View Full Version : Impressions of Panasonic BT-LH900a On camera Monitor.

07-26-2008, 02:03 PM
Panasonic BT-LH900A
MSRP: 4,890$
Screen: 8.4" 4:3 1024x768

After using a Marshall 7" HDA monitor for a year and a half, and being relatively content with its performance, i sadly had to give it back to its rightful owner. A Company that i work for let me use the Marshall on long term loan.

The Marshall was great, it was pretty sharp pretty bright, and the image looked ok on it...But this is one of those situations where, you don't really know what you're missing, till you use something that offers you more. I rented from a friend a Panasonic 17" BT-LH1700 Production monitor. This thing is amazing. Not only is it one of the more color accurate LCD's you can buy, but it offers functions like a waveform monitor. The marshall by comparison, gives you a rough idea of exposure, Color, sharpness, and image fidelity. The Panasonic, shows you whats there. So that was it. It was time to invest some savings into something that will not only make my life easier, but that will last through a major part of my career. I went over to abel and plunked down the cash....

This monitor is different than other HD monitors. Its 4:3....

now i know youre asking... Huh? but here's the genius of it... kinda like the HVX200's LCD, the letterbox black space is used to display information! Its even cooler than the 17" because it doesn't block 1/4 of the screen with the waveform!!

The panel is 1024X768, Very close to a full 720P. Now when it leterboxes the 16:9 image it uses less of course, but it still uses the full 1024 across, and probably something like 480 down. Its VERY much sharper than the Marshall, pulling focus with My new SGFlip, is a much more confident and pleasurable experience.

Lets look into some of its features.
IT has one of the coolest things ever, Pixel for Pixel Blow up. It zooms in and fills the whole 4:3 frame with (in 720p) a full resolution patch for critical focus.

In combination with its lovely peaking function, this is the absolute best way to judge focus in the field. The peaking in this case is white and the coolest part is that its own dedicated knob where like sharpening on a TV you can dial in as much as you want. At full blast, everything that's sharp has a Bright white 1 pixel line around it. Its very promninent, very easy to see, and works like a charm.

Of course it has the usual rouges galley of functions, Blue only, Brightness, contrast, tint, and color all on individual Dials, on a detachable box, that can be positioned on any side of the monitor you desire. So cool....

This is one of the only small HD monitors that has Varicam FilmRec Comensation. Anyone who has ever used a varicam will know that the FilmRe mode looks VERY flat and drab, this somewhat corrects for that and represents the image in a more traditional sense.

The panels contrast and brightness are great, its no 17" BT-LH1700.... that monitor is notoriously bright almost to a fault, but thats why you have waveform...
Which brings me to..... The Waveform... I recently was on a shoot where we were shooting under some severe conditions causes by swarms of mosquitoes. in a rush we shot on the fly, and as a result a improperly calibrated on board marshall, led to the footage being over exposed. in HD thats a no no.....

This is one of the reasons i opted for this monitor. It has a beautiful high resolution waveform monitor. This lets you see what youre actually shooting, its so criticaly important i cant stress enough.

Now lets talk about short comings...

1: theres no simple way to power it yet... Its setup to utilize Anton Bauer, or Dionic batteries, or a 12v XLR in power source. Currently im using a Bescor 12V battery belt with an XLR adapter. This is actually a great way to power it, it lasts forever, and is simple enough to just hang on the tripod, and since its a belt, you can just wear it when you go handheld. but its very heavy...

2: connetions: IT has 2 switchable SDI in ports, Component in, and Composite in... However it does not Pass a signal through.... The marshall passes the signal through, and thats an important feature, because it lets the Cam op or Focus puller have a dedicated monitor for focus, while passing the signal to a client monitor or video village. Now the camera has to send signal to the Video village, and then a Component has to be drawn back to the Camera for the on Cam Monitor... Hassle. Ugh... For this price i feel like thats something that should come included.

3: Its a little big. not too bad, but its still hefty at 4 pounds.

Overall i feel the positives, like being able to accurately gauge color, luminance, and focus, FAR outweigh the negatives in terms of connectivity and size. In a professional world, the price is justifiable to me because i now feel confident in what images i am supplying to my clientele. No more guessing, no more, which of the 3 on camera LCD's do i trust, and no more, "Is that actually in focus, i think so... ".

The marshall has its place, and it served me well for a long time, but this tool is really a great tool.

I LOVE this thing.

07-26-2008, 04:07 PM
It was an honor to christen your monitor at the shoot for my pilot. What a fantastic device.

07-26-2008, 04:42 PM
hah! gresh in the house!

had fun man... great pasta...

Noel Evans
07-26-2008, 05:22 PM
If you use this thing with something larger like a HPX and IDX batteries, you can use the IDX charger (which has a 4 pin 12v out) you can just hook it up that way as I do sometimes (on a shoot with the EX). But then again you can just plug it in to the cam. SO those shortcomings really only relate to using it with a HVX or the like.

I use the LH80 which I believe has a few less functions, but I cant imagine shooting without a waveform again. When you factor in how much a waveform monitor actually costs, its a great feature.

Paul Hudson
12-17-2009, 06:39 AM
It is worth 10 times any MArshall. I have both Panasonics and Marshalls. The Marshalls are NEVER used for anything anymore except, for reference for jib shots etc....