Getting a good shot is about a lot more than just pointing and shooting. There are all sorts of considerations to take with regards to framing, how your subject and location is lit, and all manner of camera settings that mean you can’t depend on the naked eye alone to know if what’s in front of you will look good on screen.
Some cameras actually require an external monitor simply because they don’t have a screen of their own at all; but either way, a good external monitor can be a worthwhile investment for a number of reasons when it comes to seeing things from the camera’s point of view.
The external monitor is easy to attach to the camera. It’s just a case of plugging it in to the camera via a HDMI port, and attaching it via an arm that can be screwed on to the camera.
One of the key advantages of this attachment is the flexibility of it: the fairly large screen can be easily adjusted so it’s at a comfortable height for the camera operator, and can be turned around and adjusted further if necessary to show the shot to - for example - an interviewee, or to anyone else involved in the shoot.
As well as offering a sizable and adjustable screen for checking shots and showing them to clients and contributors; the monitor that we have – the Atomos Shinobi – has a number of other features that can help to get shots just right.
Like many monitors, there are zebra lines – which can be used as an indicator that parts of the footage might be overexposed and too bright; and focus peaking – which are outlines that appear around objects to identify that they’re in focus. As well as these, it’s also equipped with scopes, histograms, and waveforms that analyse the balance of light and colour and can help us get a good colour balance for when we take the footage to post-production.
Though ultimately, the camera operator’s own judgement is the most important part of making shooting decisions; these features can make them better informed, and can simply help a shooting day go more smoothly and efficiently.