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Old August 29th, 2010, 07:06 PM   #1
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SmallHD Dp6 (aka DP-SLR) pre Review

Here are my random thoughts on the dp6 as we shoot with it. I'm going to update this post "blog style" over the next few days if anyone is curious what I think. (We have long shooting days, so I don't have much time at night to write.)
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*Back story*

I've been pestering SmallHD about when the DP6 will come out, as I have a couple intensive projects I'm working on that could really benefit from a camera mounted monitor. They finally agreed to ship my unit early if I gave some feedback on the beta firmware.

At some point I plan to write a thorough review with photos, but for now this is just an overview of my initial reactions. For those who haven't read my rambles before, I did post production for 15 years before moving to New Zealand to start a simpler life. I don't know if i succeeded at "simple", but I've been building up an indy production truck with an arsenal of light, grip, dolly, crane, jib, sound and camera gear - basically a one-truck-stop for doing low budget films. Because NZ is so small, I get a chance to work with some seriously amazing directors and DPs who all do indy projects between the big ones.

I've started work on a feature film with Adam Clark (DP on "Boy", "Eagle vs Shark"). He normally shoots on film, but the director (and budget) convinced him to give shooting on digital slr's a try. While the technique of lighting, exposure and framing isn't very different from what he normally does, he found the shooting position for SLRs very uncomfortable. He's used to being up and over the camera more than behind and below. After an early test shoot, he began asking me for a better monitoring solution to help with both position as well as focus. My DP1x was tied up, so that brings us to the dp6 / dpslr.

I've been a pretty big fan of the dp1. It has its flaws, but it does its job nicely as a tool, and has been a valuable addition to the kit. After shooting with the dp6 for a few days, I'm more than impressed. The size, the build, the functions of the dp6 have changed how we rig and how we shoot... for the better. I can't make a full assessment until the firmware is finalized, but there is a lot to love here.


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*The size.*

5.6" has turned out to be a really nice "sweet spot". Its large enough that you can achieve critical focus without cramming your face into the camera, but its large enough for an over the shoulder director to see whats up. If you've ever played back footage on a dslr, the natural distance from the monitor seems to be around a foot from the screen. With a 5.6" monitor, the distance increases to around 18 inches/ 2 feet. The change is profound. When playing back a take, the dp and director can be shoulder to shoulder and easily view the scene in detail, while this leaves enough of a gap for the actors/crew to have a bit of a peek too.
Probably more importantly, 5.6" is a fantastic size for mounting on a rig. Its big enough to see, but not so big to block your view. Big ups on size.
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*The Build*

The dp6 is milled out of a solid block of Aluminum. All the inputs connectors are protected from impact/damage by the nature of them being recessed into the unit. This is a combination of very practical and extremely tidy. The unit has a very low profile visually, and looks like it belongs on a serious rig.

This is totally irrelevant from a filmmaker's perspective, but if you've ever owned a piece of precision machining, there is something mesmerizing about it. Gun owners probably can identify with this the most readily, since whether you admit it or not, you've run your fingers down the line on the barrel and had a "ohhh yeah" sensation. I've had it with guns, laptops, the original gameboy... and now a monitor. But it isn't just me. On the set last night, one of the actors asked if he could touch the dp6. I was a bit taken aback, but I was like "go for it". Because of the location of the scroll wheel, there is a natural "shooting position" for the monitor where you can hold it and work the wheel at the same time. Even though the camera was mounted on a tripod, he assumed the position, spun the wheel a few times, brushed his finger across the edge and said "nice!". The makeup artist saw and said "i want to too!" and before long, most of the crew had taken a grope. I don't think "it feels nice in your hand" or "it looks damned sexy" have much of a place on a set (unless you are filming porn?) but the dp6 just looks and feels... "right".

Where the build *does* matter, is in things like the monitor threads and the battery mounts. And they are milled... I want to say "like a gun", although I'll probably change that later. The back of the unit has a gentle "rounded slope" on the edges. The battery mounts, made of plastic, fit perfectly to that contour. I mean, like "lego perfect". When you use the thumb screws to attach the battery mount, it just looks like its milled right to the monitor.

The thread holes are all finished out (i think the word is "chamfered"?) so that its very easy to start screws into them.

If i haven't gushed enough about the build quality, let me know and I'll gush some more.

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*Design*

In some ways this is closely tied in to the build. You know when editing how a rough cut feels really polished compared to the assembly cut, but then the fine cut makes you wonder how you ever felt the rough cut was watchable? The dp6 is a very polished edit.

My biggest concerns for a monitor are the image, the size/profile, ease of rigging, ease of powering and ease of operation, probably in that order. I realize that "profile" is in a funny position here, but a monitor with a giant flange or a bunch of clutter and controls around around the front can be quite distracting when shooting. The monitor is important, but you need to be able to see your surroundings as well to anticipate and react to changes. I put the interface as last because its almost always a "set and forget" thing. I wasn't thrilled about the buttons on the back of the dp1, but was happy they didn't take up space in the front.

The dp6 has a clickable finger wheel with two other buttons in the top right corner. This means you can easily control all the menu options with one hand. You can even reach up and adjust anything while hand holding the camera. While this is neat, I couldn't see my stance on controls changing... until I started playing with some of the extra monitor features. I don't know yet what features will be included in the final firmware, but I could see switching things like peaking on and off. I'll wait to comment on those until they are "finished", but I'm giving a big thumbs up to the control wheel. It keeps the flange thin, keeps clutter off the front, but also makes the menu system friendly and fast. A ton of thought went into this one feature, and I think it shows.

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*Image*

I've got to run get ready for today's shoot. I'll post again as soon as I can.

If you have any questions, ask and I'll try to address them. I started with my post positive reactions, but I'm fairly objective, so ask away and I'll give a candid response.

Cheers,
-a
-----------------------

Rain delayed more update. see post below. cheers!

Last edited by Andrew Dean; August 30th, 2010 at 02:44 PM.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:06 AM   #2
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Trying to keep the "rig" as simple and efficient as possible for commercial productions has brought my attention to the smallHD dp6.

How are you powering the camera, monitor, etc. in the field?

Are you feeding the monitor HDMI or SDI?

Do you feed other (video assist) monitors as well during production?

Thanks for the post Andrew. Great detail of information in the field.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 02:19 PM   #3
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Heya Bob,

I've really only had the dp6 for this one shoot so far. We are on a 7d, so the monitor is fed via hdmi and the camera uses its stock batteries. I used the smallHD battery that clips onto the back of the monitor. With the battery mounted I was able to hot shoe mount the monitor very securely. Used it in that configuration for the handheld and tripod work.

The DP6 has a d-tap cable available. On a bigger rig with dtap batteries, i'd probably go with that option for simplicity. Since I'm a freelance "grip solution", then I have to have every option possible open. I also picked up the canon battery mount, which allows you to run the dp6 off one or two e6 canon batteries. I only plan to use that if the dp6 batteries run out. On the shoot sunday I got a little over 6 hours out of the dp battery, which blew me away. Part of that is that the dp6 has an on/off switch, so i flicked it off during longer breaks. I'd estimate I got around 4.5 hours of actual run time. .

Whether or not to feed another monitor depends on the director, of course. On this shoot the director is happy to stand near enough to the camera to see, or jump in for playback. I have a battery powered HDMI splitter ready to go in case we need a video village, but it hasn't been called yet. SmallHD talked about a passive hdmi splitter that was small enough to mount on the camera. That would make a killer assist, feeding the full camera output to both an on board monitor and a remote one, but they didn't have one ready when they shipped my order.


Hopefully that helps. I was planning to take lots of photos yesterday but it rained all day and we were mostly shooting exteriors, so I opted to leave the dp6 in the truck. I don't know how weather resistant the dp6 is, but I'd guess not enough to withstand the heavy side spray that we have under our umbrellas. The project didn't pay enough for me to test that particular limit. hehe.

cheers!
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Old August 30th, 2010, 11:32 PM   #4
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Thanks for all the detailed information Andrew. I'm off for a shoot on the West Coast and hope to hear more when I return about your production and the Dp6.

Best,

BTW, it sounds like you went from the soup into the fire moving from Post production into field production.
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Old August 31st, 2010, 12:20 AM   #5
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VERY interested :). Please keep us updated!
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Old August 31st, 2010, 12:59 AM   #6
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Great thread! Thanks a bunch for the info Andrew.

I'm a big fan of SmallHD and really like my DP1. I agree with you on the build quality - my DP1 has taken two sphincter clenching falls to the floor and just keeps on working. The things are built like tanks.

Look forward to hearing more.
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Old August 31st, 2010, 07:24 PM   #7
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Hmm. I had assumed I could keep editing the first post and slowly add to the review in one place. I guess the ability to edit expires after a day or so. Bummer.

Anyways, on with the review...

*focus!*

The big question on my mind about this size monitor was "how is it for focus?". People have lots of different opinions about what is too big, too small, and what they consider "critical" features in a monitor. Since i use the monitor both for myself and as a tool for a variety of DPs/cameramen, my biggest priorities lean towards framing and focus. Color and exposure are important, but these are things you set once before a scene. During a shot, its all framing and focus, and those need to be damned good to be useful.

The dp6 has 1,024,000 pixels. In comparison, the standard "high def monitor" at 800x480 is 384,000 (or the intentionally misleading 2400x480 where red green and blue pixels are listed separately). The 7d screen is 640x480, which is 307,200 (but sadly canon advertising sometimes uses the rgb deception and lists the screen as 902k. Using the same "trick", the resolution of the dp6 would be 3,072,00 pixels.)

Resolution isn't everything, but its a whole lot. I know that some people swear by lower res screens with peaking on, but when looking at a really high rez monitor, you can just *see* what is in focus the same way you'd look at a photograph and judge what is and isnt sharp. With the dp6, the "looking at a photograph" thing is appropriate, since the screen is around 320 pixels per inch. I have a few anecdotes of setting up my dp1 as a director's monitor and the dp migrating over to using it as their primary screen. I also have a few stories of cameramen with various monitors wanting to engage in a "pissing match" by side by side comparing their kit and mine. When it comes to clarity and focus, the dp1 has trounced every other monitor i've put it against... except for the dp6.

When Adam first asked me for a monitor, he was squinting into the back of the 7d. As soon as I hooked up the dp6, his first reaction was a surprised "oh! Now I can see what is in focus!". After using it all day for a second day I asked him if he had a quote for my review. He thought for a second and said "Its infinitely better than the <colorful adjective> screen on the 7d". He then laughed and said "ok... a real quote..." He thought for a second and said something to the effect of "Yesterday on the dolly [without the dp6] we had to pull focus by the marks. Today we were able to pull focus from the monitor. I'd prefer to have a professional focus puller who can work the lens by feel without a monitor or marks, but if we don't have one of them around, the dp6 makes pulling focus by sight possible."

Using different monitors to focus, i've always referred to the "fishing distance". With basically any monitor you can crank the lens in each direction and see when something goes way out of focus. If you split the difference, the subject is basically in focus. The clearer the screen, the less fishing distance you have. Its pretty clear when watching a lot of 35 adapter/dslr footage who has a low rez screen, as you see the subject go out of focus in both directions before landing. With the dp6, I often am looking at what is *in* focus, rather than using what is out of focus as an indicator. The fishing distance on the dp6 in my experience all falls within the "in focus" on a lower rez monitor. Where on the 7d screen I can fish until "the face is in focus", on the dp6 i can see when "the face" is in focus without any fishing. Any fishing i'd do then would be focusing details (eyes vs glasses, etc) that all fell within the "in focus" range of the 7d screen.

I realize that my "review" doesn't follow normal review guidelines/direct comparisons. I don't review stuff for a living and I'm just trying to share my opinions in a manner that I would find interesting/useful when searching for feedback on a product I cant actually go and touch pre-sale.

When I first bought my dp1 I compared it to marshall, ikan and sony offerings at the time... even the red monitor. Out of all the DPs, camera ops and techs that I was on set with not one ever preferred their own monitor over the dp1. In fact, many went on to buy dp1s (kirk pflaum only 3 days after seeing mine. heh). I know that in the last year or two that everybody has released new monitors with new sizes and new features. Unfortunately I don't know of anyone that has bought one of the new monitors and there are no shops on this island that would stock the screens for a comparison. I offer my personal experiences as what they are. If somebody wants to send me their monitor for a side by side, I'll be happy to be objective and to put the comparison under the noses of a variety of DPs as possible. I was so happy with the dp1 that when the dp6 was announced there was no shopping around for me.

NZ is tiny. The whole country has the population of Dallas. And 3/4 of those people live on the north island. The south island is something like the size of california and has around a million people in total. Christchurch is the "big city" and clocks in somewhere around 370,000 people. As a result, its rare to meet people that truly "Specialize". We often have to be somewhat versatile and flexible, at least here on the indy side. Its rare to meet a dp that doesn't also edit, or a lighting assist that doesn't also something like graphics. On this shoot with Adam, our sound guy, Hadlee, is also a freelance turnkey producer. While he is targeting audio as his main gig, he does shooting as well. When I first pulled out my monitor case he asked what i was doing and I mentioned i was going to rig up my "smallHD". He was like "oh right". Then i pulled out the dp6 and he started saying "No! No! Is that the dpslr??? NO!". It turns out that he owns a dp1x (I didn't know) and he has been building up a shoulder mount rig. The dp1 is just too big for it and he had been eyeing up the dp6 as a better replacement. However, it seemed that he wanted to justify what he already had. At first he was like "the smaller screen is really too small for focus" and "the bigger image area of the dp1x is an advantage" (i'm paraphrasing). After half a night of shooting, he walked over to the dp6, shook his head as if in defeat and said "I'm going to have to get one.". Then yesterday when helping me pack up he said "I MUST have this." hehe.

Those are the only quotes and anecdotes I have about the dp6 and focus. For my own opinion? The dp6 is worth every penny just to focus. The screen is very clear and contrasty and the pixels are so dense that you would struggle to see them if you tried. You can see what is in focus simply by looking at the image and seeing what is in focus. People that have used a dp1 know what I'm talking about. People that downplay resolution I have to question whether they've actually had face time with a smallhd. In my experience with a myriad of different video/film professionals - many who have money invested into other brands - have all conceded that the dp1 is so clear you can focus without any assistance. In my opinion the dp6 leaves the dp1 behind. Its brighter, clearer, with darker blacks. The only reason I see to ever buy a dp1 would be for a video village with people sitting even farther back... and at that point I'm not sure you'd even need HD. Hmm. I tentatively take that back...I'll have to test out the dp1 and dp6 on the advantajib. The extra size there might be valuable.

Regarding sharpness...

SmallHD started from the ground up with the dp6, so even though there are functions that are the same name, they act differently. The "sharpness" function jumps to mind.

Most of the people around here shooting dslr are turning down the sharpness all the way, the contrast down a few notches and saturation down one. That combo seems to look the most natural/filmic. When monitoring an unsharpened image, you lose some of the visual cues that tell you what is in and out of focus. Thats where "sharpening" comes into play in a monitor. Its a close cousin to "peaking" and "edge detection". In fact, the dp6's sharpening seems to behave much closer to peaking than a traditional sharpen. Where in-monitor peaking often adjusts the whole image's brightness, the sharpness usually leaves the image alone but changes the contrast around abrupt changes in color/luma (as would happen if something detailed were in focus.) With the dp6, if you crank up the sharpening, it does make it even easier to focus. I can't remember where it is dialed to, but mine is up a modest amount on mine. The down side is that an in-monitor sharpening will have an effect on non-detailed areas too as it tries to fish out contrast. The result is a subtle (or not so subtle, if you crank it all the way up) "plastic" look to gradated areas... like skin tones.

This brings me to an interesting (at least to me) head about what a monitor *should* do. There are people that expect a monitor to be a faithful representation of the image, in color, contrast, sharpness, luminance, exposure, etc. Then there are people who expect a monitor to provide guides and cues for focus, exposure, color, etc. These normally can coexist as explicit features that can be enabled/disabled as needed. The two functions that get cloudy are "contrast" and "sharpness". Its uncommon with experienced DPs, but some less experienced shooters want their field monitor to look like what their home TV will look like after an S curve gamma. Plus, they want the sharpness of the monitor turned up so they can "see the details" even though a true reference monitor would not look that way. Thats not saying this is wrong, but in being given the opportunity to test out beta firmware, it has put me in the shoes of the monitor designer a bit and made me question how *I* would prioritize default settings were it my decision.

Sharpening... At 0, the smallhd looks very true to my eyes. The image looks very natural/true, and while you can easily focus there, it does get easier with sharpening turned up... so i turned mine up. This, in turn adds a subtle change to other parts of the image (for most people they haven't seen it until i turn the sharpening off then on again. "oh... that"). Knowing this is the cause and it isnt on camera, its an artifact I can ignore for the advantage of increased focus clarity. So... what do you make the default? If you turn it off, then the "pixel peepers" (i hate that term. whats a good one? videophiles?) will be happy but shooters might find it "softer" than another monitor with an aggressive sharpening applied. What then if you turn it up. The monitor will be artificially sharp (intentionally), but focus is why most of us buy these things, thats good... but the "videophiles" (i dont like that term either. how about "video techs") might complain about the sharpening applied to the gradations leaving "artifacts" in the gradations.

This brings in what i believe will come to be my favorite feature of the dp6. The custom settings. If at any time (not in a menu already) you spin your finger wheel, you get a list of custom presets. If you scroll down to one of them and click, all the settings of the monitor change to that setting in an instant. This means you could have a "true image" setting and a "extra sharp" setting and a setting with full frame overscan adjusted... but i'm getting ahead of myself there. In a nutshell, the custom settings will allow you to use things like contrast and sharpening as a "toggle feature".

I just got a new firmware emailed from smallhd. This should probably be its own entry, but the dp6 ships with a little usb stick and you can now update firmware just by copying the firmware to the stick, popping it into the usb slot on the dp6 and installing. No more trips back to the factory for software updates. This opens up the possibility of new features being added as they are perfected. It also means that monitors can be shipped with "incomplete" firmware, so you can see it as a plus or minus depending on your personality. I'm going with "plus" because i needed a monitor weeks ago, not months from now.

Holler with any questions... or complaints if i'm going on too many tangents. heh.

cheers!
-a
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Old August 31st, 2010, 11:41 PM   #8
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Love the detailed post Andrew. I go on tangents myself at times so no worries there. Pics would be great though ;)
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 02:54 PM   #9
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Pictures to come... I used the soundie's camera to take some shots of the dp6 in action, so i hope to get those off him tomorrow.

When I showed off my dp1, i was impressed that 3 days later someone i showed it to ordered their own. This week broke that record. I met with Sasha, a russian expat who shot government films on 35mm film back in the 70s/80s. He has spent the last 17 years in NZ and is building up gear to do his own film/video projects. I showed him my dp6 earlier this week and he seemed impressed. Today he informed me that his own dp6 had shipped. It turns out he was so impressed with the dp6 he ordered his own 3 HOURS after seeing mine. Hehe.


So i installed the new firmware this morning and a lot of things changed.

One of the things I planned to complain about was a standby button located next to the "back" button on the monitor controls. When I would reach to exit out of a menu i'd put the monitor to sleep. This reminded me of accidently poking the on/off button on the dp1 and I was ready to rail on it pretty heavily. I had already sent some negative feedback to smallhd regarding this "feature".

And... its gone! Now the same button toggles the focus assist on and off, which is great. Yay firmware updates and a company that listens!

To update the firmware, i copied it from an email to the thumb drive included with the dp6. I then powered the dp6 on while holding the scroll wheel down for a few seconds. It started doing something and the phone rang. I grabbed the phone and came back over to the monitor and the firmware was updated, with the dp6 prompting me to reboot. Hard to imagine a simpler process.

So a few things have changed now that the firmware has advanced a bit. There are still some bugs in it, but it is majorly better than the version I came from. I'm digging the firmware thing.

The "plastic" look I was describing is gone. I think somehow I had peaking enabled (the old menu was still in-progress). When i enable peaking I can recreate what I saw before, but its only there when peaking is on.

I had assumed that peaking and "focus assist" were the same, but they are not. Peaking leaves your colors mostly the same and just does edge enhancements to make focusing easier. Focus assist kinda does the same thing but it also darkens the whole monitor and only the "in focus" stuff jumps out. I'll have to spend time with both features, but my initial reaction is that I prefer the peaking. On the other hand, the standby button now toggles the focus assist on and off, which is very fast and easy, so i could see popping it on when a specific need arises... possibly even during a shot. Very interesting...

I gotta get to set, so i'll cut my ramble short. The new firmware has made me rethink the monitor a bit, but so far all for the better. I'm gripping a music video tonight, so there'll be some new faces to respond to the dp6. So far all the responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

Cheers!
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Old September 3rd, 2010, 05:29 AM   #10
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Got an email from smallHD about the latest firmware. The button that does the "focus assist on/off" is actually a user definable shortcut! If you hold it down for 3 seconds, it brings up a list of functions that it can perform. Choose one and that button becomes an instant shortcut for that function.

Its been a crazy week, and next week looks even crazier. Sorry about the lack of photos.

•screen protector•

On digital still cameras I usually put one of those sticky screen protectors on the screen. It messes up the picture a little, but saves from annoying scratches. With still cams, the camera is generally doing the focusing though. For shooting video, its been a conundrum. I put a screen condom on my 7d when i first got it out of "still camera habit", but when I won the 550d/T2i I just left it bare. Fortunately, I haven't had any big gashes yet.

The dp6 comes with an optional acrylic screen protector. At first I thought this was just a fancy screen condom (they sell those too), but its actually a kind of screen armor. There is a sheet of maybe 1/8" thick acrylic with a flange around it. The whole assembly snaps on very snugly to indents milled into the monitor case. Once snapped on, It'll take a bit of effort to get it back off. Since the rest of the case is basically bombproof, this adds a significant amount of protection for the screen (the weak link). Now... My dp1 has no scratches on its screen, nor has it been broken, but my mate Kirk had his dp1 in a gear bag as he travelled through africa and something pressed against the screen while it took a hit and the screen cracked. I personally would never put a monitor in a gear bag like that, but I'd feel pretty confident that it could survive with this screen protector in place. I put it on immediately when I received the monitor (so i wouldn't have smudges on the screen itself) and to be honest don't remember it having any effect on the image quality at all. It does make the screen a bit more reflective though. I don't plan to remove mine at any point. It just seems a good idea to provide impact protection for the lcd. If the protector gets gouged, you can pop on a replacement in seconds. Thumbs up for this design.


*backlight / blacks*

The only monitor i've done a side by side with the dp6 is the dp1x... and I suppose the built in screen of the 7d/550d/ex3. Compared to the dp1, the dp6 is significantly brighter, but somehow the blacks are darker too. I don't want to talk out of my posterior, so I want to do more careful side by side comparisons, but my first reaction is that the blacks on the dp6 look closer to those on a macbook than on most field monitors. That might be an overstatement, but that was my initial reaction.

•sun shade•

the dp6 sun shade is the same as the one for the dp1. Its 4 posts that snap into the corners of the monitor and hold open a neoprene "tunnel" to look through. Its quite clever, really, and folds up nicely into a small space that weighs almost nothing. The biggest differences on the dp6 is that the holes in the corner of the monitor are a little bit bigger and thus easier to install/remove the shade, and thanks to the acrylic protector I'm not as afraid of accidently snapping one of the bars into the screen and causing a mark. It works pretty well as a sun shade... but in heavy sun the reflection of your face can be an issue.

*image*

The color, contrast and image of the monitor are still being tweaked for the final release, so its kinda pointless for me to comment on them. Even with the early firmware, the image looks quite good. I'm hoping they can pull off "stunning". Its certainly there with clarity and focus, but color and contrast can be a monitor's downfall. I look forward to how it plays out.

•false color•

I heard some rumors and saw some tweets about the dp6 having false color. I'm not under any kind of NDA, other than that of courtesy given they trusted me with an advance unit. My early firmware had a flavor of false color, but it wasn't ready for the field so it was removed from this latest firmware. I don't know anything about what is involved with programming something like this, but Dale did mention to me that he really wanted false color to be a feature if at all possible. If you don't know anything about SmallHD, its video geeks that wished for a better monitoring solution, then decided to try and build it themselves. This means that there is a lot more personal pride invested in their company than in many, and that they are driven to make "the ultimate monitor" partly because they want to *have* the perfect monitor. This explains the obsession with build quality and industrial design. The addition of the USB port was so they could keep trying to tweak and improve their existing monitors without the cost of having people send them back to the factory. Its entirely possible that the CPU that drives the dp6 cannot pull off a good false color. Its also possible that it can. The beta was fairly close, but had some bugs. Dale won't say anything about it because if he implies it will happen but then it can't, he's vilified. I feel pretty confident in saying that because Dale himself wants it, he will not give up until it is proven impossible. (Thats not to say it *is* possible, mind you)

•batteries•

I personally dig the smallhd batteries. They had some duds early on, but they made good rushing replacements to anyone with a problem. This new batch is a distinct improvement over the old ones. They have a new paint job, which is more matte and looks very nice. They have a normal looking charging port instead of that funky high voltage mini-usb. And they have an on/off switch on the battery, which should come as a relief to anyone who ever ran down the old ones by leaving them plugged in. (i've done it a few times.) The batteries on the dp1 snapped into two clips. On the dp6 it slides into a fitted "slot". As I mentioned above, I got probably 4.5 hours use out of a battery over 6 hours turning the monitor off during longer breaks. There is a d-tap and a canon e6 battery mount available for the dp6 as well, so a lot of the complaints about a lack of battery options are reduced. I personally will use the smallhd batteries except when shooting long all day concerts on the jib, then i just wire in a tekkeon.

For $80 including a charger, you are hard pressed to find a cheaper solution. The battery charger looks like a laptop power supply, but the LED on it indicates the charge status of the battery it is charging. The batteries are lithium ion and charge faster than they discharge so if you have one on a charger, you'll never run out.

My gripe with the batteries is that the smallHD neoprene? case is not designed for the battery mount to go inside. You can squeeze it in there (I do) but its a bit of a stretch. (the sleeve is out of something like wetsuit fabric, so its spongey and stretchy) If you buy the smallhd batteries and mounting bracket, you aren't likely to be taking them off the monitor much, so its kinda an annoyance to have to cram the monitor with the battery plate/battery into a case not designed for it. That might be a bit nitpicky, but it is one of the few things that i've found disappointing, so it seemed worth mentioning. Just be aware if you buy the battery and plan to leave it mounted, the sleeve will look lumpy.

I'm kinda tired, so i'll leave it there for now. If you have any questions, holler. If you are gonna be around christchurch and want to check it out, or do a monitor comparison, drop me a line.

cheers!
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Old September 4th, 2010, 04:42 AM   #11
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Location: Motukarara, New Zealand
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setback

Heya.

A 7.1 earthquake hit near our house. I spent most of the day cleaning up the stuff in our house that was destroyed. A lot of neighbors had part of their house destroyed.

I have some pictures of the dp6 on set, but repairing the house is a bit of a priority at the moment.

cheers,
-a
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Old September 4th, 2010, 09:59 AM   #12
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We were are all at dinner last night when we saw the news. Let us know if you need anything. Our prayers are with you and your neighbors.

-reed
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Old September 4th, 2010, 10:56 AM   #13
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Andrew,
Hope you and your loved ones are okay. Sorry to hear about the damage to your neighborhood and area. Take care.
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Old September 5th, 2010, 03:44 PM   #14
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Thanks.

Hey thanks for all the thoughts and prayers, ya'll. A group of us from our church in the city went door knocking to make sure everybody in the church's neighborhood was ok. (We live out in the country, so we were able to check all our neighbors by making 5 phone calls).

Its pretty scary. A lot of chimneys have collapsed through roofs and there are splits in walls you could put a ex3 through. On the other hand, since the quake hit at 4:30am, most people were in bed and are ok. Its a stark contrast to the 200,000 people who died in haiti in a similar quake. The loss of property is pretty profound though. I've had 3 shoots scheduled for this week cancelled due to the fact that the locations we were going to film in are now piles of rubble.

Anyways, you guys are probably hitting this thread in anticipation of photos, not for earthquake info, so here are a few. dp6A.jpg is some 3000 pixels wide so you can zoom in 100% and get a good idea of the clarity of the screen. (as clear as a handheld photo of an lcd can be.) The rest I scaled to 1200x800. There is no adjustment to the photos other than scaling and saving.

Dvinfo scaled my photos down the last time i uploaded big ones, so i'm linking rather than embedding. If anyone has a problem seeing them i'll try embedding.

http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/dp6/dp6A.jpg
Large photo of the dp6 screen. This is a handheld photo of a light, so some fringing is the result of the camera taking the photo, not the screen or the camera feeding it. I've scaled the 5d's image on the dp6 up to mostly fill the screen, but have left a tiny bit of the "dead grey" area at the top and bottom of the screen. I like to see a bit of extra head and foot to get an early warning for booms, etc. You can adjust the scale/overscan however you like so what you see here is how I chose to set it. At 100% you can see a bit of moire pattern on the screen. This is an artifact of the camera taking the photo of the screen, not the screen itself.

http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/dp6/dp6B.jpg
DP6 mounted on canon 5DmkII. I did several direct comparisons of the dp6 compared to the camera screen+ zfinder. I liked the stability the zfinder gave you pressed against your face, but there just isnt a lot of information on the camera lcd. Most of what I noticed with the zfinder is how visible the pixels were. I'd really like to see a zfinder/loupe for the dp6.

http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/dp6/dp6C.jpg
The menu system. the "no card" and "1920x1080" are generated by the camera. You can adjust the opacity of the menu overlay on the dp6. One thing to note is after the finger wheel scrolls across the menus at the top, it then scrolls across the ones at the bottom. It wasn't obvious to me at first, but I appreciated having larger menu fonts vs trying to cram everything across the top.

http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/dp6/dp6D.jpg
shoe mounted on the cineslider (with a crappy 501 head). The dp6 is very light, even with battery, so i found shoe mounting to cover most scenarios.

http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/dp6/dp6E.jpg
Side view of the dp6 on 5d. My shoe mount is a giotto mini ball head using the "shoe bolt" and one knuckle nut from my noga arm "shoe mount bundle", then using a second knuckle nut from the redrock arm to thread against the head to lock it down. Its a bit of a frankenstein, but its very secure and light/compact. Its pretty close to "perfect" from a size/stability standpoint. If you have a better solution, especially one that doesn't include buying the noga bundle and throwing away the giant-ass tube thing, please holler!

http://www.lakeflyproductions.com/dp6/dp6F.jpg
Shot of the back of the dp6, showing the battery mounted on its bracket.You can just make out the indentation for the scroll wheel at the top left of the monitor as pictured here. The battery connects to the dp6 via a wee jumper cable. I had a discussion with another grip who hated the jumper cable. My point was that if you use a battery contact to connect power to the monitor, then any other power solutions have to connect to that proprietary contact. I personally dig having a standard 12v connection, as this makes it simple to switch to a tekkeon or even cigarette lighter as needed.

Obviously these photos are all me mucking around during downtime on a shoot. I have some more "action photos" i'll try to upload as soon as possible. holler with any questions or photo requests.

When we are filming with a monitor, I drop the hdmi cable across the other side of the lens and come around to the port on the camera. I normally don't leave a big loop out to the side. I was just mucking around and got lazy.

Cheers!
-a
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Old September 5th, 2010, 04:02 PM   #15
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This looks like a really sweet monitor Andrew!
Hope the cleanup goes well over there for you & everyone affected.
Bryce
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