AbelCine Camera Technology Specialist Dives into the Age of Production Monitors

What monitors are the best in the game and why

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

By: Geoff Smith, Camera Technology Specialist, AbelCine

Production monitors are in a period of flux. As we transition from the familiar REC709 HD signal standard into an uncertain future, the idea that there is one “standard” monitor in the broadcasting/high-end video/digital cinema production space is no longer true, if it ever was. However, there are a few models that we like, use and consistently recommend to our customers at AbelCine.

Since most of us are still monitoring (as well as editing, coloring, and finishing) in REC709, Sony’s ‘A’-series OLED monitors, the PVM-A170 and PVM-A250 (at 17” and 25” respectively) offer among the best REC709 viewing environments short of Sony's own reference monitors (those with model names prepended with the ‘BVM’ designation). The deep blacks and infinite contrast ratio provided by OLED technology, especially at the professional level, makes these displays a premium option when viewing under controlled conditions on set or in an editing or color grading suite. If you’re working in a bright environment, we’ve been impressed by the Atomos SUMO19M monitor, a 19-inch version of their popular Shogun line of HDR monitor/recorders which can manage 1200 cd/m in brightness and sports a rugged, field-friendly design.

Additionally, though lacking the deep blacks seen with OLED, are compelling LED LCD-based monitors from Flanders Scientific and Canon (Flanders also has some OLED models available as well). Canon’s 17& "and 24” 4K production monitors (models DP-V1710 and DP-V2410/11 respectively) provide a rich toolset (including an HDR waveform monitor) high brightness and compatibility with Canon and ARRI cameras for native Canon Log and LogC monitoring. Flanders Scientific displays, long favored by DITs and colorists, have what we find as the most varied and sophisticated signal analysis tools integrated into their displays, providing customizable false color, side-by- side viewing of multiple inputs and legendary color accuracy. Popular models include the CM171 (17”) as well as the DM240 24” and DM250 25” OLED.
Finally, Sony's BVM-X300 is their flagship professional 4K reference and mastering monitor with robust HDR capabilities as well as critical color accuracy (and OLED’s absolute blacks). If you need to color grade and/or master a project in UHD or DCI 4K and HDR, it’s the go-to option. By changing a few simple menu settings, it can also serve as a reference/mastering monitor for the SDR “trim pass” of a project or for standalone REC709 deliverables.
While no one monitor stands head-and-shoulders above the rest as a do-everything Swiss army knife, rest assured there are quality professional options for every level of project and budget.

About Geoff Smith

Geoff Smith joined AbelCine in 2015 as a Camera Technology Specialist with a focus on workflows from capture to post-production. He has been a technical editor of AbelCine's blog since 2017. Geoff has a background in technology from web development to content management at companies like VMware, Lucasfilm and Silicon Graphics (SGI). Prior to joining AbelCine, he worked on an independent feature as a DIT and Assistant Editor. A passionate photographer, his editorial and fine artwork has been published in newspapers and magazines, as well as exhibited in New York City and online. Originally from New York, Geoff graduated from California State University, Chico earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Design with an emphasis in Media Arts.

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