Helmut Kobler compares the Flanders Scientific (FSI) CM-170W to the Panasonic BT-LH1850 field monitor to find out which one offers the best value for money:
Having a good monitor around is essential for a crew, but whatever monitor I worked with on various sets always came with the same compromise:
If I wanted a lightweight, battery powered monitor that I could easily move around, then I would have to skimp on size, settling for a screen no bigger than 9″ (like Panasonic’s excellent BT-LH910GJ). But while that size is fine for a cameraman standing very close to the monitor, it’s too small for a director, producer, client or other crew member to comfortably see from a distance.
And if I wanted a bigger screen size (starting at, say, 17″) , that would mean carting around a much bigger, heavier monitor, which always had to be tethered to a wall socket because it was so power-hungry.
Recently, though, Flanders Scientific (FSI) and Panasonic have shipped new monitors that minimize much of the compromise between screen size and power requirements. You get a big picture, but with low power draws (22-24 watts), so you can run the monitors for close to three hours using standard camera batteries like a 90 watt Anton Bauer Dionic HC. Three hours! No wall power! Super-quick set up, because there are no long cables to string over to an outlet! No worries about someone tripping over the cables and sending your precious monitor to the floor!
The Flanders monitor, the CM-170W, is even more impressive in that it’s also shockingly light, at only 6.4 pounds, and includes a full 1080, 10-bit color panel, which is unusual in field monitors. That 10-bit panel makes the monitor more “future-proof”, but you’ll pay $3295 for the priviledge, which isn’t exactly cheap.
Panasonic’s monitor, the BT-LH1850, gives you a different blend of features. You get a bigger screen, at 18.5″, and you get an appreciably lower price ($2595 list, but more like a street price of $2150). But the monitor is 8-bit, uses slightly-better-than-720P resolution (1366×768), and is twice the weight of the Flanders. Still, the 1850 is much better suited to field use than many of the Panasonic monitors that have been very popular on sets over the years.
Anyway, I had a chance to try out both monitors in real-world conditions, and found a few key impressions worth sharing…
Read the full review here.