I recently got my hands on the latest release from SmallHD, the Focus OLED camera monitor. One of the primary benefits of having an OLED display is that it provides an incredible contrast ratio with deep blacks. Watch our hands-on unboxing and first impressions of the new SmallHD Focus OLED.
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- OLED display
- 1920×1080 resolution
- Swivel mount arm
- SwipeOS touch-based operating system
- Uses Sony NPF-style batteries
If you opt for one of the bundle packages, which come in at a $100 premium, SmallHD provides an NPF battery, charger, and dummy battery. The dummy battery allows the NPF battery attached to the SmallHD Focus OLED to power both the monitor and the camera with a single battery. This is a great feature, and one of the things I was looking forward to most.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the dummy battery that SmallHD provides is aimed at Sony’s older cameras, the ones prior to the recent Z-series battery refresh. That means that the dummy battery will not fit in the recently-released A7 III or the A7R III. A disappointment to be sure, but SmallHD says that it will make Z-series dummies available for purchase in the near future.
Outside of that, I love almost everything else about the SmallHD Focus OLED. The 5.5-inch display is large, allowing you to easily acquire focus, and SwipeOS, the operating system that powers the monitor, is downright brilliant. You can easily add tools to the display like waveforms, focus peaking, false color, etc. And you can set up multiple pages for specific tool configurations. It’s easily the best camera monitor OS that I’ve tried.
One of the biggest concerns that I had was display brightness. The OLED screen, at only 350 nits, isn’t as bright as the regular SmallHD Focus, and falls way short in brightness on paper when compared to some of the outdoor-centric monitors available on the market. I was surprised by how well I could view the monitor on a bright overcast day, and even amid bright sunlight. If you’re shooting outside all day, you’ll probably want to opt for a different monitor, or purchase a sun hood, but I think the OLED display is plenty bright for occasional outdoor shooting, and is more than bright enough for studio work.
The SmallHD Focus is particularly helpful for shooting video with the Sony A7 III, a camera that still lacks a fully articulating display. Having the Focus OLED with its monitor arm allows you to easily rotate the display over into vlog mode, and thanks to the sensors built inside, SwipeOS will intelligently mirror and rotate the display to match automatically.
There are some other observations to be made, so be sure to watch our meticulous unboxing and first impressions video above. If you want to try the SmallHD Focus, be sure to head over to B&H where they have the units in stock starting at $699.
What are your thoughts?