To enjoy your professional filmmaking life, it is important to have the right tools beside you, as they make an impeccable difference. One of the most important tools in the field of broadcasting and videography is the SDI monitor. But which equipment you should have? This article will show you the 5 best SDI monitors in 2023. You will learn about their essential features, pros, and cons, along with prices, so that you can pick the one according to your budget. There is also a guide on selecting SDI monitors to clarify things more. So let’s get started.
Brief Guide to Choose the Best SDI Monitors in 2023
If you are serious about your filmmaking career, having an SDI monitor is necessary since it provides professional-standard connectivity for video production and broadcasting. So, let’s understand what things you should look for when considering an SDI monitor.
a. Wired or Wireless
In the market, there are two types of SDI monitors. One is wired, and the other is wireless, and both perform the same tasks. But if you opt for wireless SDI monitors, it frees you from cables, permitting you to enjoy more flexibility. Such monitors are great in scenarios where you have to move frequently and managing cable becomes challenging. Wireless SDI monitors are also easy and quick to set up, making them excellent for on-location shoots and temporary installations.
They save you the time that you spend on cable routing. Advanced wireless technologies like 6GHz and 5GHz bands provide interference-free and reliable connections, ensuring excellent video transmission without messing with the signals. Conversely, wired SDI monitors are ideal for indoor shooting with limited space. That is why many videographers still prefer wired connectivity.
b. Size of the Monitor
The size is one of the most important factors when picking an SDI monitor. You should look for a monitor that fits the video device correctly. It shouldn’t be too wide that it becomes an obstacle when shooting tasks, nor should it be too small that you miss important details. Also, choose the SDI monitor size according to your viewing distance. Larger screens are always great, but they turn out to be impractical if the location is too dense or narrow.
c. Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio defines the layout of your videos. It has a direct impact on the aesthetics and composition of your shoots. There are different aspect ratios used for visual experiences, but 16:9 is widely preferred. Additionally, aspect ratio is important to make sure the video content displays accurately on your SDI monitor. For example, footage shot in the incorrect aspect ratio may appear cropped when viewed on the monitor, causing a poor viewing experience.
d. Touchscreen Functionality
Touchscreens offer an intuitive and natural way to interact with the videos on the SDI monitor. You can pinch-to-zoom, swipe, and tap directly on the monitor’s screen, making it easier for you to control the features. Likewise, touchscreen SDI monitors can increase your work efficiency and speed up progress.
On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that SDI monitors without touchscreen functions are a bad choice. They can also perform in the same way, but since they mostly have buttons for menu navigation, they are comparatively slower.
e. Look-Up Table (LUT)
LUTs are essential elements for calibration and color correction in a professional environment. An excellent SDI monitor should offer support to 3D LUTs, permitting you to fine-tune colors to meet your requirements. Keep in mind that SDI monitors with LUTs are essential and required in color grading tasks and post-production. Therefore, this is a must-have feature.
f. SDI Input and Output
SDI monitors are selected for compatibility with SDI video signals. However, the majority of monitors offer both HDMI and SDI inputs and outputs for user convenience. So, when choosing an SDI monitor, make sure it is 12G-SDI or 3G-SDI according to your camera’s requirement. Furthermore, look for other connectivity options, such as USB ports and DisplayPorts, as they can be useful for software updates.
g. Build Quality and Durability
The strong build quality of an SDI monitor will help you use the device in rugged environments. However, these monitors come in mostly two materials – high-quality plastic and aluminum. Aluminum-constructed monitors are more durable than other materials but can be expensive. Also, consider other traits like rugged exteriors and anti-glare coatings when buying an SDI monitor.
h. Frame Rate
If you want to experience smooth monitoring of the videos or shots on your camera, you must look for an SDI monitor that can handle common frame rates, such as 60p, 30p, and 24p. However, the ideal frame rate of all three is 60p (60fps).
i. Accuracy of Colors
You cannot ignore the fact that color accuracy plays a vital role in film production. To make sure the SDI monitor can regenerate correct colors, look for brands with calibration tools and color spaces, such as DCI-P3, sRGB, and more.
Comparison Table – 5 Best SDI Monitors in 2023
|Product||Price||Display||Resolution||Touch||Connection Type||Aspect Ratio|
|FEELWORLD FW703||$236.99||7-inch||1920 x 1200||No||Wired||16:10|
|Lilliput FS7||$239.00||7-inch||1920 x 1200||No||Wired||16:10|
|Portkeys BM7 II DS||$519.00||7-inch||1920 x 1080||Yes||Wireless||16:9|
|Atomos Shogun 7||$999.00||7.2-inch||1920 x 1200||Yes||Wired||16:9|
|SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit||$3,499.00||5-inch||1920 x 1080||Yes||Wireless||16:9|
5 Best SDI Monitors in 2023
SDI monitors are rare compared to HDMI. However, the demand is usually high since they offer great outcomes in terms of productivity and color. So, if you’re puzzled about choosing the best SDI monitors in 2023, here is the list of 5 popular products among filmmakers.
1. FEELWORLD FW703
The FEELWORLD FW703 is a 3G SDI and 4K HDMI on-camera monitor. It is compact and full of great features that elevates the viewing experience for director of photography and camera operators. It is equipped with a 7-inch Full HD display with high resolution and excellent pixel density of 323ppi. Due to dual connectivity options, this monitor is adored by many filmmakers.
The FEELWORLD FW703 IPS panel delivers a wide 160-degree viewing angle to ensure that you get visible and clear images. It has a 450 cd/m2 brightness along with a 1200:1 contrast ratio, providing sharp and vibrant visuals. Moreover, the monitor supports various functionalities, including zoom, peaking, markers, color calibration, anamorphic mode, flip, and more.
The FEELWORLD FW703 SDI monitor comes with all the important accessories, such as cables, shoe mount adapter, L-series battery plate, and sunshade. This saves you money that you spend on purchasing these items separately. Besides, if talking about the software update, the FW703 can be swiftly updated using the USB port.
The FEELWORLD FW703 weighs 320 grams with a thin design that is only 0.87 inches in size. That confirms that this monitor is lightweight and is a practical pick for different indoor and outdoor shooting environments. The camera also supports the Rec.709 standard to ensure correct color reproduction.
Features and Specifications of FEELWORLD FW703
- 7 inches display screen
- 1920 x 1200 resolution
- Wired connectivity
- 16:10 aspect ratio
Pros of FEELWORLD FW703
- This is an inexpensive SDI monitor
- Despite cheap pricing, the build quality is durable
- It offers accurate colors compared to other SDI monitors within this price range
Cons of FEELWORLD FW703
- Some users don’t like menu and button navigation
- This may not satisfy professionals looking for top-tier performance
- The overall quality of this SDI monitor is below average compared to Atomos or other brands
- $236.99 (As seen on the official website)
2. Lilliput FS7
The Lilliput FS7 is a 7-inch 3G-SDI/HDMI monitor with a color depth of 8-bit. This monitor lets you view detailed and high-quality images of up to 1080p at 60fps with 3G-SDI input and DCI 4K resolution via HDMI. This monitor delivers clean visuals with a brightness of 500 cd/m2, a 170-degree viewing angle, and a 1000:1 contrast ratio.
Moreover, the Lilliput FS7 provides you with the customization option through 2x assignable buttons to quicken your access to monitor functions. It offers a wide range of display features, including level meter, DSLR, freeze, exposure, image flip, and false color, to improve your shooting experience.
To add more convenience to your videography, the Lilliput FS7 offers signal looping for both 3G-SDI and HDMI, permitting you to connect this monitor with several other devices without any trouble. Also, this monitor has an adaptable functionality when it comes to power inputs. It can be operated from 7 VDC to 24 VDC power and has a Sony L-series style battery plate.
The Lilliput FS7 has durable metal housing, and the box comes with all the necessary accessories, including cables, an AC adapter, a ball shoe mount adapter, and a folding sunshade.
Features and Specifications of Lilliput FS7
- 7-inch display
- 16:10 aspect ratio
- Wired connectivity
- Assisted monitoring function
- 1/4-inch BSW mountable unit
- 1920 x 1200 native resolution
- 6600mAh battery with a working capacity of up to 3 hours
Pros of Lilliput FS7
- Good pricing
- The FS7 has a sharp display
- It has a solid body, making it ideal for rough handling, especially on outdoor shoots
Cons of Lilliput FS7
- This monitor has a low brightness
- You cannot see the battery life as the monitor lacks a battery life indicator
- $239.00 (As seen on Amazon)
3. Portkeys BM7 II DS
The Portkeys BM7 II DS is a solid 7-inch monitor with touchscreen functionality. This monitor has some exceptional features, including a 2,200 cd/m2 (nits) brightness, 2x SDI inputs, 1x SDI output with HDMI conversion, as well as an input/output for HDMI. It means you can connect this monitor using SDI and HDMI connections effortlessly.
The Portkeys BM7 II DS has a 10-but panel that offers great resolution and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. All these display specifications make this monitor great for viewing videos even in daylight. Furthermore, the monitor is also equipped with color calibration, which makes sure that it covers 100% Rec.709 and DCI-P3 color spaces up to 85%.
This SDI monitor also allows you to view different screens in the same frame through its split-screen functionality. However, you can only view two videos at the same time. Nevertheless, this device has professional-grade monitoring tools, including Anamorphic, Waveform, Vectorscope, ARRI False Color, Peaking, and 3D LUT.
Additionally, this monitor is RED-approved and provides complete wireless control for the V-RAPTOR and RED Komodo, alongside compatibility with a wide range of cameras, such as Sony, Canon, Panasonic, ZCAM E2, and Blackmagic Design. Besides, this monitor also supports wired control.
Features and Specifications of Portkeys BM7 II DS
- 7-inch display
- Frame freezing
- 16:9 aspect ratio
- Wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth)
- Touchscreen function
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Image customization
- Rugged aluminum body
- 5.5mm barrel connector with 2-pin LEMO
- Integrated dual battery plates (Sony NP-F style)
- SDI and HDMI-supported input and output ports
Pros of Portkeys BM7 II DS
- This is an affordable wireless SDI monitor
- The monitor allows you to connect various devices due to the inclusion of different ports
- Not all SDI monitors can control RED cameras, but this one does it
Cons of Portkeys BM7 II DS
- There is no information about the wireless range mentioned on the official website
- The split screen option should have allowed more than two visuals simultaneously
- $519.00 (As seen on the official website)
4. Atomos Shogun 7
The Atomos Shogun 7 is a powerful 7.2-inch SDI monitor for videographers. This tool is also capable of recording RAW data directly from your camera sensor, which preserves the unprocessed visuals. This feature offers high flexibility during post-production, permitting you to improve and adjust the overall footage. This device provides a high-level viewing experience so you can confidently make decisions on the set.
One of its ideal features is the zoned backlight, which ensures capturing bright whites, sharp highlights, and deep blacks, making it possible to enhance HDR exposure and allow transmission to SDR. The Shogun 7 also gives you a number of on-screen monitoring tools, including false color profiles, 3D LUTs, zooming options, and adjustable focus.
With 4x SDI inputs, the Atomos Shogun 7 can be operated as a portable monitor and recorder for a variety of camera shoots. It can record up to 4x 1080p at 60fps streams side by side as separate ISOs, allowing you to savor real-time cueing and switching between the channels by simply tapping the touchscreen.
Moreover, you can also record a fifth channel using the switched feed that can be displayed on set live through SDI or HDMI. This nonparallel switching ability opens the doors to integrating affordable cameras instead of pricey devices.
Features and Specifications of Atomos Shogun 7
- Dynamic filming
- 16:9 aspect ratio
- Wired connectivity
- Touchscreen system
- 7.2-inch display screen
- 1920 x 1200 resolution
- Compatible with Dolby Vision
Pros of Atomos Shogun 7
- This SDI monitor has a great build quality
- It works with both SDI and HDMI connections
- This product delivers ultrabright colors
- The touchscreen is smooth and quickly
Cons of Atomos Shogun 7
- Expensive device
- Due to the extensive list of features, this SDI monitor can be complex to use by new users
- $999.00 (As seen on the official website)
5. SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit
This is the most expensive device in this list of the best SDI monitors in 2023. Made for the Pros, the SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit comes with a gold mount incorporated with Teradek Bolt 6. This 5-inch on-camera monitor offers a 3000 cd/m2 bright display. That means it works wirelessly with your camera to transmit visuals directly on the screen.
The SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit provides an HD touchscreen LCD with 3G-SDI and HDMI inputs and outputs. It also lets you control camera functionality from it. This monitor kit is equipped with 4:2:2 Rec.709 10-bit color processing to ensure you enjoy excellent image quality.
Moreover, you can easily attach the Bolt 6 TX to the back of this monitor to savor powerful battery power and wirelessly receive video signals from a distance of up to 750ft. This monitor can receive signals in 5GHz and 6GHz, allowing you to connect other Teradek transmitters, such as the Bolt 4K series.
The SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit is compatible with various camera systems and offers advanced operations through PageOS 5 with a user-friendly interface. Moreover, this monitor supports RSA 1024 pairing and comes with AES-256 encryption. Besides, you can easily control its features and adjust settings through the Bolt mobile app, available on both Android and iOS operating systems.
Features and Specifications of SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit
- 16:9 aspect ratio
- Aluminum housing
- Wireless connectivity
- 5 inches screen display
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Touchscreen functionality
- 2-pin LEMO power input
- 5-pin Ethernet and USB control ports
Pros of SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit
- Excellent brightness
- It has a sharp image quality
- The overall functionality is easily learnable
- This monitor ensures the video signals are secure and without interference
Cons of SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit
- It lacks portability
- This is a highly-priced SDI monitor
- The screen size is too small for the price
- $3,499 (As seen on the official website)
SDI monitors are great when it comes to improving your professional video projects. From the list of 5 best SDI monitors in 2023, you can consider the FEELWORLD FW703 and Lilliput FS7 to enjoy standard features on a minimal budget. Contrarily, Portkeys BM7 II DS falls in a medium-priced category with excellent features like wireless connectivity and touchscreen functionality.
On the other hand, Atomos Shogun 7 offers a bit wider screen display, but it comes with a wired connection. However, it is a bit pricey compared to BM7 due to the touchscreen option. But if you have a strong budget and want something powerful to elevate your professional experience, the SmallHD Ultra 5 Bolt 6 Kit can be a solid option. Although it has a 5-inch screen, it is a wireless SDI monitor with all the essential features.
Q1. What is an SDI monitor?
The SDI monitor connects serial digital interference with BNC connectors. It permits transmitting and receiving uncompressed video shots direction from DVR or camera devices with an ultra-low latency.
Q2. Is SDI better than HDMI?
SDI monitors are best for long area coverage and are mostly used with high-end cameras compared to HDMI.
Q3. Does SDI support 1080p?
Yes, 3G-SDI supports 1080p, whereas 12G-SDI supports transmission of signals of up to 4K.
Q4. Does 3G-SDI support 4K?
No, 3G-SDI only supports up to 1080p.