Aputure VS-3 (1 of 12)

The Aputure V-Screen VS-3 7 inch field monitor showed up last night and I thought I’d post my first impressions before I disappear for the holiday weekend. This 1,024 x 600 7 inch panel has some decent specs and falls into the sub $400 price range (around $370 on ebay), so lets take a closer look.

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When you picked up the Aputure vs-3 monitor, the first thing you’ll notice is the nice rubberized coating on the external parts of the monitor. The coating gives the monitor’s plastic exterior the feel of a much more expensive device. You’ll also notice the monitor is surprisingly lightweight for a 7 inch panel (13 oz). There’s only one mounting point but at least it’s an all metal 1/4 20 mounting thread at the base of the unit and gives you a nice and solid connection point. I also like that they chose to place the headphone jack at the bottom of the monitor instead of the sides or top.

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Controls for the Aputure vs-3 are straightforward and simplified when compared to some of the other sub $400 IPS monitors on the market. A power button, a source selection button (labeled A/V) and a 4 way D-Pad (with menu button in the center) are located on the right hand side of the monitor set in a black anodized aluminum trim.

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Digging further into the Aputure vs-3’s package, you’ll find a right angle hdmi to hdmi mini cable, 1/4 20 to cold shoe ball head, usb cable for firmware updates, wall wart power supply (not pictured), and an allen wrench with a 1/4 20 stud. The hdmi to hdmi mini cable included with the monitor is more than long enough for most rigs and the right angle plug is a nice touch.

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On the back of the panel you’ll find support for both HDMI in and pass through as well as component video. The battery plate on the Aputure vs-3 is designed to work with Sony FP-N type batteries, but with a 12 volt barrel plug you could easily power this monitor with an external source.

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The Aputure vs-3 comes with a pretty decent sun hood. It uses two loops around the edges of the monitor and a long piece of velcro which attaches across the bottom of the unit. It’s well padded and the embroidered Aputure label looks sharp.

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Boot time on the monitor is reasonably fast, but it still takes a few seconds to sync up. I timed the start up a few times and the Aputure vs-3 consistently came in at just under 5 seconds, which is about the same as the Smallhd DP4.  Image quality so far is very good/excellent for a monitor in this price range, colors look almost identical to the image on the 5d mark III’s display.

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Menus on the Aputure vs-3 are extremely easy to navigate and labels are very straightforward. You don’t have to dive any deeper than the screen above to get to every setting on the panel.

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The “Shortcut” menu is also very handy. Basically it allows you to assign commonly used functions to the D pad at the bottom of the screen. If you don’t want to scroll through the menus, you can simply assign peaking or histogram display to one of the 4 arrows on the D-Pad. Press the direction on the D-pad once and the setting is displayed, a second press and the setting is enabled or disabled. The idea is simple, but it’s something that makes the monitor much easier to use.

So far, the Aputure vs-3 has impressed me. The screen looks good, the controls are easy to use, and the build quality feels great for a monitor in this price range. The shortcut settings as well as the simple menu system make it a very user friendly field monitor. I’ll post some more info on focus peaking and other display settings once I’ve had a chance to play around with it a little more.

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