Reviews |PortKeys LH5P II

PortKeys LH5P II Review

PortKeys LH5P II
Review

Price when reviewed

£399

$399

Our Verdict

There’s been a tonne of interest around this small touch screen monitor, and for good reason. Connect an HDMI cable, and it operates like any other monitor; displaying a clear, crisp image that provides an improvement on most integral camera screens. But then there’s more. If you’re using a compatible camera, you can connect through WiFi and take control of the camera’s settings; it’s all incredibly fluid and easy to understand.

However, functions and features can be wired, or a mix of wired and wireless, with the connection options altering dependent on the manufacturer and camera model. The greatest compatibility comes with the Sony range of mirrorless cameras, which operates without fault and gives you access to many advanced features that will transform your mirrorless camera into a professional video rig.

For

  • Easy to connect
  • Bright monitor
  • Advanced video features

Against

  • Mixed compatibility
  • More accessories are required to access some features.

What is the PortKeys LH5P II?

The PortKeys LH5P II is a touchscreen monitor that can connect to your camera through HDMI, USB and WiFi. How it connects and what connects depends on the make and model of your camera, but, for most cameras, there are a few core features.

These include being a standard monitor that will display directly from your camera through HDMI. Once connected, you can see what you would usually see on the back of your camera’s screen.

You can then connect to your camera using a direct cable or WiFi for Sony models, in many cases, this connection will enable you to adjust exposure settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO and for some cameras the ability to adjust focus.

PortKeys LH5P II

In this test, I’ve used the PortKeys LH5P II with the Sony A7 III and A7 IV, which enable a direct HDMI feed through a cable and connection through WiFi to the main camera controls. As you delve into the device, you realise there are many more functions and features.

For cameras such as the Sony A7 IV, you also have the ability to touch focus which is extremely useful, on the A7 III the touch focus can only be used at the focus point and not to move it’s position. This touch focus option isn’t available in most cameras so best to check compatibility on PortKey’s website.

However, if you’re after focus control there is another option. With additional kits from companies such as Tilta focus and zoom motors can be attached and linked in further enhancing the usability and options.

Specification

  • Wired / wireless control: Sony, Canon, Panasonic, BMPC cameras but check site for compatibility
  • Screen : 2200nit 5.5-inch touchscreen monitor
  • Calibration Factory calibration : Rec. 709, DCI-P3 85%;
  • Frame : CNC aluminium alloy all-metal shell
  • Accessory compatibility Wired control : Wired control Tilta Nucleus-N/M motors
  • Monitor modes : Peaking, anamorphic lens calibration, customised peaking range( Peaking frame), Brightness and RGB signal detection before/after loading 3D LUT
  • Real-time Eye focus in video: Some Sony model compatibility

Build and Handling

The PortKeys LH5P II is extremely well made, with the all-metal casing giving it an instant robust feel. The buttons on top and the on-off slider switch are functional rather than beautifully designed, but everything is solid and made to last.

Checking over and the externals of the LH5P II offer exactly what you need for adapting any mirrorless camera into a true filming rig. Firstly there’s the HDMI in and out, one to the camera and the other to a recording device or transmitter; there’s also a 3.5mm port for headphone monitoring of the HDMI feed.

When it comes to power, the LH5P utilises a standard NPF style battery which makes things easy and this clips solidly into the back of the device, there’s also a mains power option.

PortKeys LH5P II

On the base of the LH5P are the Remote-A and Remote-B sockets that connect directly to certain cameras and enable the touch screen to operate certain functions for those cameras, not WiFi enabled, or even those that are WiFi enabled but you prefer to use a wired connection. There’s also a 5V2A USB type-A socket and 1/4-inch thread to enable the monitor to be mounted.

Features

One of the first questions about the PortKeys LH5P II is why buy an additional monitor when your camera already has one? The answer to this is: with the addition of a cage and support arm, you can position the monitor in a far more convenient viewing position when filming, and secondly, this particular monitor kicks out a luminance that is many times greater than that of the one on the back of your camera.

If you’re a Sony A7 III user, you’ll know exactly how infuriating it is when trying to preview the scene before you in bright sunlight; the LH5P II is rated at 2200nit.

The monitor’s colour accuracy is also reported to be, P3-D65/DCI as tested with the x-rite i1 display Pro. The accuracy certainly compares excellently with a colour match monitor.

PortKeys LH5P II

Regarding compatibility, there’s a huge amount of information on the PortKeys website about what control and function the monitor will have with different manufacturers and cameras. The most control is obtained when using the monitor with Sony cameras; touch screen control is made possible through a connection and a wired connection required for others.

Whether that connection for control is made through WiFi or cable, the HDMI feed is always through cable. There is no WiFi video transfer in the same way as you would see with a smartphone.

A nice feature is the ability to customise the function of most of the top row of buttons on the monitor. So the +/- buttons can be changed to affect the IRIS, Shutter, Zoom, Framerate and ISO of compatible cameras. Likewise, the F1-F4 buttons can be set to camera record; as standard, these are set up as shortcuts to Focus peaking, false colour, Zebras etc.

Reading through the information, there’s quite a bit about focus. With the A7 III, direct WiFi touch screen focusing is possible although it is just at a fixed point, but with the A7S III or A7 IV you have the ability to move the focus point as well as use eye AF.

Other features are more generic to monitors such as the all-important on-screen peaking, false colour, zebras and waveforms. The Peaking overlay is unmissable, and through the options, you can adjust the peaking settings and restrict the appearance to the centre region. There are plenty of additional adjustments that you can make to these settings over those that would be available using the standard camera monitor.

Performance

The function and usability of the PortKeys LH5P II are instantly beneficial. The bright screen makes it possible to see the scene you’re shooting clearly in comparison with the seemingly dull standard screen.

Having the screen mounted to a cage makes the viewing position far more comfortable than a standard screen, so all around, already a far more convenient monitoring solution than the camera’s standard option.

While the screen has many wireless features when connected with the A7 III, the HDMI connection remains wired, this is not an issue when used as part of a single rig and ensures no lag time. I hooked up the Hollyland wireless video transmission units to test the monitor for absolute flexibility. I then used the camera mounted on a gimbal with the LH5P II used for wireless monitor and control, which worked exceptionally well.

PortKeys LH5P II

Remounted directly with the camera, I found that wireless control over the camera gave me access to most of the camera options and settings that I wanted, the only feature that would have been handy would have been the touch AF on the Sony A7 III, however, this is available on the A7 IV, so maybe time for a camera model upgrade.

In use, the four buttons across the top of the monitor give you quick access to the settings you need, including the excellent peaking overlay, zebras and false colour. As you shift the camera around, it’s nice to have a brighter display so you can see what’s going on and have the ability to adjust even in bright conditions. One issue I found is that going from the Sony monitor to the LH5P II is that the brightness can deceive you, so make sure that you have the waveform display switched on so that you can double-check that you’re exposures are correct. I would have liked a bright preview on and off button for simplicity.

Overall in use, the small screen is extremely handy, especially considering the 5.5-inch monitor size doesn’t seem that much larger than the cameras. However, size aside this monitor provides function and features well beyond the ability of the camera.

One final feature that stood out to me was the ability to record directly from the monitor. So with the monitor displaying a clear image of what you are recording, the HDMI can then port out to a recording device.

Final thoughts

I like the solid design of the PortKey’s LH5P II and how it works. At first, the hybrid wired / wireless design seemed a little confusing. Still, once you start to use the monitor and see that the HDMI cable provides 0 lag compared with the lag you get through a smartphone app, you can see why wireless is used for the control and function between the monitor and camera only.

On the A7 III, the monitor’s brightness is a huge asset and accurately positioning the screen on a rig is, as always, beneficial. The peaking, zebras and false colour, waveforms and other screen details are all useful to ensure you’re capturing the best quality footage.

PortKeys LH5P II

The ability to wirelessly control your camera’s settings may seem a bit like a gimmick, but as you start to use the touch to adjust aperture or ISO, the speed and convenience of touch adjustment makes sense. Likewise, the ability to use touch focus on the newer Sony cameras, such as the A7 IV, is exceptionally handy.

As monitors go, the PortKeys LH5P II is small and compact yet solidly built. Performance wise it does what it sets out to do, display the scene clearly and accurately, enabling you to capture the most detailed shots possible. The LH5P makes a lot of sense for small mirrorless cameras as it keeps everything small and lightweight. Going up in camera size and again, the screen is a nice addition, especially when fully connected and able to control your camera’s settings directly through the touch screen.

If you’re using the Tilta focus and Zoom pullers with direct on-screen control then that again adds another level to the functionality.

For a monitor that is essentially relatively cheap, the LH5P II offers a great deal; it also has wide compatibility that makes it a worthwhile addition for anyone shooting video and looking for an upgrade in function and features over their built-in screen.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
PortKeys LH5P II
Author Rating
41star1star1star1stargray
Product Name
PortKeys LH5P II
Price
£ 399
Product Availability
Available in Stock
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