I just returned from another trip around the world on the CBS TV Show The Amazing Race, 12 countries and 5 continents all in 3 weeks. Needless to say that's a whole bunch of flights , checking gear and even more pulling the sled and monitor in and out of cases in the field. I always bring 2 monitors with me just in case. I use these monitors not just for framing but for color checks, focus and playback in the field. Us live guys do our own Focus and Zoom so being able to grab focus on the fly by looking at your monitor becomes important especially in daylight.
This time around Chris and Mike from Cinetronics offered up their Gen2 7" Monitor for me to test and put it through its paces and as a second monitor I demoed the New 7" Daybright TV Logic.
The Amazing Race gives me a unique opportunity to test gear in all kinds of weather conditions and lighting conditions. For example in the past I had to go from Indoor Skiing in Dubai at 32 degrees F / 0 C freezing to outdoors at 110 degrees F / 43 C. Sometime we go from shooting in Africa and then the next day we are 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. So you get the idea.
So onto the monitors, I am a real fan of the TV Logic monitors and own one of the older models, so needless to say I was excited to try their new model that is claiming 1100 NIT and a new screen coating. The monitor, in my opinion, is within the perfect size and weight. it has all the bells and whistles that you may need.
Their claim of Daylight viewable is marginal . . . . . Unfortunately it still is not nearly up to par enough , in my opinion, to claim daylight viewable, yes you can see it in the daylight, but not very well and direct sunlight makes it unusable. So needless to say this became my instant back up monitor and on went the Cinetronic monitor. I think for the money and the bells and whistles that the TV Logic has it is a great monitor and if you aren't in sunlight a lot, this is the monitor for you.
The cinetronic is a night and day difference from the TV Logic monitor, I could see in all kinds of sun conditions and focus on the fly. This monitor also falls into the perfect size and weight for me.
As for the heat issues that were discussed on other threads , I didn't have any heat or failure issues with this monitor, and I was in heat of 110 degrees F / 43 C to 40 degree F / 4 C and sometimes from one extreme to the other. I dragged it through sand storms in the middle east to rain and snow all with out issue and while in the rain I didn't cover it, I just wiped off the rain drops, but it wasn'r pouring just sort of drizzling. It for sure is on my radar for future ownership.
The monitor doesn't come without some quirks that drove me crazy but according to Mike and Chris will be rectified via software upgrades.
These quirks where.
• When powering on the monitor it was hard to tell if it was turning on in sunlight because it takes about 10+ seconds to Power up. For me this was an issue believe it or not, because there was more than once that I was asked to shoot and from the time I turned on the power grabbed the sled from the docking bracket the monitor wasn't quite up and I had to wait for it to turn on and sometimes I would double punch the power because I couldn't tell if the touch screen had worked. The touch screen is very sensitive but not as conclusive as an actual power switch.
• The color temperature settings are currently just RED, GREEN, and BLUE, 0-100 for each color to adjust the screen. The monitor that I had made the monitor very blue and there where no pre set color settings like other monitors, ie: 6500, 5600, 3200 etc . . . . I dialed in the colors to about where it looked correct and went with that, I know this is pretty Inconsequential to most of you but when you have a producer and director looking at the monitor and then asking the question, is that what it looks like, have you white balanced the camera, are you on the right settings, it just gets annoying. I am setting the camera for every scene and for every lighting condition so having a proper color corrected monitor just makes it easier.
• The Frame lines where available and I personally like a colored frame line, the yellow was great but unfortunately every time I turned off the monitor and turned it back on I had to go back into the menue and reset it and turn them on. Eventually that became annoying and I went with the ones generated by the camera.
• I was viewing on a HD/SDI signal but for some reason the monitor didn't always revert back to the last input used and it didn't automatically recognized that source and I had to tell it where to go.
• A few times I got a slight ghosting/strobing effect that I thought may be from going from Cold to hot and dealing with condensation may have been the culprit but it didn't effect me enough to stop me from using it or not allow me to be able to focus. Chris and Mike said they would look into it and try to get it to be recreated.
• and lastly, the touch screen buttons are great and very responsive but the fingerprints on the touch screen glass drove someone like me who is very meticulous absolutely crazy with always having to clean the monitor. thats just me though
But all of these things and I'm sure a few more, that others have are all on the software fix list as per Chris and Mike.
If you look at the progression that they have come with this monitor, form Chris' original post saying that he could build us the ultimate monitor and now getting ever so close, I think they are doing a great job and making a great product that will soon become the industry standard.
On a side note, The onboard Tally and internal bubble level I have not tested yet and am looking forward to trying it out on future live shows.
BUT as for outdoor viewing in direct sunlight I have yet to see anything as good that is color and HD.
Thank You Kent and Wes from TV Logic and thank you Chris And Mike from Cinetronics for allowing me to use and abuse your monitors I think both may have a future in my kit =)