SmallHD Motion 5 Assessment – A Nice Entry-Degree Excessive Brightness On-Digicam Monitor


SmallHD Action 5 Review - A Great Entry-Level High Brightness On-Camera Monitor

The SmallHD Motion is a 5-inch HDMI-only on-camera monitor with a FullHD 1080P decision, a 1000:1 distinction ratio, and a most brightness of 2000 nits. The excellent news for many filmmakers is its surprisingly reasonably priced value of solely $329. However does it maintain its guarantees? Let’s study extra on this in-depth overview!

Disclaimer: As common, let me first say that I’m not a SmallHD Ambassador. Like each different article on CineD.com, SmallHD, or every other model, didn’t pay us to jot down this text. Nonetheless, the corporate despatched us the product to overview free of charge. This overview is my unbiased opinion as SmallHD didn’t modify, affect, or give enter concerning the article earlier than its publication.

When SmallHD launched the Motion 5 in Could this yr, it instantly caught my consideration on account of its unbelievable theoretical value/characteristic ratio on paper. For these previous couple of months, I had the possibility to take it with me on many initiatives to check it totally.

SmallHD’s love-hate relationship with entry-level displays

SmallHD has been manufacturing on-camera and studio displays since 2007. Over time, the corporate has constructed a stable fame for making nice merchandise, and their displays are near an {industry} customary worldwide.

On set with the SmallHD DP7 Professional. Picture credit score: Julien Strai

Evidently that almost all of their monitoring merchandise are incredible. To this present day, I nonetheless use my SmallHD DP7 Professional as my wi-fi system consumer monitor, and the great outdated SmallHD 501 remains to be sitting on my shelf, reminding me of all of the abuse I’ve put it by way of.

Nonetheless, “industry-standard” merchandise usually have a excessive price ticket, and SmallHD ones are not any totally different. Certainly, the value of most of their monitoring options is tough to justify for prosumers, content material creators beginning their journey, or actually anybody typically not making a dwelling out of their ardour.

For so long as I can bear in mind, SmallHD at all times tried to launch entry-level on-camera displays, such because the 7-inch AC7, or the 5-inch SmallHD Focus, again in 2017 that was “solely” $499. The Focus – and later Focus Professional – had an important product life till the tip of 2021, when it was discontinued. However, it’s arduous to say that the Focus OLED and even the Focus Professional remained “entry-level” merchandise with value tags over $800.

Up to now couple of years, many corporations launched reasonably priced on-camera displays with a superb value/characteristic ratio. For instance, we will title PortKeys and their PT5 5-inch on-camera monitor underneath $200 that I reviewed right here, or SWIT with their CM-S75F 7-inch SDI/HDMI monitor.

When SmallHD discontinued the Focus lineup it left a giant gap of their product line for a few months. It gave me the sensation that SmallHD was concentrating on the “high-end” market solely and barely neglecting a large a part of the monitoring marketplace for prosumers or filmmakers that didn’t want all of the bells and whistles of a high-end monitor.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t want a 100% color-accurate on-camera monitor with a bunch of options you in all probability gained’t use or want. As well as, many people solely desire a larger/brighter/extra snug show in comparison with their digital camera’s built-in LCD and should not able to spend near $1K for such a product.

I used to be very happy in Could 2022 when SmallHD launched the Motion 5, probably the most reasonably priced monitor they ever made for $329. They’re exhibiting like to prosumers and content material creators simply beginning out, however I’m wondering, is it too good to be true?

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

SmallHD Motion 5 – Key options

Earlier than we dive any deeper into this overview, let’s make a fast tour of the SmallHD Motion key options:

  • The touchscreen LED-backlit show is 5-inch, with a 1920 x 1080 decision.
  • The display has a distinction ratio of 1000:1 and a most brightness of two.000 nits, so it’s daylight-viewable.
The left facet of the Motion 5. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD
  • The Motion 5 has HDMI 2.0 enter and output ports on the left facet. It may possibly take enter indicators as much as DCI 4K at 24fps, UHD at 30fps, and 1080p at 60fps.
  • Between the 2 HDMI ports, you’ll discover a 12V DC enter.
Backside of the Motion 5. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD
  • Additionally, there’s a 1/8″ headphone jack, an 8V DC output, and a USB port on the backside to replace its firmware and cargo customized LUTs.
  • The monitor is principally made out of plastic. It weighs 8.5oz/241grams and not using a battery and measures 15.1 x 8.9 x 2.5cm.
Again of the Motion 5. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD
  • On the again, a built-in battery plate can take Canon LP-E6 or Sony NP-F batteries.
The appropriate facet of the Motion 5. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD
  • There are three 1/4 “-20 mounting factors with finding pins on the backside, high, and proper facet of the Motion 5.
  • The Motion 5 is powered by SmallHD’s personal Motion OS, which is very totally different from PageOS used on all their different displays.

Now that you’ve a greater view of all of the Motion 5 options on paper, let’s transfer on with my real-life ideas.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Unboxing and included equipment

The SmallHD Motion 5 is available in a pleasant little field. Open it, and also you’ll discover:

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD
  • One 18in/45cm mini-HDMI to full-size HDMI cable
  • One 18in/45cm micro-HDMI to full-size HDMI cable
  • A monitor mount with a hex key and two M3 screws.
  • A printed fast begin information and microfiber material.
  • Not pictured: a display protector and a USB stick.

That’s a variety of issues for an entry-level monitor! Nonetheless, I’d have most well-liked a daily full-size HDMI to a full-size HDMI cable in comparison with the mini/micro one, however it’s okay.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

On the display protector facet, I couldn’t put it in place with out creating air bubbles, so let’s say I’m unhealthy at putting in display protectors.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

The monitor mount is effectively made, and it will get the job accomplished. With the included hex key, you possibly can firmly tighten the Motion 5 to the assist, so it doesn’t wiggle.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

I’m choosy, however the Motion 5 has finding pins subsequent to its three 1/4 “-20 mounting factors. I stated it earlier than, and I’ll repeat it if I’ve to, however these 1/4 “-20 mounting factors with finding pins should not an “{industry} customary.” In contrast to the three/8-16″ mounting factors with ARRI finding pins, that are extra versatile and a well-established customary. To me, Atomos did it proper with their Ninja V/V+ mounting factors, and lots of digital camera monitor producers ought to comply with the pattern.

One in every of my all-time favourite monitor mounts is the optionally available one for the SmallHD 501. This 3D-printed mount was hard-mounted to the monitor with two screws: no wiggle, no unscrew, and it felt prefer it was a part of your digital camera setup. If SmallHD might launch some equipment with 1/4 “-20 with finding pins, and even higher, devoted monitor mounts for its merchandise, that may be nice!

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Construct high quality and powering choices

The Motion 5 is solely manufactured from plastic, aside from the mounting level inserts, that are metallic. Nonetheless, it’s a fairly good high quality plastic and doesn’t really feel low cost in hand. Simply be cautious to not drop the monitor, as it might in all probability not survive the autumn.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

On the again’s high, you’ll discover the exhaust vent. Certainly, the monitor has a fan inside. You possibly can set it to Low / Mid / Excessive within the menu, however you possibly can’t flip the fan off. Thankfully, the fan isn’t noisy, and I let it do its factor in Low mode throughout all my shoots with no points.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

The again of the monitor incorporates a built-in twin battery plate that may take Sony NP-F and Canon LP-E6 batteries.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

There’s a lock/launch button, however it solely works with Sony NP-F batteries.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Moreover, you possibly can energy the Motion 5 externally by way of the DC enter. This energy enter is situated between the 2 HDMI ports on the left facet.

By way of battery life, one factor you want to pay attention to is that this monitor eats batteries like no tomorrow. To offer you an concept, at 30% backlight – sufficient for a daylight inside shoot – a Canon LP-E6N battery will final you round one hour and a half. I didn’t do a scientific check, however a Sony NP-F550 battery offers you roughly the identical runtime, because the capability is sort of an identical to the Canon one.

Sadly, issues worsen when you begin growing the Motion 5’s backlight settings to 70-80% in daylight exterior situations. Certainly, you’ll get round one hour of battery life.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

SmallHD Motion 5 show

The SmallHD Motion 5 incorporates a 5″ LED show with a FullHD 1080p / 1920 x 1080 decision. The show is a touchscreen and the one option to navigate contained in the menus.

The Motion 5 has a claimed most brightness of 2000nit, which is completely daylight-viewable. The monitor has a distinction ratio of 1000:1 and a “Rec. 709” coloration gamut, however I don’t know if the panel is 8-bit or 10-bit (8+2 FRC). The panel is agreeable to the attention with a pixel density of 400ppi.

The Motion 5, like each on-camera monitor with a touchscreen, will get stuffed with fingerprints very quickly. Get a microfiber material at your disposal as you’ll usually want to scrub it. The display is sort of shiny, however not the worst I’ve seen.

High: SmallHD Motion 5. Backside: PortKeys PT5. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Additionally, in comparison with different 5-inch displays like the PortKeys PT5 I reviewed right here, the Motion 5 is extra outstanding. The ultimate display real-estate is identical between each displays, however the SmallHD Motion 5 has extra in depth black borders. It didn’t trouble me, however it’s price mentioning.

The ability button on high of the Motion 5. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

It’s time to press the ability button on the highest proper nook of the monitor for five seconds and let it boot for round 2 seconds.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD


As I already talked about, the Motion 5 is powered by a brand new working system known as ActionOS. This OS could be very totally different from PageOS used on all the corporate’s different displays.

To this present day, I nonetheless suppose that PageOS is likely one of the finest monitor working methods in the marketplace. It’s simple to make use of, responsive, and with all of the instruments you want in a non-obstructive person interface.

So is ActionOS pretty much as good as its larger brother? Let’s admit it: with the Motion 5, SmallHD has confirmed that they know easy methods to design environment friendly digital camera monitoring working methods.
In accordance with the corporate, “the ActionOS toolset is designed to be mastered in underneath 60 seconds.” Personally, I’d add “with out even studying the person guide.”

Let’s imagine that ActionOS is a stripped-down model of PageOS, however it’s been designed from the bottom up. Please keep in mind that the Motion 5 is an entry-level product, so ActionOS has fewer monitoring instruments and options in comparison with extra high-end/skilled fashions. Certainly, ActionOS solely options 4 monitoring instruments:

  • Focus help
  • Expose device/false coloration
  • Look Device/3D LUT assist
  • Body device
Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

While you flip the monitor on and contact the display, there are 4 buttons on the backside to activate or deactivate every monitoring device rapidly.

On the left, you possibly can see the menu button. The menu is split into two elements: configuration and settings.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Within the configuration tab, you could have three pages to regulate the backlight settings, fan pace, picture flip, firmware replace, and many others.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

The settings tab means that you can regulate the parameters of every monitoring device.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

You possibly can activate the crosshair and set your framing/secure guides within the body settings. Please word that there is no such thing as a anamorphic de-squeeze choice.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

The main focus settings are easy; you possibly can regulate the achieve and coloration of the peaking. Additionally, in the event you pinch the display, you possibly can zoom out and in 2/4 instances to test that your picture is completely in focus.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

The expose settings allow you to select between a Spectrum and ARRI false coloration and activate the publicity scale.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Final however not least, the look settings. The SmallHD Motion 5 comes with three built-in De-Log LUTs. Sadly, you possibly can’t take away nor exchange them.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Nonetheless, you possibly can load and retailer as much as three LUTs of your alternative by way of the USB port on the backside of the monitor. As well as, the Motion 5 comes with a USB stick that shops a number of LUTs by SmallHD.

Having solely 4 monitoring instruments may very well be a limitation, particularly as a filmmaker utilizing SmallHD’s “skilled” lineup of merchandise. Do I miss instruments like waveform, scopes, or zebra? In fact, however the Motion 5 felt like a studying curve towards cinematography minimalism. The monitor solely does 4 issues, however it does them effectively. The UI doesn’t get in the way in which, and I need to admit I loved utilizing it rather a lot.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Display screen picture high quality

Not all displays are created equal, and the standard of the show behind them could differ considerably. A terrific on-camera monitor should be as coloration correct and near “what you see is what you get” as attainable. In case your monitor colours are incorrect, you gained’t see your footage as it’s. For instance, when a monitor’s colours are wildly inaccurate, you might even see orange if you’re imagined to see yellow or pink. This may have an effect on the way you set your digital camera’s white stability or publicity.

More often than not, you possibly can’t use a probe or spectrophotometer to regulate your on-camera monitor. It signifies that you’ll have issue attempting to calibrate it accurately by hand with only some built-in image adjustment instruments at your disposal within the menu system. Briefly, on-camera displays should be pretty much as good as attainable out of the field with minimal coloration changes wanted by the end-user.

There are not any show adjustment settings within the menu. Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Moreover, one thing very particular to this monitor is that you don’t have any option to regulate/calibrate the SmallHD Motion 5 show within the menu. I discovered the colours out of the field to be okay however barely off in direction of the inexperienced facet. Additionally, you can’t regulate the show’s inexperienced/magenta tint or white stability, which is a bit odd.

The backlight degree is the one “image-related” setting you possibly can regulate. On most non-OLED on-camera displays, the show tends to raise the picture’s black elements in the event you crank up the brightness to its most setting. Briefly, blacks should not black anymore, however extra on the gray facet, and the image turns into a bit washed out.

The monitor’s distinction is sweet at 30% brightness, which is sufficient for daylight-interior shoots, and blacks are comparatively deep. When capturing exterior, in the event you set the Motion 5’s backlight degree to 100%, you begin dropping distinction. Nonetheless, the picture doesn’t get mushy, and you may see that the monitor is pushing the brightness of your total picture and never solely the black/shadow elements.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

SmallHD Motion 5 discipline check

As I already talked about, I had fun utilizing the Motion 5 on set. This compact on-camera monitor is smart with a small Canon LP-E6 or Sony NP-F550 battery that doesn’t add a lot weight to your digital camera bundle.

With its excessive brightness of 2000nit, this on-camera monitor is a superb all-arounder. You should utilize it in practically all capturing situations, inside or exterior.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

If you happen to’re new to such brilliant on-camera displays, you possibly can simply be tricked by how good your footage appears on the Motion 5, when you’re actually underexposed. In such a case, the built-in False Shade device is your lifesaver to show your picture accurately.

I say the identical with each touchscreen monitor, however the Motion 5 isn’t any totally different, and the display catches fingerprints rapidly. Consequently, you’ll want to scrub your monitor fairly often, which will be annoying.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

At first, I used to be a bit afraid that the display can be too shiny for daylight exterior use. Nonetheless, I can affirm that isn’t the case because it stays completely viewable even when direct daylight hits it.

Throughout all my shoots, I used to be not aggravated by the monitor’s built-in fan. I stored it to its lowest setting, however after a few hours, the monitor was barely sizzling to the contact. I don’t know if and the way it will have an effect on the Motion 5 long-term longevity.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Last ideas

The SmallHD Motion 5 is now the corporate’s most reasonably priced on-camera monitor. In accordance with SmallHD, this monitor is for many who haven’t entered the monitor recreation but. It’s for the “newbie, by no means owned a SmallHD monitor, perhaps solely been utilizing the digital camera LCD”-type customers.

I’d say that I used to be pleasantly shocked by the picture of the Motion 5. The monitor comes with easy guarantees that it’s capable of maintain. So can we complain concerning the lacking monitoring options? Sure, however it’s not the aim of the Motion 5, and SmallHD has loads of different displays in its lineup in the event you want these options. Ultimately, you possibly can’t blame a product for not providing options it says it’ll (in all probability) by no means have.

Who is that this monitor for? Suppose you don’t have an on-camera monitor but and need to begin filling up your filmmaking equipment with out breaking the financial institution. In that case, I believe the Motion 5 is a incredible addition to your digital camera bundle. For owner-operators, you gained’t remorse spending the cash on a flexible daylight-viewable monitor from a good firm.

Picture credit score: Jeff Loch / CineD

Worth and availability

The SmallHD Motion 5 retails for $329.00 and is on the market now. Sadly, for the time being, it’s only out there within the US.

I had a tough time discovering opponents to the Motion 5 just because there should not a ton of 5-inch “reasonably priced” daylight-viewable displays in the marketplace. We might record the Atomos Shinobi that retails for $299, however it has a most brightness of “solely” 1000nit. The one competitor I might discover on this value vary is the PortKeys LH5P I reviewed. Nonetheless, it’s barely dearer at $399.

For extra data, please go to SmallHD’s web site right here.

What do you concentrate on the Motion 5? Do you just like the minimalistic on-camera monitoring method? Do you suppose you’ll miss some monitoring options? Do you like utilizing 5-inch or 7-inch on-camera displays? Don’t hesitate to tell us within the feedback down beneath!