Cheap External Monitor For Canon 7D And DSLR Video

by Harlan Yee on February 7th, 2011

Update: I found another inexpensive solution for monitoring DSLR shots… I believe it’s a better solution than what I talk about in this post. So read the post below and then check out my review of another cheap external HDMI monitor for DSLR video. You’re going to want to know about this other monitor. It’s only $200! Ok, back to my regular post:

Ever since I got my Canon 7D, I wanted some accessories for it. One of the essential items on my list was an external monitor. If you’ve used external monitors with video cameras, you know how helpful they can be… This is expecially true when shooting DSLR video.

In a previous post, I made a video on how to use a Vizio LCD TV as an external monitor for my Canon 7D. This is a really good option if you’re shooting in a studio or near an electrical outlet. However, this is not a good choice if portability is important. I also made a video about using an IKAN VX9 HDMI Monitor for the 7D. This is a great portable monitor that takes advantage of the HDMI output of DSLR video cameras. The downfall of the IKAN VX9 is the high price. So what are the cheap options when it comes to an external monitor for the Canon 7D and other DSLR video cameras?

I recently did some testing and now I’m able to show you how I use an inexpensive portable DVD player as an external monitor for my Canon 7D. It really works great if you’re on a budget and just want to be able to see a larger image of what you’re shooting. A DVD player will work as an external monitor on the EOS 5D MkII, Rebel T2i and EOS 60D also.

Here are some of the great things about using a DVD player as an external video monitor:

  • Inexpensive
  • Portable/Lightweight
  • Battery Power
  • Multiple uses such as DVD Player and portable DTV (on some models)

To help save you time from searching, I compiled a list of portable DVD players that have audio/video inputs that would work well as external monitors:

7-Inch Portable DVD Players

Coby TFDVD7052 7-Inch Portable Tablet DVD/CD/MP3 Player


  • 7-inch screen
  • anti-skip circuitry
  • Car kit included
  • Audio/Video input jack for video games, VCRs, etc… (see full specs)

RCA DRC6272 Twin Mobile DVD Players with 7-Inch LCD Screens


  • Dual 7-inch LCD screens
  • Two AC power adapters
  • Two car power adapters
  • built-in speaker on both units… (see full specs)

Envizen Digital ED8850B Duo Box Pro 7-Inch Digital TV/DVD Player with Built-in Tuner


  • 7-inch LCD screen
  • ATSC DTV tuner receives digital and high definition channels
  • Built-in card reader for videos, photos and music… (see full specs)

8-Inch Portable DVD Players

Panasonic DVD-LS86 8.5-Inch Portable DVD Player


  • 8.5-inch LCD screen
  • Up to 13 hour playback time with included battery pack
  • car DC adapter included… (see full specs)

Panasonic DVD-LS855 8.5-Inch Portable DVD Player with Car Headrest Mounting Bracket


  • 8.5-inch LCD screen
  • Up to 6 hours on battery power
  • AC adaptor
  • Car DC adapter
  • Folds flat (like the one I used in my video demo)
  • Headrest mounting bracket included… (see full specs)

Panasonic DVD-LS86 8.5-Inch Portable DVD Player


  • 8.5 inch display
  • Multi-format playback
  • DC car adapter incluced
  • 13-hour rechargeable battery life… (see full specs)

10-Inch Portable DVD Players

Coby TF-DVD1023 10.2-Inch Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player with Swivel Screen


  • 10.2-inch LCD screen
  • audio/video input jack for video games, VCRs, etc
  • swivel screen 180-degree rotation
  • TFT color display… (see full specs)

RCA DRC6331 10″ Portable DVD Player & 3-Hour Rechargeable Battery


  • 10-inch LCD screen
  • Car adapter included
  • AC power adapter
  • built-in stereo speakers… (see full specs)

A portable DVD player is an excellent choice for video producers working in the field and it can serve multiple uses. For one, it can be used as a cheap external monitor and you can take it on trips for entertainment purposes.

In the case of the Envizen Digital ED8850B Duo Box Pro DVD Player, you can take the entertainment to another level with it’s built-in ATSC tuner so you can pick up over-the-air DTV broadcasts. Definitely, my next portable DVD player will be one that has the ATSC tuner built-in.

  1. I´m about to invest in the 7D and a z-finder and see how that works out first. I was planning to try it on some studio shots and it would be nice to have a small monitor for that but I can use a flat screen tv that sits in the studio for the time being.
    This is a really great new way of working for me since I’ve been working with a wide range of cameras throughout the years, from 35mm film to RED which all is very expensive to rent.

  2. Harlan Yee permalink

    A flat screen monitor works well in the studio with a Canon 7D. Just make sure you have a mini HDMI cable with you and you’re set!

  3. I enjoy your product reviews. I never realized that you could use a DVD player as an external monitor.

    I’m in the market for a DSLR. I see that there will soon be a T3i. Do you have thoughts as to the 60D vs. T3i?

  4. Harlan Yee permalink

    The best feature when the 60D was released was the the swivel LCD screen and looks like they’ve incorporated that into the T3i. I always thought that a good secondary camera would be the T2i and now that the T3i will soon be released, I’d go with the T3i for the swivel screen. The price is affordable, less than the 60D. I’m not really a photographer so the video features are what I mainly look at… and all these models, 7D, T2i, 60D, T3i are essentially the same when it comes to video. For around $900, I think the T3i would be a great camera for video production.

  5. seph belghiti permalink

    pleaaze help , it doesn’t work for my canon 7d
    i baught an (mp man -tv d700) i used (AV out digital from canon with usb adapter to -usb RCA- and adapter -RCA RCA- to RCA mini jack- to the lcd but nothing’s work , please show me wht i have to do

  6. MARK GEORGEFF permalink

    Waiting on a new monitor…thought I’d check out one of these suggestions to use.
    Any updates on what’s the best one? Thx.


  7. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Mark, I think any of these will work but the ones with the bigger screens would probably be better. It’s kinda hard to find the specs on these players to find out if they actually have AV inputs.

  8. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Seph, for some reason, I can’t find that model of DVD player. Does that player have the ability for AV input? That’s the key and also you might have to switch inputs on the player itself. That’s what I have to do on mine to get the Canon 7D video signal to display on my DVD screen. Your connections sound correct.

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