’t (and still can’t) find any other monitor company that consistently delivers their combination of quality, features, customer service and value…period.)

20110728_smallhd_dp4-2_00220110728_smallhd_dp4-2_004For those of you who are lucky enough to have used the Dp6 (see my earlier review here) the Dp4 will seem very familiar with it’s sleek milled aluminum case, same multitude of Pro features/modes accessed by the same unique scroll wheel, 2-button set-up and, of course, same gorgeous image quality while adding a few nice features like HDMI pass through, frame guides and a battery level meter.

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical when the folks at smallHD mentioned earlier this year that they had a smaller monitor in development. I thinking to myself that at 4.3” it was so close in size to the cameras 3” LCD that it couldn’t make that much difference could it?

The last 2 weeks have been a real eye opener for me. Its arrival coincided with the start of my annual bonding trip with my son Ian, an accomplished Photographer and Production Designer from Austin. This year we kept it simple and did a week camping/shooting tour up and around Vancouver Island. I let him start the week with it but when I saw how much fun he was having with it I “borrowed” it back and found it so handy that he ended up with the Z-Finder for the last 4 days. (Being the “Dad” sometimes has it’s perks ;-)

20110727_smallhd_dp4_01020110727_smallhd_dp4_006Because of it’s relatively small size and weight (only 1lb in EVF configuration!) I was able to mount it on the Nikon D7000s’ hot shoe and only had to tweak my GenusTech field rig slightly downwards to achieve a comfortable shooting position. One of the first things I noticed was that the hinged loupe with it’s magnetic catch and captive mounting system added a lot of peace of mind after having accidentally knocked my Z-Finder off it’s LCD snap mount more than a few times. The large loupe with it’s crisp optics and adjustable rubber eyepiece not only enhanced the 800×480 display and added another contact point (stability) when shooting with the shoulder rig but also allowed me to shoot while wearing my glasses which was a really nice side benefit.

20110728_smallhd_dp4-2_00720110728_shape_wlb_002Two things that did slightly bother me were the relocation of the HDMI port to the right side of the bottom and the fact that I had to go out and buy Canon batteries for it (I’m a Nikon guy). After using the Dp6 and it’s left side port for so long I found it inconvenient and even mistook the pass-though for the output and momentarily panicked when the unit didn’t work…a quick look at the manual solved that problem but I still find it a little strange to have to thread a cable around the lens/through the rig to get to the camera port when mounted on the hotshoe. I imagine that for off camera use or for those not used to the Dp6 set-up it won’t matter much at all, but it’s just something different for me, and I suppose, other Dp6 shooters. Re: the batteries I’ve been assured that a Nikon battery plate is in the works and I’ll be able to drop the extra charger/batteries soon.

Bottom line: While it won’t replace my Dp6 for studio/static stick work I do see it becoming a very valuable addition to my kit for not only shoulder rig work but also on my sliders (should be perfect for either my Cinevate Atlas FLT or Pegasus ;-) and as a detached remote monitor for jib work.

The smallHD Dp4 EVF is a versatile, high quality, reasonably priced, must have tool that has quickly taken over better than 50% of my monitor needs. Combining the large comfortable loupe with a smallHD quality monitor was brilliant. The ease of converting from a studio use monitor to a hand held loupe/EVF type monitor gives you the best of both worlds. Couple this with the legendary smallHD quality and customer service and you have an investment that will last for years.

Get more info here: smallHD Dp4

8 Comments

Jerry Kacey

August 2, 2011

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Great review Ric
These SmallHD guys are really producing some great products. After reading your review of the Dp6 I bit the bullet and purchased one. It is awesome when paired with my 5D MK II. When you get some free time let me know because I want to see your new toy first hand.

Rob Manning

August 3, 2011

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Hello Ric,

Great stuff thanks!

Question, is the viewing angle on the Small HD monitors 170 degrees, do you know?

That makes it an IPS screen if so.

Thanks,

Rob

admin

August 3, 2011

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Hi Rob…

I’ll check the specs but it doesn’t seem quite that wide…

…Ric

admin

August 3, 2011

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Hey Jerry…

Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Dp6…I’m in town all weekend…friday on I’ll be testing the Servo City SP2100 Pan and Tilt head (really cool ;-) bring down that EZ Jib and we’ll see if I can’t cost you some more money by letting you try the Dp4. I’m liking it so much I put my Z-Finder on the Seattle Craigslist ;-)

Rob Manning

August 3, 2011

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It may well be, the Small site doesn’t indicate that but the Zacuto which has a slightly smaller screen, does use IPS.

Thanks,

Rob

admin

August 4, 2011

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Here you go Rob…

Viewing Angle: 160
Brightness 350 cd/m2
Contract 800:1

HTH…Ric

Rob Manning

August 4, 2011

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That would seem to qualify as an IPS screen then, most screen like my View Sonic monitor or like the Panasonic HDTV I waited for to be in local stores in May, have the nominal “spec” of 170 degrees, as does the Zacuto.

I’m assuming the Small folks are not rounding up then, not saying Zacuto does BTW.

Jerry Kacey

August 5, 2011

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Wish I would have checked back yesterday….
Send me a email. Maybe we can get together this coming week?

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