iPad as external DSLR monitor
After couple of projects filmed with gimbal and Sony A7Rii I decided to research if there are any ways of using iPad on the same professional level as decent external monitors or at least use it as a big viewfinder.
I am a drone enthusiast, therefore I was thinking of an universal solution to use with the drone controller and our filming rig. You can use iPad and Sony Smart Remote App which appeared to be very limited in video mode at the moment of this post. There are no focus control and picture profiles available while controlling camera wirelessly.
Another issue was live stream delays. Wireless response is fairly good, however we had a project that was shot in a shopping mall with a lot of electronics around. Strong interference caused significant delay in a streamed video and a signal loss couple of times. To be clear, distance between Camera and iPad mounted on a Gimbal is about 30cm which is nothing for the wireless connection. I lost couple of great shots just because I didn't see what I was filming. I must admit, that the technology in general is quite impressive, however for Sony it is not there yet.
I started to think about alternatives and found a great solution which is Camranger - this device allows absolute control on your DSLR using iPad, iPhone or Android devices. However I am a proud owner of Sony camera that is not supported by Camranger yet. At the moment Camranger is only available to Nikon and Canon cameras users.
I decided to test HDMI cables. I thought I will use a Regular Sony Remote Control to start and stop a video and HDMI output for live streaming. This solution didn't work with iPad because iPad (Or any other tablet, even Android) don't allow media input.
The only option I still had in mind, was to stream viewfinder wirelessly using HDMI streaming dongle and find an app that will play it. I thought that Sony A7Rii internal Wi-Fi is software restricted and it actually is. Wireless HDMI Dongle didn't work. There are no apps that can play wirelessly streamed video on iPad. Wireless control and live stream for Sony A7Rii is only available with their native application.
To sum up, here are working options that allows to use iPad as external monitor:
Teradek Cube - allows you to stream HD video to any device. Works with any camera. Price tag on different products varies from £1k to £3k. Teradek Cube is a really high-end streaming solution for Professional Production purposes.
Camranger - is a brilliant device that was created by consumers who were disappointed in lack of remote control options. Seems like a perfect solution for our case. Apart from live streaming this device provides you with a full control (I mean absolute) to your camera. Though it only works with Nikons and Canons. Device price is £272 which makes it a
no-brainer for most Videographers and Video enthusiasts.
I strongly believe Sony should improve their remote control software by at least adding Picture Profiles support and Focus Control in video mode. They should also allow wired connection for seamless viewfinder streaming to external devices.