One of the most important things you’ll ever learn about camera gear is that each product is created with a purpose. The vast majority of the technology that you’ll interact with on set has a specific, intended purpose and demographic.
While I can spout off my own opinions about something for a long time, often it’s more important to just look at what a product and brand is trying to do as a whole, and find who they’re marketing to. Once you do that, a product that might have at one time seemed underwhelming or lacking, starts to make a whole lot more sense. If we use that criteria as a rubric to create a greater understanding of that product, we can get to the heart and value of it so much easier.
Why do I bring this up?
Today I want to talk about the Cinemartin Eclipse 7” High Brightness monitor. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that it seems like everyone is creating a monitor these days. Manufacturers are rushing to compete in the market because in a lot of ways, it’s wide open for competition. SmallHD has claimed a spot for themselves, but their pricing can often alienate shooters. Aputure has the VS2, which is a solid monitor on the low-end of pricing, but lacks some of the options of the mid-range products out there.
The point is that there’s a large gap directly in the center of the monitoring market. That gap is somewhere between nine-hundred and three-hundred dollars, and the requirements could be stated as such:
A tack-sharp mid-range monitor with functional operation tools that can be used on a gimbal, as a make-shift director’s monitor, or as a tool in the studio and outside.
The Cinemartin Eclipse checks almost all of these boxes, and then surprises you in other ways.
For me, something that truly separates a professional monitor from the lesser options are the configuration tools that allow you to fine tune the image you’re looking at on-screen. This can’t be understated. I’ve worked with plenty of monitors that aren’t customizable enough and leave you guessing when you’re behind the camera. If there’s one function of any monitor that must be taken seriously, it’s this, and the Cinemartin Eclipse gives you the options to get your image perfect (or nearly perfect) on the monitor.
With every new camera that you mount the Eclipse to, it’s essential that you use the Check Field tools to dial in the color accuracy. After I realized how easy that was, the Eclipse was in my good graces and got me more excited to see what else it had to offer.
The second thing that every monitor must be, is tack sharp. The reasons for this are obvious. Monitors should be tools that help us pinpoint critical focus faster, and with more confidence than our in-camera monitor. The Eclipse’s 1920×1200 screen is incredibly detailed and sharp—so much so that I was actually surprised by the quality. On top of that, the Eclipse has zoom and pixel-to-pixel functions that pop in and out to grab accurate critical focus.
On these basic, but most important functions, the Eclipse over-delivers. What you’ll find is that these functions are what will make or break your love for a monitor (most of the time). The vast majority of the time you’re operating, the sharpness and over-all color accuracy of the image will be what you rely on.
The Eclipse also has Focus Peaking, False Colors and a simple Histogram. The more you work, the more you will rely on these tools to accurately expose and grab focus, but I do wish there was a bit more customizability. Let me be clear, this isn’t necessary. Especially in the case of false color, default settings are useful and clear, but after a while it’s really nice to be able to customize your colors for specific exposure settings. For instance if you’re shooting a commercial where you want all skin tones exposed to 60%, simplifying the false color array can do wonders. I may be splitting hairs, but it’s worth mentioning.
These functions—that are, the focus peaking, false colors, histogram, pixel-to-pixel and zoom functions are programmable to four function buttons on the top of the Eclipse. This leads me to something that I really like about the Eclipse. It doesn’t rely on any complex tool for operation. There’s a Menu button that doubles as a wheel and an exit button, as well as four programmable function buttons. This means that you can quickly learn and become adept at swift operation of the Eclipse within minutes. And let me say, I love that it’s not a touch-screen.
If you’re running audio through your camera, the Cinemartin Eclipse also has an audio levels function that appears at the top of the screen, and not on your image. This is the kind of thoughtful design that defines the Eclipse. The Eclipse has ¼ 20 mounting options on all sides, and options to flip your image and menus so that you can mount the Eclipse in any configuration. When you start running cables, you’ll find this more and more helpful.
I’ve only powered the Eclipse via the P-Tap adapter, included with the monitor, however there are options for Sony and Canon Batteries on the back. The Canon batteries making the Eclipse a decidedly light set up for a seven inch monitor and the Sony’s being a close second. While I was operating the Eclipse with a V-Lock, I was still surprised at how light it was. Especially if you’re using Canon batteries, the Eclipse almost seems like it was made for gimbals.
Speaking of gimbals, the Eclipse’s brightness capabilities (1,000nits) make it ideal for operating outside, making it a fantastic choice for run and gun shooters. But when you’re inside, you can dim the screen down to dark, and then completely off. This makes the Eclipse really flexible—again great for run and gun shooters.
While it’s hard for me to pick on a monitor that does so much right at such a great price, if I were to split some hairs, here are a couple things that I’d bring up.
The Eclipse get’s pretty hot. Especially if you’re inputting a 4k signal, the back certainly isn’t cool to the touch. So much so that it’s something to consider if you’re wanting to run it as a handheld, wireless director’s monitor. I haven’t had any actual over-heating issues with it, but again, it’s something to consider.
Also, I would’ve loved to have 3DLUT implementation. The Eclipse has such high ambitions as a monitor for run and gun and commercial shooters, but is lacking in this one way. Considering the workflow of almost any professional these days implements a LUT of some kind, this should be something to keep in mind down the road.
What I love about the Cinemartin Eclipse is that it doesn’t underwhelm in any critical ways. It delivers and performs solidly in all of the ways that you need a monitor to deliver on. It’s tack sharp, and gives you all of the tools you need to properly set your exposure. It’s light so it’s mobile, but it’s large so it’s functional in a studio environment. You can configure it for accurate color rendition. You can mount it however you might want. It’s priced perfectly at just under eight-hundred, which makes it an option for professionals who work in the field and in the studio.
While a lot of other products are more easily judged by who they’re marketed to and their pricing, the Cinemartin Eclipse is quietly one of my favorite monitor options out there without even considering the price—and the price makes it that much better.
(cover photo credit: snap from Bret Hoy)