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Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?

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Noam Osband
Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 18, 2011 at 3:43:42 pm

After doing some research, I seem to have decided on the SmallHD DP6 as a monitor for my Panasonic HMC-150.

Two questions though I have before actually putting down the money:
1 - It has no waveform, and I spoke to the guys at the company who thought it was a hardware issue that no future software release can address. It has false color which I've never used before. The HMC-150 has a waveform, but it would be nice to do everything I can/need with the monitor.

I know the TVLogic VFM-056W has a waveform. And is more pricey. I am still a relative newbie. To someone who has more experience, let me know: do i want a waveform on my camera-top monitor?

2 - I also discovered that a smaller version of the DP6 exists. The DP4. Would I find a screen that size too small? Unlike the wavefor, I'm inclined to pay more here. I just feel I'll like a larger screen more. Thoughts?

Thanks as always!
This site is so helpful! (I wish there were better ways of indicating enthusiasm than exclamation points.)


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Mark Suszko
Re: Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 18, 2011 at 4:03:45 pm

The waveform and/or histogram display is an extra level of quality control information at the place you need it most: the source footage. The eyepiece monitor and the flip-out LCD panel of a modern camera are good enough to see (most) framing issues, but you can't depend on them for exposure and color fidelity information exclusively, not to mention critical focus. If you know the image is too hot on location, you can fix it right there. You can't really restore blown-out highlights in post; there is no data to recover once the section is blown-out. And to do yuor best in post with the darkest parts of the image, for shadow detail, you want to keep a consistent level there as well.

IMO having the waveform/vector/rgb parade or histogram in the monitor is what distinguishes a simple device for checking framing, from an instrument for calibrating and monitoring the quality of the image. And that's why they cost more.


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Noam Osband
Re: Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 18, 2011 at 4:20:06 pm

My camera already has a waveform on the LCD. Is the waveform in an external monitor going to be more accurate? Is it vastly preferred to just need to look at one LCD?


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 18, 2011 at 6:56:00 pm

I use a SmallHD DP6 with my Panasonic GH2 and I always shoot with both screens. The GH2 LCD show a histogram, so I can check my exposure there and the DP6 has the size and resolution to maintain critical focus. The GH2 actually sends the on-screen info (including histogram) over the HDMI output until I hit record, at which point I only see the image on the DP6. FWIW, I really like my DP6!

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Noam Osband
Re: Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 18, 2011 at 10:56:53 pm

So, you can still check the waveform by shooting with the camera's LCD? I feel like I'll probably go the DP6 route cause it's a couple hundred cheaper and waveform is the only thing the TVLogic monitor does that the DP6 does not that I'd want and I have a waveform on my HMC-150...


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:05:13 pm

Yeah, I can check the histogram any time by glancing at the camera LCD.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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harry monck
Re: Two questions about the Small HD DP6: Do I really want a waveform + should i get the DP4?
on Jul 29, 2011 at 7:52:02 pm

for what it's worth;
i've had my DP6 (sdi version) for 3 months and i love it! since i use it on all different cameras via the HD-SDI, SD-SDI, composite and HDMI inputs, depending on model i find the ability to resize the image and store as a preset really handy - for example a Sony PDW800 will output HDSDI (full image) but a Sony DSR570 will output an SD composite signal that for some reason appears over-scanned on most LCD monitors, but the DP6's image can be custom scaled to a full under-scanned image and the setting saved.
also, with DSLRs like the 5D2 there is already a preset re-scale to overcome the camera's output limitations.
the image really is pin-sharp. the peaking is very useful. waveform would be nice but only really necessary if you're using a DSLR since you need to expose like a stills cam (ETTR) - what you see isn't necessarily what you get with those cams! but they have onboard histograms anyway.
a dedicated video cam 's monitor out is a lot more faithful in terms of exposure.

the downsides are that the screen is quite delicate so a screen guard is a MUST, and it's not trans-reflective so if you do a lot of outdoor shooting think about a hood too (overcast days are fine but bright sunlight are a challenge, not surprisingly)

the guy's at SmallHD are really helpful too and are quick to reply to any questions or problems (maybe because they're still a small company - i wonder if that'll change as they get bigger?)

overall i think the DP6 is a great bit of kit that i take on every job.


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