Canon 60D External Monitor 1080HD Playback 480SD Recording

Some of you might have already caught this video, since i'm late to post it on this blog. There's still questions about 1080 monitoring on an external LCD monitor and 480SD monitoring while in record mode. This is the same for the other Canon DSLR's. They show 1080 if just monitoring and when playing back a video clip, but will drop to 480SD while in record mode. Some people don't notice this on tiny LCD's, because the camera will maintain the same aspect ratio. Here's a look on my HDTV that i'm using as an external monitor in the studio.

I love the larger screen when shooting stuff, and it's only $169 at Costco. I have DIY monitor mount that i've made to a simple flash light stand. The only problem is you won't be traveling with this type of monitor, and you'll need a good power source handy too. For stationary shots in the studio where I don't need to travel, it gets the job done and I can focus well with it. This LCD I have is not 1080, but who needs it for monitoring since it can't maintain it anyways during recording. If you're happy with those Lilliput monitors, those LCD's don't display 1080 - I think the Lilliput is 800x400 resolution. This is a 720p LCD which I think makes the image better since it doesn't need to scale from 1080 to 480.

20 thoughts on “Canon 60D External Monitor 1080HD Playback 480SD Recording

  1. Dave

    The cannon DSLRs with Dual DIGIC processors, can monitor at full res (1D IV and 7D) The single proccesor models (550d, 60d, 5dmk2) go down to 480. It seems to be pretty clear that one DIGIC processor on its own is not capable of both 1080 monitoring and recording at once, so I have my doubts that this will ever be fixed by firmware or anything like that.

  2. Chris

    Can you share some information on that great looking monitor setup?
    I absolutely love the website! Keep up the great work.

  3. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if Nikons can keep the output at 720p while recording? I've only tried it using the composite cables, but they don't appear to output at any sort of HD resolution at all. I imagine the HDMI out might, but not having one of those mini-hdmi cables, I haven't tried it yet.

  4. Mike Chenoweth

    The 7D appears to not drop resolution when recording. Could be part of the dual Digic processors in it. Every other Canon HDSLR (5DMkII, T2i & 60D) all display 480 when recording.

    The 7D also doesn't shut down for a couple of seconds when recording.

    Nice little Vizio monitor though - looks really good just in your vid. Are you happy with it as a general monitor?

  5. Emm

    Post author

    I'll run a test, but its most likely 480. The difference with 7D is that during preview it's 16:9, and during recording its still 16:9. The other cameras go from 16:9 to 4:3. A DVD disc is 720x480 and 16:9. DVD is not HD.

  6. xiaNaix

    There are still people who claim the 7D does not drop to 480. Can someone confirm/deny this once for and all?

  7. Tony

    I believe, unless I am wrong (which I hope I am) correct me if so, but I think that The dslr's play back (except maybe the 7D) in SD. At least I haven't found a way for my T2i to playback in HD.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    Just want to straighten out the terminology. Don't want to show up on a shoot and start saying the wrong things. First, the SmallHD does not display 1080 resolution. It can 'accept' 1080, but will reformat it to the max resolution of the monitor which is 1280x800 I believe (it's still considered HD since it's over 720). Many many LCD monitors and Home theater projectors always 'market' that they are HD compatible. Read carefully and you'll find that they can 'accept' incoming signals and convert them to display properly without distortion. They are 'compatible' with HD signals, but many times don't Display HD resolution.

    So far, the Canon DSLR's always drop to 480 resolution when in 'Recording' mode. No matter what monitor you use, the camera will always 'output' in 480 resolution. What you are seeing with the SmallHD Monitor is the technology 'in the monitor' that changes the 480 signal to display properly in their LCD. The camera is still outputting in 480. Very important, the camera is still 'outputting' in 480 standard def when in recording mode.

    16:9 and 4:3 are different aspect ratios. This is just the aspect from square to rectangle, and doesn't mean it's 1080 HD. A DVD plays at 480 but can be both 4:3 or 16:9 depending on how it was formatted. For those still confused, go back and read the link carefully, but here's a snippet from that page. httpss://

    Until there is a firmware update, the Canon DSLR's always output in 480 no matter what monitor you are using. If it appears different, then it's the monitor that is changing the signal or displaying it to the correct 'aspect' ratio, but does not mean you are looking at a 1080 display. Can someone better explain?

  9. Mr.Brown

    Hi Emm. Have you saw the new 5.6" monitor from Small HD? Apparnetly it is the only external monitor on the market right now which enables the T2i, 60D, 5DmkII, all have a clean HDMI out displaying in full 1080p. It also has a specific setting for the 480pSD while recording enabling you to expand the aspect to 1080 16:9. You definately should check it out if you havn't already. I would like to hear your take on it. Here is the link (apparently this is the best breakdown/tutorial about how Canon outputs to External Displays.)

  10. Emm

    Post author

    @Travis - needs a bit more work, but the LCD has a metric 1.0 threaded insert. Found the right screw and mounted it into the the arm which has side bolt that tightens it down from falling out. It's stable without a sand bag, but always sand bag your stands. Works for me..

  11. Luke

    Does anyone know what the output is like on the upcoming Panny GH2? Does it do 1080 while recording?

  12. Emm

    Post author

    Just grabbed the lightest + cheapest 720p LCD from Costco. It's a Vizio VA19L. I'll post a BTS video very soon.

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