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Cinetronic Gen2 - A Review

Cinetronic Gen2 review

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#1 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:19 PM


First, Id like to make this clear right from the start. It is not my intention in any way to start a war, nor do I have an agenda of any kind other than that I post a review about a product that is finally in the market and that I bought. That has been long waited for and is claimed to be The New Standard. Furthermore I have the upmost respect for small businesses who take the time and effort, the setback and frustration and the financial risk to engineer and build new products in our small professional high end/low volume market. Who sustains all of this to bring an idea from the first sketch into a final product.

Secondly, you are reading entirely my point of view here and I give my best to be as objective as possible. This review is based on my observations and the resulting thoughts about it.

Thirdly, I sent the first version of this review to Chris asking him to comment on it. Most of the points made here where in that version I send Chris (one thing that wasnt covered is the overheating issue) and this review is more of a text than a list of things and comments. Im including Chris comments on this review here although he didnt comment on all topics. I didnt ask for his permission, but I think it is good to have his point of view here too. And I hope he is okay with that.

 

 

So lets get started. After waiting way to long for my monitor, as a lot of fellow operators have, it arrived three weeks ago. Since then I had the chance to put it through real world situations on some monitor worst case scenarios like direct sun and overcast at the beach, motorbike chasing on a quad, shooting under a 10'x10' silk with 12Ks on top. I added some suggestions of things I like to have improved and marks from 1 (bad) to 10 (excellent).

 

The Display:

All in all I like the display, the antireflection coating could be a bit better though. The viewing angle of the display is better than the competitors I came across so far. The Cinetronic achieved what I was looking for, a flat panel monitor that has a good view-ability in all sorts of conditions.

- viewing angle - 9

- anti reflection - 8

- brightness - 7 

 

As a benchmark the TB-6:

viewing angle - 10

anti reflection - 10

brightness - 10

 

Color:

The first four DOPs that where looking over my shoulder had all the same first response: Whats wrong with the color? - Checking LUTs, camera settings, AC bringing in a reference monitor etc. bla bla. After that I took the time to get the color close to a Transvideo Ultrabright. Does that color shift come from the coated glass or the bonding? Would be great to have factory presets that gives neutral colors.

- My rating for color rendering of the display at factory settings - 4

I use it with red at 85 and green at 80. That comes close to neutral.

Chris comment: We will be doing a color analysis on the screen, and calibrating the color.  The brightness improvement in the software also fixes a gamma table problem, which helps with the color as well.

 

The Menu:

I do a lot of day playing, so a few options have to be at the menu top-level, ideally with no submenus to open. That are: frame lines, center cross, image size, image format, contrast, brightness.

The frame lines should move corresponding to the image size. Adjusting the frame lines is a bit of a hassle. It is hidden too deep into the menu structure and it would be good to disable speed up function or reduce the increments. You're constantly overshooting while adjusting.

The line style 'dashed' should have color/black instead of color/transparent which makes it rather useless. The same styles should be available for center cross as well. One thing I recognized was that the frame lines, image size or any other adjustment reset from time to time to default settings without any user input. Switching off the monitor and sled, having lunch, switching it back on and everything is at factory presets. I stopped using the frame lines. I have to check if this is still persistent with latest FW.

The image size presets like Normal, Fill All, Anamorphic, 2.35:1 are a bit confusing. 1.85:1 is not really a HD aspect ratio format like 1.78:1-16/9, which is surprisingly not there. Also image size options are not coherent between different sources. In SD there are a lot options that dont work. They should be removed. Switching the video source (e.g. SDI - Composite 2) with the left/right button changes image size settings on composite 2 input. I had to go into the image size menu and switch between sizes on composite 2 to get it back. I noticed that because monitor frame lines suddenly didnt match the picture.

No image mirror or rotation (X-Y). That should be standard.

1to1 / Pixel to Pixel. I couldnt find out how to move the frame? I only have top/left corner available.

Would be great to have the up/down buttons assignable to enable direct adjustment of contrast or focus peaking/falls color on/off etc.

A popup scale for backlight adjustment, to set preferred adjustments easily would be great.

Also a feature that should be there, in the light of overheating, is a standby function. Short touch on the on/off button puts the monitor in standby a long one shuts it off.

It would be great to have the monitor fired up when it gets a voltage input on the Lemo socket e.g. switching on the sled.

The menu is cluttered and cumbersome - it's freaking me out.

- My rating for the menu is a - 2

Chris comment: We have a software update which greatly improves the brightness and view-ability. It also improves many of the menu functions and adds some features.

We will be adding more features to the menu, hot keys etc. Also working on cleaning up some of the menu, and moving things to a more logical place.  Image flip is something we are working on.  All the LCD chip manufactures dropped it from their chips for some unknown reason.  We have tried some other approaches, but were not happy with the results.  We are working on an acceptable image flip and hope to have something soon. The backlight level indicator is on the programmers list of things to do.

In that regard the last SW update (6-13-13) didnt change a lot.

 

Digital Level Layout:

It's fancy and colored, but for me not fast recognizable and overlays too much of the screen. Please add styles like the XCS-PDL or the PRO level. - The digital level layout gets a - 4

 

The Housing:

I like the design of the monitor. Its really cool!

- Design - 10

This is a dedicated Steadicam monitor, right? I'm really surprised that the mounting holes do not align with the monitors CG, at least with the A/B plate at the back. I tested it with and without attached BNC and Lemo plugs. With a battery at the back it is way off. The beauty of this kind of form factor is that it can be easily mounted at it's CG, therefor adjustments of the viewing angle don't alter the Steadicam balance. This is a big draw back for me.

- Mounting holes - 5 / with a battery - 1

I luckily have a workaround. Matthias Biber is building me a bracket that will mount the monitor + battery at its CG.

Chriss comment: The housing was fairly well balanced, but the battery back throws the balance off. It does end up being a little top heavy with the battery on.

 

Bottons:

I like them, although for the cold season I have to buy iPhone cloves to be able to use the buttons.

- My rating - 8

 

Power Supply:

I bought my monitor with an Antonbauer plate. I dont like to carry dead weight like the Weight Back option. XCS owners and fellow operators who have there rigs configured with all batteries wired parallel in 12V mode or no separate circuit for the video acc., listen up!

I fly the Cinetronic with the 8-pin Lemo and a battery. First I still use a SD feed to get my internal PDL on the screen and second I like to have the weight of the battery out there, matches almost the weight of my TB-6. I made the assumption that the A/B plate and the 8-pin Lemo are equipped with a diode so that the rig does not feed the monitor battery and vice versa. I was wrong. The 8-pin Lemo does not have a diode. So the monitor battery was back feeding into my sled and helped powering the camera. The diode in the A/B mount was getting so hot that it started melting the plastic. Luckily, as far as I can tell, it didnt fry anything in my XCS.

Chriss comment: Originally we had one [diode] there, but then several operators suggested that we not have one. This way it would back feed the sled and power video transmitters etc.  Basically they wanted to shift the weight placement to the monitor, and not have to still fly another battery to power the other ports. They said that gives the the most flexibility, since they could just unplug the 8 pin lemo cable if they didnt want the back feed.

Come on guys! Use a D-tap cable from the monitor plate to the sled plate. It has the proper wire gauge size and the power runs over the 5 amp breaker.

If people really like to have it that way, please make it an option, one could order, and put a sticker next to the Lemo socket.

- My rating is a - minus 1

I will get the A/B plate replaced and a diode will be added to the Lemo socket.

When that is done its a - 10

 

Overheating:

On monday I was visiting the Tiffen workshop at Starnberger See close to Munich. They had the Sachtler Artemis demo unit there on display. It was a sunny day with air temperature of 25 to 26 deg celsius and we decided to do a heat test like Greg Bubb did. The monitor was set to 100% backlight, the display was set at 50 brightness and contrast. We placed the monitor in the sun with a HD signal present at about quarter past 3 p.m. and waited. Next to it we had a Transvideo 6 SBL monitor. Set to maximum brightness as well. After only 9 minutes the first sign of overheating showed up at the center bottom of the screen. After 30 minutes we stopped the test. The black pixel area had a rounded shape (frame edges smaller, center wider) and the center area was about 2,5cm wide. The monitor housing and display where too hot to carry it bare handed. It is fair to mention that we placed both monitors on the warm terrace floor after 20 minutes to simulate an even warmer condition. The Transvideo showed no sign of pixels going black. The display was hot put not nearly as hot as the Cinetronic display. Next time I have the opportunity Ill will test my monitor as well.

Im totally with Greg Bubb on this topic. It makes the impression that an overall environmental test wasnt done properly, but that is just a wild guess. I hope Chris and Mike chimes in and gives us there point of view.

 

[Edit] While writing the review Mike and Chris have posted regarding this topic here.

Im really glad things got sorted that fast. Thank you!

 

 

Conclusion:

The biggest issue for me is the user interface, because there is nothing I can do about it, not like the mounting issue. It is not possible to make fast adjustments on crucial settings with exception of backlight and input source. The graphics are last century. It almost looks like it was originally made for a LCD projector.

Chris, will there be a software update that has a new graphic user interface? You wrote me that there will be a new firmware that has the options cleaned up and put in the proper place. But will you get rid of that utter consumer GUI.

From my point of view a very good monitor not only has a good view-ability in all sorts of conditions. It is equally important to have a good usability. Comparing the TB-6 with the Cinetronic - the benefit of having a colored image in HD is traded for a strongly reduced usability.

 

The New Standard - Not yet

 

 

BTW Polarized Sunglasses:

Somebody a while back mentioned that the Cinetronic works with polarized sunglasses. Well, kind of, at least for the Gen2.

When you are operating all shots in regular mode for the rest of your life, youre good. If you are operating goofy or in Don Juan either way, you are removing your pola sunglasses in an instant.

regular operating - 10, Don Juan - 1; goofy operating - 6, gDJ - 2

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#2 chris bangma

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:29 PM

We will be cleaning up the menu and changing the graphics shortly.  The main concern was getting something usable in there first, then getting some input from people where they think things should go to be most convenient.  We have a cinetronic owners forum for this purpose.  Virtually everything in the menu is changeable via software upgrade.  Unfortunately software programmers usually arent the most artistic when it comes to icon design etc.  Our graphics designer is working on this, and will come up with something a bit better.


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#3 Ants Martin Vahur

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 05:29 PM

Thanks, Benjamin, for the thorough review!

My monitor sits in the customs, but from your review I would like to have the frame lines resetting fixed, flipping both axises would be a good thing to have. Image size settings should be named by exactly what they do, so you know if a certain setting is cropping, squeezing or doing something else funny to the image.

 

Or maybe I'll be so astonished by it when I finally switch it on so I forget about all these things you can't do yet . :)


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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 06:29 PM

Ben, interesting your review of the level. What were you using to drive it? Cinetronics hasn't released the level yet
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#5 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:15 AM

Eric, good question.
The answer is simple. I'm the coolest and hottest operator in town and get all the new toys before everybody else does.
Just kidding. ;)
The menu is not pretty but has a lot of setting. Below the frame lines setting there is the setting for the bubble level. You can open the sub menu and switch the level on, change color, size and move it over the screen. Of course it is not a working level, but you can see what the level layout look like right now. It looks like a real bubble level. With a bubble, two hair lines left and right to the bubble and a whitish a bit blurry frame around the area the bubble moves.
I should have been more precise with the headline, but the rating says "bubble level layout". I'll edit the headline. Thanks for bringing this up.
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#6 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 01:47 PM

Not recommended: Battery on back of Gen2 and feeding power and video from the Ultimate sled.

 

Just to confirm Benjamin's observation: XCS owners will need a VIDEO only! 8pin Lemo to Lemo cable to avoid the backfeeding into the sled issue. Just use a spare cable and disconnect  pins 1 and 2 (power) and leave pin 3 and 4 (composite video) in place to feed the SD video with PDL into the Cinetronic.


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#7 Emanuele Chiari

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:14 PM

We will be cleaning up the menu and changing the graphics shortly.  The main concern was getting something usable in there first, then getting some input from people where they think things should go to be most convenient.  We have a cinetronic owners forum for this purpose.  Virtually everything in the menu is changeable via software upgrade.  Unfortunately software programmers usually arent the most artistic when it comes to icon design etc.  Our graphics designer is working on this, and will come up with something a bit better.

Hi Chris, I've just received my new Gen 2 monitor few days ago... I would like to see this cinetronic owners forum... Can You tell me the web address?

Thanks...


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#8 William Demeritt

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:32 PM

Not recommended: Battery on back of Gen2 and feeding power and video from the Ultimate sled.

 

Just to confirm Benjamin's observation: XCS owners will need a VIDEO only! 8pin Lemo to Lemo cable to avoid the backfeeding into the sled issue. Just use a spare cable and disconnect  pins 1 and 2 (power) and leave pin 3 and 4 (composite video) in place to feed the SD video with PDL into the Cinetronic.

 

I would imagine, on my PRO sled, the backfeed would simply cause the MON battery to go into protect mode. What happened with the XCS sled? Doesn't the base have a power management microprocessor? Does it set off an alert?


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#9 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:40 PM

 

We will be cleaning up the menu and changing the graphics shortly.  The main concern was getting something usable in there first, then getting some input from people where they think things should go to be most convenient.  We have a cinetronic owners forum for this purpose.  Virtually everything in the menu is changeable via software upgrade.  Unfortunately software programmers usually arent the most artistic when it comes to icon design etc.  Our graphics designer is working on this, and will come up with something a bit better.

Hi Chris, I've just received my new Gen 2 monitor few days ago... I would like to see this cinetronic owners forum... Can You tell me the web address?

Thanks...

 

http://www.cinetronic.com/forum/


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#10 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:40 PM

 

Not recommended: Battery on back of Gen2 and feeding power and video from the Ultimate sled.

 

Just to confirm Benjamin's observation: XCS owners will need a VIDEO only! 8pin Lemo to Lemo cable to avoid the backfeeding into the sled issue. Just use a spare cable and disconnect  pins 1 and 2 (power) and leave pin 3 and 4 (composite video) in place to feed the SD video with PDL into the Cinetronic.

 

I would imagine, on my PRO sled, the backfeed would simply cause the MON battery to go into protect mode. What happened with the XCS sled? Doesn't the base have a power management microprocessor? Does it set off an alert?

 

Benjamin describes what happened to his Ultimate...

 

"I fly the Cinetronic with the 8-pin Lemo and a battery. First I still use a SD feed to get my internal PDL on the screen and second I like to have the weight of the battery out there, matches almost the weight of my TB-6. I made the assumption that the A/B plate and the 8-pin Lemo are equipped with a diode so that the rig does not feed the monitor battery and vice versa. I was wrong. The 8-pin Lemo does not have a diode. So the monitor battery was back feeding into my sled and helped powering the camera. The diode in the A/B mount was getting so hot that it started melting the plastic. Luckily, as far as I can tell, it didnt fry anything in my XCS.
Chriss comment: Originally we had one [diode] there, but then several operators suggested that we not have one. This way it would back feed the sled and power video transmitters etc.  Basically they wanted to shift the weight placement to the monitor, and not have to still fly another battery to power the other ports. They said that gives the the most flexibility, since they could just unplug the 8 pin lemo cable if they didnt want the back feed."


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#11 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 04:57 PM

The back feed over the Lemo was an idea PRO owners had. The battery from the "MON" plate goes to the Cinetronic and you still have power on the "MON" circuite via the monitor cable. This way you are bypassing the 5Amp breaker on your PRO, which IMHO is not a good thing. A bad transmitter cable or whatever you want power and fails could fry your monitor. My suggestion is to use the D-taps on the battery plates to feed power from the monitor to the sled. It's a proper sized cable and fused. If your not a PRO owner this back feeding can cause serious trouble. While upgrading my monitor with the heatsinks Chris will add a diode to the Lemo.
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#12 Emanuele Chiari

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 05:18 PM

 

 

We will be cleaning up the menu and changing the graphics shortly.  The main concern was getting something usable in there first, then getting some input from people where they think things should go to be most convenient.  We have a cinetronic owners forum for this purpose.  Virtually everything in the menu is changeable via software upgrade.  Unfortunately software programmers usually arent the most artistic when it comes to icon design etc.  Our graphics designer is working on this, and will come up with something a bit better.

Hi Chris, I've just received my new Gen 2 monitor few days ago... I would like to see this cinetronic owners forum... Can You tell me the web address?

Thanks...

 

http://www.cinetronic.com/forum/

 

Thank you very much, Jens 


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#13 Brian Freesh

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 08:40 PM

If your not a PRO owner this back feeding can cause serious trouble. While upgrading my monitor with the heatsinks Chris will add a diode to the Lemo.

 

Good to hear, I was going to talk to him about doing the same thing.


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#14 GregBubb

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:02 AM

The conversation of power back feeding from the monitor battery plate through a typical monitor power cable into the sled is a good idea, but the current implementation is a very poorly thought out concept from my point of view here is why.

 
    A typical 6-7" monitor in nominal brightness range will draw .8- 1.8 amps @ 12.0 volts.
This single monitor battery if powering only the monitor would outlast any and all batteries on the sled that will be powering the camera and sled accessories.  When combined with other sled batteries, it will be the last battery called upon to deliver power to supplement the other lower voltage sled batteries, because of the higher impedance of the 26 or 28 gauge wire (monitor power cable).  
 
Typical scenario:
    Let's say the Alexa Camera body is the one we wish to use. The Alexa body alone draws 85 watts which is 7.08 Amps at 12 Vdc. (this info comes from the Alexa manual). Remember, this is just the camera body, nothing else on the sled.  You can estimate another 3-4 amps of current draw for a typical sled power setup, in addition to the camera body.
 
    So here are my reasons why I think the current implementation is poorly thought out. Not to say I don't mind repairing my customers sleds, but a bit of thought could save you thousands on lost rental, shipping and repairs. This goes for all sleds in the field no matter who makes them. Things that all equipment manufacturers should think about when making products for the steadicam market.
 
1)    A Lemo 1B 308 connector is rated to 5 amps. Not quite large enough to handle the power that the battery can feed back into the sled. Repeated over-heating will cause it's premature failure.
 
2)     Most Master series and Ultra sleds, not to mention all the small Tiffen rigs, use a Hirose 4 or 6 pin connector. 28 AWG wire maximum, 2 amps maximum on these gold plated connector pins.  (I also know that Ultra has added an 8 pin Lemo for monitor power)
 
3)    Most power wire conductors for monitors is 26-28 AWG. wire. At 18-24" monitor cable length, that's about 4-6 wire gauge sizes too small @ 7 amps (camera current draw). But let's calculate what we have here for the typical in field monitor power cable.
    a) 26 AWG wire for the monitor power cable.
    B) 12 Vdc- Alexa voltage range is 11-32 Vdc.
    c) Voltage drop over 2 feet of 26 AWG wire is 1.14 Vdc at 7 amp draw.
    d) Ending voltage to sled is 10.86 Vdc
 
    Which means, of course, that the camera will want to draw even more power to keep running before the wire MELT DOWN. Then where does the short circuit go? The path of least resistance, which can be anywhere - Decimator, video transmitter, wireless focus system, back to the monitor, to the camera. However, the BNC is most likely the path. BNC's are grounded to the chassis on all products. Common ground.
 
    4)    If there is no diode in the A/B plate when you power down your sled, you run an excellent possibility of shutting down all the batteries on the sled that have a lower current voltage than the monitor battery.
 
    As an operator, I understand the concept of monitor weight and having a battery on the monitors do multiple functions. I also understand the possible failures in how it is currently implemented.
 
    Be careful, XCS rents sleds just in case.
   
Greg Bubb

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#15 chris bangma

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:19 PM

A diode can be added to prevent the backfeeding.  Or you can unplug the 8 pin lemo when using the AB back.  The monitor was wired and set up for backfeeding on sleds like the Pro, which have separate circuits for monitor, camera etc.  Sleds that have everything on one circuit (which is a bad idea anyways), should not run the monitor with the 8 pin cable in place, or should run with the power pins disconnected from the 8 pin.  On a Pro, the backfeeding allows the low power monitor ports to be live, and allows a shift in the weight distribution.  The only sleds that the backfeeding has been a problem on has been the XCS sleds.  All sleds with proper separate circuits are fine.


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