Portkeys, a Chinese company specialized in HDMI and SDI field monitors, recently announced an impressive new monitor: the PortKeys BM5. This 5″ monitor features a lot of monitoring tools, but it can also control your camera. Let’s take a look at it.
PortKeys BM5 Monitoring Functions
The BM5 is PortKeys’ new 5-inch 1080P flagship field monitor. It features an HDMI and SDI input, and an SDI output with cross-conversion. In case you need to monitor your sound, a 3.5mm output jack is located on the left side. There is a USB port at the bottom of the monitor for future firmware upgrades.
Regarding power, the BM5 uses a single Sony NP-F style battery. Like the SmallHD Focus monitor, you can use the power output of the BM5 to feed your camera via a dummy battery. On top of that, you have the option to power the monitor with an external battery by using the Lemo port on the monitor, and the included Lemo to D-Tap cable. The screen itself is a WLED panel, which is a marketing term to say LED panel, so blacks should be nowhere near an OLED panel.
In terms of construction, the PortKeys BM5 is entirely made out of aluminum. In front of the screen, there is a toughened glass in to protect it against shocks. It weighs only 350g, which is relatively light for a rugged field monitor. The BM5 is daylight viewable with an impressive brightness of 2000 nits and a viewing angle of 178°.
To mount the BM5 to your camera or rig, the monitor features a 1/4″ hole at the bottom and one at the top. Also, an “L bracket” – like the SmallHD Focus – to mount the monitor more easily to your camera is available as an accessory.
The BM5 support resolutions up to 1080p at 60 frames per second.
Finally, there are four functions buttons at the top of the monitor and a menu button plus scroll wheel to navigate in the menus.
The list of monitoring tools is quite impressive and includes:
- 3D LUT monitoring and 3D LUT SDI output.
- Waveform and Waveform SDI output.
- False color and zebra.
- Peaking and zooming.
- HDR support.
- Framing guides, grids, aspects.
- Sharpness, chroma, brightness, backlight, tint, color temperature adjustments.
While the BM5 features every tool you need nowadays, this is not what caught my attention. What’s impressive is the “camera remote” port and the remote camera functionalities.
A Monitor to Control Your Camera
I don’t remember any third-party field monitor – other than any OEM screen that usually ships with your camera – that can control a camera. By connecting the supplied cable from the monitor to your camera, the BM5 can control some of the camera functions.
The functions you can control are pretty basic at the moment: start/stop the recording, change your ISO settings, adjust the focus settings…etc. I think this is just the beginning.
The PortKeys BM5 camera remote functions are compatible with the Z Cam E2, Sony/Canon/Panasonic cameras. Full list below.
When communicating with the company they told me the following:
We plan to add subsequent control to Sony FS5/FS7, Canon C200/C300 II, RED, and ARRI cameras. We even plan to add the Tilta Nucleus N/M wireless follow focus The user can update the monitor’s firmware via the USB port.
To me, being able to control the camera using a field monitor (like a RED Touch for example) is a big thing. If I can get a bigger monitor to mount on a Canon C200 or Sony FS5 and still be able to control the camera like the standard little screen, it’s a go-to.
Price and Availability
The $399 price tag of the PortKeys BM5 is outstanding for a monitor with that much functionalities. The field monitor will be available end of April. We will add B&H buy links when it become available.
What do you think of the PortKeys BM5? Do you think the camera remote functions are useful? Let us know in the comments down below!