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Review: Aputure V-Screen VS-3 7" IPS LCD HDMI Monitor

Overview : This compact 7" ultra thin LCD display is perfect for filmmakers looking to free themselves from relying on their camera's tiny built in display. The V-Screen's larger screen is crucial for critial focus and exposure adjustments. The V-Screen includes a host of on-screen scopes and meters - features usually only found in full sized editing monitors. In addition to histogram, peak focus, and false color display, the V-Screen 3 has a full time VU Meter to monitor incoming audio.

Features :
  • 7" 1024 x 600 display with 800:1 contrast ratio - supports input resolutions up to 1920 x 1080
  • Multi-coated anti-reflection coating, Wide viewing angle + included sunshade
  • Full suite of on-screen scopes for focus, histogram, & exposure assist; Real-time VU meter for monitoring audio levels; User configurable shortcut buttons
  • Multiple video inputs, including HDMI loopthru; Built in speaker & headphone jack; Operates on Sony NP-F style battery or AC power
  • 24 Month Fotodiox Warranty

Quality/Usability : A external monitor may not be an essential tool but it is valuable addition for any filmmaker. It allows you to check your shots more accurately, monitor the scene as opposed to a small 3" screen on your camera. Having a larger screen to view your scene makes things a lot easier and for your eyes as well.

The Aputure V-Screen VS-3 comes with a slew of accessories. Not only does it come with the 7" VS-3 screen, it comes with wall power adapter, cold shoe mini-ballhead, USB cable for firmware updates, right angle HDMI to HDMI mini cable, allen wrench with 1/4-20 screw, shade, cleaning cloth and pamphlets.

When I first took the VS-3 out of the box, I was shocked at how light the screen is. It weighs roughly 13 ounces. That's less than 1lb. without a battery. Controls on the front of the Aputure VS-3 are straightforward. A power button, a source selection button (labeled A/V) and a 4 way directional pad (also acts as shortcut menu) with a menu button in the center.

The "Shortcut" menu is very handy. It basically allows you to assign commonly used functions to the directional pad at the bottom of the screen. If you don't want to scroll through the menus, you can simply assign peaking or histogram display or whatever you use the most to one of the 4 arrows on the directional pad.

On the base of the unit, there’s only one mounting point which is a 1/4-20 mounting thread and gives you a nice and solid connection point. Also at the bottom is a headphone jack. To the left of the VS-3 is a USB port. This port lets you connect the USB cable to allow you to update the screen with any firmware updates that Aputure may release. At the time of my review, it came with v1.1. I checked Aputure's website and there was a new firmware update.

Upgrading the firmware was painless and quick. Simply download the latest firmware, load it onto a thumbdrive, connect the thumbdrive to the USB cable and attach the USB cable to the monitor. Under OTHER SETTING, select SOFTWARE UPD. and it will begin updating.

On the back of the panel you'll find support for both HDMI in and pass through as well as component video on the left side. The battery plate in the center of the Aputure VS-3 is designed to work with Sony NP-F type batteries or you can use the included power adapter to easily power the monitor on the right side. A speaker is also above the DC power input.

A Sony NP-F950 7200mAh can last you an entire shoot (Maximal Power was used during our testings). But of course, it's always best to always have a spare just in case. If you're not using the monitor and have the Sony NP-F battery still inserted into the back of the monitor, it will still drain your battery. Even though it is not on, the power button is lit up red and is still using the batteries power.

The Aputure VS-3 comes with a pretty decent sun hood. It uses two elastic bands around the edges of the monitor (which has indentations so that the elastic band doesn't shift) and a long piece of velcro which attaches across the bottom of the unit.

The included mini-ball head is a nice addition. It allows you to mount your VS-3 to a hotshoe like on top of your camera. It's sturdy and capable of holding the monitor perfectly fine but I noticed that the base of the ballhead likes to pan/wobble a little even though everything is tightened down.

Installation of the VS-3 is very easy and takes only a few minutes.

Once it's all set up and mounted, it takes the VS-3 a few seconds to fully power on and another few seconds to sync and display the live view.

Menus on the Aputure VS-3 are extremely easy to navigate and labels are very straight-forward.

Our four favorite modes is False Color, Zebra Lines, Histogram and Focus Peaking.

Histogram and Zebra Lines (blinking patterns on the LCD when you over expose) should be familiar to everyone as its available on camera stills.

In False Color mode, it shows the luminosity levels rather than what you actually see. If you have a grey card on hand and it shows yellow in False Color mode, than it is correctly exposed. If there is any place that is black, it will show blue on the monitor.

Focus Peaking lets you know what objects in the scene are in focus. Like the Zebra Lines highlighting areas that are over exposed, Focus Peaking marks the areas in the frame that are in focus.

These four modes will help you nail your exposure.

Conclusion : Overall, the Aputure V-Screen VS-3 7" IPS LCD HDMI Monitor is a reasonably priced external monitor. It offers a lot of what higher end monitors would offer but at a much more affordable price. I would of like the mini ballhead to be a lot more sturdier. The colors on the monitors is vibrant and crisp. Performing firmware updates is fairly easy and quick.

Depending on the battery you get, it should last you an entire shoot. But just remember to remove the battery from the monitor when you're not using it. Even though the monitor itself is off, it's still using the battery to light the power button.

Manufacturer: Aputure
Site: Buy from Fotodiox / Buy from Amazon

Sony NP-F Batteries
Site: Buy from Amazon

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