Shimbol M5 5.5″ is a low budget HDMI touchscreen field monitor
Monitor manufacturer Shimbol has announced its new M5 5.2″ HDMI touchscreen field monitor (buy here). It’s essentially a cut-down version of the company’s Shimbol Memory I Pro monitor recorder, at a very low budget.
The monitor lacks the SDI inputs of its Memory I Pro sibling and it also can’t record. But those missing features knock $300 off the purchase price, making for an attractive low-budget field monitor.
No SDI, no recording
There are basically three models in the 5.5″ lineup from Shimbol now. The Shimbol Memory I Pro sits at the top, offering both HDMI and SDI inputs with 4K DCI and UHD recording at up to 25/30fps as well as 1080p at 60fps. I have to be honest, those specs don’t really impressive me, especially with a price tag of $459. For an extra $40, the Atomos Ninja V (buy here) is a much better deal.
Below this is the regular non-pro Shimbol Memory I (buy here), which is identical to the Memory I Pro, but without SDI ports. For many people, the loss of SDI won’t be a problem when their cameras have HDMI sockets anyway. This brings the price down to $279. A little more realistic and potentially worth considering over the competition.
The new model, the Shimbol M5, also features no SDI ports but no recording features. It features the same 1920x1080p screen but supports resolutions up to 4K DCI. As you can imagine, this brings the cost down much further. To the point where it’s very competitive amongst models from Feelworld and Desview.
What does it have?
As mentioned, it features a 1080p display. It’s an IPS touchscreen, allowing you to quickly turn features on and off and sift through menus. It has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and a maximum brightness of 1,200 nits. Shimbol says it also covers 100% of the Rec.709 colour space. They also say that each unit is colour-calibrated in the factory to ensure accuracy and consistency between them.
It has both HDMI input and output on one end, along with a DC power input. On the other side, we’ve got a 3.5mm headphone jack and an SD card slot. As mentioned, this unit doesn’t record, but the SD card slot is still used for loading LUTs. There’s also a 1/4-20″ mounting socket there.
Underneath, we’ve got what appears to be a locking 1/4-20″ socket as well as a USB-C port. I was a little excited at first when I saw the USB-C port, but quickly calmed down. You see, this doesn’t supply power to the unit. There’s no USB Power Delivery. It’s solely for transferring new firmware updates.
So, you’ve got two power options. There’s the DC power input on the side or you can use an NP-F battery on the back. This is a little disappointing. In 2023, there’s no reason why a USB-C socket can’t be used to supply power. This would provide both power on location from USB-PD power banks or from a USB charger plugged into the wall.
As we’d expect from a field monitor, you get the usual array of on-screen filmmaking tools. So, you get waveform, vectorscope, histogram, focus peaking, false colour, etc. You even get anamorphic desqueeze, which hasn’t traditionally been found on monitors this inexpensive.
Of course, you get LUT support, which you can load into the unit via the SD card slot. There are also audio level meters, as well as masks and various framing tools. All of these are accessed through the touchscreen interface, but there are programmable function buttons on top of the monitor for easy shortcuts.
Price and Availability
The Shimbol M5 is available to pre-order now for $169. It’s expected to begin shipping soon but it hasn’t been revealed how soon just yet.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.