Using iPad as a Monitor for your DSLR


I’m new to the whole DSLR video thing, but since I got a Canon 550D, I’ve been obsessing over it for a month and a half now.

The photography world is a gadget game. Like golf. You don’t need that ball washer, but boy do you want it. When using a DSLR for video, there are all kinds of toys you usually need to make the experience more manageable. Hovering near the top of that must-have list is an external monitor for previewing what you’ll be shooting. There are several hinderances when using a DSLR camera as a video camera due to the form factor of the camera itself. The LCD is rigid (unless you have a 60D or now, a 600D) and depending on your shooting style, in an awkward spot for monitoring video in real time. An external monitor becomes a necessity to any quasi-serious shooting rig.

Of course, they are pricey. You can use a monitor like the Lilliput 669 for $200, but this is not a proper monitor and pulling focus or judging exposure might be a challenge. For more professional options you can go with the SmallHD DP6 for $900 or the Marshall *insert model # here* for $900. These are monitors made specifically for the task of field monitoring from these DSLR cameras, but they take a bite out of your wallet.

I have none of those. For someone like me, a hobbyist, money for an external monitor is money that I’d rather earmark for another lens. Additionally, these monitors add extra weight, extra battery requirements, and of course, the need to buy extra stuff like hoods and mounting brackets. Lastly, they only feature one-way interaction with your rig. They can’t tell the camera to do anything from the monitor. They’re just video taps. Listening.

So I thought I’d throw my support behind Chris Fenwick in this video. He makes a wonderfully compelling case for app developers to write an app for the iPad that will enable it to act as a client monitor/camera remote. Presumably, you’ll already be bringing your iPad on a shoot to accomplish other tasks. I’m already using one as my slate when shooting dual system sound. Why not take advantage of the iPad’s beautiful screen and giant battery as well as manipulate camera settings like white balance and focus with the touch of a finger? The app can be development cheaply and sold at a reasonable price so us hobbyists can see fit to buy it. Canon, Apple, Bill in his mother’s basement… Please someone write this app.

Chris’ video was posted on YouTube 10 months ago and still nothing. The only thing I’ve seen that comes close to this idea is onOne’s DSLR Camera Remote app. Unfortunately, the app requires your camera to be hooked up to a computer first, instead of attaching to the iPad directly. This means you’ll always have to be tethered to a computer. Not too nimble. The free demo version seems a bit buggy as well, but it generally works. And for $40, at a price point people with a need for this functionally can afford.

Developers, make haste. You’re going to want to cash in on the DSLR video revolution. It’s game changing and it’s doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

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