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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old June 10th, 2009, 04:23 AM   #16
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I bought an EX1 early on and I was a tad miffed when the EX3 came out.
Now that I've used both no way would I want an EX3. I find the control layout on the EX1 friendlier than the EX3. The cheap sock loupe solves the viewfinder problem better than the fragile thing on the EX3. We've already had one damaged and in need of replacement.
Unless you need a longer lens the interchangeable lens argument is a bit of a bust. The cost of good 1/2" HD lenses is prohibitive. If making that kind of expenditure surely one would be thinking of having a bigger / better camera to justify the lens.
The only justification I can find for the EX3 is if you need all the I/O options.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 02:24 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
I fully agree, Max - never even considered replacing my EX1 with the EX3 (I'm using 35mm adapter, so no need for changing lens, either).




You got me interested with the above statement - could you elaborate, please? I mean, I'm aware the pros prefer B&W viewfinders with their fully-blown cameras, but - never having owned one - I'd like to know how B&W is better in judging contrast...

Thanks!

Hi Piotr,

In full size ENG cams it's primarily focus. The LCDs are low res with shallow viewing angle, vs. the higher res BW CRT VFs. Although Sony's $10k color VF narrows the gap a bit. Of course this doesn't apply to some of the small cameras with lo-res VFs, and EX1 even reversed this with a lo-res VF, hi-res LCD. Still, cheesy small cam VF res aside, fundamentally focus is easier to detect to the eye and with a camera using a B&W image, because focus is contrast. 2 pieces of white paper of the same shade overlapping with no shadow, much harder to focus than two of different shades.

My Vortex EX1 Field Guide says to keep the VF in color. I have to disagree. Color difference can be judged with a color LCD. Blue against green, etc. -- not tonal difference. The green may look brighter than the blue in color when they're reflecting the same amount of light because you're seeing chrominance on top of luminance. When BW eliminates chroma you can create a contrast ratio with lighting or shooting angle using luminance only. Variations in contrast are hard to see when you have chroma slapped all over it, sometimes nearly undetectable.

It's very easy to test this by using a BW display to light and observe the effects on color. To be freed from the monitor you can also use a BW viewing filter for the eye but you have to learn to see in the camera's reduced latitude.

BW also can help composition dependent on a scene's colors. Studio camera VFs can deactivate the individual R, G, B signals in any combination to produce the best contrast similar to using a color filter on a BW still camera.

We can point a finger at the slipshod VF of the EX1 in these uses but at least it gives you an idea of contrast ratio simultaneous to a color display.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 05:08 PM   #18
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The one thing you forget, Max, is that the thing that really helps focus is the peaking adjustment. The effect that this gives is just as easy to follow on the EX3's colour LCD viewfinder as it is on a B&W CRT.
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Old June 16th, 2009, 01:59 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Max Allen View Post
When BW eliminates chroma you can create a contrast ratio with lighting or shooting angle using luminance only. Variations in contrast are hard to see when you have chroma slapped all over it, sometimes nearly undetectable.
But when the final display is colour, those subtle luma contrast variations will be lost anyway and a BW VF won't show you the colour contrasts that can be achieved with different coloured light sources. Colour VF's are the way forwards. The old mono CRT VF's were a compromise as there were no technologies available to make colour VF's. They had to have the ability to take the separate R, G, B or Y channel to compensate for the fact that they could not show colour, these were workarounds to help compensate for the lack of colour. Colour is critical to composition and exposure, especially in highlights where knee and gamma effects the ratio of colour to luma. While luma contrast is important so is colour contrast. It's not just about the technical aspects of getting the best range of this or that but how the picture looks, how perhaps a pale blue almost over exposed sky can make a scene look cold while a darker blue can warm a scene, These subtle tonal changes are lost in a mono VF. We are viewing in colour, we should be composing and exposing in colour.

Certainly the VF on the rear of the EX1 is next to useless, but the EX1's main LCD and EX3's VF are quite capable and in my opinion some of the best viewfinders around. I'm just about to get a PDW-700. My budget wont stretch to the colour VF at the moment, but I will certainly be looking to add one as soon as I can afford it. I'm not looking forward to being forced to compose in black and white.
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Old June 16th, 2009, 05:29 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
My budget wont stretch to the colour VF at the moment, but I will certainly be looking to add one as soon as I can afford it. I'm not looking forward to being forced to compose in black and white.
I was using a Panasonic HD camera recently with only a B/W CRT viewfinder and I found that backgrounds which looked OK in the viewfinder often had a colour distraction which was not obvious when shooting. I was advised that most pros would use a seperate monitor for total accuracy.

I don't think I can fit my 15 inch JVC studio monitor, together with a generator in a Kata 197 bag.

Keep saving Alister, or maybe just get a small 7 inch LCD battery operated screen from Maplins - it may do for a quick colour reference when you are storm chasing.
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Old June 17th, 2009, 01:34 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
the thing that really helps focus is the peaking adjustment. The effect that this gives is just as easy to follow on the EX3's colour LCD viewfinder as it is on a B&W CRT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
But when the final display is colour, those subtle luma contrast variations will be lost anyway and a BW VF won't show you the colour contrasts that can be achieved with different coloured light sources.

The old mono CRT VF's were a compromise as there were no technologies available to make colour VF's. They had to have the ability to take the separate R, G, B or Y channel to compensate for the fact that they could not show colour, these were workarounds to help compensate for the lack of colour.

Colour is critical to composition and exposure, especially in highlights where knee and gamma effects the ratio of colour to luma. While luma contrast is important so is colour contrast.

Certainly the VF on the rear of the EX1 is next to useless, ...

Yes, excluding the EX, the focus superiority of a BW VF was, as I mentioned, with the full size cams using an ENG VF. I think we all agree the color LCDs on those cameras are inferior for focus.

On composition -- of course, color composition is the second pillar of composition but not the only one. I'd say that sometimes, the composition needs to be viewed with no color because color gets in the way. Yes we are shooting color and we should use color. A BW display is a complement to color and not a substitute. Given the chance, one may find that with certain shots checking the picture in BW may actually then enhance the color composition. If you can consistently view color pictures in BW in your head and see the difference in composition my hats off to you.

However that preference may be, most specifically with lighting I know of no human that could create the variations in contrast ratios while viewing color, that you can while working with a BW image. These ratios will by no means be lost in color. The effect may be subtle but so often it's all about subtlety isn't it. Lighting an image in BW, while shooting color or not, has been a tenet of many DPs for ages.

Knee and gamma -- I don't know why anyone would adjust those in BW except for black gamma in which case I'd also be looking at color if I had to deal with low key saturation. The zone system was not created using color but applies brilliantly to color. Without due regard to the underlying luma in a color picture as both a separate layer and one which works in concert with the chroma 'layer' how can you reach the higher planes of exposure nirvana. When I operate exposure for 10 cameras in a live environment I use 2 scopes, one for luma only, one for color only. I don't use the flat readout on the waveform to monitor both on top of each other.

The R,G,B channel selection for BW studio VFs is a focusing and composition aid for the operator as I've used it. I'd be curious to know if you use it in another way when VCing or Vid Op in studios or trucks?

In any case I for one find the EX1 LCD useful. Lo res, crappy and flimsy but I'd unquestionably rather have it than not.
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