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Video Monitors and Media Players for field or studio use (all display technologies).


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Old December 21st, 2002, 06:42 PM   #1
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Black and White LCD Monitor

Hello. . .
I am just purchasing an xl1 to make short movies (can I say 'films' anymore?). Previously I have only used actual film.
I am interested in a black and white lcd monitor. Does one exist? I've only scene them sold with one of the steadicam models.

Then again, Perhaps this is not what I need at all. I will explain what I want:
--I shoot predominately in black and white. It would therefore be nice to judge the image in monochrome rather than color.
--I am also aware that most people consider b&w easier to focus.
--Having a screen somewhat larger than the viewfinder would allow easier playback in the field.
--I do all location shooting which requires a minimum of weight.
--I am building homemade equipment (steadicam/jib/dolly) which would necessitate viewing from off of the camera.
--I shoot 16x9 (cropping in post) so it would be nice to have this option as well unless I just mask a full size screen.
--I'd also like to see the whole image (underscan??).
--And, of course, money. . . I have a very limited budget. I hope to spend only a few hundred dollars on this. Because this limited budget is of top concern, I understand that I may have to sacrafice some things of the above.

Thoughts: The panasonic 7" looks nice, however it is color and out of my price range unless I can find it used (which looks tough). . . . I'm worried a CRT is too heavy. . . . Perhaps I'm better off getting a cheap LCD (a bad one meant for a car that costs $100) just so I can see the image on my steadycam - and buying a used crt (which I could lug around only when absolutely critical)to determine exposure/focus etc.??

Any suggestions are appreciated greatly.
Jim
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Old December 21st, 2002, 09:12 PM   #2
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Look for LCD monitors with a color control. Reduce the color until you have a Black and White image on the screen. The small er CRT monitor (for viewfinders) are made B & W because they are higher resolution, thus easier to focus. LCD screens will have the same resolution if it is color or B & W.

Jeff
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Old December 21st, 2002, 11:18 PM   #3
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I thought it was easier to focus based on the 'simplification' of no color. Contrast is more obvious and thus the image is easier to focus. This is more of a question than a statement.
Also, will turning down the color all the way give me an accurate black and white image as it will be ultimately when converted?
Thanks,
Jim
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Old December 21st, 2002, 11:59 PM   #4
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Jim,
It's true that, for many people, a monochrome image eliminates psycho-perceptual confusion and can better enable you to see the image in light/dark terms. However, that's not really the principal reason that professional cameras use b&w viewfinders. B&W viewfinders are crt's, not lcd's, and feature a much higher resolution than lcd's, thus enabling a more accurate focus judgement. They also show the entire image whereas lcd panels and viewfinders cut-out the underscan space. (The XL1s' viewfinder is particularly stingy with its display and cuts out more than the standard underscan area. This can lead to some nasty surprises at frame edges during post.)

So, as Jeff said, your best move on a moderate budget is to get an lcd with good resolution and a color control. The 7" Panasonic is an outstanding lcd monitor (I have one), perhaps the best available. It has a very high-resolution, can display 16:9 as well as 4:3, and shows the entire image. But, indeed, it's quite a bit pricier than others. Take a look at Nebtek (www.nebtek.com). They feature a variety of high-quality lcd's for many budgets.

If ultra-portabilty is not critical you should also look at small crt monitors.

p.s. Interesting photography on your site!
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 11:08 AM   #5
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Ken. . . thanks for the info. I got the idea for the Panasonic from another post of yours. I'll look around for an affordable one. Is there another one that's close -but cheaper? I believe that in the same thread that I read about the Panasonic, the smaller Nebtek models are attacked as being not very good.

p.s. . . . . . already checking me out? Thanks. I'm not too happy with my site right now. It's still in its early stages. I don't like the presentation of the pics and some other things need to be smoothed out. (including scanning the rest of my images!) Hopefully in a couple of weeks it'll be done.

Thanks - Jim
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 12:10 PM   #6
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Someone recently remarked that the smaller Nebtek monitors are actually pretty good. They're certainly priced as thought they're "pretty good". I'd just stay away from the small low-resolution lcd's that you can generally find for $200 or less.
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 11:56 PM   #7
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Ken, when you say the panasonic can display in 16:9 or 4:3, does this mean I can switch from one or the other as I please, or is it dependent on the camera mode? So if I shoot in 4:3 mode, will the monitor automatically crop the image for me into 16:9 (if I choose)? I assume this is correct but I want to be sure.
Thanks - Jim
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:12 AM   #8
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Jim,
You can switch the monitor's display mode at any time. If it's receiving a 4:3 signal when switched to 16:9 it will simply stretch the image to fill the screen (which is designed in 16:9 ratio). It will not crop the image. There are actually about 4 modes of display on this monitor.

Here is a link to Panasonic's page concerning the monitor:
http://www.panasonic.com/PBDS/subcat..._tc-7wms1.html

Two notes: the monitor is designed for either a/c power or connection to a 12v battery (such as an Anton Bauer). Nebtek sells a converter that enables you to use standard Canon 7v batteries (the same as for an XL1s or GL2) to power the monitor. Also note that the monitor uses a professional BNC-style connector for video-in. This is fine if you're an XL1s shooter using an MA-200, which features a BNC video-out port. If you're using another camera you'll need a BNC-to-RCA connector or else you'll be disappointed on Christmas Day. (They're about $2 at any Radio Shack.)
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:39 AM   #9
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Jim:

One concern about your thoughts of getting a cheap LCD for your homebuilt Steadicam is that the lower end LCD's suffer more from a limited viewing angle, especially in the tilt axis (tilting the monitor forward and back will result in a tonal reverse of the image, like looking at a piece of film negative). Working with Steadicam means that your orientation to the monitor is constantly changing and thus there are times when seeing a readable image is difficult. And because the monitor is always tilted up to some degree since it is mounted lower than your eye level, sky and sun reflections are a real pickle for exteriors. Unlike a flip-out LCD on a camcorder, you can't just reach over in the middle of the shot and rotate the screen so that the image is best oriented for visibility.

All this means that Steadicam is one of the more demanding applications on an LCD display, and it's best to go for the gold lest you end up with a lot of chopped-off heads in your final footage. The Panasonic is a solid choice and there are a lot of high-end Steadicam operators who have elected that as their backup or lightweight alternative monitor, and a couple who are using them full-time. What do we use the rest of the time? High voltage/high intensity green screen (monochrome) CRT's that run anywhere from $10K to $15K--yup, that's fifteen thousand for a monitor, folks. There are some high end LCD's showing up of late; Tiffen has a lovely HD monitor for Steadicam use that clocks in around $7K. And since you mentioned it earlier, I have a 5.6" Nebtek I bought three or four years ago that has been highly modified for Steadicam use, which I pulled out just the other day for a fast running shot (I can shave about 4 lbs off my rig by using that monitor, which makes a noticeable difference). Their monitors are not the top-end and don't have the multiple framing possibilities of the Panasonic, but they are fine for the money, especially if you buy them in their unmodified version and make the connectors up yourself.
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:05 PM   #10
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Alright, let me get this straight. . .
It looks like the 16:9 on the panasonic won't serve me since I'll shoot in 4:3 and mask in post. Thus I might as well get a 4:3 monitor and cover the top and bottom to get an accurate ratio.
So the cheapest decent option would be to buy the "Neb 50XL" for $560? Or can I buy the basic Neb50 and adapt it myself? (Note: I have no clue what I'm doing.)
For the Panasonic, I'd have to buy the monitor (list $600) and the TC7-cam adapter (list $200)? Or could I just get the Nebtek one for $600. or do I need the Neb70xl for $830?
(I imagine the Varizooms and Marshalls that run around $300 aren't very good?)
I've looked at all of the specs and things, but I just don't know enough about this. I appreciate all of your help.
--Jim
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:09 PM   #11
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Would something like this work (or equivalent that I might find for cheap on e-bay)?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=1498&item=1946814901
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:37 PM   #12
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Sorry for so many replies, but I just found this thread:
"TFT, field monitor options"
It seems to suggest that one of the cheaper car-intended monitors could work.

What's the deal?
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:46 PM   #13
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Jim,
I've no experience with the Nebtek('ed) products nor with the monitor on eBay. All I can recommend is that you get the best resolution and brightness you can get for your money. (I'm not an eBay fan whatsoever.)

Personally, since you indicated that you're new to video and new to the XL1, I'd recommend that you first spend some serious hours getting acquainted with your new XL1 and getting the feeling of shooting video. It's a (very) different world from still photography. After a while I think you'll have a much better feeling for what you'll really be shooting and what you'll really need. It's easier on the pocket than getting caught-up in the gear chase up-front only to discover that much of your gear ends up sitting in a closet unused.
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 12:54 PM   #14
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Sounds good. . .
note: when I said I had only dealt with film before, I didn't mean in still. (Although photography is my primary occupation.) I meant that I had made movies only with film (super 8 and 16). The expense drove me to mini-dv.
I agree with you however production for my movie starts Feb. 8th. I think a monitor is crucial. I've limited my needs to: the camera, the 3x, homemade steady/dolly/etc., good tripod, and a few more lights. I have a sound guy with gear.
I think I'm not going overboard with this equipment, I think it's all crucial for what I'm doing. Of course like you said, I'm new to all of this and I could most certainly be wrong.
Let's hope not! I'll be in debt enough as it is.
Jim

ps how does one measure brightness?
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Old December 23rd, 2002, 01:32 PM   #15
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ps how does one measure brightness?

Good question. I believe that lcd manufacturers use NIT as the unit of brightness. For example, the Nebtek 50 has a brightness rating of 240 NIT. The 7" Panasonic's brightness is rated at 400 NIT. (I've no idea what "NIT" stands for.)
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