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The View: Video Display Hardware and Software
Video Monitors and Media Players for field or studio use (all display technologies).


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Old August 4th, 2009, 09:27 AM   #211
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Neil, are you experiencing any of the PAL issues that Paul Joy (see posts further back in this thread) has seen?

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Old August 4th, 2009, 01:32 PM   #212
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I'm experiencing the exact same issues that Paul Joy has described before. No matter what mode I set my ex1 in (PAL/NTSC) I get the ugly blocky noise in the shadows. I don't want to sound too harsh, but in my opinion the monitor is quite useless for judging the image when shooting in low light.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 09:46 PM   #213
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Re the banding issue. Yep, it's pretty bad, particularly in low light. It's not such an issue with exteriors and well lit situations. Of course now that the matter has been raised I'm more keenly aware of it. Basically I use the EX1 LCD with blue peaking and 95 percent Zebras for focus and exposure and It works very well for me. The monitor I use for composition and to keep an eye on audio levels etc
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Old August 6th, 2009, 05:05 AM   #214
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I have the same shadow granulation as anyone else, and while unfortunate, its far from a rendering the monitor "useless" to me. It only occurs in roughly the bottom 8-10% brightness of the image, or, the shadows. I've been prepping for a full review of the dp1 by putting it in the hands of a number of operators across numerous platforms and while we all agree its disappointing to be there, if you are seeing the granulation in part of an image, that part is underexposed. Sorta like "dark zebras". On every shoot i've gripped, if something needing critical focus or detail is in the "noise zone", then it also needs more light. Once the light level is anywhere near appropriate, then the noise isnt an issue.

I'm not trying to deny the problem, or discount anyones feelings, but from my experience I fail to see the issue the same way, and certainly not overshadowing of the strengths. I don't see any other monitor option that allows correctly exposed images the same overscan control, details in focusing, the same build quality, and form factor. The DP1 may not be my dream monitor, but at this time my dream monitor doesn't exist at any price.

Obviously, if your shooting style is landing critical parts of your image in the shadows then you would be frustrated and I can understand that. No offense intended.
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Old August 6th, 2009, 09:38 AM   #215
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Dean View Post
Obviously, if your shooting style is landing critical parts of your image in the shadows then you would be frustrated and I can understand that. No offense intended.
I shoot micro-budget tv commercials so I have to work around the locations provided by the client. Even if we had the variety of lighting equipment needed to adequately light a scene, we're still handicapped by time. Most clients want us in and out as fast as humanly possible making the task of lighting a scene nearly impossible.

With that said, I ordered a DP1 last week. While I'm not thrilled about getting a monitor that doesn't reproduce the image exactly as on a studio monitor, my needs for the monitor are more for focusing purposes while using our M2 Encore. In low-light situations I've never really had a problem using the on-camera LCD while running it stock, but with the addition of a lens adapter, hitting the mark focus-wise is a lot more challenging without a full-res monitor. So I can see it's practicality for situations like that and considering it costs less than half of what a broadcast hi-def LCD would cost, I won't be complaining.
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Old August 7th, 2009, 12:28 AM   #216
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I think Dean is right. In actual shooting situations where you have lit the subject the banding is really not an issue. To be honest I wasn't aware of the issue until I read about it here, so I fired up the EX1 and DP1 in my studio (which is on the dark side) and lo and behold there it was, but whack in a few lights and... there it goes.
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Old August 8th, 2009, 03:05 PM   #217
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A clarification on this banding issue, it does what exactly? I've read a lot of posts but I still can't figure out exactly what it does to the darker/underexposed parts of the image, because I don't own one. I guess, someone finish the sentence for me. In low light situations, the DP1's ability to produce the darker/shadow parts of the image....what?
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Old August 8th, 2009, 03:28 PM   #218
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Finnegan View Post
So this banding issue, it does what exactly? In low light situations the DP1's ability to reproduce parts of the image that are darker...what?
Exactly. The darkest parts of some pictures have just subtle differences in luminance from one area of the frame to adjacent areas. The monitor is unable to reproduce those fine differences, and the result is a banding error, where these areas are just lost and turn into a digital kind of noise.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by Eric Darling View Post
Exactly. The darkest parts of some pictures have just subtle differences in luminance from one area of the frame to adjacent areas. The monitor is unable to reproduce those fine differences, and the result is a banding error, where these areas are just lost and turn into a digital kind of noise.
And this is with all versions of the monitor? And just to clarify further - this is only a problem that exists in low light situations, right? In other words, if you have adequate set lighting it isn't an issue? I'm worried about having adequate lighting but for instance, on shoots where the interplay between light and shadow (such as film noir) does the banding issue present itself even though there is enough light, but also a lot of shadow?
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Old August 10th, 2009, 10:38 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by Sean Finnegan View Post
And this is with all versions of the monitor? And just to clarify further - this is only a problem that exists in low light situations, right?
I've been doing a lot of testing of the issue. Its difficult to quantify and i'll try to explain why people have had such different results:

Imagine a full 8 bit gradient. This is what each Red, Green or Blue pixel represents. 128 gradations from fully off to fully on:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...1&d=1249961148

It looks smooth, but if you zoom in close, you can see the "banding" or "stepping" as you move from one luminance to the next. Thats the nature of digital images:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...1&d=1249961148

I have no insight as to why it is doing this, and it sounds like Dale has been fighting an epic battle to get the chip manufacturer to admit this is happening , but it kinda looks like the DP1 is doing a bit reduction of the darkest blacks. The darkest blacks by nature have the lowest details of the image and it is common in bit reduction interpolation (like creating a GIF file) to use fewer bands within the dark areas so you can use more in the brighter areas. Like so:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...1&d=1249961148

Now, this may be wildly inaccurate as to what is *actually* happening, but it kinda looks like the dp1 is applying a dithering pattern to the "wider" steps in the dark area to help smooth out the jumps between bands. This is also a common bit reduction technique (like in creating GIFs/downsampling). The result is something like this:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...1&d=1249961148

So, if you have a smooth gradation in your image within the darkest area you can see a funky "noise" or "banding" or "granulation" or whatever you call it as the dp1 shows you a kind of dithered representation of the image.

The reason this isn't a drama for me is because of where it is in the image:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...1&d=1249961148

This is exactly where most cameras have trouble too. Consumer tv sets and computers are often set up to crush this whole area into "black" and most cameras if you gain the blacks up to be visible show all sorts of nasty artifacts and noise and the camera's own techniques for trying to capture/render this dark spectrum.

The reason it seems to be a bigger issue in "low light" situations depends on how you are compensating for the low light. If you gain up the cameras, often the resulting noise is far more apparent than the DP1's "noise" in these regions. If your solution is to underexpose the image with plans to then gain it back up in post, and you are trying to achieve critical focus within the underexposed areas, then I could see how this would complicate an already difficult shooting situation. I believe the people here that have been saying "i don't see the problem" are people whose workflow involves some kind of lighting (natural, practical or artificial) that places the critical parts of the image well out of the "shadow zone".

A fair bit of this discussion is subjective. One man's "underexposed" is another man's "guerilla lighting" and both are legitimate positions. Some cameras rock in low light, others make a mess of the shadows. Depending on which you have probably affects your feelings about important parts of the image sitting in the shadows. (same if you intend to run looks filters to create high contrast and the blacks are all going to get crushed anyways).

I personally rolled my brightness up to 58. Other people were horribly repulsed at this solution but for me it worked. I'm an old fart and have spent untold hours looking at CRTs whose idea of "0 ire black" was a distinct shade of grey. Cranking up the brightness (which isn't a traditional "brightness". it acts more like a black setup) simply raises the whole image out of the problem area. I see a representation of the whole tonal range and I don't feel like i'm losing anything. No matter which camera we are using (hdv, ex3, 5D, red), i never see superblacks in real life, or captured. The blacks on my dp1 at 58 are still darker than on the sony field reference CRTs we used to shoot with, so its still within a subjective realm to me. The entire gamut is represented, and I'm able to see details within the shadows, so it works. For the shoots where the DP didnt want that solution, we dropped it back to 50 and the rare times where we saw banding we just ignored it since it isn't really there.

The reasons I ordered the DP1 were 1. accurate focus. 2. framing 3. a point of reference for color/contrast.

For #1, focus, the DP1 is outstanding. Just brilliant. Once a shooter has been on it for an hour or so, they stop checking with the focus assists on their other monitor. You can simply see what you are shooting. Its so simple and so liberating.

For #2, framing, most any monitor will do, but the adjustable overscan on the DP1 has been so powerful. I can pull in and trust the edges of the ex3/fx1 while maintaining maximum image size, i can see the menus on the Red, and even cope with the funky image out of the 5D. Awesome.

For #3, color/contrast, I honestly didn't expect much. I've used several brands of LCDs in the past that had just appalling color rendition. Horrible magenta hues that couldn't be corrected, etc. The color and contrast on the DP1 has been a hugely pleasant surprise. I'm getting to the point with settings and experience where I'm trusting what I see on it. I never expected that and have been so pleased to have that as a feature as well. Its not a $9,000 reference monitor, but I feel like its clarity and consistency is high enough that I can use it as a tool and get the results i expect. I'll probably still double check with a different screen if focusing on something in the shadows and I'm not entirely trusting of what i see when shooting extremely saturated reds, but neither of those come up enough for me to worry.

Dale at smallHD asked for people to send in photos of the DP1 in production settings, so i snapped this over the weekend and sent it to him. (if you see it on their website, thats why). If it uploads correctly, this is an unedited 10mp jpeg straight out of my sony R1 camera, that allows you to see the monitor in a basic context of the scene, and also zoom in enough to see the dp1's image. When I was shopping for the DP1, the one thing i craved was an image that let me zoom in and see the monitor in action. This particular setup was unusual because the light levels of the set and the light levels of the dp1 were close enough that you could see the two together basically as you would if standing there. Photographs of the DP1 are still photographs of a light source, so the cup and part of the chair are brighter in the photo than they seemed in person, but otherwise its pretty accurate. (it looks a lot sexier with the super rich sony color profile vs. whatever profile dvinfo uses. hehe)

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...1&d=1249961148

So thats my 20c on the smallhd's shadow "noise". I was so frustrated when shopping for a monitor that I swore when I got one I'd do the "proper" even handed review that I wished somebody else had done when I was trying to make my decision. So if it seems like I'm some rural new zealand grip that works with a lot of different shooters and obsesses over his gear during slow periods while writing stuff that seems like part of a larger review that may someday come... thats exactly right! Wow, yer good!

Cheers!
-Andrew
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Old August 12th, 2009, 09:30 AM   #221
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Thanks a lot, Andrew, for your excellent testing, critique, summary, and even handed review.
Very useful stuff to know for someone like me teetering on the brink of buying a small (with a lower case s) HD monitor. Much appreciated, and definitely worth more than your 20cents.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 08:02 PM   #222
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Yeah seriously thanks for your input. I'm deciding on an HD-field monitor and I'm leaning toward the DP1, now only if I could get that $100 off pre-order price! Point of interest about the DP1's batteries: how long does it take to charge a battery from 0-100%? For instance, I'm thinking of buying two batteries for longer shoots. Is it feasible to start the shoot with two fully charged batteries, and when the first one gets used up, charge it back to 90% or higher whilst using the second?
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Old August 13th, 2009, 02:46 PM   #223
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Thanks!

Thanks, Mark and Sean. Happy to know all my typing isn't for nothing. hehe.

Re: the battery life. I haven't timed charging time, but from what I've read, its supposed to fast charge. So in theory 2 batteries could last all day. I'm personally going to get another 2, because location shoots and music videos and such are often "charger-unfriendly".

The Tekkeon batteries last ages. They aren't nearly as convenient as having the battery snap on the back, but make a nice backup. (and can charge your cellphone. hehe)

I just noticed that dvinfo shrank my 10mp image of the night setup. Here it is in its unmodified full rez, straight from my R1, which allows you to see quite a bit more. (warning, big file)
http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/stuff/DSC07594.JPG

Cheers,
-a
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Old August 14th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #224
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Very impressed

I received my DP1 yesterday and I am really impressed. My order also consisted of:

- 2x batteries (nice design and small enough)

- Battery clip (this is essential although looks to be optional on their web site, if you don't order one you will have a battery with no home)

- Component cable (not necessary as there was one included, both are too heavy duty and the weight of the cable is such that it pulls out one of the RCA plugs, I ended up replacing with a lightweight cable). Shame really as I paid extra for this.

- Sunhood (very cool, clever set-up)

I have to say that the image quality is just amazing. I can now see what the focus is without a problem and as a composition aid it is just invaluable. You can start to get excited about framing and really lose yourself in the image.

I do not have experience with pro monitors, however mounted on top of my JVC HD111 it changes everything. I am now itching to start playing with my SGBlade when it arrives on Thursday.

This is a great deal and at 720P it is native to my camera. Love it!

Alex
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Old August 25th, 2009, 05:42 AM   #225
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Reading all these rave reviews is really just making me wish my next few paychecks could come in early so I could buy this thing.
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