Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-Inch 2200-nit Camera Control Monitor – First Look

September 20th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 1

On the show floor at IBC 2023, we stopped by Portkeys’ booth to take a closer look at their new BM7 II DS 7-inch bright on-camera monitor. For just $899, it offers HDMI/SDI input and output with two SDI-IN ports, a maximum brightness of 2200 nits, 3D LUTs HDMI/SDI output, industry-standard power connectors, plus wired and wireless control of many camera models.

The Portkeys BM7 II DS was officially introduced back at NAB 2023. However, I’m not sure this product received the attention it deserved. Indeed, for less than $1000, it packs tons of features that make it one of the most interesting 7-inch monitors in this price range, in my opinion.

The company’s BM5 series is a very popular choice among 5-inch on-camera screens thanks to its rugged design and high-brightness display. I personally purchased a BM5 II quite a few years ago and it still serves me incredibly well to this day. But let’s take a closer look at what this new 7-inch edition has to offer!

Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-inch on-camera monitor
Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-inch on-camera monitor. Image credit: CineD

Portkeys BM7 II DS – key features

The design of the new Portkeys BM7 II DS is very similar to that of the BM5 series. Indeed, the monitor features a rugged aluminum construction that protects the bright 7-inch 10-bit (8+2 FRC) touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920×1080, a contrast ratio of 1000:1, a viewing angle of 85° in all directions, and a maximum brightness of 2200 nits. Each BM7 monitor is calibrated at the factory and is claimed to cover 100% of the Rec.709 and 85% of the DCI-P3 color space.

Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-inch has HDMI in/out, 2x SDI inputs, and 1x SDI output
Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-inch has HDMI in/out, 2x SDI inputs, and 1x SDI output. Image credit: CineD

The monitor has single HDMI in/out ports, two SDI inputs, and one SDI output. This allows you to monitor two different SDI sources at the same time. Various viewing modes are available, including dual horizontal, dual vertical, left-horizontal / right-vertical, and left-vertical / right-horizontal. Moreover, the BM7 II DS supports HDMI to SDI signal conversion.

Another interesting feature is the ability to simultaneously monitor 16:9 input as well as a 9:16 crop of the same source side-by-side. For example, this can be useful if you want to show your director how the final output will look when shooting for both horizontal and vertical deliverables.

User interface and monitoring tools 

The BM7 II DS’s software looks very similar to that of the latest BM5 models. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of their new “icon-based” user interface, which is why I still run the original “list-view” software on my BM5 II, as I find it more intuitive to use. Following SmallHD’s lead, other monitor manufacturers are moving to page-based software. Personally, I think that Portkeys could attract an even broader audience by simply refining the UI of its monitors.

Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-inch on-camera monitor
Portkeys BM7 II DS 7-inch on-camera monitor. Image credit: CineD

Nonetheless, the BM7 II DS still offers a wide range of professional monitoring tools, including waveform, histogram, zebra, ARRI False Color, peaking, zoom, frame guides, grids, image capture and image overlay, anamorphic de-squeeze (even with custom values ranging from 0.25 to 4x), audio meters, and more.

You can also load custom 3D LUTs into the monitor using a USB-A drive. These can also be applied to the HDMI or SDI outputs, which can obviously also deliver a clean video feed.

Design and power

The rugged aluminum construction results in a total weight of approximately 460g/16.2oz, which is not much for a monitor of this size. The body integrates top and bottom 1/4”-20 mounting points, while still retaining four user-assignable buttons as well as a MENU scroll wheel/selection dial.

Portkeys BM7 II DS' power connectors
Portkeys BM7 II DS’ power connectors. Image credit: CineD

Compared to the BM5 series, the BM7 II DS offers more powering options. The monitor only draws 15W and can be powered via either the back NP-F style plate (with support to battery hot-swap), the 5.5mm locking barrel connector, or a 2-pin LEMO port. The monitor ships with a D-Tap to 5.5mm locking cable, while D-Tap to 2-pin LEMO power cables are commonly available on film sets.

Camera control

Last but not least, just like the BM5WR, the monitor has a removable 2.4GHz antenna. This can now be folded on the back of the monitor, meaning it’s more protected when storing the monitor in its hard case.

The BM7 II DS supports wireless control of RED KOMODO and V-RAPTOR cameras, plus selected Sony and Blackmagic Design cameras (the latter connect via Bluetooth). Wired control of many Sony, Canon, Panasonic, BMD, and Z CAM E2 cameras as well as Tilta Nucleus-Nano/M follow focus motors is also supported.

Price and availability

The new Portkeys BM7 II DS monitor is now available to purchase from B&H and CVP. It retails for $899 or €857 (excl. VAT).

For more information, please visit Portkeys’ website here.

Have you ever used any of the Portkeys BM5 series monitors? What do you think of this new 7-inch version? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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