I got religion (of the larger on-camera field monitor kind) a few months ago when I tested smallHD’s AC7. I learned that a minimum 7” diagonal is the ticket: it’s big enough so that your eye is much more likely to catch those pesky “I didn’t see them” compositional oversights in the background or at the margins which can ruin otherwise great shots.
And boy, was that thing sharp and bright.
But like most gearheads, I also appreciated both the tactile qualities of that unit as well as the features like a really great focus-assist and false color.
It was a joy to use.
Because I want you to understand that for as much as I loved everything about the smallHD, this little Aputure VS-2 is one heckuva buy for someone looking at the HDMI-only version of the AC7 or similarly-priced competitors.
Does it feel quite as yummy?
No – but for 1/3 the price (before considering all the goodies that come with it but are extra on the AC7), I can get past that.
Does the VS-2 do the business with a tack-sharp, vibrant display that has built-in and adjustable focus peaking, zebras, safe area, zoom (including 1:1 pixel mapping), color settings, and image flip? Does it have a built-in speaker and headphone jack? Does it come with a bunch of other nice-to-have stuff, too? Would I rely on it for a critical shoot?
Still, the images coming off the display look great — and don't underestimate the value of “dot-to-dot” pixel mapping for critical focus.
As I’ve come to expect from Aputure, it’s also a complete package with battery and battery charger; sun shade; custom molded case; cables and adapters (though I wish they’d included HDMI>microHDMI, too); a micro-fiber cleaning cloth; and a very nice articulated arm.
Is it missing anything else? [bctt tweet=”when looking for a bright, sharp field monitor, put the Aperture VS-2 on your short list”]
With a selling price of just $219.99 (compared to $599 for the AC7 IPS, which again includes none of the other goodies that the VS-2 does – not even a battery), I’m almost embarrassed to raise the point.
But yes: I wish it had false color. That’s really it (yeah, OK: maybe an extra high-capacity battery would be nice and wave form could be useful). I don’t use SDI connections, and at the moment I’m not recording to an external device like the Atomos Ninja Star, so I don’t need an HDMI out port (actually, I STILL wouldn’t need it, since you can run the cable to the Ninja Star which DOES have an HDMI pass-through).
The Bottom Line
As I’ve written recently about other products (and hence the 80/20 series moniker), the VS-2 is more like a 90/36 proposition: you get 90% of the functionality of one of the greats (the AC7) for 36% of the price (Oh, and did I mention that the VS-2's price is even lower if you consider everything that comes with it but is an additional cost with the AC7? Yes, I believe I did.). I have no experience with Aputure support so I can’t comment on it, nor have I run it through anything other than kid-gloves testing – and these may be critical issues for you.
But with this written, my advice to you is: when looking for a bright, sharp field monitor, put the VS-2 on your short list. It just may change your priorities.
planet5D reviews the Aputure VS-2 7″ Field Monitor
(cover photo credit: snap from Hugh Brownstone)