Introduction: Affordable External Monitor / EVF for DSLR

About: Cinematographer/Photographer /Texture Designer /Industrial Designer/Packaging Designer / Fashion Designer/Graphic Designer / Illustrator and more...

The cost is around 30-50USD however its still cheaper than paying 200-500 USD for a monitor.

The use of external monitor:

  • Enabling viewing the framing of the shots from difficult angles
  • Remote viewing while controlling a crane of Jib

Advantage of this setup

  • Affordable being around 30-50USD
  • Enable to use standardise batteries like Sony NP-F970 which most LED panels and monitors uses.
  • Or use standard 9v batteries instead of any odd RC car batteries
  • Enabled to mount onto a shoulder rig plus also different options

The first thing to know about this setup is that its not a HD monitor but will be enough to see what you are filming and for framing the shot. However to check focus its not really detailed enough for it, however most DSLR with have live view zoom to help out to check the focus or focus peaking which combine with this monitor will work. Also this is not going to use the HDMI and will be able to use the standard mirco USB to RCA cables which most camera are provided with. However this monitor is not only great for using onto a shoulder rig, but also for filming low angle shots if your camera has no flip out screen or use it on a Jib or a Crane so you can see what you are filming while controlling the Jib.

Step 1: Choosing the Monitor

The monitor I have chosen and have tested is a 3.5" monitor which is a perfect to use with a LCD viewfinder to build an EVF, however this monitor does have a very low resolution to work with but for me personally is enough. But the bigger 4.3", 5" and 7" might have a better resolution to work with an enable to have a better resolution to check the focus, but I am not sure if it would work with the same power source.

To get the same monitor as what I have chosen follow the link below:

$16 - 3.5" LCD Car rear view Monitor

For the other monitors check these links below, however I am not sure if these would work with the same power source that I am using on my smaller monitor even though they should be powered by a 12v, the 3.5" seem to also work with a lower voltage of 9v or 7.2v, which I can't truly say the same for the ones below:
$16 - 4.3inch TFT LCD car color monitor

$24 - 5inch TFT LCD car color monitor

$35 - 7inch TFT LCD car color monitor

Also these bigger monitors does not work with an LCD viewfinder and not possible to make into an EVF unless you build your own loupe or sunshade for these.

Step 2: Powering the Monitor

The monitor on the previous step all requires 12v to make them work. However from a test the 3.5" actually also works with a much smaller voltage and even can be powered with a 9v battery and also using Sony NP-F970 battery that allot of filmmakers uses to power their LED light panels.

For my project I found a simple battery plate that only costed 14USD which is very affordable but also it has tons of mounts on the back so its easy to really mount the battery anywhere you really want. It even includes a 1/4" hole to screw onto a tripod or ballhead and even could be mounted just on top of your camera with some a coldshoe to 1/4" adapter.

For the NP-F970 battery plate click the link below:

$14 -SONY F970 Battery Plate adapter

Or you can also use a 9v battery and get a nice battery holder with the right plug here in the link below:

$2 - 9V Battery Holder Box

Step 3: Mounting the Monitor

For the 3.5" monitor this simple phone holder with 1/4" screw hole works the best and being quite affordable to do so. As you only need to pay only 2USD for it and the 3.5" monitor fits perfectly into this mount and enable you to mount the monitor anywhere cause of the standard 1/4" screw hole. You can mount it on a tripod or a magic arm and a clamp to put it on your shoulder rig or more.

Click here below for the link to this mobile phone holder:

$2 - Phone holder bracket

Step 4: Putting Them Together

Its quite easy to put them all together and can view the images how I have place them together and mounted onto the rig.

Optional is to add the LCD viewfinder to make the monitor into a EVF or Electronic View Finder. As on sunny days outside due to bright sunlight and reflections would become harder to view what is shown on the monitor and might be much easier using a LCD viewfinder to block all the light and reflections on the screen.

$10 - LCD Viewfinder V2

Step 5: Mounting on Shoulder Rig

The cheapest method is with this clamp and would need to find a 1/4" screew and enable you to mount the battery plate onto your rig.

$3 - 1/4" Clamp for 15mm rail support

However how I did it is that I bought cheap matte for which cost about 15-16 usd and used its Rail Block Clamp which separately is sold often for around 20usd for this part alone. So it be just cheaper to buy the matte box and just use these small section of the matte box.

You can find the matte box with the Rail block clamp here:

$15 - Matte Box

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