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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old November 7th, 2004, 01:03 AM   #1
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Am I the only one that hates b/w viewfinders?

I hear some say that pros use it for a reason, but I can't and won't work with a digital camera with a b/w viewfinder. The world I film is color, so must be my viewfinder!
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Old November 7th, 2004, 08:23 AM   #2
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What the pro's often do is have a color monitor on set to see how
colors are going to be (in the video world). Keep in mind that in
film color is a much more complex system which includes the film
stock you've chosen and the processing you apply to it. So it is
nearly impossible to view on a monitor accurately (although in
theory you could perhaps have a realtime monitoring system with
lookup tables for both the camera, negative format, film processing
and final output film format to get the onset monitoring as close
as possible to the final output).

The reason the "pro's" use a black and white viewfinder is that
this allows you to better see whether you have critical focus or
not and allows you to better see the dynamic range you are
getting (both things are affected by color with our eyes!!).

Why do you feel the need to see the color so much? How much
can (and ARE YOU actually doing!) you do on a camera to change
this color? Personally if colors are too vivid for example I personally
tone them down in post for example. I assume your primary
reason to want color information is to do white balancing? (keep
in mind that they don't have this in the film world, here they have
indoor or outdoor film) If so, it would be easy to do once on a
color monitor and then continue to use a black and white view-
finder to see focus and dynamic range etc.
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Old November 7th, 2004, 07:51 PM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : The reason the "pro's" use a black and white viewfinder is that this allows you to better see whether you have critical focus or not and allows you to better see the dynamic range you are
getting (both things are affected by color with our eyes!!). -->>>

Jim, I agree with you to a point. I'm pretty much a newbie to video having never touched a camcorder until playing with a borrowed Hi 8 Sony late summer of '03. My first "semi-pro" cam was the DVC80. I have become quite confident in being able to set correct exposure using only the color viewfinder as my guide. I've not set aside enough time to feel confident with my PD170s b/w viewfinder (and going only by zebras) with my exposure settings. I've only used my Sony on one wedding, and being overly cautious about over exposing/blowouts, I ended up with footage severely underexposed!

Thats my problem with a b/w viewfinder, in a nutshell, I don't yet understand zebras and lack confidence in my ability to judge darker scenes to get exposure correct. I reckon I've been spoilt by the Panny's viewfinder giving me exposure readings accurate enough to look good.

Rob, I'm curious of your mentioning of 'dynamic range'. I don't have the knowledge to understand how this works with a b/w view. I'd appreciate it if you could expand on this... keep it simple please ;-)
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Old November 8th, 2004, 12:24 PM   #4
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Personally, I like a black and white viewfinder. Its higher resolution does indeed help with focusing, but primarily it allows me to concentrate on the shot's composition without being distracted by the color.

John
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Old November 8th, 2004, 02:06 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman :

I assume your primary
reason to want color information is to do white balancing? -->>>

No, not for any technical reason like that. I just want to see what I am filming the same way I see it or when I edit it or watch it- in color. I don't shoot on film and as often as not I am in auto-focus with digital video shooting anyway, so it suits my purposes.
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Old November 8th, 2004, 04:54 PM   #6
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I LOVE my B/W viewfinder!

Everything Rob said!

When shooting with our BetaCams, I don't even take a color monitor out into the field. I adjust my VF to color bars, Zebras set to 80%, proper white balance on a clean light and then light as I would film...using the VF for exposure.

Of course, you have to be familiar with and completely trust your equipment, which I do with our Betas.

Although I have the B/W finders for our XL-1s cameras, I do not trust the camera to do the right thing with color, so in that case I do use a small monitor just to make sure the camera is giving me the correct white balance while lighting.

Also, as Rob stated, ciritical focus is, well...critical to me. You cannot get the same results with the color viewfinders.


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Old November 9th, 2004, 05:17 AM   #7
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Jim: I understand your feeling, I like to see what I'm recording
as well, but really it makes no difference since your not going
to change the color anyway.

Bill: The reason for the "increased" dynamic range is that our eyes
are much better at seeing how light or dark a section is and the
contrast between this highlight and shadow, in black and white
than in color.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 01:43 PM   #8
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Thanks Rob! I've got it now.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 04:15 PM   #9
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Well, it depends.... some times its very much desirable to
see the color and yes, you can change the color in several
ways....

one situation that is very important to see the color is
when shooting underwater video... so much in fact that
I don't even dare shoot until I check the color and correct
as required... you change color by checking your white
balance or in custom you might be blowing the colors out
and you will need to dial the color saturation back or up....

I can think of other situations when to change the color
while on a shoot....

Also, you can use both the color and the BW viewer if
you want on the 170 to get both worlds
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Old November 9th, 2004, 05:34 PM   #10
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Interesting to note that the first high-resolution color viewfinders are 'finding' their way onto pro cameras.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 05:51 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : Jim: I understand your feeling, I like to see what I'm recording
as well, but really it makes no difference since your not going
to change the color anyway. -->>>

Well if I am filming something dynamic, either indoors or especially outdoors, I can often change the colorfulness of the background so to speak by moving arond and reframing my shot. I also think there's something to be said for the fact that I spend 10% to 20% of my waking hours peering through a viewfinder, so I might as well enjoy the experience as much as possible. :-0
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Old November 9th, 2004, 07:10 PM   #12
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Word Up on using both the color lcd screen AND the B/W VF, simultaneous like, on the PD170. Very handy, very informative about my image. It is interesting that B/W has been the standard for VFs in the professional world. Obviously, the VF hasn't been the way to determine color, and certainly a field monitor is often impractical....So, being able to see color just hasn't been a big issue to pros in the field, eh? Not that important to SEE the colour, as the shooter, only to determine, through other means, color accuracy, and to follow focus. It's psychological, some kind of comfort food to be able to see color while shooting, just because you can (the proliferation of color side screens on handycams...).
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