Johnson Digital Level Gets an Upgrade with Programmable Features
The 48-inch 5700-4800D Johnson digital level is a tough and accurate tool whose hi-tech features function as an apprentice. I’ve used it to rebuild the roof of a carport, set a new door in an old house, and much more. If you’re in the market for a digital level, this is one you need to take a look at.
- High accuracy at 0.05º/0.10º
- Extra large, easy-to-read level vial
- Pre-programmed measurements for the common applications
- Customizable angles and alerts
- Simple operation with just three buttons
- It’s easy to see at least one of the two backlit LCD displays on the front and top from any working angle
- IP65 rated
- End caps are easier to remove than most levels
- The audible level and plumb alerts are a function the level’s excellent accuracy (a great thing!) but you might get annoyed with the beeping sound before you can get (and keep) your work in that tight ±.05° tolerance.
The accuracy on this level is next level. At 90º and 0º, it’s +/- 0.05º and +/- 0.10º at every other angle. To put that in perspective, the baseline accuracy we want on any Pro level is 0.0005 in/in. That’s +/- 0.18º, making the Johnson Programmable Digital Level nearly twice as accurate in most cases and more than three times more accurate at 0º and 90º.
Johnson isn’t alone with this level of accuracy – Stabila and Bosch hit the same mark at 0º and 90º with their digital levels.
What’s Your Angle?
Right out of the box, my Johnson digital level was perfectly calibrated. I didn’t have to adjust a thing. The level scored another early win on a roof repair when it found the truss angle with very little effort. I had replacement trusses ordered in no time.
This isn’t my first digital level so I’m not starting the learning curve from scratch. I didn’t have any staircase work during the review period, but the 5700-4800D will come in very handy when I do. I’ll use it to find the proper banister. But most helpful is using it to get the volute and up-ramp angles right.
Turn on this Johnson digital level’s audible alert to guide you to level or plumb. It’s very accurate, but there’s a caveat – it’s a bit tricky to get the beeping sound to a solid tone that indicates perfection.
When I look at either of the excellent LCD displays and see that it’s perfectly level, the solid tone is behind. When you rely on just the tone, it causes you to keep moving the level a little too far. Just be sure to double check the digital readout to make sure you’re good.
I turn the alerts off and just use the LCD screens for most tasks. However, for those tasks – like shimming cabinets to level – where it’s difficult/impossible to adjust the workpiece and look at the bubble, this audible alert is worth its weight in gold. You’ll just need to adjust slowly to get it right.
On The Bubble
The 5700-4800D’s main vial is wonderfully oversized like the one on my Sola level. It eases the burden of time on the ol’ eyeballs.
“Mission Control” consists of just three buttons. These cycle you through pre-programmed angles, setting custom angles, units such as inches per foot, the audible alert toggle, and power. As far as learning curves go, this one’s pretty easy.
The handiness of the digital top-view window is definitely a highlight. It’s great for overhead work or any other angle that blocks the main side screen from view. The main screen inverts when you flip it upside down – also great for overhead work.
The body has both a hanging hole and a handhold which we use to hang the level from ladder hooks.
Finally, the endcaps are not just an afterthought like they seem to be on so many levels – even high-end ones. Most of the time, you have to push in the endcap “buttons” on both sides of the frame. But you can remove the Johnson digital level’s robust endcap with just one button. It makes it easy when you just need a skosh more space to fit your level or get perfectly flush into the corner.
The 5700-4800D Johnson digital level has two plumb and one level vial in the traditional setup. Both plumb vials are normal size and encased in an acrylic block for protection. The main level vial is oversized for visibility – a feature that’s becoming more common.
Pre-Programmed and Customizable Angles
Set the Johnson 5700-4800D up to find drainage, ADA compliant, or custom slopes with a couple of button presses. This saves a great deal of time for repeating angles.
A top-view LCD display complements the larger LCD display on the side. Both are backlit and feature arrows that direct you toward level or plumb. Two AA batteries power the level for up to 150 hours of continuous use!
If a 48-inch level is too long, you can also get a Johnson Programmable Digital Level in 24-inch or 10-inch torpedo lengths.
At ~$184, the 5700-4800D falls mid-range with the competition. Carpenter-favorite Stabila has the comparable model 36548 for $290. Empire’s e105.48 digital version comes in on the low end at about $130.
The Bottom Line
The only drawback on Johnson’s Programmable Digital Level is that the audible alert is a touch behind the LCD screen’s reading. That’s easy to forgive considering the level’s accuracy, visibility, programming features, and durability are outstanding. If you’re looking for a digital level in a 10-, 24-, or 48- size, take a good look at Johnson.
Johnson Digital Level Specifications
- Item Number: Johnson 5700-4800D
- Accuracy: ±.05° at 0° and 90°, 0.10° at all other angles
- Working Range: 0° to 90°
- Resolution: 0.05°, 0.125″, 1/8″, 1.25 mm, 0.1%
- Battery Life: 150 hours
- Power Supply: 2 AA Alkaline Batteries (not included)
- Working Temperature: 14°F – 122°F
- IP Protection Class: IP65
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Price: $184