Wireless video transmitters have always been extremely expensive, until now.
We've all been in a situation where we wished we could send a video from its source wirelessly to a display. Filmmakers may need to be able to output a signal to multiple monitors while keeping the camera itself completely untethered. The tech necessary to do this cost thousands of dollars just a few years ago, but today, Hollyland is selling wireless video transmission systems starting at under $500. The question is, for these low prices, is the video quality sufficient? Surprisingly, yes.
Hollyland sent me the Mars 400S system. This kit can send and receive both HDMI and SDI signals and costs just $649. Because I don't own a single product that uses SDI, I personally would have purchased the cheaper "400" model that can output two HDMI signals at once for just $539.
The Mars 400 and 400S can send a 1080p signal at up to 60 fps. I ran side-by-side tests running a signal through the Mars 400S wirelessly and then plugging in an HDMI cable directly into a monitor. Although there were very slight artifacts found in the wireless signal, I'm not sure anyone would be able to notice them without a direct A/B test. I would not suggest using the wireless system to record a video signal, but for viewing, the wireless system performed much better than I expected.
Hollyland claims that the Mars 400s can send a signal up to 400 feet without any barriers. I didn't do a range test, but others online have been able to get a signal at this distance. I personally only care about it working within a house, through walls, and around corners, and in my test, it worked reliably without any interference.
This system produces about 2 frames of lag while shooting at 24 fps. In my opinion, this is fast enough to use this as a wireless monitor for a focus puller. If you're sending both audio and video wirelessly, they will be synced perfectly.
Powering the Units
Both the transmitter and receiver need to be powered by a Sony L mount battery or a 12 volt AC adapter. The box only comes with a single AC adapter, so you will have to buy another or a battery to make them work initially. It should also be noted that these units do get hot, and they have small, quiet fans that spin constantly during use.
Ease of Use
Turn them on, choose a channel, and they simply work. There is no complicated setup, menu, or button layout.
Sending a Signal to an iPad
My favorite feature of the Hollyland 400 and 400S is the ability to send a video signal to four iPads at the same time. When you do this, you only need the transmitter. The transmitter itself creates a Wi-Fi signal. You can then connect up to four iPads to that network, and the signal starts to send immediately to the Hollyview app.
Sending video directly to an iPad does produce a lower quality signal (it feels like 720p), but it is still higher res that I would have expected. It's certainly good enough to check your focus and exposure, but due to more lag, it would not be sufficient to actively pull focus during a scene.
The Hollyland Mars 400S is still a specialized piece of tech. Most people reading this probably don't need it and will think that $600 is still too expensive. But, if you're in need of a wireless video system, you know just how affordable this is compared to the competition. But, even at its relatively affordable price, the Mars 400S produces impressive image quality and reliability. I highly recommend it.