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Old September 7th, 2019, 03:45 AM   #1
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Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Has anyone found a solution to shooting outside viewfinders? I did a job and a few others rolled in on the wave of that one - I'm shooting aircraft and parachutists from the ground on a shoulder mount type camera with a side eyepiece type viewfinder and a hinge out LCD panel. The eyepiece type works best, but for some shots I need to pan quite rapidly and cannot keep my eye to the eyepiece rubber and pan that large range without falling over the tripod legs. I'm thinking about something I can use that comes with a sun shield. however, while I could fit a focus remote to the lens as well as the zoom demand, this makes manual focus from the side impossible. Does anyone have any tips for how to see a decent image when the sun is shining?
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Old September 7th, 2019, 04:50 PM   #2
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Paul - shooting in bright light is the same problem I have. The LCD screens just arenít bright enough and shooting with an aftermarket slip-on shade helps but just doesnít cut it.

While your effort is to track moving objects while standing on terrafirma, my effort is to stand on a moving platform (sailboat) while tracking objects, some stationary (trying to keep them stationary) and some moving objects. Therefor essentially the same scenario. Trying to hold the cam with one hand (instead of two) and shield the sun (even with the sun shade) is difficult. Using the viewfinder is really not an option because one canít track what is going on outside the frame and because on a shifting boat one can easily loose balance.

One thing Iíve seriously considered is going with an Atomos system and their sunshade. The Atomos screen is much brighter than the LCD and the sunshade with its peephole would be really effective; however, for use in the field it would be pretty ungainly but everything is a tradeoff. The entire system isnít cheap, either, but there are some other plusses besides just the viewing part so if those are useful than that would be a plus. Unfortunately, the AX700 doesnít output 10-bit color so that particular option isnít one of them for me.

Atomos has a 5-inch model but that isnít much larger than the LCD screen. One very import thing is to be able to see what is going on outside the viewfinder or LCD screen and not have the head buried. Remember the old pictures from the 1800s with the photographer looking at his camera under a black blanket?
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Old September 8th, 2019, 10:24 AM   #3
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

A relatively cheap solution I found was the FeelWorld FW279 monitor. It's 2200nits, which is bright enough to use outdoors. Add a sunshield if you want even better viewing, but it might not be necessary based on my tests.
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Old September 8th, 2019, 12:06 PM   #4
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Thanks for that oren - I'd not heard of this, but review comments are all pretty positive and as you say - the price is great. Does it really not need a hood in bright outside light, that's a but of a tough one?
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Old September 8th, 2019, 10:08 PM   #5
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

This 1200 Nit monitor is getting some pretty decent reviews for bright outdoor use.

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Old September 9th, 2019, 12:14 AM   #6
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Some really interesting products. This review did ring alarm bells for some of the others. Latency will be a killer for me if its bad. I really cannot hack latency in viewfinders. Music videos with drums is just horrible. Like fingernails on a blackboard!
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Old September 9th, 2019, 10:34 AM   #7
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

I live in one of the brightest and hottest environments in the USA. The desert around Phoenix, AZ poses many challenges for video shooting.

To deal with the constantly bright sun I have to bite the bullet and pay for SmallHD monitors. My go to for outside work is the 702 Bright. The original MSRP was around $1,200.00. It has come down to currently $800.00 at B&H. Thats a lot of cash but it is a "you get what you pay for thing".

I can see my image outside, I have a sun shade for it too I can use depending on the position of the sun. A monitor like this comes with many benefits besides being bright. The most important one is the quality of the image under any condition. I have learned to love this thing. The image is truly amazing. It is as valuable in the studio as it is in the desert. With a high quality monitor like this what you see is what you get. I trust it completely for everything a monitor should be telling me. It has a full featured software set of tools I like. The SDI and HDMI inputs will also pass through and convert to each other ie: SDI in can give you HDMI or SDI out.

Bottom line-your not just paying for it to be bright, you are paying for it to be an excellent image and it does that. I have had many monitors of all types, nothing else is in the same ballpark.

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Old September 9th, 2019, 01:43 PM   #8
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Thanks Steve, I really didn't;t know there was this much choice?

I shall have a bit of a research session - thanks.
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Old September 9th, 2019, 02:06 PM   #9
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
Thanks for that oren - I'd not heard of this, but review comments are all pretty positive and as you say - the price is great. Does it really not need a hood in bright outside light, that's a but of a tough one?
Regardless of the brightness (and this unit is nice and bright), I'd still recommend a sun hood. It's a very cheap way of improving your viewing conditions. But the fact that I was able to see it well enough at high-noon was enough to convince me to keep it. I have a SmallHD 701 (not the high-bright), and it's a much MUCH better interface by a long shot. It's not bright enough for outdoor use, even with a sunshade. So I took a chance on the FW279, and it's the better tool for outdoor use (at a price I could afford).
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Old September 9th, 2019, 11:26 PM   #10
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
The eyepiece type works best, but for some shots I need to pan quite rapidly and cannot keep my eye to the eyepiece rubber and pan that large range without falling over the tripod legs.
My advice is to work on your shooting technique. Tripping over the tripod during a pan should not be an issue. You must be doing something wrong. And you're never going to find a better method of tracking focus, maintaining nice framing, judging exposure, and blocking out ambient light than from having your eyeball pressed to the viewfinder. There is no substitute and you just need to work on yourshooting technique. I shoot airshows, sports, wildlife, etc. all the time and I would never, ever, ever, consider doing it from an LCD panel no matter how good or how bright it was. You must use the viewfinder. And a nice bonus is that you don't have to spend any extra money, you don't have to power another device, and you haven't added any extra baggage to the rig.
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Old September 10th, 2019, 12:07 AM   #11
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

Always willing to accept tips on technique, but how do you do a 360 degree turn around your point that maybe requires the comple spin to last a count of maybe two seconds, while maintaining framing and focus on somebody dropping from around a hundred feet to ground level? Physically being glued to the side of the camera and having to step over the tripod legs? I cannot do it, so must be doing it wrong. How do you do it?
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Old September 10th, 2019, 09:30 AM   #12
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

I am a huge proponent of tripods whenever possible, thats a given. But...there comes a time when it just cant be done and you just described one of those scenarios. Once a fast moving subject has the potential to break the vertical plane in front of me and over my head for 2 seconds of footage I must get that camera is going on my shoulder.

Your trying to capture a multi camera shot with a single camera. One camera on a tripod and one on a shoulder is the only way to be sure you can continuously cover such a difficult shot. Some guy dropping out of the sky over your head and flying a circle around you for the last two seconds is not a viewfinder, monitor, or technique issue, it is a camera issue. If the subject must be tracked all the way to the ground and the flight pattern is that unpredictable it is not a one camera tripod shot.

If it has to be one camera I have to ask why are you in a position during landing where the subject can fly behind you? I have shot a lot of sports. Not once was the range of coverage I was responsible for ever behind me when working from sticks. Paul, you have been shooting for years. There must be a reason your not keeping the subject in front of you I don't understand? I know the subject is flying a unpredictable pattern but how big is the LZ? Can you work from the side of it and zoom in as they land?

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Old September 10th, 2019, 10:09 AM   #13
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

The problem is as you guessed. Realistically, the ideal place for the camera is probably 50m downwind from the landing point, but there's a couple of issues with that location. First is it's an active runway so while with high viz, I'm able to be there, to actually go there and back needs permission. Second problem is just a practical one - too far to find out the things about to happen. The location near the LZ is outside the hangar, and while the arc for most drops is probably a maximum of 60 degrees, and the actual drop point downwind, this means that the alternative location wouldn't have a clear view of the exit. Where I was allows the drop to be shot, and the canopy followed down to ground in one shot (with one cameraman). If I went top to two, the other position to shoot the exit would be best upwind, but of course that camera would be useless on landings because they land into wind. So two shooters would be good but the budget won't cover it. The position, to the side of the LZ covers everything, but the occasional less skilled parachutist who delays their turn, requires that awkward 360. As it was, I simply didn't use any of these 'stray' drops - but can't hop the legs!

I do have a plan B to try next session. I have a heavy duty short jib I'm wondering if I lock the pan, can I walk the jib around for the pan. I'll perhaps drag it out and see if this works. Inertia and mass would make the pan quite steady, as changes in speed are resisted. I could lock off the tilt on the jib. I wonder if this would work. The monitor could mount to the jib once it arrives? Never seen this done before, but it could be a way of doing unplanned 360's?? What do you think?
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Old September 10th, 2019, 10:39 AM   #14
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

There is an issue with having one’s eyes concentrating on something while at the same time, simultaneously, trying to be aware of what is happening in the surroundings and out of frame. There may be something out there that one want’s to quickly grab a shot of or re-frame and the decision time is a fraction of.a second. This is not Hollywood, there is no script, only a general idea of a plan of action, and there is no “Take 2”. The greymatter between the ears is really, really busy and very stressed. On top of all that, there is the sense of balance that must be maintained while moving the head around and that’s no small item.

For one, I can really relate to Paul’s situation. While mine is different there is a lot of similarities and one big one is knowing what is going on outside the frame. That monitor that Oren mentioned is probably gong to be my next kit purchase unless something else pops up. Not excited about sticking a monitor on the cam but the viewfinder with it’s great eyecup just doesn’t cut it, and as with many things in life there are tradeoffs. This is one of ‘em. Nothings perfect and you only go around once.

Read John McCully’s post #1. For one who has been around on this earth long enough, that’s me, I can relate. John’s post (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/tripod-...let-again.html) speaks volumes. As I write this I’m going to pull the trigger on Oren’s monitor and ask questions later.

Brightness rules!

And besides, as Cher of Sony & Cher fame said, “Money is meant to be kept in circulation”.
Note: wrote this before Paul’s post #13.

Last edited by John Nantz; September 10th, 2019 at 10:42 AM. Reason: added hyperlink
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Old September 10th, 2019, 10:52 AM   #15
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Re: Viewfinders for outside shooting in bright conditions

I smiled when I read John's comment on being glued to the V/F When I used to do sports OBs with box lenses I once got a nasty hit, and came close to breaking my nose. I was shooting speedway - do you have this in the US? a sand based track in an oval and motor cycles that have a footrest on one side and they use their foot to keep balance as the bikes go mad around the track. They often flip and crash into each other. My shot was at the bikes coming towards me with a gradual zoom pull back to keep them the same size in the frame, and then as soon as they cut away from me, it would be a crash zoom back to the othe end and do it again, and again. You kind of get a bit numb to what is actually happening until somebody falls off or theres a change, when you reframe to whatever the new action is. One circuit the leader came towards me getting closer and closer, but I didn't notice he wasn't turning and it was only when the zoom bottomed out I realised he was close then bang - he piled into the rail about a couple of feet from the lens. I'm sure if he'd hit me I'd have got the hood in the nose, or worse, but despite seeing him in the viewfinder, no alarm bell rang till the bang! My mind was working out I think if the lens had jammed or the demand broken till the thump!
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