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A wireless video monitor for iPhone
 
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What cameras are supported?

FieldMonitor is developed using Panasonic DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-LX100 cameras, Sony A6300, A7ii, and A7Riii cameras, and Teradek Cube 155 and 255 transmitters.

The current Panasonic compatibility list is here. It is likely that any DC- and DMC-series Panasonic camera that works with Panasonic‘s Image App will work with FieldMonitor, but I cannot guarantee this. Please test with Image App before buying FieldMonitor.

The current Sony compatibility list is here. FieldMonitor should work with any Sony camera that offers liveview and movie recording capability using Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app, but I cannot guarantee this. Please test with PlayMemories Mobile before buying FieldMonitor.


What is the image resolution?

Panasonic sources: Max resolution images fit within 640x480 (16x9 images are 640x360). Lower resolution images fit within 320x240 (16x9: 320x180). Images are 8-bit JPEGs. Some cameras, including the LX100, drop to low resolution while recording.

Sony sources: Max resolution images usually fit within 1024x768 (16x9 images are 1024x576). Lower resolution images fit within 640x480 (16x9: 640x360). Images are 8-bit JPEGs. (These numbers are for an a6300; other Sonys may differ.)

Teradek sources: depending on Teradek settings, anywhere from 480i to 1080p, 4:2:0, 8-bit.


Is monitoring real-time?

With a Panasonic GH4 and FieldMonitor version 4.0, I see a latency of 4 frames at 24fps. By comparison, the GH4's own EVF and LCD have a 2-frame latency, and HDMI out to a PIX-E5 or Odyssey7Q+ lags 5 or 6 frames (HDMI shows more lag than Wi-Fi on a Panasonic!).

With a Sony A6300, FieldMonitor shows a 5–6 frame latency. Sony's EVF and LCD lag reality by 2 frames, and HDMI is typically 5 or 6 frames behind; HDMI on a Sony is usually half a frame ahead of the Wi-Fi image.

With a Teradek, 8 frames of latency are typical, but it depends on encoder settings and distance.

Wi-Fi links are subject to variable latency and image loss due to interference and network congestion, so I can't guarantee a specific level of performance under all operating conditions. In high-traffic environments, frames can get dropped and image updating can stall for some time; Wi-Fi monitoring and control—whether using FieldMonitor, Image App (for Panasonics), PlayMemories Mobile (for Sonys), or TeraCentral or VUER (for Teradeks)—is entirely dependent on the quality and speed of the wireless connection.


Can FieldMonitor control the GH5’s Focus Transition feature?

Not unless and until a command for it is discovered. Panasonic's own Image App doesn't appear to support it, so it's quite possible there is no ability to control Focus Transition over Wi-Fi. It's also not possible to fake it with existing over-the-air commands (there are no continuous-focus commands, only step-focus commands, so the focus change will always be jerky). Sorry!


Can I still use the camera’s EVF or LCD?

Most cameras support two outputs or displays at once, so you can usually use the EVF/LCD with Wi-Fi active. However, if you plug in an HDMI monitor/recorder on a Panasonic, the EVF/LCD will go dark when Wi-Fi is used.

If you're using a GH5 and the EVF/LCD go dark when Wi-Fi alone is used, the camera may be set to "smartphone priority", which locks out on-camera monitoring and control. Go into the camera’s menus: Settings > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Setup > Priority of Recording Device, and select "Camera" if you want the camera‘s EVF/LCD and controls to stay active.

There are reports that some Panasonics (the GX85, for example) blank the LCD after 30 seconds when using Wi-Fi, and there doesn’t appear to be a menu setting to prevent this. I don't have a GX85 to test with, so I’m simply reporting this as something to watch out for. Test with Image App if you have one of these cameras and see what happens.

Some cameras will not display images on the EVF/LCD in certain recording modes. On the Sony A7Riii, images will not appear on the monitor of the camera if you record movies while the camera is connected to an HDMI device with [File Format] set to [XAVC S 4K]. Check your camera’s operating manual for these sorts of limitations.


How does FieldMonitor display on iPhone X?

FieldMonitor currently runs on the iPhone X in “safe area” mode as shown here, so that it can remain compatible with iOS 8 (yes, there are people running FieldMonitor on iOS 8).

FieldMonitor on iPhone X

In landscape mode, the image is only about 7% smaller than if it were optimized for iPhone X; in portrait mode it's already as big as it can get. Usability would not be greatly improved by abandoning iOS 8 and optimizing for the X.

I hope to be able to accommodate both iOS 8 and iPhone X (and future oddly-shaped iDevice screens) in a future version, but until I can do that—or until I'm forced to abandon iOS 8 compatibility for other reasons—FieldMonitor will remain iOS 8 compatible and run in safe area mode on the X.


Is this the same thing as Wi-Fi WFM?

Yes. Wi-Fi WFM evolved into FieldMonitor. Updating Wi-Fi WFM turns it into FieldMonitor.


What about a version for Bolt or Paralinx transmitters?

Bolt and Paralinx send low-latency uncompressed video, but they don’t use Wi-Fi signaling, so their signals can’t be received by iDevices. And even if they could, the data rates would be scandalous!

Some crews simply connect a Cube to the output of a Bolt or Paralinx receiver, and rebroadcast the video for iPhones ‘n’ iPads.


Will you support other Wi-Fi-enabled cameras and transmitters?

A lot depends on whether the camera has a published wireless interface, and whether it transmits video in a form that iDevices can decode. Japanese camera companies are very conservative and don’t like to expose their communications interfaces to third parties, so I can’t promise anything or suggest a timeframe when—if ever—support might occur for any particular class of camera.

Teradek supplies an iOS SDK (software development kit) with code to discover and connect to Teradek Cube, Clip, and VidiU transmitters and decode their streams. Support for newer Teradeks, like Serv and Serv Pro, will require an update to the SDK that’s aware of the newer devices.

Note: Panasonic’s remote interface isn’t published, but its HTTP commands are unencrypted, so the basic interface was easily reverse-engineered by clever folks at personal-view.com. Once I saw that, it only took a few weeks of inspecting wireless traffic to suss out enough to interpret camera status and issue proper commands. However, if Panasonic ever decides to change their protocol and encrypt it, all third-party apps will stop functioning. There is no guarantee that such changes will be reverse-engineerable; if the signal is encrypted and the protocol changes, it is likely that no third-party apps will ever work again.


There’s only one “settings button”; there’s no false-color control!

You have an older iDevice that doesn't support false color. False color needs an iDevice with an A7 or later processor:

If you're monitoring a camera feed (not a Teradek), consider using a false-color LUT instead.


What about an Android version?

Development is being explored, but no decisions have been made yet.


I'm a student: can I get a discount?

FieldMonitor is available through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program for education. Your school can buy 20 or more at half price, and give you a code to install it on your iDevice.

Sadly there’s no good online description of the Volume Purchase Program at present, though it’s briefly mentioned here, under “Apps at a volume discount”, and there's some deployment info here. For more details, contact the Apple technology manager or IT folks at your school.


Who needs to see YCbCr WFMs?

I've never needed it myself, but Alex Lindsay said it was essential. So there it is. Who am I to argue with Alex Lindsay?  :-)


Why isn’t my question answered here?

If it isn’t here or on the Support page, it’s because I haven’t heard it yet, that's why. Ask me and I’ll see if I can answer it.

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© 2018 Adam J. Wilt.  Last updated 2018.05.24