a man is looking at his external camera screen

Maximize Your Photography Skills with an External Camera Screen: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

2023 Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Camera Stabilizer Reading Maximize Your Photography Skills with an External Camera Screen: A Comprehensive Buying Guide 13 minutes Next A Buying Guide to Sigma Art Lens: Features | Types | 6 Best Recommendations

Choosing the right external camera screen is crucial for capturing the perfect shot, whether you're a professional photographer or a hobbyist. With so many types and brands available, it can be overwhelming to make a decision.

In this blog post, we'll guide you through the process of selecting the ideal external camera screen. Learn about the different types and important features to consider, and become an expert in choosing the perfect camera screen for your needs.

What Is an External Camera Screen?

An external camera screen is a portable display that connects to your camera and allows you to preview your shots. These screens are particularly useful for cameras that don't have a built-in display.

External camera screens come in various sizes, from small handheld screens to large tablet-sized displays. And they can be either fixed or articulated, meaning they can be tilted and swiveled for easy viewing.

Why Do You Need an External Monitor?

There are a few reasons you might want to use an external camera screen.

  • An external monitor allows you to view your shots on a larger screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio than normal  3:2 camera LCDs, which can be helpful for seeing finer details that you might miss on the camera's small built-in display.

photo of a man in front of his external camera screen

Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

  • Many external monitors also come with the ability to encode videos, which can be helpful if you want to edit your footage or share it online.
  • An external monitor can make taking selfies more effortless. Instead of juggling the camera, an external monitor will enable you to see exactly where your face is in the frame and eliminate the need to guess.
  • An external monitor can also help you calibrate the colors in your shots, which is important for getting accurate and real-time results to simplify your workflow later on.
  • External monitors can also help extend your camera's battery life, as they use less power than the camera's built-in display. Some even come with their own batteries, so you can avoid draining your camera's power completely.
  • External monitors are also suitable for shooting in various lighting conditions, as you can adjust the LCD screen's brightness to suit your needs. This is useful when shooting in the dark, such as at a concert or nightclub, where the lighting conditions may be too dim for the camera's viewfinder.
  • You can also use external monitors to review your images. After you take a picture, you can review it on the monitor to see if it's in focus and check the exposure. This could be helpful if you're not sure if you got the shot you wanted.
  • And finally, an external monitor allows multiple users to monitor the camera feed. This is great for large-scale shoots like movies where everyone on the production team needs to be able to see what's going on.

10 Tips for Choosing Your Camera Monitor

1. Screen Size

The larger the screen size, the more information can be displayed, making reviewing and analyzing your footage easier. Larger screen size also allows for better visibility, which is particularly important when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight. With a larger screen, you can more easily see the details in your footage, such as focus and exposure, and make adjustments as necessary.

Feelworld FW759 external camera screen

Image Credit: amazon.com 

The most common screen sizes for external camera screens range from 5 to 9 inches. A 5-inch screen is relatively compact and portable, making it a good choice for photographers and videographers who need to travel light. A 9-inch screen, on the other hand, provides a more expansive view, making it easier to see the details in your footage.

2. Compatibility & Connectivity

Compatibility and connectivity are important factors when choosing an external camera monitor. The monitor should be compatible with the camera and other devices you plan to use. It should also have the necessary ports and connections for easy communication between the camera and the display.

Many cameras and devices require specific ports or connection types, so ensuring the monitor is compatible with the camera and any other devices you plan to use is important. HDMI and USB-C are the most common connection types, so make sure the monitor supports these.

3. Resolution & Brightness

These two factors will affect the quality of the images and videos you can capture and display on your screen. The higher the resolution, the clearer and more detailed the image or video will appear. Most modern screens have a minimum resolution of 1080p, meaning they have 1,920 pixels in width and 1,080 pixels in height. However, if you want even higher quality, you can opt for a 4K resolution screen with four times as many pixels as a 1080p screen.

external camera screen in shooting

Photo by Kushagra Kevat on Unsplash 

A brighter screen will make seeing the image or video easier, especially in bright environments or when shooting outdoors. On the other hand, a dimmer screen may be more difficult to see in these conditions. A brightness level of 300 nits or higher is recommended for outdoor use.

4. Advanced Functions

Advanced functions such as waveforms, false color, vectorscope, HDR, and LUTs are essential when choosing an external camera screen. These functions help you monitor and adjust your video footage's quality, color accuracy, and exposure, ensuring you capture the best possible footage.

1) Waveforms

Waveforms are a graphical representation of the brightness values of your footage. They visually represent the tonal range, making it easier to adjust exposure and avoid overexposure or underexposure. Waveforms can help you monitor the exposure levels of your footage in real-time, ensuring you get the best possible results.

2) False Color

False color is another essential feature that can help you monitor your exposure levels. It overlays a color gradient on your footage, indicating the brightness levels of your image. This feature can help you adjust your exposure levels and ensure your footage looks balanced and consistent.

3) Vectorscope

on-camera monitor in use

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash 

Vectorscope helps you monitor the color accuracy of your footage. It displays a circular chart that represents the color space of your footage. By looking at the chart, you can determine whether the colors in your footage are accurate and make adjustments to achieve the desired color grading.

4) HDR

High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays are designed to handle a wider range of brightness levels than standard displays. This can be particularly helpful when working with footage that contains both bright highlights and deep shadows. HDR displays can help you better see and evaluate details in these areas of your footage.

5) LUTs

LUTs (Lookup Tables) are used to transform the color and tone of your footage. They can be used to achieve a particular look or to match the color and tone of different cameras. Some external camera screens come with built-in LUTs, while others allow you to load your custom LUTs.

5. Recording systems

When choosing an external camera screen with a built-in recording system, it is important to consider factors such as storage capacity, compatibility with your camera, and the types of inputs and outputs the device supports. Additionally, you will want to consider the quality of the recording system itself, including the resolution, bit depth, and codec used to save your footage. 

5 Best External Camera Screen

Now that you know what to look for in an external camera screen, here are five of the best screens on the market:

1. Lilliput A7s: Best for Beginners

Lilliput A7s

Image Credit: amazon.com

The Lilliput A7s is a great external camera screen for beginners. It has a 7-inch display and a resolution of 1920 x1 200, making it perfect for those   who want to start shooting video with their DSLR camera or mirrorless camera. The Lilliput A7s also has a built-in speaker, so you can playback your footage without having to connect an external speaker. Other excellent functions are False Color, focus peaking, image flip, etc.


  • 7-inch display
  • 1920 x 1200 resolution
  • Brightness: 500 nits
  • Battery: Sony ( L style)
  • Built-in speaker
  • 4K HDMI Input/ HDMI Output
  • USB power input


  • Affordable
  • Easy to use, making it great for beginners
  • It comes with a silicone rubber case for protection against shock or falls.
  • Accessories of velcro sun hood, ball mount, and silicone case.


  • No touchscreen feature
  • Low resolution

2. The Atomos Ninja V - Best Overall

The Atomos Ninja V

Image Credit: amazon.com

The Atomos Ninja V 5" HDR On-Camera Monitor is an excellent choice for those looking for a high-resolution screen. It has a resolution of 1920 x 1280 and acts as a well-performing external recorder for capturing 4K video, which is considered the best recording monitor for filmmakers.


  • Brightness 1000 nit
  • Resolution 1080p
  • 10-bit HDR
  • 5" screen
  • Batteries: Sony (L style)
  • 4K recording


  • High resolution
  • Bright screen
  • 4K recording


  • None

3. FEELWORLD FW568: Best Budget External Monitor


Image Credit: amazon.com

The FEELWORLD FW568 camera field monitor is a great budget-friendly option for those looking for an external camera screen. It has a 5.5-inch display and a resolution of 1280x720, making it great for those who want to start shooting video with their DSLR or mirrorless camera.


  • 5-inch display
  • 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 1000:1 Contrast Ratio
  • 4K HDMI Input/ Output Without Delay
  • Waveform and 3D LUT Support
  • Focus assist
  • USB power input


  • It is affordable
  • It is lightweight


  • One HDMI input option is available.

4. SmallHD Focus 5": Best Small External Screen

SmallHD Focus 5"

Image Credit: amazon.com

The SmallHD Focus 5" On-Camera Monitor is an excellent option for those looking for a small and portable screen. It has a resolution of 1280 x 720 and an articulated design that allows you to tilt and swivel the screen for easy viewing.


  • 5-inch Touch screen display
  • Supports UHD 4K
  • SD card slot - Yes
  • Touch screen display
  • 1280 x 720 resolution


  • Small and Lightweight


  • The touch screen can be difficult to use if you are not familiar with it.
  • It is a bit pricey.

5. Feelworld FW759: Best Large External Screen

Feelworld FW759

Image Credit: amazon.com

The Feelworld FW759 7" IPS On-Camera Monitor is a great choice for those needing a larger screen. It has a resolution of 1280 x 800 and an articulated design that allows you to tilt and swivel the screen for easy viewing.


  • 7-inch monitor
  • 1280 x 800 resolution
  • Connects via HDMI or AV
  • USB powered
  • LED Backlight
  • Sunshade Hood/HDMI Cable/Battery


  • Large display for easy monitoring
  • Flexible viewing angles
  • A tilt arm is included in the purchase
  • High resolution
  • Video assist tools


  • Its chassis is made of plastic making it fragile.
  • It lacks the touchscreen feature.

6. Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5″ 12G-SDI HDMI HDR: Best High-End

Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5″ 12G-SDI HDMI HDR

Image Credit: amazon.com

Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5" 12G-SDI HDMI HDR is a high-quality external camera screen to help you achieve professional-level results. It features a bright 5-inch display with HDR support and a resolution of 1920x1080, making it ideal for reviewing footage and monitoring the composition and focus of shots.

One of the key features of the Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5" 12G-SDI HDMI HDR is its compatibility with L-series batteries, which allows you to use the screen for extended periods without the need for frequent battery changes.


  • The screen measures 1920 x 1080
  • Audio channel embedded
  • L series batteries are compatible


  • Expensive
  • Some people may find it too small

7. Atomos Shinobi 7" 4K HDMI/SDI Monitor: Best for Photographers and Videographers

 Atomos Shinobi 7" 4K HDMI/SDI Monitor

Image Credit: amazon.com

The Atomos Shinobi 7" 4K HDMI/SDI Monitor is an ultra-bright, lightweight external camera monitor that supports 4K formats up to DCI 4K60. It is perfect for filmmakers and photographers, as it features a high-resolution 1920x1200 display and 10-bit FRC processing.

The Shinobi also features an interchangeable L-Series battery system for extended run times and a range of professional monitoring tools such as waveform, RGB parade, false color, and zebra. Additionally, it boasts a range of professional connectivity options, such as HDMI and SDI ports, allowing for direct monitoring and recording from cameras, making it the perfect external camera screen.


  • High-resolution 4K HDMI/SDI monitor with support for up to 10-bit video
  • Its lightweight and slim design makes it easy to transport and set up
  • Includes tools for focus peaking, false color, and waveform monitoring


  • Expensive compared to other external monitors
  • No built-in audio monitoring capabilities

8. Portkeys BM5 III WR 5.5″ 2200 nits Touchscreen Monitor: Best for Outdoor Environment

Portkeys BM5 III WR 5.5″ 2200 nits Touchscreen Monitor

Image Credit: amazon.com

The Portkeys BM5 III WR is a professional-grade touchscreen monitor designed with cameras. It features a 5.5-inch display with a brightness of 2200 nits, making it suitable for use in bright outdoor environments. The monitor has both SDI and HDMI ports, connecting it to various cameras and other video devices. It also has a headphone output, allowing users to monitor audio while shooting.

The Portkeys BM5 III WR  offers various camera control settings and functions, such as focus, exposure, and white balance, from the monitor. This can be particularly useful for photographers and videographers who need to make quick adjustments on the fly.

The Portkeys BM5 III WR also includes a histogram display, which can be useful for monitoring the exposure of an image. The monitor supports a variety of codecs, making it compatible with a wide range of video formats.


  • High 2200 nitsbrightness
  • The monitor has a touchscreen, which makes it easy to navigate through menus and adjust settings
  • The monitor has both HDMI and SDI inputs, which allows you to connect it to a variety of different cameras and devices


  • The monitor is quite large, which may make it difficult to carry around on location


    So there you have it, the ultimate guide to choosing your external camera screen. Remember to consider all of the factors we've discussed when making your decision so that you can be sure that you are getting the most out of your investment.

    If you like this article, please share it! Be sure to join our FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Katebackdrops/. to share your ideas! You can also receive free articles, updates as well as discounts information from https://www.katebackdrop.com/ and our FB Group.


    How to Know That My Camera Is an External Camera Screen Capable?

    To know if your camera is external camera screen capable, you need to check if it has an HDMI or SDI output . These outputs allow you to connect your camera to an external monitor or screen. If your camera has one or both of these outputs , it is likely an external camera screen capable.

    What Are the Differences Between an External Camera Monitor and a Viewfinder?

    An external camera monitor is a separate screen attached to the camera, allowing you to view the footage you are recording . On the other hand, a viewfinder is a small eyepiece located on the camera itself that allows you to look through the lens and see what you are recording.

    Do External Cameras Need an On-Camera Monitor?

    External cameras may not require an on-camera monitor, but they can be beneficial in specific scenarios . An on-camera monitor allows viewing without the viewfinder , especially in bright light or inaccessible areas. Additionally, an on-camera monitor can help you check the focus and framing of your shots.

    How Does a Camera Monitor Work?

    A camera monitor works by connecting the camera to a monitor . The camera will then capture the image and send it to the monitor to view it live. The monitor will then display the image. This allows the user to view the image in real-time without being near the camera. The monitor also allows for adjustments to the camera settings, such as focus, zoom, and exposure.