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Old October 25th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Posts: 188
LCD Monitors?

I had some questions about using external LCD Monitors on a DSLR.

1) How important is it to have an external monitor while shooting?

2) Are there any affordable options? Say under 500?
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Old November 13th, 2010, 10:51 AM   #2
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Location: Los Angeles CA USA
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The short answers:

1) It's important to see what you're doing. Monitors are one way, magnifiers are another.

2) Yes there are.

The longer answers:

1) in the old days, TV sets maxed out at around 36 inches without projection. Nowadays that's around half the max size available everywhere.
Back then autofocus kinda sorta worked. Now, most probably not. Now you really have to check
focus on something bigger than a camera LCD because when someone watches it on a 120" monitor,
what seemed okay on the dinkie is probably not.

2) at least an LCD magnifier/hood loupe to get the tiny LCD in back of your camera so you can see if it's really sharp, or just pretending. Even dedicated video cameras with the focus assists only help you so far - again, in the old days, you'd turn the focus until the edges were outlined in red or blue or purple or whatever your focus assist/edge detect software did in camera, and you were done.

Today, you are fired because what seemed perfectly sharp in the little monitor - isn't. That's one of the real reasons we have those video villages around the shooting sets these days - the DPs don't trust the little monitors in the cameras - or rather, the 1st AC/focus pullers don't. They want to check sharpness on a bigger screen.

Personally I have a 1900x1200 24" monitor that I always bring with me, even on set, especially if I'm shooting DSLRs.

The longest answers:
One thing people tend to forget - those old days I was talking about? Not more than 600 days ago. The standards changed over early this year, in the US, and the big big screens that are as sharp as the little ones were? They're still coming, and getting bigger every year.

The lens resolutions have always been sharper than the unaided eye can discern. The sensors are behind the lens designs in raw resolving power, but catching up. The TV sets and projectors have been way behind them, but now they're bigger, and so now the weakest link in the chain is the LCDs in the cameras. Even though there are monitors in cameras that I would trust (for example, the one in my EX1), mainly I don't trust the ones in my D90 or 7D. Mainly because the optical viewing system used when taking stills (much better than all the electronics combined still) is only available when you're shooting stills - when you hit that live view / video mode switch, all that optical excellence in the viewfinder side of things goes away when the mirror flips up. So the autofocus does its own thing and most pros don't trust it. They want to pull focus manually - but the LCD in back of the camera doesn't allow you to do that properly because the pros have at least two people working the camera - one to pull focus. So the focus puller can't be looking at the same hood-magnified screen as the camera operator. So pro camera DSLR crews use external camera monitors.

"The content, not the container."
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