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    Do waveforms in budget field monitors accommodate video levels and full range levels
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    I've noticed that budget field monitors are starting to include waveform, scopes, and false color, but the descriptions and specs don't make it clear whether the waveform can be set to correctly display video levels and full range levels, and accommodate 8-bit and 10-bit signals.

    I'd assume that budget monitors are limited to 8-bit 16-235 video levels, but I'm curious if anyone has tried them and can speak to whether they can be set to 16-235 video levels and 0 to 255 full levels for 8-bit footage, 64-940 video levels and 0-1023 full levels for 10-bit footage.

    Can the false color gauge be mapped for different camera profiles, e.g. 32 IRE for middle gray in S-Log2.

    I see Portkeys, FeelWorld, Neewer, Fotga, and Desview monitors on Amazon that all claim to have waveform and scopes, so I'm just wondering if they're implemented in a usable way or just thrown in for marketing hype.

    Thanks.

    P.S. I remember reading that SmallHD isn't as good as they used to be, is that correct? If that's the case, maybe I'm better off rolling the dice with a budget monitor.


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    It's unlikely most budget models have that extensive capability when some of the more expensive ones may not, but maybe one of them will surprise you/us.

    I would check/reach out about the specs in question (although I know sometimes they aren't detailed).


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    I could be wrong, but I don't think waveforms work that way or "care" if it's 8-bit, 10-bit, etc.


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    “ P.S. I remember reading that SmallHD isn't as good as they used to be, is that correct? If that's the case, maybe I'm better off rolling the dice with a budget monitor.”

    Subjective, but I do not think SmallHD has slipped in quality. It may well depend upon the model of product.

    Generally speaking, GENERALLY, SmallHD monitors are more oriented towards focus-pulling than color accuracy. Focus-pulling and a “wow!” image. Also daylight viewing ability, the “bright” and “high bright” series.

    Maybe it is more accurate to say SmallHD mons are more about Operating than accurate color reproduction. I’ve had many Hollywood AC’s tell me they love their SmallHD, but don’t get one for perfect color accuracy. I’ve also heard it said more than once that the SmallHD 703 is the best on-board monitor ever made and worth every penny of its hefty price tag.

    I cannot vouch for the more budget-friendly monitors. Newsshooter recently reviews monitors often.
    Sachtler tripod user for 40+ years.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    I'm surprised that you didn't mention that almost all waveform monitors in field gear seem to be unreferenced and just have a bunch of random lines with no scale measurements, leaving you to guess "What is 100 vs 105ire, does that line
    3/4 of the way up represent 60/65 or 70 IRE?" IMHO, this issue is more important than any of the other issues. Esepcially shooting LOG and RAW formats, we are often trying to achieve very specific IRE settings for skin tones and middle gray charts
    and without calibration scale, who knows what you are seeing? Generally a bunch of random horizontal lines?

    Guess I'm just spoiled fromn the days of having a calibrated scale Tektronix Waveform monitor sitting in my edit bay. The ones we have now in most field gear are actually pretty lame and primitive, although still a lot better than the useless for video Histogram and
    takes too long to visually orient to false colors (I have to stare at it and mentally process what color is what level, terrible for run & gun shooting in a hurry).
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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    Yep, the tiny picture-in-picture waveform displays are nonsense, along with false colors with no reference scale; ughh, most frustrating. I'd like a button that punches up a bright, full frame waveform monitor that doesn't have me counting lines to guess what percentage a line represents.

    Next to the image on the monitor, the waveform is the most important feature on a monitor. Why it gets second-thought treatment befuddles me. Clearly, the fact that they include a histogram, which is completely useless and a waste of developers time, shows that manufacturers have no clue as to why they are including features other than they are the buzz words they've heard.

    Ahhh! Crusty old dudes like me who spent many an hour shading cameras for live broadcast with the CCU using the trusty old Tektronix. Nothing but stuck in the past.
    Awarded Best Clear Com Chatter, 2001, PBS Television


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    Senior Member JPNola's Avatar
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    I have a zebra and he is my good friend.


    If one is anal about proper exposure, why not just use a light meter? Besides, you score points with clients when you get out a light meter. Especially if it is a spot-meter with one of those gun-sight caps that are spring-loaded.

    “What’s he doing with that device?”

    “Shhh! You’ll distract him! I don’t know exactly what he’s doing. Some sort of mysterious art. He’s a genius. Our last guy never used one of those thingies. But this guy is bigtime.”
    Sachtler tripod user for 40+ years.


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    I know a guy who once tried to use that mysterious thing called a light meter...he was told no vaping on set.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by puredrifting View Post
    I'm surprised that you didn't mention that almost all waveform monitors in field gear seem to be unreferenced and just have a bunch of random lines with no scale measurements, leaving you to guess "What is 100 vs 105ire, does that line
    3/4 of the way up represent 60/65 or 70 IRE?" IMHO, this issue is more important than any of the other issues. Esepcially shooting LOG and RAW formats, we are often trying to achieve very specific IRE settings for skin tones and middle gray charts
    and without calibration scale, who knows what you are seeing? Generally a bunch of random horizontal lines?

    Guess I'm just spoiled fromn the days of having a calibrated scale Tektronix Waveform monitor sitting in my edit bay. The ones we have now in most field gear are actually pretty lame and primitive, although still a lot better than the useless for video Histogram and
    takes too long to visually orient to false colors (I have to stare at it and mentally process what color is what level, terrible for run & gun shooting in a hurry).
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul F View Post
    Yep, the tiny picture-in-picture waveform displays are nonsense, along with false colors with no reference scale; ughh, most frustrating. I'd like a button that punches up a bright, full frame waveform monitor that doesn't have me counting lines to guess what percentage a line represents.

    Next to the image on the monitor, the waveform is the most important feature on a monitor. Why it gets second-thought treatment befuddles me. Clearly, the fact that they include a histogram, which is completely useless and a waste of developers time, shows that manufacturers have no clue as to why they are including features other than they are the buzz words they've heard.

    Ahhh! Crusty old dudes like me who spent many an hour shading cameras for live broadcast with the CCU using the trusty old Tektronix. Nothing but stuck in the past.
    The waveforms on smallHD monitors are really damn good. Super customizable. Size, color, scale... If someone can’t get the waveform on a smallHD monitor set-up in a fashion that pleases them, the monitor/software isn’t the problem...

    Waveforms on cameras suck. Stupidly small and often not real time/full frame rate. Histograms are 1000% useless for video. A waste of bits in the software/memory. I’d rather have the dancing hampsters in there. It’d be more useful.


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    I wouldn't know what to do with those thumbnail versions of waveforms on onboard monitors other than laugh at them. This is my downsized version of scopes which lives on my lightweight cart (the full size cart has the same display on a 21" monitor, also vertically), generated from Scopebox running off a Mac Mini. Works great.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Charles Papert
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