- 7-inch diagonal screen
- 1024×600 resolution
- HDMI and Composite Inputs
- HDMI Loop Out
- Flip-up sunshield
- IR remote
- Right-angle HDMI cable with clamp
- Headphone jack and built-in speakers
- Shutter release, bulb and AF buttons
- MSRP $449.95
Still Photo Usage
I know of few better ways to beat up on myself than by trying to photograph wildlife. Sometimes, though, I prefer to relax. That’s when I shoot landscapes and nature abstracts; i.e. subjects that won’t run away.
When you have plenty of time to create your compositions, a field monitor can be handy. The large view makes it much easier to work with than squinting through your viewfinder or ducking in to peruse your camera’s LCD with a Hoodman or other such device. Furthermore you can adjust the angle of your screen to your convenience. All this leads to tighter compositions and a much better chance to spy the stray soda can or plastic bag lurking in the landscape to ruin your prize-winning shot.
How does the Elvid RigVision score for stills?
Its 1024×600 resolution is good, beating most other available 7-inch monitors that tend to sport 800×480 resolution. However, when composing in Live View with my D810 the Elvid indicates it is at 480p at 60Hz. When in playback mode it says 1080p at 60 Hz. I tried changing HDMI output settings on my D810 and still got the same figures. Even at 480p, I found composing easy. As well, focusing was good when I used the D810’s Live View focus zoom at 1:1.
It took about 15 minutes for me to go into the Elvid menu and tweak the monitor to match the color and white balance on my D810. I set the RigVision picture control to “standard” mode instead of the default “user” mode. This seemed to get closest contrast-wise to matching what my D810 screen at Nikon Standard Picture Control was outputting. Then I went to User settings under white balance and fiddled back and forth until I decided on Red 61, Green 38, and Blue 50 as a close match.
The hot shoe mounted ball head is complete junk. It can barely support its own weight, much less that of anything connected to it. If I was shooting in vertical mode, it flipped over no matter how hard it was screwed down. Even in horizontal mode and screwed down tight the monitor would spin freely. I would recommend replacing it with a different hot shoe ball head – even bubblegum would probably work better.
The RigVison with battery, HDMI cable and ball head attached weighs 1 lb 10.9 ounces. The construction is mostly plastic, but doesn’t feel cheap (except the ball head) – the buttons, HDMI wire clamp, battery latch, etc., seem reasonably sturdy.
You need to be in Live View to use the RigVision. Turning on the RigVision would turn off the camera’s Live View requiring you to hit the Live View button again. I had to press Live View two or three times to get the RigVision up and working. Overall it takes about 30-35 seconds to get booted up. Once it was working it was great for composing and focusing. Then I would snap a picture using the camera’s shutter release and a 2- or 3-second exposure delay to let things settle. The RigVision has a built-in shutter release button, but because the HDMI cable is only about a foot long the RigVision will usually be attached to the camera anyway. I didn’t see any advantage to using the RigVision shutter release. Ditto with the AF button on the RigVision, which works as well, but seems redundant unless you have a longer HDMI cord and use the unit off camera. It would be nice if you could use the RigVision IR remote to trigger the shutter, focus or video recording, but it doesn’t allow this. The remote only controls on-off, volume/mute, and menu scrolling/choices.
After snapping a shot, the camera’s Live View screen comes back on, but the RigVision display needs another second to recognize the signal and go from blue screen to the live camera feed. Ordinarily this would be no issue, but if working with multiple exposures to either stitch a pano, focus stack or shoot HDR, then changing light conditions, cloud movement and the like could become problematic.
The sunscreen works good in horizontal mode, but can be good or bad in vertical mode depending on light source location.
In windy conditions any field monitor will act like a sail on your camera. This is not an Elvid issue. I did testing in windy conditions on a sturdy tripod and needed to crank up the ISO to get fast enough shutter speeds to counteract the additional camera shake this caused.
The screen itself is quite shiny which was disconcerting when trying to view a beautiful landscape and seeing a bunch of gray whiskers reflecting back as well. When did that happen? As when using the camera’s Live View for composition, it helps to wear a dark shirt.
Some of the problems I experienced with the CM-7L might have been user error, which is highly likely given how skimpy the owner’s manual is. There are no troubleshooting lists and if you check Elvid’s website you just get a “coming soon” page. Email them for technical help and instead of answers to my questions I got an offer for an RMA to return for a replacement unit. Hopefully this will change as Elvid matures as a brand.
Overall, for still shooting of still subjects I dig the big screen and good resolution to help with composition and critical focus. I like that you can adjust the screen angle with a field monitor to minimize reflections and ease working at awkward low or high angles. Using a field monitor gives me a much better feel for how my finished product will look compared to using a Hoodman that emphasizes how pixelated my LCD screen looks. However the Elvid RigVision has a bunch of quirks (Live View lag, crappy ball head, no remote triggering, no tech support, etc.) that make it frustrating to work with.
Dawn liked the view the screen gave and how it made manual focusing much easier than working off her D750’s LCD monitor. She also liked how it was easier to compose using a field monitor instead of the camera’s LCD monitor.
Even though video is shot horizontally, the ball head sucks for this too. Dawn describes it as feeling “chintzy”. All her testing was tripod mounted as any movement, such as following a subject or panning, would send the CM-7L flopping about like “a dying fish on the deck of a boat”.
The built-in “Banshee” speakers create hideous wailing feedback when video Live View is engaged and the CM-7L is mounted on-camera. The RigVision should default to mute when used with video Live View, but it doesn’t. The only cure Dawn could find was hitting the mute button on the Elvid remote. There is no mute button on the monitor itself so if you lose the remote or its battery dies, you’ll probably be losing your client as well. Dawn ended up Velcro-ing the remote to the RigVision sunscreen to be able to get to the mute quickly. Even then you have to remove the remote and point it at the screen for a clear line-of-sight to stop the squeal.
The CM-7L needs to be used with headphones when recording (good policy anyway) and mute engaged. Dawn plugged her headphones into her D750 as the sound was better than through the Elvid headphone jack. The Elvid speakers are really just for listening to recorded clips during playback so you don’t have to use headphones then.
In video mode the RigVision says 1080i at 60Hz.
The Li-ion battery life is listed as 6 hours and proved adequate for our test sessions. You can also shoot with it using the AC adapter. It is compatible with Sony L-series batteries.
When it comes to delivering a large clear view for composing and focusing for stills and video the Elvid RigVision CM-7L does a good job. Out of the box, the color balance is not a good match with the Nikon D810 or D750, but can be customized in the Elvid menu selections. When it comes to shooting stills or videos the CM-7L has a lot of nasty quirks like the screaming banshee feedback and the repeated Live View shutoffs. This is a product that needs refinements such as a mute button built in to the monitor, shutter release and AF ability from the remote, a decent owner’s manual and actual tech support. I would expect those qualities from a field monitor costing $450. If you buy this, order a different hot shoe ballhead and throw away the Elvid one.
Otherwise, just save yourself the trouble and get the Atomos Ninja 2.
Where to Buy
You can purchase the Elvid RigVision CM-7L from our trusted partner B&H Photo Video for $449.95 (as of 05/15/2015).
Text and photo © John Sherman
Elvid RigVision CM-7L
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