I’ve been wanting to get a monitor for my camera for years and have been looking for something affordable for a long time. The Sony CLM-V55 was 366 euros. I just got the new Panasonic GH2 (review coming at some point) and after reading online that the Sony monitor works on it I went ahead and got it!
The package contains a nice sun shade that doubles as a cover when not using it, two hot shoe mounts that tilts 90 degrees up and down and swivels left and right 360 degrees. Very handy! It comes with a HDMI cable but no batteries nor a charger so you will need to purchase those separately. One of the reasons for my purchase was that I already own two compatible batteries. One is a smaller and another one larger which I think will power the monitor for a really long time. I need to use my old Sony miniDV cam to charge them but I think this is actually the first time I can use old accessories on new equipment. Kudos to Sony for that!
One thing that had me confused with the GH2 for a while was that some menu items (Rec mode, Ex. Tele Conv, pixel magnification) are grayed out while using the HDMI, so this could be similar in other cameras. Although this is not a Sony monitor issue I wanted to mention this as it had me scratching my head for quite some time.
The functions! It’s got focus peaking in it but it’s much worse than on a pro camera like the Sony EX1. When you turn it on the image goes black and white with red lines on the parts that are in focus. Well, in theory. On my EX1 (and I presume on more expensive monitors) this worked really well, but not so on this Sony monitor. It only peaks at bright areas, so if you are shooting at a black object on a dark wooden table you won’t see any peaking going on. This feature is not perfect but for the price I didn’t expect it to be. On normal conditions with brighter images I think it might come in handy though! Especially when doing handheld shots and following subjects around. There’s a green lit button on the side that tells you battery power is on. It’s white when powered by AC. The light turns red when you’re low on power and starts to flash red when you’re out of power.
Pixel magnification is useful if you don’t have it in camera (or if connecting to HDMI disables it like on the GH2). All the functions are behind a rolling wheel that you press and turn. You need to push it, scroll down, choose what to do, push it to select. Same thing to turn it off again. It does remember your last action though so it goes back to the previous thing you selected. I’m sure in time once you get used to how it works it will be more intuitive. For checking focus on a still subject it does the trick though. There are markers 3:4 and 80% 16:9 as well, now what’s that for? I don’t think I’ll have much use for those personally. There’s audio monitoring if you can input audio via HDMI (the GH2 can’t do this unfortunately). You can adjust brightness, contrast, color tone, backlight and colour temp. I have all those set to default at the moment based on comparing stuff I shot from my computer screen (which I trust) and the Sony monitor. I do trust the Sony more for colors then I do the GH2 LCD.
The monitor is really light, it seems solid and I like the feel of it. When you compare the colors of the image after shooting I think they actually look pretty good on the Sony. The GH2 LCD seems to oversaturate the colors. I’ve only tested the monitor with my eye and haven’t shot any charts. That being said I wouldn’t trust the monitor with skin tones after I’ve used it extensively and gotten used to it. Shoot a little stuff and check it on your computer before making final decisions on white balance for example.
I also seem to underexpose a lot with the GH2 LCD. I’m exposing better with the Sony monitor so that to me is already made it worthwhile. It’s a 800×480 pixels resolution 5″ monitor so compared to a 3″ LCD on the GH2 it definitely will help you focus better, but it’s not the ultimate solution. It’s still worse than proper peaking or a proper HD resolution monitor.
I haven’t been able to find anything decent for under 500€ and that’s why I haven’t bought any monitors so far. It really does help on getting the focus right and as I’ve noticed getting your exposure on the mark a little bit more so I’d say for me it’s worth the money.