What is an external camera screen

Even with the most advanced optics and practical knowledge, control over the shooting process can be severely limited. Built-in LCD displays or viewfinders have low resolution, poor color quality, low contrast and brightness, and other shortcomings that create the difference between what the photographer sees before and after taking photos. These problems are fully solved by monitors for video cameras.

An external camera screen, sometimes also called field monitor, is an additional display that makes viewing and evaluating photos easier. Such screens are usually attached to the camera and offer a larger viewing surface with higher quality. There are other benefits as well.

Field monitor

Why do you need an external camera monitor?

Using monitors along with cameras may serve different purposes; the main benefits include:

  • Larger screen size for easier detail assessment and framing.
  • High resolution – this parameter is especially useful for photos that require further editing.
  • Color display in professional monitors is more accurate, which is important for working with color correction and retouching.
  • Additional functionality, such as focus assist features help photographers achieve more accurate focusing.
  • Some external monitors have features that allow seeing images better even in bright daylight.

All in all, field monitors are very handy for professional photography, studio work, or in environments that require greater control over the result.

How to work with field monitors

First of all, make sure your camera supports an external monitor. Most modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras have ports for connecting them. Then, choose a monitor with the specifications suitable for your needs – pay attention to resolution, screen size, and color range, if color accuracy is important for your project.

External camera screen

Use the appropriate cable for connection. The exact type may vary depending on the devices, but usually, HDMI or other video cables are used. Once connected, check the settings menu on your camera to find options related to the external monitor. Typically, there you can configure what will be displayed on it, set resolution and other parameters.

After taking photos, you can check the result displayed on an external screen with higher quality and detail. If necessary, you can also connect the monitor to your PC to edit photos.

Remember that each camera and monitor may have different features and settings, so be sure to read the manuals for your specific devices to avoid any problems.

Useful tips for beginners

Are you a novice in photography and you don’t know whether you really need an additional display? In general, if you like how the pictures you take turn out, and they don’t require excessive video editing, having it may be overkill.

Camera monitor

However, if you think that using a field monitor will benefit you, explore the different models and their manuals first – you don’t want to end up with a screen that is incompatible with your equipment. Once purchased, also experiment with your monitor’s capabilities and try out different settings to see which ones will work better with your ideas and shooting style.


Do I need an external camera monitor?

Only some photo- and videographers find it necessary to have an additional screen, and many successfully use the built-in camera displays. It all depends on individual preferences, filming style, and the specific requirements of the project, but in general, having an external monitor is advantageous.

Can I use a laptop as an external camera monitor?

Certainly! Apart from a cable connection through the video outputs, there is software that makes it possible to use a laptop as a secondary screen through a wireless or wired connection. In any case, before you try using your laptop in that way, make sure that its hardware and software support this functionality.

Are external field monitors better than built-in camera monitors?

Such devices often offer greater choice in size and resolution, as well as color accuracy and portability. Some also offer additional features such as height adjustment, screen rotation, built-in speakers, and ports, which can improve overall ergonomics and functionality. If you think that your project will benefit from having such features, it’s worth getting a field monitor.


External monitors offer a variety of features that make the shooting process easier and expand the photo- or videographers’ capabilities. However, they require prior knowledge and understanding the basics to find a suitable model, being able to work with it, and making sure that there’s a need for some additional tools at all.