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Old February 5th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #1
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Video Assist monitors, again - sorry

Sorry for coming again with this subject, but I'm really surprised with some recent searches.

Like everyone here, I have a small camera (Sony Z1E) that comes with a very small 3.5" LCD.
If I work in Autofucus, I have no problems. The camera does the job.
But if I go to manual focus, the fight starts...

That's why we look for a Video assist monitor.
There's a debate about the proper size and screen resolution.

7"or 8" for LCD and 9" for the CRT are the usual dimension.
Like some other things, "Bigger is Better !"
Screen Resolution. Again: bigger is better !

So far so good. No 2nd opinions until this point.
------------------------------------------------------

Some of us (most of us, probably) do not have large amounts of money. For that reason, we look at the cheap Car DVD displays as an afordable solution.
The price goes around $130 - $200. In comparison with $2K or $3K of the PRO, it's quite less money.

But, let's look at the PRO caracteristics:
BNC video input, loop-trought, XLR power input, etc.
We all want the very best. We want HD input, SDI, etc.

Then I looked at the ARRI website.
The video assist module for the 35mm ARRI cameras has ONLY composite and (sometimes) Y/C video out.
This means that James Cameron, Scorcese and Tarantino, (for ex.) shoot with a camera that has composite video for the cameraman and focus puller to work with.

I've asked the local ARRI distribuitor what monitors do they use.
Should be an amazing resolution models.
"Oh yes, they have an amazing picture !" - he has answerd.
They sell Transvideo.

- TRANSVIDEO International *http://www.transvideointl.com/
Look at Mr. James Cameron working with a 400 x 234 6.5" monitor. *http://www.transvideointl.com/pages/...es_Cameron.htm
With composite video in !
Price around 1,450

- TELETEST *http://www.teletest.co.uk/
A very good broadcast brand.
They have a new 4.5" 16/9 TFT that "can be mounted on the smallest of DV camcorders."
They also say that:
Quote:
"It has a very bright screen that can be used in direct sunlight and the resolution is good enough to focus with."

*http://www.teletest.co.uk/news.asp?id=1

I looked at the specs:
Resolution: 320x234 !! - "good enough to focus with" , remember!

Price___$740 for a 4.5" 16/9__320 x 234 *** http://www.teletest.co.uk/productinfo.asp?id=39
_______$1,850 for a 7" 16/9__480 x 234 *** http://www.teletest.co.uk/productinfo.asp?id=44

- MARSHALL *http://www.lcdracks.com/
V-R70DP 7" - 800x480 - around $1,000__*http://www.lcdracks.com/monitors/vr70p-dp.html
V-R65P-HD 6.5" - 800x480 - around $3,800__*http://www.lcdracks.com/monitors/v-r65p-HD.html
V-LCD8-PRO 7.9" - 1440x234 (=480x234) - around $940__*http://www.lcdracks.com/monitors/vlcd8pro.html
and so on...


What do I pretend with this all ?

I have no questions about the quality construction of the more expensive models.
They should have MUCH better AD conversors.
They have better plugs, boxes, buttons, etc. etc.

But Mr. James Cameron is working with a 400 x 234 monitor in composite!

Does this one give a MUCH better picture than a unexpensive VGA/monitor that costs less than $340 ?_*http://www.carcomputer.co.uk/touchsc...hp?product=114

I've found, some 7" and 8" - NO touchscreen- with 640x480 and 800x480 for around $180.
The image is not as good as a 9" CRT. I can testify on that!

But the major question is: is that image much less good than a 400x234 FOR FOCUSING ?

I'm just wondering if there's some thing in the construction of the expensive models that makes a 400x234 in composite, give better image for focusing than a 800x480 or 640x480 in Y/C.

Please, if you have worked / seen work with the more expensive ones, maybe you can help.

Unfortunatly, the resellers near me, don't have stock here around.
And I can only look at the car-audio stores.

Thanks
Carlos Manuel
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Old February 5th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlos Manuel
Resolution: 320x234 !! - "good enough to focus with" , remember!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlos Manuel
But Mr. James Cameron is working with a 400 x 234 monitor in composite!
Carlos, no film camera assistant worth a poop is either pulling focus OR making critical focus decisions via video tap. It's just not done. When shooting film, usually the camera operator alone gets to make the call whether a take was in focus or not....unless something was grossly soft and even everybody in video village saw it too. If that's the case, usually the director will start hollering!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlos Manuel
Does this one give a MUCH better picture than a unexpensive VGA/monitor that costs less than $340 ?
Yes and no. Many of the Transvideo LCDs are daylight viewable, which is very important for some folk. Others don't mind using a hoodman.

You ask a lot of other questions about specific items you've found on the web, but I'll give you my .02 from my experience shooting HDV the last 14 months, and HDCAM before that:

You're absolutely correct, focus with any of the new cameras is painfully important. The new breed of cams require a level of attention and focus skill heretofore unnecessary. Because you are now shooting HD, and your focus problems stem from that extra resolution, it's is my STRONG opinion that it is necessary to monitor using an HD signal from the camera. Even if the resolution numbers on the monitors you shop for are unimpressive, if it has true HD input (component or HD-SDI) it will display a level of detail that an SD (Y/C or composite) input will not. I've been there, done that, and have a lot of out-of-focus footage to show from it.

Right now, if you want a cheap way to check focus while out and about, I only see two options:

1-Marshall V-R70P-HDA. It's about $1300 street price. Panel res is about 800x480, but can see HD focus in it reasonably well. They have standard-definition versions of this monitor as well, don't get them if you're concerned about focus.

2-Cheap Dell LCD like W1700 (discontinued). 1280x768 LCD panel...about $400 on eBay. Color and gamma are horrible on this monitor, but at least you'll see if you're soft.

I'd go with the Dell if you're on a budget. But learn to expose from the camera LCD then...
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Old February 6th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #3
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Nate Weaver,

First of all, let me thank your opinion.
Sometimes it's hard to find answers without a couple of silly jokes in the middle.
When people ask, it's because they don't know. It's my case at least.

I can see the need for an HD video in monitor.
The Marshall V-R70P-HDA seems a great unit. Composite, Y/C and YUV in SD and HD for around $1350. Specialy with loop output.

In the Marshall web site, it's presented with my camera (Z1) and the look it's amazing.
I'm adapting my mind to spend that amount of money !...
For me, spend 1/3 of the camera price on a 7" monitor, it's a difficult move.

The only con is that I have to order it from the US and the customs here in Portugal, put a LARGEEEEEE amount of taxes on top of it.
So the $1,422.45 price from BHPHOTOVIDEO (inc. shipping) will result in a value that can be bigger than if I buy an european broadcast model like the TELETEST OZL7000 (www.teletest.co.uk).
The other problem is that the local resselers (Portugal) do not have that kind of units in stock, forcing me (and the others) to buy with the eyes blind...

I will try to find someone here around that have one of the PRO units, and have a look at it.


I've shooted always with a Betacam SP and Digital camcordel, and I'm used to work with a B/W viewfinder in PAL.
And I've never had "problems" with focus.
But as you say, HD (in my case HDV) is quite different.
The precision of the focus is much more critical.
And the B/W viewfinder gives a much better image than the 3.5" LCD does.
On top of that, the Sony Z1 as you know, have a focus ring that has no distance indication, so the 35mm method of the mesuring tape, is not very practical...
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Old February 6th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #4
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Looks like the Teletest is standard definition only. I'd rule this one out.

Go to DVXUser.com and search for a user named Holyzoo. He was in exactly the same situation as you and did not know what brand or even type of LCD to get. He got the Marshall and is now very, very happy with it.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 06:53 AM   #5
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I am lucky enough to go and volunteer as a cameraman for a tv station, here in Washington.

They don't use most of the clips I've shot with my FX-1, as I'm still learning to be a better Cameraman, and yes, I'm only doing this as a hobby. I get the perks and prestige of working for a tv station. Access to events that I might not be able to shoot video in.

The advantage that I feel real lucky about is that the cameraman is giving me ideas and help on becoming a better cameraman.

If any amatuer gets a chance to work with someone in the industry, it is the best training they'll ever get.

What I've learned while working with the tv station. My LCD on the FX-1, while I love the picture, does not give me a clear look on what I've shot.
The picture may look crisp and clear on the LCD but on HDTV, I've found that some of the shots look soft compared to what I see and shot with looking at the LCD. Example was a concert I shot in low light. The facial features looked sharp on the LCD and soft on HDTV.

I've learned to better frame my shots for 16:9 with so much shooting on my FX-1. Experience is the best teacher but guessing on focus is something I don't want to have to rely on...The only other option is using autofocus. It gives the best focus but when the camera is trying to focus between objects, it's a killer!

I have mentioned on several occasions about the possibility of using a portable DVD player, on some of my other posts and wonder what is the opinion of the users about this method?
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Old March 8th, 2006, 09:20 AM   #6
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What about a focus chart? DVInfo member Mike Cavenaugh recently introduced me to the Seimans Star chart offered by Serious Magic. I never thought it was possible to focus using the lousy LCD screen on my camera (and man, is it lousy), but I've done tests against our 650 line production monitor, and I find that I can get comparable focus just using the LCD and the chart. You have to rock it in there slightly, but it really works. This would be no help if you had to pull focus obviously though.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 01:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt
DVInfo member Mike Cavenaugh recently introduced me to the Seimans Star chart offered by Serious Magic.
I could find the chart for sale at Serious Magic. Does Serious Magic only give this out with DV Rack and/or is it actually this chart made by Century Precision Optics?

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/cinemasu...epropfich.html
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Old March 17th, 2006, 01:47 AM   #8
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Here's a free download of the Seimans Star for those interested in trying it out.

http://www.rondexter.com/professiona...us_pattern.htm
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Old March 17th, 2006, 08:32 AM   #9
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Thanks for that download Shawn. I had been hoping that would be online. I'm told Serious Magic does indeed sell the chart separately. You may need to call them though. It's not the Century Optics chart, but they do look about the same.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 02:12 PM   #10
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Hey Marco - Do you notice any difference in the downloaded version versus the Serious Magic Seimans Star. Also, is there any big trick to using this, or do you just rock back and forth through the focus until your satistified? Thanks, Shawn
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Old March 17th, 2006, 02:50 PM   #11
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Yeah, the lines on the Serious Magic chart terminate a lot sooner. There's a actually a white circle in the center of the chart. If I can I'll print the free one up and do a test to see which is easier.

When you focus on the chart you can instantly see when you are focused to the best of your LCD's ability. Turn the ring a little more and it will pop out of focus. The distance between those two points when it focuses, and when it unfocuses -- is where you don't have enough resolution to get it exact. You sort of rock between those two points until you get it in the center. That involves a little guess work, but with practice you can get it darn close. Definitely better than auto focus, at least on my camera (Optura 60). Using a production monitor and the chart I got about the same results as the LCD, surprisingly enough.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 12:46 AM   #12
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Hey Marco - I printed and played around with the downloaded Seiman's Star. It works good for focusing but I can see why they would make the lines terminate near the center. I would guess that Serious Magic made this change since their computerized setup works off of the star - just looking at the center of the downloaded star can make one a tad dizzy - so it might wierd-out a computer too. I'll be interested to hear your results if you compare the two. Thanks, Shawn
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