LCD field monitor
can anyone recommend a good LCD field monitor for use with cameras such as the Sony XDCAM HD 350? would need to be battery and mains operated....and portable.
G5 DP 2.0 (Power PC)
BMD Decklink Extreme 5.9
Based on your camera specs I'm assuming that you'e looking for an HD monitor, as opposed to standard def.
Unfortunately there are very VERY few small portable HD LCD monitors available yet.
The marketing folks for the LCD makers are sometimes a little on the sneaky side... be sure to look very closely at the specs for any monitor you're considering. Varizoom for a while was touting their "High Definition LCD Field Monitor," but read the specs and it is actually only 480 lines... a far cry from high-def. I emailed them and pointed out the discrep... they wrote me back apologizing, saying "Oh, I think our web guy made a mistake, that should have said high RESOLUTION, not high DEFINITION." Hmmmmm.
As for what there is, Astro monitors are pretty much the industry standard for small high-def LCD monitors. Their pictures are absolutely beautiful and they have tons of features and just about every conceivable in/out/loop.
Unfortunately though, they are roughly the cost of a decent used Buick... around $5K+ for their smallest (6.4") and they go up in size and price.
Sanyo has announced development of a 7.1" 1080 monitor, but it is not on the shelves yet nor have I heard any price points on it. It is, however, developed for more of a consumer market (in-dash car applications, portable Blue-Ray players, etc.), so I suspect it will be much more affordable than the Astros, when it becomes available.
For the total ultimate in location HD monitoring, there is the Accuscene viewfinder (it's the standard viewfinder that Panavision uses on their Genesis camera). It can be used on camera as a viewfinder or off-camera as an independent monitor, and has an unbelievable picture. It is, however, pretty pricey at about $14,000. Just a year ago, though, it was $20,000... so maybe the price drop will continue.
Are you looking for a client monitor, a monitor to judge image by, or an onboard reference mnonitor ? The Panasonic HDLCDs are superb, but difficult to see in the sun without a shade, and are a little to big to mount on the camera. The Marshal HD monitors are trash. They look different if your head moves 1 mm to the left, and what passes for black looks very milky. In the SD world, all the transvideo monitors are fantastic and you can see them at noon on the equator with no shade. I have only used the astro (back to HD world) a few times, but was dissapointed with off axis viewing and lack of acurate color and density reproduction. I have not used them the Blackbird and Humming bird monitors get excellent reviews, however I believe they are SD only.
Over all I think the Panasonics are the only monitors in the smae league as CRTS. I own both the 8" and the 17" as well as a 17" CRT, and have used just about all the monitors out there. Transvideo is going to be releasing an LCD HD monitor soon, but it will most likely be upwards of $4k for a 6 inch monitor.
Hope that helps,
thanks for the responses. I don't think i was clear enough in my initial post. I'm actually looking for a field monitor as opposed to a studio monior. something small, handheld, battery powered, that can be used in the field - either run and gun or set pieces in studio. it's really just so as a director i can see the shots and direct the shooters i work with better.
G5 DP 2.0 (Power PC)
BMD Decklink Extreme 5.9
>>something small, handheld, battery powered...
Well, if you are wanting an HD monitor with those specs, I believe you are presently limited to the Astro monitors, unless there is something else out there that I don't know about (and I'm sure hoping there is).
A year from now the market will probably (and hopefully) be much much different, but right now if you want to go small AND handheld AND battery powered, there's just not that many companies making them in HD.
You didn't really say if you NEED an HD monitor or if an SD monitor will do. Personally, if I am shooting HD then my monitor pretty much needs to be HD as well... it's so easy for focus to get soft and not realize it if you are relying on the viewfinder or a SD monitor. But if you just want to check framing, see what your camera op is doing, etc., then an SD monitor is probably fine. For that purpose we use the ultracheap little Varizoom monitors when shooting 4:3... I think they are less than $500 complete with a camera mount, battery, charger, and hood. They use a little proprietary 7.5 volt battery (looks like a consumer camcorder battery), but that really goes through a little converter on the back of the monitor that gooses the voltage up to 12v, which is what the monitor itself actually takes. You can bypass that converter and run it staight off the bricks that power the cameras, which is much more conventient. If we are shooting 16:9 instead of 4:3 we use the same setup, but swap out the TTF screen with one made by Lilliput (I think it is actually made for in-car DVD players, headrest installation etc.).
Both options work fine if I want to just "see what's happening," but I don't trust either one to judge focus. Then again, when we shoot HD we use cinema lenses with a P+S Technik depth of field converter, so sometimes I'm dealing with depths of field that can be as shallow as a couple of inches deep or so. With video lenses and a greater DoF, then focus checking might not be such an issue and the SD monitors might work fine (as long as it is either a 16:9 monitor or is a 4:3 monitor that has a 16:9 mode).
Just to be clear - hands down the best HD monitor for field use that is 12v and handholdable is the Panasonic 8 inch. It has an anton bauer plate on the back, has a built in wave form and is as acurate as any monito I have seen in color and black levels. It can be mounted on the camera but I usualy find it easier to mount it on a stand next to the camera. The only drawback is lack of daylight viewabilty, which is easily fixed with a piece of black cloth or a shade. The astro is good, but i feel that the off axis viewing is better on the Pana and I think the blacks are better as well. The Pana is also cheaper.
All I can say about SD monitors is that on the HDX900's down coverter, and being familiar with the camera, I am pretty happy with the Transvideo Rainbow ultra bright (Focus maybe not so much, but I think focus should be judged by a good ac using math over any lcd monitor smaller than 17". Thats just my opinion I may be wrong.
I was pretty excited to hear about that Panny monitor (have been looking for something more affordable) and was glad to see it was about $2500 less than the same size Astro... but looked at the specs and it's 1024x768 and 4:3.
The 17" model is even less expensive AND true 16:9... just wish it was a little smaller.
How in particular do you use BT-LH900 with HD? I'm assuming it has a 16:9 mode... are there black bars at the top and bottom (which unfortunately also significantly reduces the line count...grrrr)? Is there a "center cut" crop option?
Man oh man, I wish somone would come out with a more affordable small 1080 16:9 TTF. I imagine in a year or so they'll be plentiful, but it sure would be nice to have a couple more now.
And I totally agree with you... a good AC with a tape measure is the only for-sure way to focus... being primarily a 35mm film shooter I usually instinctively do that... but unfortunately when shooting HD I've found in our particular world I can do that only about 80% of the time in practicality. I'd love to save my nickles for an Accuscene 1080 viewfinder, but just can't make myself justify the cost (and I can't rent one on a per-use basis because the viewfinder has to be fairly significantly modified for my particular camera rig). Sigh... nothing good is ever easy (and rarely cheap).
It is a 4x3 monitor, which comes in handy when shooting HD 4x3 for down conversion (say a TV spot). There is an HD zoom button which fills the frame with the 4x3 portion of the frame, also handy for checking focus. The 16x9 HD is letterboxed inside th 4x3 which makes room for the waveform monitor outside of the picture area. It allso has just about every input you could want, HDSDI, component, etc. It recognizes all formats I have thrown at it and SD looks pretty good too.
I can't say enough good things about the 17". It looks awsome. I look at an HDCAM air master on that monitor and it looks just like it did when I shot it looking at it on the 8.4"
I'm new to this forum. I really wanted to add my experience with the Flanders Scientific LM0750W 7" LCD monitor.
I own a Sony EX3, a Canon 7D as well as a betacam package and a dvcam camera. I also shoot with a JVC GY-HM700 and several broadcast HD cameras.
I did a ton of research to find a multi format field monitor with good picture quality and professional level build quality. I had previously bought a 1000.00 monitor which I have been unhappy with since day one. The controls were awkward, power options were fragile and fiddly and most important, the processing was 6 bit so there was banding in the dark areas and the contrast curve was not tv accurate. The color accuracy in general was poor, so I found myself constantly saying to clients "don't judge the lighting by this monitor". So not $1000.00 well spent.
I have been using the Flanders now for a couple of weeks and I couldn't be happier. I've used it on both HD and SD shoots. In terms of color accuracy, I have looked at charts and test targets and shot those pale mauve sweaters that so often look blue. In every case this monitor is dead on with no adjustment. And I can finally see the subtle variations or blush on the talent's cheek!
Flanders makes grading quality studio monitors, in fact their senior man worked for Barco - the studio reference monitor people, for years. Right after I ordered my monitor, one of the technical people from Flanders called me up. He wanted to make sure the monitor would be suitable for my needs. He explained that because of the limitations of available 7" LCD screens, it isn't possible to render all colors with complete accuracy. He said that some shades of red might not be rendered completely accurately and therefore I shouldn't use the monitor for grading! I said that I was using it as a field monitor on location for shooting and that wouldn't be an issue. I have since looked at every shade of red I can find and the monitor distinguishes them all perfectly well. But the phone call gave me confidence that these guys really care about color accuracy.
Some things I like about this monitor.
Works with all my cameras - HD-SDI, composite and HDMI (via DVI adapter)
Scopes - most accurate way to judge exposure
HD-SDI - one cable for video, audio and timecode
Audio playback via speakers or phones (SDI only)
Dual frame with freeze - great for matching cameras or shots
comes with Anton Bauer (or V-lock) mount no charge, and xlr 4 pin input
solid cast aluminum housing
simple menu navigation and 5 shortcut buttons
sharp resolution along with 1:1 pixel mapping makes focus easier
LED backlight for better illumination faster warmup and power savings
On the negative side - There is definitely a trade off as far as viewing angle compared to a CRT. To judge the contrast ratio of your lighting you have to be directly in front of any LCD, not just this one. But it beats lugging around a Sony 8044!
I'm glad I didn't buy another monitor in the 1200.00-1500.00 range. The Flanders sells for 1995.00.
I don't have any reason for promoting this product other than I hope they sell a ton of them and stick around for a long time.