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All about using the Canon 1D X, 6D, 5D Mk. IV / Mk. III / Mk. II D-SLR for 4K and HD video recording.


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Old February 6th, 2010, 08:45 PM   #1
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VF and LCD Stuff

I haven't contributed anything in a while and have been producing with the 5DII in a bunch of different environments and setups, so I thought I'd do a little FWIW info post.

So, FWIW we shoot two 5DIIs, sometimes with just the LCD and other times (handheld only) with the Hoodloupe and now the Z finder too.

I guess I'm a little surprised at the dissing of the Hoodloupe from a number of people...and the LCD too. Although it does have a narrow FOV and loses maybe a 1/2 stop of light, the Hoodloupe with the Hoodeye eyecup gives nice isolation and the ability to judge exposure and focus with the 5x and 10x magnification. $ or not, and given the weight and from factor, it's a fine way to use the LCD handled.

We only use Canon AF lenses now - the Quick AF is one of the great plusses of the 5DII revolution IMHO. It works 99% of the time, first time, and we shoot in some challenging conditions. I don't know if many people do it, but I adjust spot exposure in 5x and 10x too, another plus of this system.

That said, I do appreciate the brightness and pop of the Z-finder, which is why I ordered one.

I also find it very easy to shoot with the LCD on a tripod, do it all the time. Last week we did a short in midday sun with a Blackhawk helicopter in a snowy mountain valley - talk about high contrast. We shot handheld with the Hoodloupe, and tripod with the LCD only. I was just looking at the CCed footage today of the LCD stuff and it's perfect exposure and there was't a second of out of focus footage from the 4 hour shoot from either system using Quick AF and 10x magnification.

The impressive thing is the sun was 180 degrees behind the LCD for some shots and I had no trouble seeing the scene, and it was all that was used to set exposure and focus. In fact the in-flight and landing shots with the Blackhawk were all grabbed with Quick focus with no magnification

Anyway, not knocking any system what-so-ever, I think they're all great. I think the Z is 1st class and definitely worth the money, the LCDVF looks like a great independent product but won't work for us without a diopter for different eyes, and the Hoodloupe is it's own good approach.

I read somewhere recently where someone wrote that the LCD was worthless, and I thought that was strange. I sit it next to a pair of perfecly calibrated monitors all the time and A/B footage and it's a pretty accurate representation of exposure.
The point, of course, is once you know what it looks like in reference, then you know what you'll get from it in the field - there are no big surprises, it even has good off axis viewing.

Oh and the i-Cuff (which are great), with the Hoodloupe - not a good match, for me anyway...too hard to stay on the sweet spot. I did read that some others thought it worked well though. The new Hoodeye is a great addition.

And as far as mounting any of the VFs, still the best approach I've seen and used is the eBay $8.95 LCD shade. It takes 10 minutes and a little Gorilla glue for a neat, secure, easy on/off system that looks like it was made by Canon.

end FWIW.

Last edited by Jim Giberti; February 7th, 2010 at 12:17 AM.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 11:37 PM   #2
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Hey Jim, Great post. A good antidote to those who say you MUST buy a list of accessories as long as your arm to get good results with DSLR video. While audio is an obvious issue and in specific circumstances many accessories are, no doubt, very useful it is also worth bringing into focus what you CAN do with just the camera and a decent lens.

As you say the +10 for focus works a treat for locked down shots where you know what the talent is doing. And histograms can give you enough information to get, at the very least, tweak-able exposure in almost all conditions. Add to that AF and a bit of operating speed and it seems to me that you could surprise yourself how much you can do with such a basic set-up.

On the histograms I followed a few links from a previous post to find this great explanation of histograms.

Understanding Histograms

Using histograms consistently and thoughtfully is another way to get a "reference" that can help you make better sense of what you see on the LCD.

Last edited by Ben Denham; February 6th, 2010 at 11:41 PM. Reason: typo
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Old February 7th, 2010, 12:58 AM   #3
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Thanks Ben, that article is a great primer on histograms. Michael knows his stuff and his "exposing to the right" article is one I took to heart with photography a while ago. Histograms are the great "safety check" especially in the field. With film making I'm really concerned with not blowing anything out. There are times when you're simply nailing the left end of the H creatively - but never the highlights.

Still, I get so used to the relative value of the monitoring I'm using that I see that immediately. That's why the hoodloupe with an eye piece is fine for judging exposure in real time and on the fly as is the LCD bare in most circumstances.

It's sort of like mixing music. If you're really used to doing it, you don't always have to be in the control room in front of your NS10's or JBL studio monitors to tell if a mix is bad, if individual tracks are distorted or if the bottom or top are too much. I can do that with phones or average speakers in a pinch. I wouldn't do a finished mix like that but I'd be confident that I had the good tracks necessary to produce when I was back in my control room.

That's pretty much the same with having confidence in your ability to read the LCD alone if that's all you've got and keeping it all clean and in range for finished grading.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 12:59 AM   #4
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Regarding the Hoodloupe, I wish it had some magnification. It works well when the eye is centered, but go off-center and things get soft quick.

Still, I just can't justify $400 for a VF. I'd rather put that money towards a monitor...
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Old February 7th, 2010, 01:17 AM   #5
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But what good is that without HDMI playback? Have you added the Hoodeye to yours Jon? It really helps you sit on eyepiece which is what it takes to get a fully clear FOV. it works well for me, but I suppose the optics could have some variance too.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 01:45 AM   #6
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Jim thanks for the tip re the "exposing to the right" article. Really great stuff, (I do love a good technical explanation). Here's the link

Expose Right

What are you thoughts on how this may or may not differ in video-land?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Giberti View Post
Still, I get so used to the relative value of the monitoring I'm using that I see that immediately.
I'm not quite operating on this level so I guess my point was that histograms can help you to train you eyes to get you to the point you describe here. Call me a romantic but I really like this idea of training and tuning your senses to be able to use your tools more efficiently rather than simply relying on mechanical aids to get the job done.

Last edited by Ben Denham; February 7th, 2010 at 01:56 AM. Reason: adding information
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Old February 7th, 2010, 03:53 PM   #7
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I disagree (somewhat) with the expose to the right concept - mainly because of the S-curve that Canon applies between the sensor and the recorded video.

Imagine two scenarios...

1) The face is the brightest thing in the picture. With ETTR, the face tones are smashed together at the high end of the S-curve. Sure, you have lots of details in your blacks, but the face will have no subtlety.

2) The face is the darkest thing in the picture. Again, ETTR smashes face tones, though you get details in the sky or other bright area. You have to be willing to light the face or blow out the sky to get good results.

Using Magic Lantern, I like the idea of exposing the faces at 0xb000. It keeps skin tones on the hot side of the linear range. If the sky is blowing out, add lights to the face. If the shadows are dead, give them some fill light.

Personally, I like looking at both the 0xF000 zebras for highlights and the 0xB000 zebras for faces and would like a waveform for checking that shadows aren't overly crushed.

Okay, that's great for narrative, but what about documentary? If it's people-based, expose just for the faces at 0xB000. Let everything else blow out or be dark. It's the faces that matter and you want skin tones to match shot to shot. If it's scenery based (say nature or a car show), then use the 0xF000 zebras and expose to the right. Use your best judgment on selectively blowing things out - like when filming under a tent and there is a sliver a sky showing, go ahead and blow out that sky or a glint of reflection. It's really a judgment thing.

But keep in mind that it's the mid-range that has more subtle detail, not the extremes.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 04:23 PM   #8
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I was specifically referencing his article and photography, I definitely don't adhere to any fixed philosophy with any creative endeavor and don't spend anytime thinking in terms of 0xB000 or 0xF000 either. I compose for the look I'm going for either doc or narrative or commercial.

Obviously in doc, especially the winter sports stuff, it's about grabbing moments, and that's when your eye and judgement are that much more important. I've been in a lot of situations (like the Olympic profiles) where we're shooting around a lot of network people who are covering the events in a totally different way than we are and our footage looks nothing like there's. There stuff has a fixed set of rules for live transmission. We're making a film on a specific athlete and it's much more interpretive with the competitive stuff cut with lifestyle and set work.

My point is more your's Jon in that you use your eye and creative intent to capture the moment (even and more importantly on the fly) and use a histogram or zebra to ensure that you don't blow anything important).

What I was and am trying to say is once you're used to a form of monitoring then you should be able to work from there without technical concerns unless things change radically. And the LCD and Hoodloupe on the lower end of "sophisticated" scale of options are perfectly adequate to judge exposure and focus if you already know how to get those things consistently.

I've directed stuff and been behind the camera in the most ideal and most challenging situations from a control standpoint, and I'm comfortable in either and actually prefer on- the-fly, seat-of the-pants production - it's more rewarding and exciting for me.
Most importantly I get similar results in any of the scenarios and I'm no genius.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 04:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Denham View Post
What are you thoughts on how this may or may not differ in video-land?
.
I guess I appreciate the technical truth of the principle but always go back to what looks right for the shot. I think that histograms are the real advantage in that it's not theory but truth in action. But again, I don't worry about distribution of levels, I see what I see and then the histogram ensures that nothing is lost that I already don't expect to lose.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 10:08 PM   #10
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Histograms are great for RAW photos - just make sure everything is captured within range and you can do most anything in post. And, yeah, ETTR makes huge sense there.

The problem with 8-bit video is that a histogram doesn't tell you where the skin tones are. This is no problem for collage-style videos, but can be an issue for narrative works.

One of our toughest shoots was in the snow, where the light was changing. By using histograms, the levels of the faces were all over the map. We had to tweak every clip differently to get things to match. More recently, with 0xb000 zebra on the faces, I can slam an edit together and have nice consistency, clip to clip. That lets me spend time color correcting for an overall look, rather than for flow.

Of course, with experience, one can use the histograms as a guide and over/under expose as needed to keep the subjects in range. But zebras are a nice, quick way to nail the levels on the fly and keep post work to a minimum.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #11
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I've had the Hoodloupe for a while but find I just don't use it that much, it just doesn't work as well as I expected - I find in general I prefer using the LCD alone.

At the supermeet on friday redrock had a couple of their rigs set up with 5DmkIIs and Hoodloupes mounted with their metal bracket. One had the Hoodeye, and combined with the mounting bracket it definitely worked better than the Houdloupe alone.

The second rig had a much larger and nicer eyecup on it - apparently it's an upcoming accessory from Hoodman, and it adds magnification to the Hoodloupe. It was dramatically better than the standard hoodloupe - it's hard to explain how much better it was. The entire screen was consistently clear and sharp with none of the edge abberation that I see with the stock hoodloupe if I get even slightly off axis. The larger eyecup was also much more comfortable & functional than the current Hoodeye. No word on when it'll be available but I'll be first in line as soon as it is, it completely transforms the Hoodloupe.

And regarding the expose to the right/left stuff, I think Stu Maschwitz's post on the subject is worth a read - http://prolost.com/blog/2008/3/2/exp...the-right.html

His conclusion makes the most sense to me - you'll need to determine whether to lean left or right based on the scene, and not a single across the board rule.
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Last edited by Evan Donn; February 8th, 2010 at 01:03 AM.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 02:26 AM   #12
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A nicer eyecup? Magnification? No problems off-center?

I'll pick up a Hoodeye for sure!
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Old February 8th, 2010, 10:35 AM   #13
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I'm with both of you Evan and Jon. I was just thinking the other day whether the Hood people, given the progression by others in this regard might swap out the current eyepiece for better optics. If it's really an updatable accessory then it's a really great idea.

And don't get me wrong, as I said in my original post, the Hoodloupe has a narrow FOV (that's because of the blurry edges more than the design) and a loss of light. But if you don't have a problem keeping your eye fixed on center (which I don't with our setup and I think is better than the metal bracket as well) then it's a solid way to work handheld in a lot of situations. An improved eyepiece would be just great...except I just ordered a Z-finder for that.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 10:59 AM   #14
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And by the way, as a communications guy, Hoodman really should be out ahead of this. They've obviously gone this route because of market competition and if it's already being beta'd then they should be letting all of the users like me who like their product but see Z and others as a big enough improvement to invest in.

An accessory that would bring the Hoodloupe up to this optical quality could make it the better mousetrap given the existing design, weight and ergonomics...so where's the PR and forum buzz Hood guys?
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